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Author Topic: First hunting rifle for a kid  (Read 1026 times)

Offline jamesfromseattle

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First hunting rifle for a kid
« on: December 14, 2017, 01:01:13 PM »
The "Backcountry with kiddos" thread has gotten me fired up to start hunting with my kid (who won't even be born for another few months) and my nieces and nephews who are between 2 and 4 right now.  I guess I'm a big softie, but I think kid-sized hunting and fishing gear is freaking adorable.  Understanding that it will be sitting in the safe for another decade or so, I am already shopping for his/her first hunting rifle. 

We'll start him/her on airguns and 22s, but what do you think is the best centerfire for a kid to start with?  Of course the actual age s/he starts will depend on their maturity level, but for the argument lets say somewhere in the 8-10 year old range.

I am trying to decide between two different options:

1.  Get a bolt action gun in one of the common grown-up sized calibers (308, 30-06, etc) and start them with reduced recoil loads.  Once they were older they could move up to regular loads.  The upside is that they'll be able to stick with the same rifle indefinitely.  The downside is that it'll be heavier and a more complex type of weapon for them to use and care for. 

2.  Start with a really light, single shot, .243.  CVA makes some compact single shot .243s that people seem to like.  Upside is that it'll be light and easy for them to handle/care for at a young age.  I also like the idea of only having one round at a time for them to worry about.  Downside is that they'll grow out of it.  (Although dad might "borrow" it occasionally for high buck hunts).

Offline Remnar

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2017, 01:32:37 PM »
 This is my  :twocents: So take it as you will .
      I do not know al current CVA models . That being said , "hammer guns " dont seem to be the best choice for really young hunters . IMHO

Offline BigGoonTuna

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 01:35:22 PM »
single shot is not a bad idea, but most that i see around are sort of lower quality beaters now, especially since H&R no longer makes them.  As Remnar brought up, most of them are hammer guns and that can be dangerous in inexperienced hands.  it would be safer to use a bolt action and give them one round at a time.

i think the way to go would be to purchase a full sized rifle in a reasonable hunting caliber(.260 rem, 6.5x55, 7mm-08, .308 etc) , pick up a youth stock for it. and start them off on reduced loads.  that way, the rifle can grow with them.  this is what i will probably do for my kids if they decide they want to pick up hunting.  i don't think i would recommend the .243 when you can shoot more forgiving bullets out of larger calibers that may even kick less.
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Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 01:35:34 PM »
Lots of variables here like size of child and sensitivity to recoil.  My daughter shot her first deer this year.  She is small for her age (7) but she showed the drive, desire, and mental maturity to handle firearms safely and absorb the information to pass hunters ed.

If size and recoil sensitivity are an issue .243 is the natural choice.  Otherwise 7mm-08 with 120gr pills would be my first choice.  River American compact is a very inexpensive and accurate gun for the money.  I set one up for whitpirates son and was holding 3/4 MOA at 500 yards.

With my daughter we shot heart sized balloons at 50 yards with her .22 using field positions.  At the end of each session we would shoot her .243 2 or 3 times the same way.  For practice we used a 58gr vmax over 22gr imr3031.  VERY light recoil and was plenty accurate.  Basically equivalent to a .223

We also did target acquisition and dry fire drills at home in the living room. I have taken more than a few youth Hunters out for turkey and deer over the years and one thing I see the most with new Shooters is there an ability to find game in their scope. The drills really helped my daughter in that department.
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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 01:45:57 PM »
I think Karl meant Ruger American... :chuckle:

All his other points are spot on.. I would lean towards 7-08 or even the 6.5 Creedmor. The 6.5 is a fun gun to shoot.

Offline X-Force

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2017, 01:46:43 PM »
From my experience growing up hunting hammer guns are not a good idea, I used a model 94 32 special. Beautiful gun but not a gun for a kid imo.

