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15 Best Guns For Young Hunters And Beginners

By CM Chaney · February 27, 2024

15 Best Guns For Young Hunters And Beginners

Introducing young hunters and shooters to firearms safely and responsibly instills valuable skills and demystifies guns. With proper adult supervision and fitting equipment sized for a child's stature, shooting can satisfy young curiosity while teaching focus and discipline. The ability to use a firearm safely, whether for hunting or target practice, is a time-honored tradition.

For starter rifles, fit is key - a too-large rifle will frustrate success. An eight-year-old needs a different length-of-pull and comb height than a teenager. Proper fit ensures the shooter can effectively use the sights. Smaller calibers like .22 LR minimize uncomfortable recoil and noise, making early shooting experiences more gratifying. Hitting targets and earning praise from coaches creates pride and enthusiasm for lifelong shooting sports.

The right youth rifle can mean the difference between raising a responsible, safe shooting enthusiast or inadvertently frightening your child away from guns forever. With care and supervision, a young hunter's first rifle can start them on a path to safely using firearms for life.

Ruger American Rifle Compact

The Ruger American Compact bolt-action rifle has a shortened, synthetic 12.5-inch stock and an 18-inch barrel for easy handling. Accurate and versatile with choices of .243, 7mm-08, .308, or 6.5 Creedmoor chamberings, the 6-lb rifle features a precise cold hammer-forged barrel, adjustable trigger, picatinny rail, and tang safety. From $599.00

Crickett Rifle

With 16-inch barrels and 11.5-inch pulls, these 3-pound, single-shot .22s are perfect starter guns. Spacers extend length as kids grow. Simple iron sights work well, but a red dot optimizes learning. Threaded models accept silencers - fantastic teaching tools. From $169.00

Winchester Wildcat

Winchester's Wildcat semi-auto .22 LR offers fun for older kids over bolts. With a 13.5-inch length-of-pull, the compact, lightweight Wildcat fits teens better. It comes equipped with aperture sights and a Picatinny rail for optics. The 10-round rotary magazine minimizes reloading. More shooting and less boredom. From $250

Franchi Affinity 3 Compact

Franchi's Italian 20-gauge Affinity 3 semiauto shotgun utilizes proven inertia operation to cycle everything from target to 3-inch magnum loads. Barrels come in 24 or 26 inches with four spacers for adjusting 12 3/8 to 13 3/8 length-of-pull. Weighing 6 pounds or less, it has oversized controls, fiber optic sights, screw-chokes, shim kits for cast and drop, and a TSA pad to tame recoil.

Bergara BMR Carbon

Bergara's BMR Carbon rimfire rifles optimize learning with lightweight 5-5.4 pound builds. Their accurate number 6 carbon fiber barrels keep fatigue at bay for extended range sessions. Premium features like a 30 MOA pic rail, Rem 700-compatible Performance Trigger, and threaded barrel add versatility. Available in .22 LR, .17 HMR, and .22 WMR, it's simply the best rimfire platform for budding shooters. From $660

Winchester Xpert 22

Winchester's new Xpert 22 bolt-action rimfire features their superb 3-lever MOA trigger previously only found on centerfires. The lightweight polymer stock and 18-inch barrel keep overall weight just 4.5 pounds. It comes with a 10-round mag, but also accepts 10/22 rotaries. Iron sights are included, but adding a scope utilizes the drilled/tapped top receiver to maximize the MOA accuracy potential. From $320

Henry Golden Boy Youth

Henry's American-made Golden Boy Youth lever-action brings out young cowboys and girls. The brass-trimmed throwback rifle handles .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle rounds, ideal for small hands. A 13-inch pull on the octagonal 17-inch barrel suits kids. Open sights and drilled receiver cater to both eye and scope options. Like traditional levers, ambidextrous design suits all. From $589

Mossberg Patriot Youth Super Bantam Scoped Combo

Mossberg's Patriot Youth Super Bantam bolt-action rifle grows with young hunters via one-inch LOP adjustment from 12 to 13 inches. Scope mounting and rings come pre-installed for instant optics readiness. The push-feed action works smoothly, while finish options include black and trendy camos. Available chamberings like .243 Win and 350 Legend stretch capabilities from deer to hogs. From $485


The CZ 457 VPT MTR amps rimfire precision with a supremely accurate 16.2-inch heavy barrel and competition grade carbon fiber Manners stock. Matched with .22 LR performance, the 7-pound rifle drives tacks downrange for a fraction of centerfire costs. Built for top-tier target shooting, with hunting versatility, adjustable cheekpiece and bag rider transform marksmen through rigorous practice. From $1,635

Ruger Precision Rimfire

Ruger's Precision Rimfire brings long-range appeal to youth in a lighter, cheaper package. The adjustable 12-15 inch length-of-pull stock fits most kids, while the 18-inch threaded barrel takes suppressors for hearing safety. M-LOK forend supports bipod mounting. It mirrors video game looks to stoke enthusiasm. This feature-packed trainer builds skills for serious riflecraft. From $529

Fabarm L4S Sporting Compact

Fabarm's L4S Sporting Compact positions young clay shooters for wins. Shortened European walnut stock with slim wrist and Monte Carlo comb tames 12-gauge recoil for smaller statures. Extra gas piston weight also helps make the 6 3⁄4-pound semi exceedingly soft-shooting. Available in left and right hand versions, the quality shotgun performs equally well hunting birds and busting clays. From $2,170

Ruger 10/22

The Ruger 10/22 semiauto rimfire remains the gold standard for fledgling marksmen. Available in compact and left-handed formats, the reliable rotary mag platform adapts easily for competition or hunting via endless configurations. The new left-handed Custom Shop Competition model provides exceptional accuracy for winning medals or pushing .22 LR ballistics to the limit in the field. From $370

Browning Cynergy Micro Midas

Browning's Cynergy Micro Midas over/under melds slender, engraved silver nitride receiver with blued barrels and grade I walnut for elegantly understated looks. Three flush Invector-Plus chokes and mechanical triggers facilitate reliable 20-gauge performance. At around 6 pounds with 13-inch pull, the 24 or 26-inch barreled gun handles well for smaller frames, serving young hunters admirably. From $2,180

Savage Minimalist

Savage's aptly named Minimalist keeps rimfire weights low for young shooters via reduced modern laminate stocks on .22 LR, .17 HMR, and .22 WMR bolts. The 18-inch threaded barrels have user-customizable AccuTriggers and use detachable 10-round mags. Available in green/brown laminates, the easy-handling rifles span just over three feet while tipping scales around 5.5 pounds. From $360

Winchester SXP Youth Field

The Winchester SXP Youth Field shotgun has an aluminum alloy receiver and walnut stock adjustable from 12-14 inch length of pull, making this 6 pound, 40.5-inch pump gun easy to handle for small shooters. Available in 12 or 20 gauge with 18-24 inch barrels, it's a smooth, reliable, affordable pump gun that grows with young hunters. From $410