Hunting Washington Forum

Equipment & Gear => Guns and Ammo => Topic started by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 11:04:42 AM

Title: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 11:04:42 AM
So lots of options for me. I'm starting to think about a centerfire hunting rifle for my oldest son (5 y.o.). I currently shoot a model 70 .308 and it was the first centerfire I got. My old man got it for me and honestly I was scared to shoot it when I was a kid, like cry at the range didn't like the beating it gave me scared. My old man didn't want me to outgrow a smaller caliber with a lower kick and have to buy me another rifle so his thing was get through a couple years until I grew bigger and then I'd be fine. I love my dad and he did a great job getting me into hunting and shooting but I would like to avoid that.

My oldest boy is average size but he is a little bit delicate. He is getting better slowly but he definitely doesn't like discomfort and pain so I definitely want to start him on something with a light kick, looking back and talking to some other guys I feel Lucky my 308 experience didn't sour me on shooting.

I kind of want a new rifle for myself (I even have one picked out in my old man's safe  :chuckle:) so I had thought about maybe just getting a better recoil pad for the 308 and working up some lower pressure loads for it and having him start there with my current rifle but I've never actually done either. I don't know if a recoil pad will actually cut down all that much felt recoil and how much a lower powder charge will affect things.

I've got two more future shooters coming up behind him so I was also thinking about just buying either a 243 or a 6.5 creedmore and possibly doing the same with a recoil pad and reduced loads since I can get more service out of the rifle. I shot a buddies 6.5 the last time I had my rifle out and it was considerably less felt recoil than my 308 and it was super accurate to boot. Like, my buddy had just bought it, shot it a dozen times before he handed it to me so he could get it on paper and my first three shots were as close as my 308 does (I'm a decent shot not a great shot). I know guys talk about how a 6.5 is the best and greatest but I feel like eventually he would need a bigger caliber but who knows. Maybe he needs that when he is old enough to buy his own rifle.

Would love to hear what some of the more knowledgeable folks think and what other dad's of young kids have done for a first centerfire rifle, especially experiences with recoil pads and reduced loads. Don't really want a brake as I don't like shooting at the range at opposite ends with a guy shooting a brake so I can't imagine how loud it must be pulling the trigger. Thanks.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: ghosthunter on April 08, 2020, 11:11:06 AM
I was in the same boat with my grandson and two grand daughters coming up.

I went Savage 7mm 08. Kill anything in this state, pleasure to shoot. Tons of ammo choices.

In fact I like the 7mm 08 so much it will be my next rifle for retirement. Instead of the 30 06.

Ruger American or Savage :tup:
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: kselkhunter on April 08, 2020, 11:11:28 AM
When my nephew was younger, and before I started reloading, I used the Hornady Custom Lite reduced recoil loads in my 30-06 to teach him how to shoot.   They make them for 308 also.  My guess is those would make it feel like a 243 or 25-06, depending on the weight of your rifle.   

But an excuse to buy a new rifle is always warranted and welcomed.   :)
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: magnanimous_j on April 08, 2020, 11:13:10 AM
You didn't mention how much you wanted to spend. If it were me, I'd get him a bolt-action .22lr. I personally like the CZ 457. He'll always have room in the safe for a .22lr bolt, and it will last his whole life.

Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 11:16:29 AM
You didn't mention how much you wanted to spend. If it were me, I'd get him a bolt-action .22lr. I personally like the CZ 457. He'll always have room in the safe for a .22lr bolt, and it will last his whole life.

He has a 22lr now, he can manage the recoil on that still  :chuckle: I'm thinking more centerfire in a year or so. I don't want to spend a ton on it but I want it to function.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: ghosthunter on April 08, 2020, 11:24:17 AM
You didn't mention how much you wanted to spend. If it were me, I'd get him a bolt-action .22lr. I personally like the CZ 457. He'll always have room in the safe for a .22lr bolt, and it will last his whole life.

He has a 22lr now, he can manage the recoil on that still  :chuckle: I'm thinking more centerfire in a year or so. I don't want to spend a ton on it but I want it to function.