As a kid its nice to have an easy visual cue for a safety. I like top tang safeties like browning and savage. A decent bolt gun in 243, 260, 6.5 cm, 7-08 would be how I would go. If your kid isn't carrying the gun much or if you carry it for them get a little heavier setup to take away recoil. Growing up with a 280 A bolt, that gun was more than I should have started with.
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Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2017, 01:51:26 PM »
I think Karl meant Ruger American... :chuckle:

All his other points are spot on.. I would lean towards 7-08 or even the 6.5 Creedmor. The 6.5 is a fun gun to shoot.
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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2017, 01:55:56 PM »
I've been on the look out and bought a ruger .243 when they were on major sale.  With today's bullets, a .243 seems like a perfect starter gun.

I've seen my wife shoot 2 elk with a .270 and neither made it 30 yards.  I'd rather than shoot a .243 well than learn bad habits out of the gate with an '06.

Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2017, 02:17:46 PM »
Thanks all for the input.  I have never shot a hammer gun before, but now that I'm thinking about it, I certainly understand how they wouldn't be ideal for kids.  I'm officially convinced that a bolt gun is the way to go.  Those Ruger Americans are cheap enough to just get a dedicated kid-gun chambered in 243 or 25-06, then get them a bigger gun when they are older. 

I started shooting with a 30-06 off the bat and developed a bad flinch that haunted me until recent years.  Really don't want to do that to them.

Offline WSU

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2017, 02:23:27 PM »
I think I bought the 243 for about $200.  At that price, I'll find a use for it if my kids decide they don't want it.

Also, I still remember a kid in my hunter safety class having the hammer accidentally drop on his little 410 during the shooting portion.  Fortunately, he had the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  But, little hands may not be strong enough to safely deal with a hammer.

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Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2017, 02:25:05 PM »
One great thing about the age we live in is there is an endless variety of gun/optics/calibers/bullets to choose from.  They all do the same thing in the end and that's put meat on the table  :tup:
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Offline jamesfromseattle

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Offline pianoman9701

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2017, 02:38:51 PM »
Lots of variables here like size of child and sensitivity to recoil. My daughter shot her first deer this year.  She is small for her age (7) but she showed the drive, desire, and mental maturity to handle firearms safely and absorb the information to pass hunters ed.

If size and recoil sensitivity are an issue .243 is the natural choice.  Otherwise 7mm-08 with 120gr pills would be my first choice.  River American compact is a very inexpensive and accurate gun for the money.  I set one up for whitpirates son and was holding 3/4 MOA at 500 yards.

With my daughter we shot heart sized balloons at 50 yards with her .22 using field positions.  At the end of each session we would shoot her .243 2 or 3 times the same way.  For practice we used a 58gr vmax over 22gr imr3031.  VERY light recoil and was plenty accurate.  Basically equivalent to a .223

We also did target acquisition and dry fire drills at home in the living room. I have taken more than a few youth Hunters out for turkey and deer over the years and one thing I see the most with new Shooters is there an ability to find game in their scope. The drills really helped my daughter in that department.

I'd wait until you know what your kid is like at the age you're getting them a firearm. You might end up with a massive kid who needs a big gun or a tiny kid that needs a much smaller rifle. I like your enthusiasm. Put the money away for something down the road.  :twocents:
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Offline Fl0und3rz

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2017, 02:51:33 PM »
Can somebody explain their position on hammer gun negatives?

Offline pianoman9701

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2017, 02:54:10 PM »
Young children sometimes have a hard time dropping the hammer back down safely.
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Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2017, 03:06:59 PM »
Young children sometimes have a hard time dropping the hammer back down safely.

It looks like the newer guns have a safety mechanism that prevents a misfire if the trigger isn't pulled, but I don't think I'd bet my family members' lives on those.

Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2017, 03:11:34 PM »
Lots of variables here like size of child and sensitivity to recoil. My daughter shot her first deer this year.  She is small for her age (7) but she showed the drive, desire, and mental maturity to handle firearms safely and absorb the information to pass hunters ed.

If size and recoil sensitivity are an issue .243 is the natural choice.  Otherwise 7mm-08 with 120gr pills would be my first choice.  River American compact is a very inexpensive and accurate gun for the money.  I set one up for whitpirates son and was holding 3/4 MOA at 500 yards.

