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Old April 27, 2013, 08:04 AM   #1
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Youth shotgun

OK - I am new to this board so this may have been asked before so I apologize if this is an old question. I have a 10 year old son who loves to fish and hunt. We hunt grouse and woodcock and he is really enjoying it. I am looking for a single shot 20 gauge shotgun, break action without a hammer. The hammer is too sketchy in the grouse woods for sure. New,used in any shape is fine.
Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
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Old April 27, 2013, 08:28 AM   #2
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Not too many single shots without a hammer unless you find an old Euro "garden gun".
Leaving a hammer on half cock might be safer than using a manual thumb safety; otherwise there are some nice light semis available, or possibly an older Spanish SxS like the AyA Matador originally sold through Sears
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Old April 27, 2013, 09:31 AM   #3
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I started my son with a Rossi single shot. It made a good trainer when he was not big enough to handle a pump. But I understand the problems with the hammer while hunting. I have not seen a hammerless single that I can recall.

If weight is the issue, most 20 ga pumps are not much heavier than a single shot. If you are concerned about safety and only want him to have 1 shot, only let him load 1. After he has the experience and you trust him with more he will already have the gun and be familiar with it.

I teach hunter education and I am the live fire instructor. We have 20 ga pump guns only. The average 10 year old ( both boys and girls ) handle them quite well. I have had a few 7 and 8 year old kids that did fairly well with them as well. With instruction and practice operating it he should be able to use one safely and effectively.
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Old April 27, 2013, 09:54 AM   #4
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Seek and you shall find !!

If weight is the issue, most 20 ga pumps are not much heavier than a single shot.
Entirely your call but you might want to give this some consideration. I can tell you that your son will outgrow the single-20 but never the pump-20. As far as hammerless singles, they did make them and not impossible to find. These are domestic and well as foreign makes. Most if not all, are standard length models. Your ten year old should be able to handle a full length but you are a better judge of that. ....

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Old April 27, 2013, 10:38 AM   #5
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I was just recently in the same position as you with my almost 10 year old son, and I started out "convinced" I wanted a break barrel single shot for safety reasons. Ultimately I finally went with the youth model of the Maverick 88. However, I left the dowel rod in it, so a maximum of two shells can be loaded, but, he knows he can load one shell and one shell only. We had a long talk about why he can only do one (making it a single shot), and how that is part of the responsibility of being able to shoot. I am glad I did as I was not really happy with the quality of most of the single shot youth models out there, and this one can grow with him.
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Old April 28, 2013, 08:38 AM   #6
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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.
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Old April 28, 2013, 10:06 AM   #7
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From youth to full

I don't recall exactly how this went but I believe one of the gun manufaturers, Mossberg, sold a youth model pump that came with a coupon which later, you could order a replacement full size stock. Might want to inquire about this.

Good luck and;
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Old April 30, 2013, 03:09 PM   #8
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Mossberg does put a coupon in the gun box when you buy a Bantam model. I just picked up a Mossberg 500 Bantam in 20 gauge. I wanted to get something my 11 year old could shoot. I think the coupon was for 50% off the purchase of a full-size stock.
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Old May 17, 2013, 01:49 PM   #9
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DRCook gives excellent advice.

My son has the Remington 870 youth model and loves it. He took his first 3 pheasants and a full bag of Chukar with it this past season.

He was smiling ear to ear and comments all the time about how great the gun "feels" to him.
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Old May 18, 2013, 05:41 AM   #10
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I'll go along with the others and suggest a pump. When I was a kid, I got the obligatory single shot 20 ga youth model as my first gun. I used it for about a month until hunting season ended. By the time the next season had come around I had outgrown it, and had to buy another gun.

The Mossberg is a good choice and it's probably not much more expensive than a single shot.
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Old May 20, 2013, 11:14 PM   #11
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By this time, I suspect the OP may have made a choice already, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

I'm seeing a lot of suggestions for a pump instead of a single shot and I agree than a pump is more versatile. But I started with a pump and, now as an adult, I would rather use a single shot for grouse and woodcock (the very purposes the OP listed). It's rare that I get more than one good shot at either of those birds anyway given their habitat and tendency to put trees between you and themselves in a hurry.

And, because single shots don't have a receiver, they tend to be about 4" shorter overall (handier in dense woods) than pumps with identical length barrels. In my estimation, a compact H&R single shot would never be outgrown as a grouse/woodcock gun. The 22" barrel seems just about right for snap shooting in heavy foliage, and for less than $50, a person can easily add a full size stock as the user grows.

I realize the OP said he'd prefer a hammerless design, saying a hammer is "too sketchy" (whatever that means), but I feel safer with and H&R with its hammer lowered than I do with my Mossberg on "safe". And with practice, cocking the hammer and raising the gun in the same motion becomes very easy.

My only hangups about the H&R guns is that the stocks don't fit some people well, and they mostly come with fixed chokes that are probably on the tight side for grouse and woodcock.
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