Look at the Ruger and Savage package rifles. Come with scopes too. Great starters and glass can be changed later.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: bearpaw on April 08, 2020, 12:18:20 PM
Pretty tough to beat the weatherby vanguard youth compact, all the popular youth calibers, shorter rifle, removable stock spacer to shorten or lengthen stock, guaranteed accuracy .99 or better. You can get them for about 5 bills.

https://weatherby.com/store/vanguard-synthetic-compact/
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 12:25:59 PM
Bearpaw I was thinking I'd get a weatherby for myself if I can't pry my grandpa's old Remington from my dad. Always wanted one, it would be a hard pill to swallow to get one for the kids before I get one for me  :chuckle: thats significantly cheaper than any of the options I looked at for myself though.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Bob33 on April 08, 2020, 12:33:18 PM
My thoughts:

1. Make sure the rifle fits.
2. Use reduced recoil ammunition to start, even with a milder caliber.
3. Make sure he uses excellent hearing protection. The anticipation of a "boom" can lead to flinching as much or more than recoil.

If you decide to get a new rifle, I'd consider the 7mm-08 as an excellent all around cartridge. I got my son a Savage youth-sized rifle in 7mm-08 when he was younger. It came with a 3-9x Nikon scope that's more than adequate. My son has killed plenty of critters with it. When he outgrew it my daughter used it to kill her first deer. It's a joy to carry and shoot.

Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Igor on April 08, 2020, 12:34:56 PM
With both of my sons I had the same inclination your Dad had........I wanted them to grow up using the same rifle that they started with.  I chose the .30-'06 and it has worked out fine.  The oldest is now 43 and the youngest is soon to be 39, and they both still have the Browning A-Bolts they started with as 11-year-olds as their hunting rifles.  I wanted them to have quality rifles, and those Brownings have been an excellent choice. 

I did my homework and learned to reload light loads for both of them.  Those loads worked fine and they both killed deer with them.  Eventually, they worked their way up to full loads, and they still shoot those today.  You do have to be very careful when working with light/reduced loads, but in my experience it has been worth it.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Slow-drifter on April 08, 2020, 01:16:35 PM
I bought 2 of my kids Ruger American compact 7-08s. Worked perfectly, and aftermarket stocks are easy to find when they grow out of the youth model. Liked the 7-08 so much I ended up with one for myself, though a little more "fancy" than a Ruger American
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: The scout on April 08, 2020, 01:22:20 PM
 :yeah: I prefer the 243 but the youth Ruger American, for a cheap gun they shoot really really well.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: jasnt on April 08, 2020, 01:31:37 PM
Iíd go with a 243 or 6cm.  Definitely recommend the Weatherby vanguard bear paw brought up. If they start to out grow it change the barrel to 7/08 or 308 and the stock if need be. Cheaper than buying a new gun and they will enjoy shooting it much more
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: HAGEMANIAC on April 08, 2020, 01:41:20 PM
Weatherby Camilla in 7mm-08  :tup:
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: rainshadow1 on April 08, 2020, 01:56:54 PM
I've had a bunch of kids take their first (second, third,) deer with Rem 700 Youth in 243.  I handloaded for accuracy, not peak velocity, and used lead spitzers. I was really astonished at the knock down power out to 200.

My bigger boys are on to 7mm Mag, and 300 Mag, and the smaller ones are likely fading away from big game, at least until I find another high percentage meat getting spot! But I'm really grateful for the time we had with the 700 Youths and the 243. (I myself find them great timber guns for Cougars too!)
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 05:18:59 PM
Thanks for all the input so far gents. What's everyones experience with recoil pads been? Would upgrading that be helpful too or just a waste of time and money? Want to do everything I can to make it fun for him.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Hilltop123 on April 08, 2020, 05:21:39 PM
Most new guns come with some pretty nice pads, the last 4-6 I have bought already had very nice pads installed. One thing gun manufactures have been getting right........
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: jasnt on April 08, 2020, 05:32:08 PM
Limbsaver has made shooting for my daughter much better in her opinion
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: huntnphool on April 08, 2020, 05:46:32 PM
 JP, I have a couple compact rifles my kids hunt with, (243 and 7mm08) you are welcome to have him shoot before you buy something if you would like.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: brokentrail on April 08, 2020, 06:50:59 PM
I've had good luck with a Rem 700 youth model in .243 for all 3 of my boys, although, I didn't start them out quite as young as you are.  They shot it, weren't afraid of it and all 3 killed deer with it.  I used factory rounds as I don't reload.  I like the lightness of the gun so much, now I carry it half the time during deer season instead of my model 70 .308
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 06:54:30 PM
JP, I have a couple compact rifles my kids hunt with, (243 and 7mm08) you are welcome to have him shoot before you buy something if you would like.