With my daughter we shot heart sized balloons at 50 yards with her .22 using field positions.  At the end of each session we would shoot her .243 2 or 3 times the same way.  For practice we used a 58gr vmax over 22gr imr3031.  VERY light recoil and was plenty accurate.  Basically equivalent to a .223

We also did target acquisition and dry fire drills at home in the living room. I have taken more than a few youth Hunters out for turkey and deer over the years and one thing I see the most with new Shooters is there an ability to find game in their scope. The drills really helped my daughter in that department.

I'd wait until you know what your kid is like at the age you're getting them a firearm. You might end up with a massive kid who needs a big gun or a tiny kid that needs a much smaller rifle. I like your enthusiasm. Put the money away for something down the road.  :twocents:

You are using logical reasoning and sound advice against my irrational instinct to spend way too much money on hunting gear that I don't actually need.  I appreciate it, but you are giving me way too much credit for financial discipline.  :chuckle:

Offline The scout

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2017, 03:12:51 PM »
Ruger American compact 243. My buddy bought one to get set up for his kid (who wonít be hunting for another 5 Yearís) and that gun flat shoots just with factory ammo it just stacks them up. He will probably have the barrel burned out by the time his kid is old enough to hunt though, haha

Offline pianoman9701

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2017, 03:14:24 PM »
Lots of variables here like size of child and sensitivity to recoil. My daughter shot her first deer this year.  She is small for her age (7) but she showed the drive, desire, and mental maturity to handle firearms safely and absorb the information to pass hunters ed.

If size and recoil sensitivity are an issue .243 is the natural choice.  Otherwise 7mm-08 with 120gr pills would be my first choice.  River American compact is a very inexpensive and accurate gun for the money.  I set one up for whitpirates son and was holding 3/4 MOA at 500 yards.

With my daughter we shot heart sized balloons at 50 yards with her .22 using field positions.  At the end of each session we would shoot her .243 2 or 3 times the same way.  For practice we used a 58gr vmax over 22gr imr3031.  VERY light recoil and was plenty accurate.  Basically equivalent to a .223

We also did target acquisition and dry fire drills at home in the living room. I have taken more than a few youth Hunters out for turkey and deer over the years and one thing I see the most with new Shooters is there an ability to find game in their scope. The drills really helped my daughter in that department.

I'd wait until you know what your kid is like at the age you're getting them a firearm. You might end up with a massive kid who needs a big gun or a tiny kid that needs a much smaller rifle. I like your enthusiasm. Put the money away for something down the road.  :twocents:

You are using logical reasoning and sound advice against my irrational instinct to spend way too much money on hunting gear that I don't actually need.  I appreciate it, but you are giving me way too much credit for financial discipline.  :chuckle:

Dude, just go buy yourself a nice firearm. You know that's what's really going on here.  :chuckle:
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Offline jamesfromseattle

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2017, 03:18:46 PM »
Lots of variables here like size of child and sensitivity to recoil. My daughter shot her first deer this year.  She is small for her age (7) but she showed the drive, desire, and mental maturity to handle firearms safely and absorb the information to pass hunters ed.

If size and recoil sensitivity are an issue .243 is the natural choice.  Otherwise 7mm-08 with 120gr pills would be my first choice.  River American compact is a very inexpensive and accurate gun for the money.  I set one up for whitpirates son and was holding 3/4 MOA at 500 yards.

With my daughter we shot heart sized balloons at 50 yards with her .22 using field positions.  At the end of each session we would shoot her .243 2 or 3 times the same way.  For practice we used a 58gr vmax over 22gr imr3031.  VERY light recoil and was plenty accurate.  Basically equivalent to a .223

We also did target acquisition and dry fire drills at home in the living room. I have taken more than a few youth Hunters out for turkey and deer over the years and one thing I see the most with new Shooters is there an ability to find game in their scope. The drills really helped my daughter in that department.

I'd wait until you know what your kid is like at the age you're getting them a firearm. You might end up with a massive kid who needs a big gun or a tiny kid that needs a much smaller rifle. I like your enthusiasm. Put the money away for something down the road.  :twocents:

You are using logical reasoning and sound advice against my irrational instinct to spend way too much money on hunting gear that I don't actually need.  I appreciate it, but you are giving me way too much credit for financial discipline.  :chuckle:

Dude, just go buy yourself a nice firearm. You know that's what's really going on here.  :chuckle:

This is another logical conclusion in a conversation where logic has no place.

