Renowned for their well-known and beloved air rifles for the past 130 years, Daisy also used to make firearms such as the Model 2203 Legacy

The company got its start making windmills in Plymouth, Michigan, in the late 19th Century, it was in 1888 that watchmaker and inventor Clarence Hamilton, who owned the local air rifle company, approached the windmill maker with a design for an all-metal air gun that the larger company, already geared up to mold and stamp metal parts, could put into production. 

According to company lore

The gun was passed around to members of the board. General Manager L.C. Hough test-fired the gun and exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a Daisy.” (“It’s a Daisy” was a colloquialism of the time.) So, the little gun was named Daisy.

At first, giving the air guns away with the purchase of a windmill, they soon proved so popular that, by 1895, they halted production of windmills and switched to making air guns full time, branding as the Daisy Manufacturing Company. 

Moving to Rogers, Arkansas in 1958, where they still call home, Daisy continued to make BB guns and air guns and, eventually, branched out into firearms. 

Their first firearm was kind of an accident. The Daisy .22 V/L, an interesting single-shot rifle that used a caseless air-ignited cartridge. The bullet was fired by superheated air produced by a piston. However, the V/L was only made for a couple of years in the 1960s and sold as an air gun until federal regulators decided that it was not an air gun. As Daisy at the time wasn't licensed as a firearm manufacturer, they shut the line down after just 27,000 were made. 

Of course, Daisy wasn't the first air gun company to break into firearms, as Sheridan had previously made their Knocabout .22 pistol in the 1950s at an attractive price.

By 1987, the Daisy was ready for a deliberate entrance to the consumer firearm market, with the single-shot bolt-action Model 8 – built exclusively for distribution through Wal-Mart from parts left over from Iver Johnson – and the all-Daisy Legacy Models 2201 and 2211, single-shot plinkers that differed from each other by having either wood or polymer furniture. Then came the Legacy 2202/2212 series, which were bolt guns that used a very Ruger 10/22-style 10-shot rotary magazine. 

This brings us to Daisy's masterpiece when it came to their firearm line, the semi-auto Legacy Model 2203/2213.

Daisy Legacy model 22LR rifle in lightbox
The Daisy Legacy Model 2203 in our Vault, complete with its original adjustable "copolymer" stock and an aftermarket tip-off scope. (Photos:



Just 4 pounds in weight, they featured a Monte Carlo-style stock – American hardwood on the 2213 and brown "copolymer" on the 2203 – the latter with an adjustable Daisy-branded buttplate. They had a 19-inch sleeved barrel, a ramped adjustable rear sight against a ramped front post, sling swivel posts, and a peculiar 7-shot detachable box magazine. 

By loosening the barrel nut with a supplied tool, and manipulating the action, the bolt and trigger assembly can be removed for cleaning. The manual boasted that the Legacy line had a user-adjustable trigger pull weight as well. 

They were billed on release, with a logo of a coonskin cap-wearing outdoorsman, as "A new idea in .22 rimfire, for a new generation of shooters."

Daisy Legacy model 22LR rifle in lightbox
With a provision for quick addition of "tip-off" scope mounts, these are often encountered on the secondary market with inexpensive, low-power optics. The 2203 in our Vault has a 4x15 scope on it. 
Daisy Legacy model 22LR rifle in lightbox
The 2203 and 2213 used an interesting 7-shot detachable box magazine held into the mag well via a tension clip
Daisy Legacy model 22LR rifle in lightbox
The black slotted disk in the stock adjusts the length of pull from 12.25 to 14.25 inches, a handy feature on any Daisy! The feature was also seen on the copolymer-stocked Legacy 2202 bolt gun, which has an almost identical profile except for the bolt and magazine. 

Introduced in 1988, they were just around for a few years, ending production in 1991 as Daisy exited the firearm business. 

Over the past decade, prices on these guns have been climbing as they have passed into the more collectible realm with age as even the youngest Legacy is now 30 years old. Should you find one at a good price and elect to add it to the collection, "you're a Daisy if you do."

Love cool old guns like these? Be sure to check out our carefully curated Military Classics and Collector's Corner sections where history is just a click away.