View Full Version : what would be a good first centerfire caliber for kids?

October 23, 2004, 11:39 AM
They are a left handed boy 11 year old boy and 13 year old girl. They are not the toughest and are kind of small for their age. I want a caliber that will take deer or a meat boar. Not a trophy pig
Due to price concerns I'm looking at the Savage line

October 23, 2004, 11:46 AM
.243 or 7mm 08. ruger has a veriety of bolt action rifles in both left and right hand. ruger firearms also iclude rings as the bases are machined into the reciever.

45 Fu
October 23, 2004, 11:56 AM
A lever action carbine (say, 16" barrel) would be a good place to start. There's no bolt to worry about for the lefty, and calibers can be had from .38 Spl., .357 mag, .45 Colt, .44 mag, .45-70 (which would probably be a might much for young 'uns), and the venerable .30-30. A good lever action in .44 mag. can easily take white tail deer and pigs. The weight of the rifle will negate some recoil and it will be nowhere near the recoil of a revolver. With hard cast bullets you will get plenty of penetration to help insure a clean kill.

I would consider the .243 too small for boar (feral hogs might be different).

October 23, 2004, 12:25 PM
thats true about the 44mag carbines. the ruger 96/44 is fairly cheap and very accurate to boot.

October 23, 2004, 11:12 PM
Some of the savages have been going on sale in the detroit area lately model 111fcxp3, has a bore sighted scope, sling $329. Just looked and they are 30-06, and .270. They have 12 fv's with a scope in .223 and .22-250 going for $449. Marlin 30/30 scoped for $299. If you can find a combo shotgun smoothbore and rifles bore, or try one of the rifled chokes a lot of the smoothbore extended chokes have integral muzzle brakes, maybe some rifled chokes might also.

The store's having a lot of sales are Dunham's sporting Goods. www.dunhamssports.com Bottom right has a store locator on web page
They might have a saiga for $200 you should be good out to 150 yds. I looked at some of the Iron sights they looked alright but i never shot one. The dunham's around here has the scope mount. A reasonable priced 4X shotgun scope zeroed at 100 yds or about 1 inch high depending on your shot distance might work. Try to use remington 125gr pointed soft point to get good expansion and it has more energy than the full metal jacketed rounds that are made for paper punching or military surplus. FMJ like wolf and the cheaper brands probably won't expand.

Dick's sporting Goods is in MI, IN, Il, WI
www.dickssportinggoods.com They are really starting to carry a lot of savage rifles they had special sporter combos made up for them they sold a lot of 7mm rem mag for about $300 last year. They might have different calibers in stock and might work with you. The have a Mossberg 500 combo in 12 and 20 ga. the rifle barrel has iron sights, but I think the receiver of all mossbergs is drilled and tapped to put a weaver base. A red dot or 1x or 2x

Hope you can find something so you can get your kids out having fun and learning good things about guns and nature. Me and my wife don't have kids. We have a lot of pets. I just let my brother-in-law take an old .410 870 wing master to let his kids(about the same age as yours plus he has a 2 yr old an 9 month old) use to learn about shooting and guns in general. He has a Remington 597 .22 lr but then I know it is hard to wait your turn. Plus the difference in the 3 inch shells and slugs is fun too. And it helps to build your confidence when you can lay out some clay pigeons on the side of the of the old sand pit where they shoot and make hits at 70 feet with a 3 inch shootin # 4's. The new ads are going to be in tommorrow's paper if you post that you have a Dunham's or Dick's within driving distance saiga makes a 20 gauge shotgun that shoots slugs pretty well. Hopefully some of the guys can tell you if the saiga's can be shot left handed easily.

NH AR Shooter
October 24, 2004, 01:24 AM
One other point in favor of a 44 magnum carbine, you can start your kids out shooting .44 special, get them used to the gun, then work your way up to full power loads.

44sp = cheaper plinking/practice also. :)

PS; A lever carbine in 454 Casull, also takes 45 long colt, and if you hand load, can be as powerfull :D or as mild as you like.

