Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Applying Common Sense

You wouldn’t buy a deer rifle that was so heavy you could not hold it up and shoot it offhand, nor would you buy one that kicked like a mule. When you are shopping for a deer rifle for a kid, do the smart thing and take the kid with you.

It’s your job to teach your kids how to shoot, how to read sign, how to move when in the woods and how to hunt. You should make sure they have warm clothes and boots that will keep their feet dry. And, just as importantly, make sure they have a rifle that fits them and shoots comfortably.

Don’t expect them to do their job in the woods if you don’t do yours.

Featured photo: A young Sebastian (Bat) Mann with his deer rifle. (Richard Mann)

Shotguns and Rifles for Young Hunters — Gun World Magazine

What we found in listening to the kids over the course of our test surprised us. Accuracy wasn’t the most important consideration when they judged the rifles. Gentle recoil, while still plenty important, wasn’t the biggest factor in how the testers graded the youth shotguns and rifles. Instead, what this next generation of firearms owners told us is that they want a gun that is built to fit their dimensions, is easy and safe to shoot, and has plenty of cool factor. Happily, there were more than a couple of youth shotguns and rifles in our field that satisfied their discerning tastes.

Opening day of deer season will soon be here. Is the budding big-game hunter that you’ll accompany afield this season properly prepared with the ideal rifle? Here’s some sage advice concerning caliber for the youngster.

Selecting the optimal chambering for the novice deer hunter should extend beyond, “Just give me one in .30-06 Springfield.” Why? An imprudent choice can reduce the would-be-invaluable range sessions senseless. Unnecessarily harsh recoil induces flinch, which is counterproductive to accuracy, and it diminishes the desire to practice, too. Let’s be honest, who enjoys being viciously hit in the face and/or shoulder? Assuredly, it’s very few riflemen. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves the greenhorn ill-prepared for the field. Without the confidence—and ability—to deliver the bullet accurately, a miss or even worse, wounding, is likely to result.

The reality is, most calibers that are legal for hunting whitetail and mule deer are more than sufficient for downing them—given that the bullet is of sound construction and precisely placed. Moreover, the beginner isn’t likely to take a long-distance shot, unless said shot was practiced on the range.

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Taking this in account, the decision really comes down to choosing a cartridge that’s easy on the shoulder and wallet—the latter being important for the non-handloader who demands that the novice practice religiously. Being widely available in diverse offerings is a bonus. Lastly, you must predict the future. I’m not talking Nostradamus; rather, if you anticipate the apprentice using his or her deer rifle to pursue larger, tougher species, such as elk, then it needs to be capable of (and legal for) doing so.

To ease the decision-making process, I’ve chosen five shoulder-friendly options for the new deer hunter and have outlined the advantages and drawbacks (if any) of each below. Obviously, some possibilities, such as the .257 Roberts, were omitted. Nonetheless, all of selections will dependably serve the novice deer hunter, and many will also handle all non-dangerous game they’ll ever encounter.

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

1. .243 Winchester
No list of new-hunter cartridges is complete without the ubiquitous .243 Winchester. Developed by Winchester as a dual-purpose—hunting varmints and deer-size game—cartridge, it has faithfully served in said role since 1955. Probably more first-time deer hunters today go afield with the .243 than any other cartridge. Given the bullet weights of .24 caliber and the velocities generated by the .243 Win., I prefer to use “premium” controlled-expansion bullets—especially on larger deer species. These projectiles provide a measure of insurance in case of a less-than-ideal shot or tough angle; the vitals will still be impacted.

Advantages:
• Mild recoil
• Proven performance on deer and antelope
• Flat-shooting cartridge
• Amazing assortment of factory ammunition (MidwayUSA.com alone lists 46 loads)
• Inexpensive ammunition and components
• Hunting-specific bullets available in weights ranging from 55 to 115 grains
• Useful for varmints, predators and deer-size game
• Nearly universally chambered (and in short-action rifles)
• Nearly universally available ammunition

Drawbacks:
• Maximum hunting bullet weight is 100 grains in most factory ammunition
• Not well-suited for game bigger than deer

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

2. .25-06 Remington
Originally a wildcat dating back to 1920, Remington formally adopted the cartridge in 1969. It’s been devoutly supported a small cadre of big-game hunters since. As with the .243 Win., the .25-06 Remington has seen use as a dual-purpose cartridge, though primarily so for small predators and big game. Why? While excellent for distant rock chucks and woodchucks, the cartridge’s recoil is a tad much for the extended shooting sessions common to prairie dog towns. That’s a moot point for predator hunters. Beyond being an excellent deer round, when loaded with a heavy, controlled-expansion bullet, such as the 120-grain Nosler Partition or Speer Grand Slam, the .25-06 Rem. is a verified elk killer.

