December 25, 1987 - Axtell, Texas, USA.
I’m sure we unwrapped G.I. Joes. Maybe some Ninja Turtles. Don’t remember. You probably can’t say my brother and I are great at all that much but we do happen to be pro-level in a very particular set of skills. Among them is turning the underside of a Christmas tree into a wasteland like George Miller only dreams of. Which we did on this Christmas just like any other.
And that was it. In record time, Christmas morning was over.
But - then Dad was acting kinda odd. He had this sort of forced false casual demeanor. Awkward.
Like he was waiting for something…
We were set and ready to go destroy all the toys we’d just gotten from the red fat magical bearded home invader. But Dad doesn’t seem to realize that we’re done with the gift openingand ready to get to the gift playing with.
Dad looks at just me and says, “Hey what’s that behind that cabinet over yonder?”
So I look. There’s another present. An especially oblong present. With only my name on it. Notably peculiar since Dad bent over backwards to make sure if I got something Adam got the same or equivalent and vice versa.
We knew this was special. Unprecedented.
So we were both silent as I opened it.
And when I saw that Daisy Model 111B 4.5mm B-B Steel Air Gun my 6-year-old brain went into meltdown. I had zero ability to comprehend the epic badassery in my hands.
The next Christmas Adam got his BB gun and we were quite the pair.
In the years since, we’ve plinked enough zinc through Dr. Pepper cans to sink all the submarines Russia ever built*.
*This math is 100% accurate according to a study performed by a straight C Algebra student watching THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER more than a few times.
Now, it’s many, many, many – oh so many - many years later…
And, as a parent, I am not about to let my own kiddos face the world unarmed.
At some point I decided my kids would get their first air rifles on the Christmases when each of their respective sixth years.
He’s the oldest of the sprouts. Five years ago was his sixth December.
He loved it. And I couldn’t have been more proud.
Sadly, the gun turned out to be a joke. The Daisy I got when I was his age may have been a single pump but it was a legitimate machine of pure destruction as many a spider was made to realize.
When it came time to get The Boy’s I thought it was beyond cool that Daisy had put out a Red Ryder model, the infamous eye-shooter-outer from A CHRISTMAS STORY (a movie which I loved as a kid but subsequently re-watched and – not unlike the gun – it does not hold up). It was a terrible gun all the way around. I’ve never seen a BB bounce off of a Coke can – until this one.
But it done the job because The Boy was hooked. Several air rifles and various other forms of projectile weapon later, he has been my main dude in the deer blind and has humped a ton of backwoods miles with me. Now 11 years old, he regularly kills paper in 4-H with archery, BB and .22 He’s a true student and practitioner of ethical hunting. He’s safety-conscious with all weapons. He killed his first dove with a 20g shotgun this year. And he’s in the middle of his first deer season as the man holding the gun. He hasn’t been able to pull the trigger yet but he’s come a long way from that little BB Gun.
My Future Bond Villainess.
This year my Big Girl is 6 – which of course means I need to figure out which gun she’s going to open on Isaac Newton’s birthday.
When I look into options for her I have to consider a handful of facts.
It would be ideal to hand her a weapon she can cock herself right out the gate but that is unrealistic. The Boy was much thicker than her and it took him a while to figure out how to crank the lever on a gun that had the lightest pull I’ve ever experienced. So Tristan and I will be working the action til she’s bigger.
That leaves fitting the gun to her ergonomically. I know I could run to Cabela’s and buy her a $500-$1000 squirrel killer but she wouldn’t fit into it any more than she could operate a Peterbilt. Giving her too much gun would present a learning curve resulting in a negative experience and getting her back into a gun later on would turn into a fight when it should be a fun, educational interaction.
On the other hand, she’s smarter than myself, her brother and her mother all together. Anything she picks up she makes sense of it before you can turn around. One day she’ll own the world. Maybe she’ll conquer it with an air rifle – maybe not – who’s to say…
After having all those thoughts running through my head and wearing out the Google search bar I’ve come up with these options:
I don’t care what you say, that movie sucks.
They do look neat. No doubt about it. But that’s about it.
Velocity: 350 fps
Length: 35.4 in.
Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Honestly this is in no way an option I’m considering. I’m just including it here to jump on a soap box for a second. I’m aware that there are biochemical differences between males and females. In fact that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms that maybe I’ll get into in a future post. But this gun is exactly the same as the Red Ryder. I guess girlfolks ain’t smart enough to figure out what they want unless we color code it OSHA-style for them. Are girls unable to enjoy a gun-colored gun?
Velocity: 350 fps
Length: 35.4 in.
Weight: 2.20 lbs.
Law Family Classic.
This is the modern version of those first Model 111B guns my brother and I got as kids. I haven’t shot one of these to know how they’ve changed in the past million years but the ones we had were light yet sturdy and easily fit to our then tiny frames.
Velocity: 275 fps
Length: 29.8 in.
Weight: 1.6 lbs.
One Word: Plastics
Dad’s Dad had one of these. But it was metal. It was relatively sturdy. These new ones are neither.
Velocity: 625 fps – BBS / 600 fps - pellets
Length: 33.5 in.
Weight: 2.8 lbs.
I love this gun. This one, with a scope, was my second as a kid. I got this one year, probably also for Christmas, and all of a sudden I was a sniper! I could, and often did, explode garden spiders at 15 yards and thought that was about the coolest thing ever. But it’s a little too advanced for her. At almost 40 inches it’s quite a bit too much front loading for a kid with a 16” draw length.
Velocity: 750 fps – BBs / 665 fps - pellets
Length: 37.6 in.
Weight: 3.7 lbs.
OG Zombie Gun.
I haven’t had opportunity to try one of these modern versions but several friends had 80s-90s models and all I remember is it taking more than one of us to pull back the pump action. Less finger pinching though so I was looking at it for a minute – then I noticed the size. Same as the 880. So maybe later.
Velocity: 350 fps
Length: 37 in.
Weight: 3 lbs.
For the Junior Chris Kyle in your household.
Really this is just here to represent some of the higher end options. I wasn’t even aware stuff like this existed until a few years ago. Yes I want to play with one. But no way am I going to throw my 6-year-old behind one. Man that looks fun though…
Velocity: 1000 fps
Length: 42.8 in.
Weight: 8.2 lbs.
My youngest. She will not be happy when her big sister opens her gun. Sadly for her it will be a couple of years before she’s big or old enough to wield her own Weapon of Backyard Destruction. I reckon she’ll just have to settle for being spoiled a whole lot too much in the meantime.
I look forward to teaching her all the lessons that go with getting your first BB Gun. These are my three favorite human beings. I want to teach them everything I can.
At the same time, Tristan already grew too fast too quick. And it’s certainly bittersweet that my Big Girl is gun age now. So, as far as The Baby goes, I’m fine with waiting.
Now, for fun, here’s another picture of The Boy at 6-years-old with a BB Gun that I like a lot but couldn’t find a good place for it.
Does anyone out in Internetland have any words of wisdom or suggestions for guns I haven’t listed? If so please comment below or hit us up on ye olde Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.