October 24, 2004, 01:55 AM
A light-weight lever-action in .44 mag has a nasty recoil and most won't feed .44 spl. reliably.
My suggestion is a Marlin 336 in .30-30 Win. This may sound strange, but the weight of the Marlin will take the slap out of the recoil and make it easier to handle. The .30-30 would fill your requirements nicely.
[The tougher .30 caliber bullets will also be better for hogs than the pistol calibers]

October 24, 2004, 04:12 AM
I like a good lever gun I guess I wasn't sure of your price range and timeline to aquire either one gun or 2 guns. Look at some websites to see if you can get the gun a smaller stock also. I have never put on or looked at a different type of stock except to buy someones factory original to replace a plastic stock. the 12 fv to a stock from a 12 bvss

October 24, 2004, 06:29 AM
I've been impressed with a buddy's EMF lever-action carbine in .38Spcl/.357Magnum caliber. Very light recoil, even with the hotter loads. My own .357Magnum defense loads (158grain JHP over 18 grains of Lil Gun) clock at an average of 2000FPS in the 18" barrel. Plenty oompf for our deer down here, and pigs too. Accuracy at 50 yards open-sighted is very good. We seldom shoot longer than 50-60 yards, so this caliber is quite workable.
If the youngsters can handle the stiffer recoil, I would go with the .30-30.
I like it in both my Marlin 336 and in my Savage 340 bolt-action.
If you're into reloading, you could make up some lighter loads that'll still get the job done.

October 25, 2004, 12:45 AM
How about a .375 H&H :D

With a Muzzle Brake of course! ;)

October 25, 2004, 09:31 AM
Open fields: .243Win, .257 Robts, or .260 Rem
Brush: .44 mag, .45 colt, .30-30, .35 Rem, or 7.62x39

User Name
October 25, 2004, 02:57 PM
I started my 12 year old daughter with a Ruger 77/44 bolt action...the combination of the large frame (compared to the pistol the round is made for...the rifle is actualy a carbine sized gun) keeps the recoil down. I recently have purchased a youth model 7 Remington in 7mm-08, not sure how this is gonna work out as she hasn't shot it yet, but the owner of the local gunshop says he sold more 7mm-08 shells than all others last year so it's pretty popular....

October 26, 2004, 09:28 PM
Do you hand load? If so check out data for Hodgon's H4895 in the "youth" section. http://www.hodgdon.com/data/youth/index.php

October 27, 2004, 07:53 PM
Whe my boys were coming up, 30 years ago now, the lightest centerfire I had in the safe was an .30 M-1 military carbine. It served the purpose. If I had to do it now, I suppose I'd start them on the Marlin 1894c in .357. The same carbine in .44 magnum has too much butt-thump for a young beginner, IMO.
When they were used to a little bit of blast and recoil, I moved them on to the 6mm Remington (your choice could be a .243 Winchester, I just prefer the Remington round as a handloader.)
Once they were comfortable with light loads (in factory loads this would be the lightest bullet weights,) they'd be ready for something in the .30 caliber class (.308 Win., eg) and prepared to go after most game with you.
That's how I'd do it. Those are the guns I have. YMMV.

October 27, 2004, 08:52 PM
Hi MK9,

Good to see you starting them out young. They're lucky to have a father like you.

My boy is only 4 (I got a late start), but when he goes out with me for the first time, I'll probably have him use a 7 x 57 Mauser. Not too many left handed rifles out there in this caliber, but I know that Ruger makes one in a southpaw. Decent open sights and a good trigger job. Glass can come later after they build good shooting skills and the Ruger won't break the bank.

If your daughter is right handed, I would go with something in a 98-family boltgun in a similar caliber (with the trigger job as well). 7 x 57 Mauser cartridge is an excellent meat cartridge, has low recoil, easy to feed, accurate and there are a wide range of loadings to choose from. I've been using one for 10 years now, and I have yet to lose a deer to it. If I do my job and put the bullet where it's supposed to go, the bullet does it's job. Every time.


October 27, 2004, 09:05 PM
My son is 19 now. But, I did let him do quite a bit of shooting with a lever action Rossi in 357. He must have been about 10, didn't have any problem with the gun..enjoyed shooting it!

The Rossi is a top ejection lever action. The Marlin's eject to the side, which might cause problems with a lefty...The winchester ejects on the top!

For safety, I also like being able to see the hammer...can tell right away if it's cocked or if the hammer is down!

Got to say, it really is hard to beat a lever action, even in the 30/30 it would make a nice gun for the young un's!

October 28, 2004, 11:40 AM
Yes, I would also add .357 mag to my above choices, come to think of it.