Advantages:
• Proven performance on deer and larger game
• Hunting-specific bullets available in weights ranging from 70 to 120 grains
• Flat-shooting cartridge
• Useful for large varmints, predators and larger game (including elk)
• Decent assortment of factory ammunition (MidwayUSA.com alone lists 23 loads)
• Respectable selection of rifles chambered in it (especially from Savage Arms)

Drawbacks:
• Recoil is too harsh for long shooting sessions
• Requires a heavier, long-action rifle
• Ammunition is generally costlier than other “standard” chamberings 
• .25 caliber bullets have relatively low ballistic coefficients

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

3. .260 Remington
“Tainted” is best way to describe the 1997 introduction of the .260 Remington, which rightfully should have been coined “6.5-08 A-Square” due to A-Square providing SAAMI all of the materials necessary for adoption many months before Remington. As is evident by its name, Remington ended up reaping the rewards. Nevertheless, the short-action cartridge experienced little success among hunters initially, even though it compared favorably to the long-time European favorite, the 6.5x55mm. Success at various long-range competitions such as NRA High Power caught the attention of hunters who wanted a low-recoil, flat-shooting, big-game cartridge—particularly for deer-sized game. The round would be a viable option for the low-volume pursuits of marmots and predator hunting.

Advantages:
• Proven performance on deer and larger game
• Hunting-specific bullets available in weights ranging from 95 to 160 grains
• Mild recoil
• Flat-shooting cartridge
• Useful for large varmints, predators and large game (including elk)
• Decent assortment of factory ammunition (MidwayUSA.com alone lists 20 loads, though many are match-specific options)
• Respectable selection of rifles chambered in it (especially from Remington and Savage Arms)
• Most 6.5mm bullets have high ballistic coefficients and sectional densities

Drawbacks:
• Requires a 1:8″ twist barrel to stabilize the heaviest bullets (many early .260s had 1:9″ or slower barrels)
• Ammunition is generally more expensive than other “standard” chamberings

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

4. 6.5 Creedmoor
Two decades after the introduction of the .260 Rem., Hornady unveiled the 6.5 Creedmoor, which, frankly, is what the Remington cartridge should have been. Though virtually identical in regard to ballistics, it has a vastly superior case design. That’s because the cartridge was designed from the get-go as an across the board competition and big-game cartridge capable of utilizing the full range of 0.264-inch diameter bullets, including those of the VLD design. How good is it? This cartridge alone has changed American’s perceptions about 6.5mm cartridges, and it was recently adopted by USSOCOM and DHS snipers, too. To this, I’d like to add that I used the cartridge to take a large Nebraska whitetail, as well as several game animals in South Africa, including black wildebeest (300 yards), Cape kudu (341 yards) and impala (401 yards), among others. All were one-shot kills. Plus, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers mild recoil to boot. Yeah, it’s good.

Advantages:
• Proven performance on deer and larger game
• Hunting-specific bullets available in weights ranging from 95 to 160 grains
• Mild recoil
• Flat-shooting cartridge
• Useful for large varmints, predators and large game (including elk)
• Amazing assortment of factory ammunition (MidwayUSA.com alone lists 49 loads, though a lot are match-specific options)
• Large selection of rifles chambered in it
• Most 6.5mm bullets have high ballistic coefficients and sectional densities
• Has at least a 1:8″ twist barrel to stabilize the heaviest 6.5mm bullets
• Ammunition and components are priced comparable to other «standard» chamberings

Drawbacks:
• None

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

5. 7mm-08 Remington
Yet another wildcat legitimized by Remington, the 7mm-08 Rem. arrived on the scene in 1980. Having the same parent case as the .243 Win. and .260 Rem., the short-action 7mm-08 Remington also offers excellent downrange performance on deer-sized game without undue recoil. However, it’s arguably superior to all others on this list when larger species are pursued, as premium-quality hunting bullets in 0.284-inch diameter weigh upward of 180 grains, though those in the 140- to 160-grain range are the most popular. When using a lightweight, fragile projectile, such as the Hornady 120-grain V-Max, the 7mm-08 Remington chambered deer rifle nicely pulls double-duty for prowling predators and destructive marmots.

Advantages:
• Proven performance on deer and larger game
• Hunting-specific bullets available in weights ranging from 120 to 180 grains
• Mild recoil
• Flat-shooting cartridge
• Useful for large varmints, predators and large game (including elk)
• Good assortment of factory ammunition (MidwayUSA.com alone lists 27 loads)
• Respectable selection of rifles chambered in it
• Many 7mm bullets have high ballistic coefficients
• Ammunition and components are priced comparable to other “standard” chamberings

Drawbacks:
• None

Now, go ahead and make that all-important decision so that you can get your youth deer hunter out to the range to begin practicing.

It’s no secret that passing down our hunting legacy to the next generation is a critical factor in preserving the sport we love. Some of my best memories are of time spent in the field with my father, and now that I have children of my own, I’m making plans to take them to the field when I feel they are ready.