I really appreciate the offer! He's about a year out I think but when the time comes I will definitely keep the offer in mind!
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 06:55:45 PM
Limbsaver has made shooting for my daughter much better in her opinion

I was looking at their stuff since their name comes up alot. Their site says 70% reduction in recoil, was what you guys experienced anywhere near that? I might have to try it on my rifle if it works that well. Was your daughter using one of their slip on ones or an attached one?
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: jasnt on April 08, 2020, 07:44:14 PM
It was a screw on.  The slip on ones sucked for us.  Kept slipping to one side or the other.   Idk if 70% is accurate but it definitely helped.  She is small or was and she went from nope no more to ok just few more rounds dad then we can go in. 
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: kselkhunter on April 08, 2020, 07:45:56 PM
I have the grind to fit Limbsaver on my 35 Whelen, and love it.  Makes shooting heavy bullets in an 8lb rifle manageable.  Significant improvement over the other pad that was on it before.   I'm not sure if you'd notice the improvement as much in a lighter caliber like a 243 or 7mm-08.   
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on April 08, 2020, 08:11:46 PM
I can't say I understand all the ins and outs of recoil but is a 7mm-08 really much less kick than a 308? Isn't it the same case?

I'd have thought it's about the same recoil wise I'm surprised to see so many people listing it as a good kids caliber. Not that a 307 is really a thumper but it's not as tame as some other calibers.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: ghosthunter on April 08, 2020, 08:20:03 PM
I can't say I understand all the ins and outs of recoil but is a 7mm-08 really much less kick than a 308? Isn't it the same case?

I'd have thought it's about the same recoil wise I'm surprised to see so many people listing it as a good kids caliber. Not that a 307 is really a thumper but it's not as tame as some other calibers.

The 7 mm 08 seems to be popular now because it is a platform that kids can shoot for life even if they later get into shooting longer distances. I had a 308 auto and I think the 7 mm 08 had less recoil also. :twocents:
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: huntnphool on April 08, 2020, 08:24:34 PM
I can't say I understand all the ins and outs of recoil but is a 7mm-08 really much less kick than a 308? Isn't it the same case?

I'd have thought it's about the same recoil wise I'm surprised to see so many people listing it as a good kids caliber. Not that a 307 is really a thumper but it's not as tame as some other calibers.

 I have a 308 as well and my kids prefer the 7-08 over all three.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: ckr on April 08, 2020, 09:02:29 PM
I went with the Ruger American compact for my son.  I hand load and was able to load it down to super light loads .  He has since moved on to a 300 win but always goes back to the 308 when moving through the brush. 
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: BigGoonTuna on April 09, 2020, 08:39:42 AM
My first deer rifle was a model 70 featherweight in 7mm-08, for some reason that one always seemed to have a healthy dose of recoil, and Iíd get a sore shoulder after a box of ammo, even with its fairly substantial factory recoil pad. The only other 7mm-08 Iíd ever shot kicked about the same, but it was a short barreled handi rifle that belonged to an RSO at the evergreen sportsmanís club.

I donít know what it is about my experience with that chambering, but I shoot a lot harder kicking calibers with a lot less discomfort, including a ruger 30-06 with the infamous boat paddle stock. May have something to do with stock design.

Alright, enough of my tangent here, I saw the OP mentioned that they handload, that would make me recommend getting a lighter ďadultĒ rifle and putting in a youth stock. With something like a .308, you can load up something like a 125gr ballistic tip or accubond at around 2500fps, this will duplicate a 7.62x39, good for around 150-200 yards and pretty low on recoil and noise. Once he can handle some more, you can step it up to .300 savage level at 2900-3000fps, or step up to a 150gr bullet at 2500-2600fps. This would realistically cover about any normal hunting situation and still be pretty mild. Finally, you can load that .308 to itís full potential with a 150gr bullet at 2900fps or go to a 165 or 180gr bullet.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Rob on April 09, 2020, 10:02:43 AM
One idea for you would be to look into the wearable recoil pads.
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1002530831?pid=680235

I use one when shooting big bores off the bench and they do help.

A field weight version might do wonders for a young kid.  I have found that just the suggestion that something will reduce recoil has a magic effect of making someone think it really does.  So the placebo effect alone might be worth while.

