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Old January 27, 2019, 08:51 PM   #1
clockwork65
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Youth hunting rifle suggestions

I'm looking at rifles to get a 7/8 year old shooting and eventually hunting deer. Average sized kid for his age. I'm looking at recoil, weight, and caliber versatility (I want this to be a gun that can actually be used for stuff as he gets bigger).

Right now, I'm going back and forth between .243 and 7mm-08. I've never fired the 7-8, but I've been told by more than one person that in smaller bullets, the recoil is almost negligible. Both are available in either 20" or 22" barrels. For a kid, the compact 20 seems like a better fit, but it's not so short that the gun becomes useless in terms of accuracy. Either version weighs about 7# before optics. I'd also toyed with the idea of a level gun in 30-30, but it just doesn't seem practical for most applications.

Note: his first intro to shooting a rifle will be with a .17HMR bolt-action, so he can safely learn the basics with zero recoil. Once we've got safety stuff down, the plan is to bump up to the bigger gun.

Any and all input appreciated!
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Old January 27, 2019, 09:27 PM   #2
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You can't go wrong with ether caliber, the 7mm-08 gives you a little more punch with a little more recoil, I have a Ruger #1 in 243 that all my grandkids used as a first gun, it worked out real well for us !!!
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Old January 27, 2019, 09:47 PM   #3
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I know how hard it is to rate felt recoil, but in a 1-10 scale, where would you put the 2 calibers? To me a 243 is basically a 0, so if the 7mm is only a bit higher, might be worth it.

Last edited by clockwork65; January 27, 2019 at 10:42 PM.
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Old January 28, 2019, 02:30 AM   #4
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You could also split the difference and go with the .260Remington.
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Old January 28, 2019, 02:57 AM   #5
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Where you live and what all might be shot at might throw in another debate between the two calibers. If shooting gophers, pasture poodles, skunks, yotes, etc is a possibility- then the .243 might shine there as factory loads can be found as light as 55 or 58 grains.
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Old January 28, 2019, 05:39 AM   #6
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Don't forget to check and see if the gun you are going to buy offers a short length of pull (Youth Model)

Very important....
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Old January 28, 2019, 06:34 AM   #7
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A 7-08's recoil is virtually the same as 308. With typical loads you're looking at 14-15 ft lbs in 7-08, about 15-16 ft lbs in 308. Both can have less recoil in heavier than standard rifles and with milder loads. In smaller, lighter youth rifles both will have some bite. My 6 lb 308 has recoil in the 20 ft lb range, exactly the same as my 7.5 lb 30-06. A 6 lb 7-08 would be about the same.

Typical 243 recoil is around 11 ft lbs, same as a 30-30. 223 is in the 3-5 ft lb range. A 243 with the proper big game bullets is about ideal for deer size game, and pretty much the minimum for elk size game.

I have grandkids ranging between 6 months and 11. I wouldn't let any of them shoot a 7-08 yet. A 223 is actually a better place to start and with the heavier bullets will take deer inside of 200 yards just fine. I would go 223 and buy a bigger gun later. In fact that is what I have for my grandkids to use. Of your choices I'd go 243.

And the 260 or 6.5 CM option is valid. Recoil is much closer to 243 at about 12 ft lbs. than 7-08. With lighter bullet weights recoil would be even less and with 140gr+ bullets you have enough gun for anything in the lower 48.
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Old January 28, 2019, 07:12 AM   #8
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"Right now, I'm going back and forth between .243 and 7mm-08."

Unless you use reduced recoil(either factory or handloaded) the 7mm08 is going to rock the kid pretty hard. A 7mm08 let's you know it's a real world big game cartridge. Put this round in a short/light rifle and it really kicks. I have both 7mm08 and 308 in 20" carbines and although the 308 is worse, the 7mm08 is still noticeable with full power ammo. Bullet and gun weight and velocity are major factors of recoil---no magic solution.
I don't recommend the .223 as a beginner's cartridge--some do. It has it's merit but also it's caveats. Are you going to be sitting with the kid while hunting fully prepared (and capable) to make a follow up shot to prevent an injured animal from escaping?
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Old January 28, 2019, 07:13 AM   #9
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Thanks, all. This is what I wanted/needed to know about the 7-8. I'd also thought about 260 Rem, it's just not an option in the guns I'm looking at right now. I hunt with a 6.5CM, and I've used a .243, so those were sort of my baselines for comparing recoil (I also hunt with a .300winmag, which is obviously not for a kiddo). Sounds like the compact .243 might be the winner.
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Old January 28, 2019, 07:51 AM   #10
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Random thought: should 30-30 be in consideration? It's what I learned with, and obviously isn't a long range sniper, but for 150 and less (and what 7 year old is shooting further than that?) it'd take care of business. And lever guns are a lot of fun to shoot.
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Old January 28, 2019, 10:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwork65 View Post
Random thought: should 30-30 be in consideration? It's what I learned with, and obviously isn't a long range sniper, but for 150 and less (and what 7 year old is shooting further than that?) it'd take care of business. And lever guns are a lot of fun to shoot.
I don't think the 30-30 is ever a bad idea a starting rifle. It was my first deer rifle, and I think as such, up to a certain range (250 yds max, and that may be generous) it is an excellent tool for that purpose. But you will, without a doubt, bump into its limits a lot sooner than the other options you've mentioned.

I also think that bolt action is better starting platform for a learning hunter. Lever action requires different, often cumbersome mechanics, especially when prone. Not that you can't find bolt-action 30-30s, they're just not nearly as common.

I really don't think there would be anything wrong with the .243.

