What is the Best Beginner Youth Hunting Rifle? 

A child’s first deer is a life-changing experience and the right rifle can make all the difference. Handing them a gun that’s too small or too large can result in an unpleasant hunt, unrecovered deer, or even injury. The best youth rifles are compact and light enough to carry while keeping recoil down so a young shooter can focus on accuracy. 

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The right caliber for a youth hunting rifle 

A rifle needs to pack enough power to take down the animal you’re hunting while minimizing recoil. This is important because youth guns are often light and sensitive to recoil, which can cause them to lose focus and miss their target. 

It also needs to be versatile enough for a young shooter to learn the basics of hunting. It should be able to handle smaller animals like rabbits and ducks as well as larger game, such as elk and pronghorn. 

The type of caliber a young hunter should use can depend on their age, the species they’re going after, and their preferences. Choosing the right caliber will allow them to focus on their shooting and have a more enjoyable hunting experience overall. 

One of the first decisions parents should make is whether to start their kid with a bolt-action or semi-automatic rifle. Bolt-action rifles are easier to understand and less likely to malfunction. They also tend to be rugged and sturdy and are more likely to last a long time. 

Another consideration is the length of pull on a rifle. Hunter Sartain of Guns-N-Gear in Gluckstadt said that shooters who have to strain to reach the end of their stock when firing can be more likely to hurt themselves. The length of pull should be between 14 and 16 inches on a youth rifle. 

Some rifles are adjustable for the length of pull so a shooter can change it as they grow. This is especially helpful if they’re planning to hunt waterfowl or other big games. 

The right cartridge for a youth hunting rifle 

There are a ton of great cartridges out there that would be perfect for a beginning hunter. But a quick MeatEater survey landed on three that were all perfect for youth: the 243 Winchester, the 6.5 Creedmoor, and the 7mm-08 Remington. 

These three calibers offer the perfect blend of recoil control and minimal shot report. They’re all available in a wide array of offerings, too. 

This means that they’re easy on the shoulder and wallet, but still viable for a kid’s first deer hunt. They’re also legal and ethical to take at a distance of 300 yards or more, which is ideal for young hunters. 

It’s a good idea to choose a caliber that’s compatible with the rest of your kid’s gear as well since this will ensure they’ll have everything they need to enjoy the sport and keep shooting for years to come. It also makes sense to invest in quality hunting equipment such as a bow and scope.