Bench shooting for extended times can be brutal...


I have introduced a number of young and new shooters to firearms.  I find spending a day at the range moving up in recoil is a good method.  i.e.
1.  Start with a 22 LR for a few rounds (familiar, quieter, no noticeable recoil)
2.  Move to a 223 or 204 ruger style (AR platform is even better)  This helps deal with the aforementioned "boom" effect seen when moving from a 22LR to a center fire.
3.  Go with a mid-level firearm like a 243 or a 22.250.  Now you are dealing with some recoil, but after shooting a 22 and a 223, both the trigger pull and extra noise have been experienced so adding a bit of push is easier to consume.
4.  If you want to move on to a 30.06 Springfield or similar, it is just one more step up the ladder


I try to limit the shooting to an hour or so tops.  And if possible I look for a time when the range is less crowded as it can be hard to talk and coach when people are shooting 300 WM's with brakes 3 feet from your ear!  Also quite intimidating for the new shooter.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Katmai Guy on April 09, 2020, 11:17:11 AM
I started my son at 8yr old with a NEF .243 single shot.  Low recoil, but not the lightest weight wise.  He still uses it for coyotes and he's 18.  He loves that little thing.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Stein on April 09, 2020, 11:28:14 AM
I'm seriously thinking about picking up a 7.62x39 bolt gun for my son to learn on, ammo is cheap and recoil is low.  I only wish the budget rifles chambered in them, I think they would sell a bunch.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Rob on April 09, 2020, 12:09:44 PM
Looks like some options out there including the Ruger American Ranch
https://www.gunbroker.com/Bolt-Action-Rifles/search?Keywords=7.62x39&Sort=13&PageSize=24
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on July 23, 2021, 10:14:41 PM
So I finally got around to picking up a limbsaver recoil pad. Going to throw it on and see what the difference is. Won't be hunting with it until November so can still get a few range trips in before season. Hopefully it works like it's supposed to and next winter I'll figure out some lighter loads for it too.

 I've typically used 165s, I've asked a couple folks I know and gotten conflicting info. Would a lighter bullet give less felt recoil or heavier? Started a bit of a fight asking some buddies so you folks keep it civil!
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: jrebel on July 23, 2021, 10:41:41 PM
So I finally got around to picking up a limbsaver recoil pad. Going to throw it on and see what the difference is. Won't be hunting with it until November so can still get a few range trips in before season. Hopefully it works like it's supposed to and next winter I'll figure out some lighter loads for it too.

 I've typically used 165s, I've asked a couple folks I know and gotten conflicting info. Would a lighter bullet give less felt recoil or heavier? Started a bit of a fight asking some buddies so you folks keep it civil!

Lighter bullets will have less felt recoil in most cases.  The exception being a heavy bullet with a subsonic round and a lighter bullet with a stout round (kind of extreme example but you get the point).   Lighter bullets have less felt recoil in most hunting ammo. 

I am loading my daughters 6.5 creedmoor with a 124gr. bullet with a stout powder charge that is chronographing at 2850 fps and it is less felt recoil than the 140 grain bullet at 2680 fps. 
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: bobcat on July 23, 2021, 10:56:16 PM
Definitely go with a lighter bullet such as a 150, or even 125/130 if you can find it. Big difference in recoil.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: hunter399 on July 24, 2021, 03:14:23 AM
Cheapest budget rifles are gonna be savage axis,Mossberg patriot.

308 really shines with the 150gr ,will have less recoil lower bullet wt.
My son is 15 and almost my weight,so recoil was never an issue. He shoots 308 ,loaded to max,150 gr.
But the one thing I think help him the most is.
I had him dry fire that rifle many many many times ,next day after target shooting. Just so he would know when that trigger breaks. Made him hold on a target and dry fire at home with no loaded ammo around. Seems like he got really dialed in after that.
I know some rifles you can't do that ,his is a axis.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: fowl smacker on July 24, 2021, 05:58:16 AM
Bought my girls (13 & 10) a Ruger American compact in 7mm-08, put a limb saver on, had the barrel threaded so I can attach my suppressor to it.  Both of them say it kicks like their .22.  Even with the suppressor off, it doesn't kick much.  My plan was to make up some reduced recoil loads for them, but it won't be necessary.  And it shoots under moa,  I'm impressed with it for an inexpensive rifle.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Jpmiller on July 24, 2021, 07:59:19 AM
Thanks  I'll try and keep an eye out for those lighter .308 bullets. He is a slim kid so I'll try everything to get recoil down shy of a brake.