Smokey Joe
November 7, 2004, 06:10 PM
Agree that .243 is good--that's what my young'un began with, and he was on the small slight side also. Got him a Win Ranger Youth Carbine M70, with a Simmons 'scope. Worked great, and got a full-sized stock for him when he grew to be a tall slim high-schooler.

Were we going through that today, I'd consider getting an SKS--it comes with a short stock, and recoil is negligible. Weight of the gun is not that great. And lots of cheap ammo available for practicing with. And plenty of full-size stocks available for later, not to mention a hundred other various add-on goodies.

As to the lad being a lefty, the SKS ejects straight up so that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Hmmm--I wonder if the safety can be made ambidextrous?

Master Blaster
November 8, 2004, 02:54 PM
Dont know if you are taking them hunting or just punching paper at the range, but I would start with a .22lr for the fundamentals of, safe gun handling, sight alignment, trigger pull, and using iron sights or a scope. I started my 8 year old daugter at age 7 with a savage cub single shot bolt .22lr. we shoot it at the 50 yard range at my club, sillouhettes, they are great and provide instant gratification when they fall. Heck I love shooting the .22 there myself.

The next step up for her will ba e .223 rifle for her first centerfire, most likely my 16" AR-15 with collapasble stock (adjusts to fit her). .223 has low recoil and report, compared to some of the other choices folks have mentioned, and ammo is inexpensive compared to other centerfires.

You might want to consider a PAST wearable recoil shield, if you want to start them on a 7mm-08 or 30-06 or even a 30-30, it fits on your shoulder, and pads it against recoil, so they wont end up with a huge bruise and a bad memory (if they dont have good form and tuck the butt against their shoulder properly) of their first centerfire. Midway sells them for $18. I use one myself for long sessions at the bench with the .270, the 30-06, or the .308.

Hunting deer around here requires a 12 or 20 guage and slugs, which have a bit of recoil.

November 8, 2004, 03:06 PM
The 243 Win is a good choice for a young hunter, try getting a youth stock if possible, using 100gr bullets from medium to big game. I would not hunt anything bigger than a deer or boar using the 243Win, A very good shooter with light to moderate recoil. Basically a neckdown 308 cart. Good luck to what you choose. Aim small hit small. RAMbo.

November 8, 2004, 06:51 PM
Do you reload? I am downloading Nosler 140 gr. Ballistic Tips to 2400 fps in my son's 7mm-08, and recoil is in the .30-30/.243 with factory ammo range, and the BT's have a great ballistic coefficient and are very accurate. The stock has been fitted to him and has had a Decelerator pad installed, and he also wears a PAST recoil shield when he shoots from the bench. I also recommend ear plugs and muffs so the noise doesn't scare them, and don't push them to shoot more than they can handle in a session. My son also hunted small game with a .22 this year, so he got to work on the fundamentals of shooting without having to deal with any recoil.

November 8, 2004, 07:47 PM
My first centerfire was an SKS in 7.62x39. You couldn't have found a happier 12 year old :) They run about 99 bucks in shooting shape. By the way I shoot southpaw, and I have no problems with the design.

November 8, 2004, 10:29 PM
I started on a 6.5x55. Its still my deer gun.

November 9, 2004, 07:07 PM
My vote for the .243 in a Savage bolt action for the girl and a 30/30 Marlin lever action for the boy. The 30/30 can be toned down with a PAST pad as already discussed.

November 11, 2004, 07:56 AM
As Smokey Joe mentioned, I'd consider an SKS...Unless you expect, realistically, that they'll be making long shots(over 200 yrds). The recoil is minimal, you can easily make them look less "military", lots of aftermarket parts and the 7.62x39 is powerful enough for game up to deer-sized. They are more accurate than most people give them credit for, and ammo (a consideration if you want them to shoot alot) is cheapest centerfire rifle available (although the cheap stuff, like Wolf isn't very accurate.) And ther's a zillion nice ones available cheap right now(recent gun show, 1 guy had crates full of unissued Yugos for $159) . While I generally prefer to start new shooters out with a bolt gun (loading single rounds, so they're more aware when the gun is loaded.), I actually started both my boys with an SKS, as the only bolt guns I had (still have actually) were milsurps, standard or sporterized, and pack a pretty good wallop. My .02, YMMV

November 11, 2004, 09:54 AM
Oh yeah, 6.5x55 too, like the man said.