Offline Fl0und3rz

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2017, 04:03:21 PM »
Young children sometimes have a hard time dropping the hammer back down safely.

Ah, OK.  I presumed that I would be handling the rifle for all but the shot, but mine are still too young for even this thread.

Offline Stein

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2017, 04:08:17 PM »
I started my daughter on a Savage Axis youth .243 with a Vortex Diamondback scope on it.  Before that was a .22 but you mentioned centerfire.

It worked out great and she will probably continue using it the rest of her life.  At that pricepoint, if she ended up not interested in hunting I wouldn't be out much.  It is a nice enough rifle to never upgrade unless she wants to and if it gets dropped down a cliff or in a river I'm not going to cry.

If I had to do it over again, I would make the same choice unless the Ruger American happened to be on a better sale.

Those compact rifles are a dream to carry, if I didn't love my hunting rifle so much I would borrow hers for deer season.

Offline Special T

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2017, 04:22:34 PM »
I have a youth single shot with a shotgun and 22lr barrel that has a hammer. It is  difficult to cock the hammer for my girls. 

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Offline trapp01

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2017, 05:38:34 PM »
At 9 years old (60lbs) my pops started me off with a win 94 in 30-30. The first shot was dead nuts. Every shot after that I either closed my eyes or flinched to the point that I couldn't hit paper at 50 yards. When we got home and my mom saw my shoulder she chased my pops out of the house.
 He came back with a pawn shop ruger m77 mk 2 in 243 and cut the stock off with hacksaw and put a rubber pad on it. He kept the cut off stock and glue the pieces back on as I grew then at 14 we put a hogue overmold rubberized stock on it.
 I turn 29 in a few months and i still use that rifle for all big game in wa. My daughter turns 9 in a few years and I'll slap the cut off stock back on it and the process starts again. I'd rather have her shoot well with a low recoil rifle than develope bad habits and make up for it with caliber.

Offline WapitiTalk1

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2017, 05:49:50 PM »
Myself and two brothers started with BB guns, then a shared Benjamin pellet gun, then .22s, then my pop bought us a shared 20G/.22 over under Savage.  That was the coolest gun ever to us.  Yes, its a hammer gun but with the flick of the thumb on the hammer selector switch, you could select either .22 or 20G.  Some kind of grouse gun I tell ya  ;).  Keep the hammer switch on 20G when walking the grouse trails... one flushes, hammer back, get your bead on the bird... boom.  Dumb grouse wants to sit on the trail clucking?  Flick the hammer switch to .22 and shoot it in the neck... Loved that gun.  Sorry, diverted from your center fire question a bit.     

Edit:  Oh, and 50 brazillion+2  NW MT gophers met their fate at the hands of that formidable weapon  ;)

« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 06:00:38 PM by WapitiTalk1 »
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Offline Buckhunter28

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2017, 07:50:03 PM »
My first hunting rifle was a lever action '64 Winchester Model 88, I loved that gun and still do, but it's a safe King now as I've purchased other guns and that one is more a family heirloom, passed from my great-grandmother to my father to me. But my number one pick in an entry level, I'd give a definite plus one to the 6.5 creed over .243, or any other smaller, low recoil calibers, but I will admit, I am biased towards that round  :chuckle: :dunno: few reasons why: there are a lot more ethical load options with the 6.5 over .243, now I have never owned a .243, but the bullet weights don't get too high with them, you max out in the low 100s. With the 6.5, you can get much higher bullet weights, and push them at better velocities. Next thing I would give to the 6.5 is that it is lights out accurate, and, in my opinion, ethical out to a much farther range and more applicable to a variety of species, which will give your kid room to grow into it as a shooter. They won't outgrow the gun when they are ready to hunt elk or take some longer shots! Lastly is the BC you get with some of the higher weight bullets, they are just phenomenal for a smaller caliber. Then, factor all this in with its not-so-bad recoil, and I think you've got a great gun to start your kid out on that they can use throughout their entire hunting career. Just my  :twocents: :tup: Congrats on being a soon to be father!

Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2017, 07:56:36 PM »
6.5 creed is a great caliber but the recoil of a 130+gr bullet over a larger powder charge creates significantly more recoil than a .243.  If the child can handle it then absolutely go bigger than 6mm but there is absolutely zero unethical qualities in a 6mm.  My youth hunters along with friends and myself have taken many critters with the .243 and most have been spectacular bang flops.  BC is a way over rated thing for about 98% of shooters.  Vast majority of people will never shoot far enough to take advantage of a higher BC bullet.  Especially at ranges that a child will be shooting :twocents:
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Offline Alchase

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2017, 11:03:39 AM »
I started my Sons on a Marlin 22, made them load one at a time.
Then Winchester (youth) Model 70 in .243WSSM for dear and elk.
A cheap Stevens breach load single shot 12 gauge for grouse.
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Offline JDHasty

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Offline Special T

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #30 on: December 15, 2017, 11:26:56 AM »
Myself and two brothers started with BB guns, then a shared Benjamin pellet gun, then .22s, then my pop bought us a shared 20G/.22 over under Savage.  That was the coolest gun ever to us.  Yes, its a hammer gun but with the flick of the thumb on the hammer selector switch, you could select either .22 or 20G.  Some kind of grouse gun I tell ya  ;).  Keep the hammer switch on 20G when walking the grouse trails... one flushes, hammer back, get your bead on the bird... boom.  Dumb grouse wants to sit on the trail clucking?  Flick the hammer switch to .22 and shoot it in the neck... Loved that gun.  Sorry, diverted from your center fire question a bit.     

Edit:  Oh, and 50 brazillion+2  NW MT gophers met their fate at the hands of that formidable weapon  ;)
Have that same gun, and man is it cool.  It would be sweet if they made a 223 or 243 over a 12 tho!

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Offline Calvin Rayborn

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2017, 09:10:47 PM »
Ain't nuthin' wrong with a '94! First centerfire as a kid. Old man put a pillow on little Cal's shoulder for the first shot (steel buttplate), after that it was lock and load till the cows came home! If you can't handle a '94 hammer, you got nowhere near the strength or dexterity to be fooling with a firearm.

Offline PA BEN

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2017, 06:13:54 PM »
I have 5 daughters each shot their first deer w a Winchester youth ranger model 70 in 7mm-08.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 06:21:00 PM by PA BEN »

Offline Magnum_Willys

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2017, 09:54:09 PM »
Rugar compact 7mm-08 was sonís first.  Threw on brake to eliminate kick. Earmuffs mandatory though.  He could drive tacks with it at age 8 at 100 and shot well out past 500.

Offline Tjkride

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #34 on: January 06, 2018, 11:40:46 AM »
CZ makes wonderful blued and wood stocked youth guns in 7.62x39. The 527 is acailable with irons too. Cheap for lots of practice and low recoil. With good projectiles its plenty for deer sized game inside 200 yards.
Practical accuracy and a packable rifle.
Blued steel and walnut is always better.

Offline Wingin it

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #35 on: January 06, 2018, 02:38:06 PM »
My vote is for the 7mm-08 with 120 grain light recoil rounds to get started. I think the 6.5 creedmoor is also a solid option.

Offline Jpmiller

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Re: First hunting rifle for a kid
« Reply #36 on: January 06, 2018, 07:04:45 PM »
My dad got me a model 70 in 308. It was a little big for me and did intimidate me the first year. I remember driving to the range and getting too scared to shoot it and being embarrassed and crying the whole way home. He bought a bunch of add on recoil reducing stuff for it and loaded me some lower recoil loads but that embarrassed me even more. I got over it the second year and it's still my only hunting rifle over twenty years later but I could see how it very easily could have made me want to stop shooting and hunting.

Each kid is different but I think when my boys are a little older I will start them on a real low recoil rifle before I buy they a "forever" gun.

I still love the rifle and my dad for the record  :chuckle:

 

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