I'm really leaning towards buying myself a new rifle or sneaking my grandfather's from my dad's place next time I'm over and letting the kids use my current rifle.

Or maybe I'll get a new rifle for me and one for each of them too, the possibilities are endless. I've got room in the safe....
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: buckfvr on July 24, 2021, 08:48:58 AM
My kids are grown and gone, however if it was me with whats available today, Id start them out with a good Savage .243 and once they got a little older, Id spin on a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel.  That would give them all the fire power needed for deer until they were old enough to decide for themselves what they really wanted in the future, if they werent satisfied with the 6.5.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: HooknoseHunter on July 24, 2021, 03:35:01 PM
Weatherby Camilla in 7mm-08  :tup:

Thatís a girls rifle Jimmy
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: deerhunter_98520 on July 24, 2021, 04:24:11 PM
My youngest is hunting this year for the first time, I have a Remington 788 in .243 and just ordered a boyds at one stock and a 1" kickeez pad for it. Going to start him out with 70gr and load on the low end to get him used to shooting it.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: medic6 on July 24, 2021, 05:04:53 PM
I had a similar issue with my two boys 10/12. I should add they are on the very small side of the growth curve.  I started with the axis .243 youth and then added the youth adjustable .308 Turns out neither one of them could fell the difference in kick even changing grain size.  To them kick was kick and they hated it.  I would have them shoot 2-3 rounds each and call it a day.  They love the 22lr and shoot the heck out of it, but did not like shooting the upgrade at first.  I made sure going forward they had bulky sweaters or jackets on and made it as comfortable as possible for handling and target shooting with only a few rounds each time.   Once we cleared that little hurtle, when the first deer was shot i asked about the kick and my kiddo said what kick I didn't feel a thing as he jacked up for his first deer.  Something else to think about, my kids for duck shoot a single shot 20g henrys which is super light but kicks like a horse and an off brand pump 20g which is super heavy and they hate carrying but love to shoot.   The weight really does eat up the kick. not sure if that applies to rifles as much.  best of luck......
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: HooknoseHunter on July 25, 2021, 09:48:30 AM
I opted to start my 10 yo son out with an H&R single shot .270. I loaded 100rds with a 130gr Speer Hot Cor using Trail Boss powder so he could practice his fundamentals and get acclimated to the rifle without developing a flinch. Then I loaded up 100rds using the same bullet and the starting load of RL15. This load is still very light kicking but is plenty fast enough to kill deer. He got extremely proficient with that load and killed his first deer last year at age 11. Iím going to let him use that rifle for a couple more years and then Iíll start the whole process over with a Rem 700 CDL 30-06 Iíve had tucked away for awhile. Good luck and have fun with your boys!
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: bwgdc on July 25, 2021, 10:05:43 AM
I started my son who was 7 at the time with the ruger American 243 compact shoot the 55gr. The recoil was almost nothing. The down side to the compact is how loud it is with the short barrel it was worse than my 300 rum. If I was to do it again I would buy the standard ruger American 243 and swap the stock for the compact till he outgrew it.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Igor on July 25, 2021, 10:10:22 AM
I went a little different route when my sons started hunting.  I made the decision to start them with the rifle that would be their hunting rifle, and not change things up on them as they got older.  For both, the choice was a Browning A-Bolt in .30-'06.  I started them off at age 12 shooting reduced loads to minimize recoil.  From reduced loads to light loads to full loads was just a matter of a few years, and recoil was never an issue with either of them.

Both are now in their 40s, and they still have those Brownings as their deer rifles.
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: Bob33 on July 25, 2021, 10:13:31 AM
Don't forget that flinching is caused not only by anticipation of recoil but also loud noise. Make sure to use quality hearing protection while practicing and even when hunting if possible.  :twocents:
Title: Re: Options for kids first gun
Post by: greenhead_killer on July 25, 2021, 10:14:50 AM
i bought both a 308 and a 6.5 creedmore for my daughter to try. ruger american predator. they shoot well and are easy to use. not very expensive. should be an easy way to get into the game and can sell down the road and upgrade if need be. id imagine she will go with the 308 as it has a mb but both are low recoil guns anyways. something inexpensive and functional is all she will need to get her foot in the door.
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