Brody Hoke from Ohio bagged his first whitetail buck with help from his grandfather, Pat Richmond.

Brody Hoke from Ohio bagged his first whitetail buck with help from his grandfather, Pat Richmond.

Part of children’s development as hunters involves learning safe gun-handling practices, and that’s much harder for them to accomplish when they’re trying to wrangle a firearm that’s too big and too heavy for them. When I was coaching 4-H Shooting Sports, one of the primary issues I encountered while teaching young children to shoot safely is that they simply couldn’t handle the firearm they had brought along. Because the average full-sized firearm is engineered to fit the average full-sized hunter, those kids were perpetually frustrated as they tried to mount, swing and fire a gun that was built for an adult.

Today, however, there are many well-built, economical rifles and shotguns designed specifically for youth hunters and shooters. These guns are lighter and have shortened lengths of pull and barrels so that they’re more manageable for kids.

If you’re planning to introduce a kid to the hunting and shooting sports, take a look at these 11 youth options.

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Weatherby’s affordable Vanguard rifles look good, and they are backed by a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. The Synthetic Compact version features a durable, black, synthetic stock with a stock spacer that allows you to adjust length of pull from 12½ inches to 13 5/8 inches, so this rifle can grow along with your young shooter. The three-position safety allows the rifle to be loaded and unloaded with the safety engaged, and the two-stage trigger is light enough so even the youngest shooters can quickly master trigger control. This 6½-pound rifle sports a 20-inch #1 contour barrel, and it is available in .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 and .308 Win.

MSRP: $599

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Winchester’s XPR Compact offers the same push-feed action as the full-sized XPR with a shortened (13-inch) stock. The black, synthetic stock and Perma-Cote finish on the metalwork make this bolt-action impervious to the elements; and the two-position safety with bolt unlock button allows the rifle to be cycled with the safety engaged. The field-ready Compact Combo model, which debuted in 2018, comes with a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×40 scope. Available chamberings include .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 and .308 Win., as well as the .270 Win. and .300 Winchester Short Mags.

MSRP: $710

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Mossberg undoubtedly offers one of the most extensive lines of firearms for young shooters, and the brand’s 5-pound 510 Youth Mini Super Bantam .410 offers a 10½-inch length of pull that will work with even the youngest, smallest hunters. There’s an included stock spacer that allows length of pull to be extended to 11½ inches. This entire gun is covered with Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo. The Youth Mini Bantam offers the flexibility of a 3-inch .410 chamber, and the tang safety is easy to reach for both right- and left-handed kids.

MSRP: $470

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

The Stevens 301 is a break-action, single-shot, hammer-fired shotgun that’s available in .410 bore and 12- and 20-gauge. Lightweight (the .410 model weighs just 4.8 pounds) and simple in its design, the 301 is an ideal gun for a young hunter. Unlike many other single-shot shotguns with exposed hammers, the Stevens comes with a manual safety on the left side of the receiver that’s easy to operate. There’s nothing fancy about this gun; it comes with a black, synthetic stock, plain bead front sight and absolutely no frills. Nevertheless, for a youth field gun, it’s just right. Plus, it’s priced affordably.

MSRP: $173

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Ruger’s controlled round feed, bolt-action rifles have a long and successful history in America’s game fields, and the new Hawkeye Laminate Compact offers that same time-tested CRF action in a shortened version that’s ideal for young shooters. With its 16½-inch barrel and 12½-inch length of pull, the Hawkeye Laminate Compact measures fewer than 3 feet long and weighs approximately 6 pounds, making it a manageable hunting rifle for even the smallest shooters. The black, laminate stock and matte stainless metal finish make this gun impervious to the elements. The LC6 trigger is excellent. Chambered in .243 Win., 7mm-08 and .308, the accurate and dependable Hawkeye Laminate Compact should be on your short list of best youth rifles.

MSRP: $1,069

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

A few years ago, Stevens introduced a budget-friendly over/under shotgun. Known as the 555, this stack barrel offered everything upland hunters wanted—a solid boxlock action, good trigger, interchangeable chokes and excellent balance—without any of the frills that drive up cost. Now, Stevens has released a compact version of the 555 that comes with a short, 13.25-inch length of pull. The scaled receiver is made from aluminum alloy with steel inserts in the breech, and the 24-inch barrels are just the right size to maintain a front-of-receiver balance point. Plus, the Turkish walnut stock looks great for a gun in this price range. It’s available in 20- and 28-gauge and .410.

MSRP: $692

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Many young shooters get their start with a single-shot .22, so the new Purple Rascal from Savage is an excellent choice for the child who’s learning to handle a firearm for the first time or heading to the woods to try to bag a squirrel or cottontail. The diminutive Purple Rascal weighs in at just 2.66 pounds and measures 31.5 inches, making it manageable for almost any child. The aperture sight is easy to adjust, and there’s a manual safety as well. If your child isn’t a fan of purple, there are plenty of other stock color options.