Indeed, my wife is due Feb. 6 with our first child, a boy! :-D And an old tradition around here is to buy a boy's first hunting rifle when he's born, let him learn to use it when he starts showing interest and can handle it, then give it to him on his 15th birthday. I think a Ruger Hawkeye compact .243 will fit that bill nicely!
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Old January 28, 2019, 10:16 AM   #12
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I have never been a fan of the .243 as a "youth" rifle. Just not enough lead. I'd much rather use a 7mm-08 with reduced recoil ammo.

As to a youth rifle, it is hard to beat a Rem Model 7. Short and light - even more so with a youth stock. In fact, with a youth stock it really isn't any bigger than many .22LRs.
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Old January 28, 2019, 10:38 AM   #13
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Congrats Tallest! My first boy is 2 months old. I'm already planning his hunts haha. My daughter is a couple years older and I'm planning on this rifle also being what she uses as a kid. I want to start her early before people tell her girls don't belong in the woods.
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Old January 28, 2019, 11:28 AM   #14
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25-06

The 25-06 is a great youth option... Recoil of the 25-06 noticeably less than the 7-08. And the 25-06 is MILES ahead of the 243 in effective killing powder.

A 223 bolt rifle kills deer like a lightning-bolt!! With almost no recoil...sure worth a look.
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Old January 28, 2019, 11:37 AM   #15
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The 25-06 is a great youth option... Recoil of the 25-06 much less than the 7-08
The problem with a 25-06 as I see it is that it requires a very long barrel (otherwise, you just get too much muzzle blast). In a youth rifle, a compact overall length is important. That is where the 7mm-08 shines - it does just fine in a 20" barrel.
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Old January 28, 2019, 11:50 AM   #16
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AR15 in 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendal.

If you do not want to train the kid for use in auto-mode make a single-shot out of it by not giving him a magazine, but learn with a magazine block.

Very light recoil. Excellent accuracy. Really good for deer sized game. Tele-stock can be made to fit anyone. Good triggers available. Can learn with both irons and a scope. Very good for left hand shooters and easily made user friendly for them.
Light weight. Compact. Reliable.

It is probably the very best "1st deer rifle" you can get.
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Old January 28, 2019, 01:28 PM   #17
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I own both the 243 and the 7-08 the 243 is a much better beginners rifle than the 7-08..My granddaughter shot her first deer when she was 11 with the 243, this past fall she moved up to the 7-08 in my browning xbolt, she didnt mind the recoil at all, that being said, on the same outing she shot my model 7 in 7-08 and she did not like that one bit, too much recoil from that light a rifle. I am going to reload some 80gr barnes bullets for the 243 for this upcoming season and see how they do on deer..I used some a barnes in my 7-08 this past season and was very impressed with the result..
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Old January 28, 2019, 01:55 PM   #18
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Before you do anything, check your hunting regs for the smallest permitted calibre, if there is such a thing where you are.
What's your budget?
The average sized kid at 7/8 years old isn't very big. 46.5 - 56.8 pounds and about 4 feet high.
"...A 223 bolt rifle..." Isn't legal for deer everywhere.
"...AR15 in..." Yeah. Keeping in mind that an AR doesn't require a 20 round mag to function. Those aren't legal for hunting in most places anyway. Mind you, any semi-auto will deal with any recoil issue. So will a 20 gauge semi-auto slug gun.
The .30-30 has far too much felt recoil for the power of the cartridge. Primarily due to the weight and narrow butt stocks on common lever action rifles. If you could find a Savage M340 and modify the stock for the LOP, it'd be a different thing.
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Old January 28, 2019, 02:33 PM   #19
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Thanks all. I'm currently in TX, hunting heavy brush country. I don't have any issue with 223 as a deer round, and I *think* it's legal here, but I'd prefer slightly more umph. I'm planning to stick with bolt action, which takes AR out of the equation (no problems there either, just not my thing). I'm leaning toward .243 but am also reading about the reduced recoil 7-8's, which reviews are saying cut recoil down to sub .243 levels in a bullet still dropping deer out to 200 yards. If that's true, the 7-8 might be a better "grow into it" gun. I'm on the fence. Which means I'll just agonize for a few days more... there are way worse ways to kill time than reading about guns, at least.
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Old January 28, 2019, 03:11 PM   #20
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Or has the Remington recoil ammo been discontinued?
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Old January 28, 2019, 03:31 PM   #21
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I can't speak to Remington reduced recoil, but I know Hornady has their Custom Light ammo, and it makes my 7mm-08 very tame.

Also, have you contemplated a recoil reducing muzzle brake? There are some really effective ones out there. But in full disclosure, I think they are kind of ugly and the can make the gun much louder for the shooter. But with that said, if the brake gets you where you want to be, the gun would have a lot of future potential for the young man the young boy grows into being.

And thanks for the congratulations! I'm really excited!
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Old January 28, 2019, 06:24 PM   #22
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.243
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Old January 28, 2019, 07:08 PM   #23
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250 Savage is a good cartridge but hard to find.
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Old January 28, 2019, 08:14 PM   #24
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In equal-weight rifles, a 7mm08 is about 90% as much recoil as a regular .308.

Numerous reports of successful kills on whitetail and hogs with proper bullet selection in .223. With such a load, even lightweight rifles have little recoil.
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Old January 28, 2019, 08:23 PM   #25
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Tallest: I wasn't considering a brake because my sense is, at least for little kids, the anticipation of the report and then the "boom" are actually worse than the physical recoil of the rifle. So I'd be hesitant to make it even louder. Then again, while I dont hunt with ears on, I guess if I have half a brain the kids will. So maybe that's a moot point. At least while still hunting, which is all I'd have a kid doing anyway.
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