As stated, go with a pump.
Also as stated, the Barney Fife routine will work also. I have even done that with my wife. She has a youth model 1100 and this year started hunting with me. Due to it being a semi- she only wanted one in the chamber until she gets it locked in her head about the whole mechanical / mental experience of when the rabbit/squirrel/bird gets going and she is able to control the adrenaline shakes. (which everyone gets to some degree the first few times)
Gander Mt had Remington do a special run of youth stocks with a 12" LOP instead of the usual 13". Depending on your child's size, a 12" LOP might fit better.
added this comment: I also see more folks are carrying these now. at Christmas time, only G. Mt. had them, so you can shop price if interested in them
We bought one for my daughter, who is 17 and not 5' and will never be, she just takes after the great-grandmas who were not tall. The 12" fit her, the 13" youth gun (for deer) we had left over from my son, did not.
The advantage of an 870 20ga Express is that it can be like a Lego set, since a lot of folks anymore aren't old enough to remember an Erector set. You can swap parts around to suit the situation.
I bought one of the 12" LOP stocks and put it on the 870 Express 20ga youth model that had the receiver drilled and tapped for a scope (on it) and a rifled barrel. Now she has a deer gun.
For turkey season this fall, I will swap the shotgun barrel over to the scope mounted receiver, and will pattern it and set the scope for the center of the new turkey choke I just bought her and now she has a turkey gun.
Down the road, if she needs a little more barrel than the 18.5 one that came from the Gander Mt special (I couldn't find the 21" one in stock), I will buy a longer vent rib barrel and have it cut back to 22" to 23" (24" might work also, that is the length I have for my wife) and rethreaded for chokes.
I could do the same with a field barrel also, which might be easier to do.
Then the extra length will help with wing shooting pheasants and grouse.
As your child gets taller, simply acquire a regular youth model stock, OR, if you are good with your hands, simply fashion an extension plate to go in between the buttstock and the recoil pad to increase the length.
Do you and your child a favor. Don't take just one person's views about what shotgun to get. Get on google and put in the firearm you are considering and add the word review, such as:
Remington 870 youth review
typically, if one or 2 folks are b*tchin', that is all it is, however if more folks are putting in bad comments, it is a tip off that you should reconsider.
I did this with a competitor to the special run of Remington's. It turned out that while the gun would have fit absolutely perfect, it was too light and kids were being beat up by it, a sure turn off. They will want to stay at home and play vid games if it hurts
if they can't anything with it they will quickly lose interest.
ALSO just say no to the .410. It is a gauge more suited to experienced shots.
If you go with something that is more in tune with what they will be using later as they grow up, their usage of, and expertise with,will become ingrained into their minds and muscle memory.
That short 870 youth 20ga will handle just like a regular youth 20ga which will handle just like an adult sized 20ga which will handle just like an adult 12ga as far as the safety placement and operation, working the slide, unloading the gun, etc etc.
As the kid grows up, you can even transition to a 16ga (my favorite), but that is another story.
All the above is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary.
Last edited by drcook; April 28, 2013 at 10:27 AM.