MSRP: $189

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

The Cynergy line of over/under shotguns is reliable and robust, and parents looking to buy their child a great hunting gun that serves equally well for trap, skeet and sporting clays competitions need look no further than the Cynergy Micro Midas. The Cynergy’s low-profile boxlock action lends itself to a compact design, and it comes standard with a black walnut stock, silver nitride receiver, gold-plated trigger, three choke tubes and much more. The 20-gauge model with 24-inch barrels weighs just 6 pounds, so it’s manageable for anyone; and the superb balance of this gun makes it ideal for kids who are serious about competition shooting.

MSRP: $1,870

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

The Patriot Youth Super Bantam combines Mossberg’s push-feed rifle action with a shortened synthetic stock and a 20-inch barrel. Weighing in at just 6½ pounds, this gun is light enough for kids to carry yet heavy enough to help them manage recoil efficiently. Standard length of pull is 12 inches, but there’s an included spacer that can increase length of pull to 13 inches as your young shooter grows. There are many caliber options. Each of these rifles comes with scope bases and an LBA-bladed, adjustable trigger. The many stock color options include black, Muddy Girl camo and Kryptek Highlander (shown here).

MSRP: $435

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

One of the hallmarks of Winchester’s updated SX4 shotgun line is the use of high-strength polymers. These high-tech polymers are not only stronger than the aluminum alloy parts they replace, they’re also lighter. As a result, the SX4 Compact 12-gauge semiauto weighs just 6 pounds, 8 ounces, with a 24inch barrel. The Active Valve gas operation system is reliable and helps lessen felt recoil, so this 12-gauge won’t kick the daylights out of a new shooter. Recoil is further reduced via a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad. The SX4 Compact comes with three choke tubes and a rugged, synthetic stock that can handle a lot of abuse.

MSRP: $800

Best rifle for 7yr old to shoot? (hunting and fishing forum at permies)

Unlike some of the other guns listed here, the 110 Lightweight Storm was not expressly designed as a youth model. However, because it incorporates the new Savage AccuFit system that comes with five comb risers and four length of pull spacers, you can customize the fit of this rifle to accommodate just about any shooter. A lightweight polymer stock, fluted bolt and short, 20-inch barrel all help keep weight to a minimum, so these guns weigh in at around 5½ pounds. The crisp AccuTrigger is smooth and crisp, and the tang-mounted safety is conveniently positioned. Plus, if the accuracy potential in this rifle is up to Savage’s high standards—which it almost certainly is—you can expect to print small groups on paper. Available chamberings include .223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., 7mm-08 and .308 Win.

MSRP: $749

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.

My son Bat started deer hunting when he was 6 years old. At the time I had a good friend who built custom rifles — Charlie Sisk from Sisk Rifles had recently built a compact little rifle with a 10-inch length of pull that weighed only 5 ½ pounds.

My boy did not have the strength to shoot the rifle unsupported. But from shooting sticks or a rest, he could shoot softball-size groups out to about 50 yards. And even though he could not hold the rifle up to shoot, he was strong enough to manipulate the rifle and get it on target by himself.

Just after daylight on his first hunt, we ambushed a young buck heading to his bed. Bat rested the little custom bolt-action over the rail of the treestand and put a bullet through the buck’s heart.

Deer Rifles for Kids

There are plenty of youth-specific rifles from which to choose. Plus, some factory options grow with your child by using interchangeable or adjustable stocks, such as the Mossberg Flex system or Savage’s new Accufit System (pictured).

Granted, not everyone can afford a custom rifle for a kid (although I think it is a much better investment than buying a custom rifle for yourself) but it’ll give your son or daughter the best opportunity for success.

We had to return the custom rifle to Charlie Sisk after that first season, so the next year, when he was seven, Bat hunted with an AR-15 with a collapsible stock. Total gun weight, with the red dot sight, was about 6 ½ pounds.

That’s still a bit heavy for a 7-year-old, but with the adjustable length of pull, Bat could still manage the rifle well from a rest. A group of whitetails meandered out into the field just before dark. We picked out a young doe and Bat put her down with one well-placed shot.

With regard to the .223 Remington for whitetails — the cartridge most ARs are chambered for — some think it’s not enough gun and others claim it’s illegal in most states. Neither assertion is true. When loaded with ammo like Remington’s Core-Lokt Ultra or the Federal Fusion, this is all the deer rifle you need out to about 150 yards.

Deer Rifles for Kids

Some think the .223 Remington isn’t enough gun and others claim it’s illegal in most states. Neither assertion is true. When loaded with ammo like the Federal Fusion, this is all the deer rifle you need out to about 150 yards.

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