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Best gun/ caliber for a youth

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Best gun/ caliber for a youth

Old 07-19-2018, 04:55 AM
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Dominant Buck
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Default Best gun/ caliber for a youth

My grandson has turned 12 and just passed his hunter safety classes and has his lifetime Vermont hunting license. His dad has a handed down 30-30 and was thinking of giving it to his son for deer hunting. Giving an old hammer gun to a youth isn't the best choice IMO due to the possible safety issue. I know with proper safe handling practices that gun is safe but seeing how he is only 12 my choice would be a compact bolt action with some decent glass in something along the lines of a .243 or possibly 7MM-08. Both my son in law and I want to do all we can to make sure he enjoys hunting and doesn't have a bad experience.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:07 AM
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with a bit of proper training and experience theres not a darn thing wrong and several advantages to using a lever action, both my sons started out using a marlin 1894/44 mag with zero issues
the guns a tool its the craftsman that needs the skill and experience

Last edited by hardcastonly; 07-19-2018 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by hardcastonly View Post
with a bit of proper training and experience theres not a darn thing wrong and several advantages to using a lever action, both my sons started out using a marlin 1894/44 mag with zero issues
the guns a tool its the craftsman that needs the skill and experience
I agree with all of the above but just want to see him start out with the best option therefore the question.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:18 AM
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Another caliber worth considering is 6.8SPC but bolt guns are hard to come by now. Only Ruger and Remington offered them as far as i know. Thompson Center had barrels in 6.8 for the Encore. That is what a friend's son uses.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:23 AM
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You can't really go wrong with either 243 or 7mm-08. Both are great calibers for hunting with minimal recoil. If you want to reduce the felt recoil for the 30-30, try one of the Limb saver pads. They make slip-on pads so you don't have to alter the gun. On the safety issue, I've never had an issue with an older Winchester 94 I own (made in the 50's) but then I'm really careful when I carry it. There's a few gunsmiths on here that can probably give you a much better answer on that.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:28 AM
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The grandson is growing like a weed but doesn't carry much weight and will always have a slender build. I want him to enjoy target shooting now with a addition of deer hunting when he is ready. Our topography for hunting is a mix of both open spaces along fields and meadows, hardwoods with good visibility and then the dense swamps and thickets where deer like to stay. I am thinking a compact bolt rifle with some decent glass would be a good start to what I hope is a lifelong gun collection for him. A 30-30 would be something I would like in my collection but I probably would elect to hunt with something else as being my personal choice. I have a safe full of guns that I enjoy shooting but don't use them all for hunting. I am sure that 30-30 will be given to him eventually.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:41 AM
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Savage has a model 11/16 light weight hunter rifle. Barrel swapping on a Savage is a breeze compared to other bolt action so the potential to "grow" is there. Custom quality barrels are plentiful too.

Under 6lbs
20" barrel
Calibers you listed as well as 6.5

Last edited by Gm54-120; 07-19-2018 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:02 AM
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If it was my choice of a rifle for a young fellow that would make him proud and keep for life, either a Winchester Featherweight or Remington Model 7 (or Mountain Rifle) would make sense. It is fairly easy to find stocks with reduced LOP for the Remington for his current use. Top it with a nice 3x9 like the latest Leupold offering or similar. A .243 would fill the bill nicely for now and give you a good reason to buy another rifle in a few years if he wishes to hunt game larger than deer.

In a perfect world I would choose a .257 Roberts over a .243 but rifles chambered in that cartridge have become hard to find unless you want to play the Kimber lottery.

Of course there are some good choices in more budget friendly rifles that might be suitable.
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:51 AM
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My very first rifle, other than the traditional .22lr, was a .243 but I was significantly younger than your grandson. My twins are proud carriers of 7mm-08's that the old man built for them. They are also a good bit younger than your grandson but are both built like small tanks. Recoil of the 7mm-08 is just a touch more than .243 but it's a caliber/cartridge that they can hunt anything up to and including elk. Whereas the .243 would be on the lite side for elk. Not saying you couldn't use one for them as one can kill an elk with a .22 but one shouldn't for ethical reasons. But if he is going to be limited to whitetail for a few years unless grandpa takes him on his elk hunt then a .243 would be a fine choice. But if grandpa is a super nice grandpa and might take him on one of his elk hunts, I'd have a 7mm-08 in his hands loaded with some 139 grain hornady interlocks with a range out to 250 yards for elk. Guilt trip delivered, my job is done.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:34 PM
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if the boy is of a smaller size, maybe a single shot for the first gun, and then upgrade as he grows up?

I r=had a gun shop, and best advice I can tell you is have the BOY hold as many rifles as he can, they all do NOT fit the same , just cause you like something doesn't mean he will too
Biggest issue I have with YOUTH guns, is they never seem to actually make them youth friendly as they can!
the trigger to grip distance is almost ALWAYS the same as on a FULL sized rifle, and the point of a youth rifles , they have small hands, and fingers, NOT just arms and legs
why more MFG"s don't fit thee guns better I find crazy, there missing the boat so to speak when it shoudn't be that hard to correct!
some makers/model guns do make them better than others
so again, I suggest taking buy to a fe shops and have him hold as many as he can and go from there, any mid caliber shoudl be fine
.243-7mm08 are great one's too IMO and calibers most youth rifles all come in too
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