When the snow starts falling, the decorations go up, and holiday music echoes through the air, there’s only one gun that comes to mind: the Red Ryder BB Gun. It might surprise you to know, however, that Christmas’ most iconic gun never actually existed.
A first gun for generations to come
Named after the comic strip cowboy character Red Ryder, the gun was first released in the Spring of 1940 by Daisy Outdoor products. Designed to resemble the Winchester rifles commonly seen in Western movies, the lever-action, spring-piston air gun features an engraved wooden stock and a remarkable 650 BB capacity gravity-fed magazine. That, combined with its low velocity and smoothbore barrel made it an instant classic for childhood plinking pleasure, generations to come. There’s a high likelihood that this was your first gun ever. And it’s still one of today’s best-selling BB guns.
From Western classic to Christmas icon
Though popular since its release, it was the 1983 film A Christmas Story that turned the Red Ryder BB gun into a Christmas icon. Featured prominently throughout the movie, the character Ralphie Parker attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and especially Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really and truly is the perfect Christmas gift. And what do you know, Santa (aka Dad) comes through! You can watch the iconic moment below:
And just like that, the Red Ryder BB gun was on every kid’s wish list.
The gun that didn’t exist
Though a centrepiece of A Christmas Story’s main plot, aside from the six created by Daisy for the movie, the gun itself is pure fiction. The movie version of the gun is a 200-shot range model, with a compass and sundial in the stock. It actually doesn’t match any model or prototype in existence. That’s because the Red Ryder featured in the movie was specially made to match the story and creative vision of author Jean Shepherd. The model that Ralphie obsessed over was a combination of features found in Daisy’s Buck Jones air rifle and their Red Ryder model — mixing the Buck Jones’ compass and sundial with the Red Ryder’s lever-action.
If this all comes as a surprise to you, we understand. Our 6-year old selves are personally crushed. But the good news is that, although the iconic movie version didn’t actually exist, the real Red Ryder BB gun introduced (and continues to introduce) generations of new shooters to the wonderful world of firearms. For that alone, it will always hold a festive place in our hearts.
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