Youth deer rifle caliber recommendations


October 25, 2006, 04:48 PM
It's time to get my 8 year old son a deer rifle. He's got a youth size .22 and he also shoots an old single shot .410 that was handed down to me by my father. He's not new to guns and he has been brought up hunting with me and has learned to respect guns. I've got a .243 he might could shoot but it's got the full size stock so he can't shoulder it to shoot it. What would be a good caliber for deer that he could shoot? I've looked at 22-250, 223, etc. but I'm not familiar with how they kick. I shoot .270 and .308 and have never shot anything smaller than .243. Any recommendations on caliber? It will probably be either a 700 or Win 70.

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October 25, 2006, 05:01 PM
Growing up my brother had a 257 roberts, I had a 25-06, we both still use the same deer guns almost 20 years later.

October 25, 2006, 05:04 PM
What's the .243? I mean, what kind of rifle? Youth stocks are available for some types, for a lot less money than a whole rifle. He's going to grow up pretty quick, and a youth rifle won't be good for much then.

That's about a perfect caliber, I think.

Bigger, and it'll have an adult-size kick, smaller, and you're wandeing into unethical hunting territory.:)

October 25, 2006, 05:06 PM
CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62x39 would be a good choice for a kid. I just bought one for plinking and target shooting and love it. Light weight, easy to handle, and good on deer out to 150yds or so.

October 25, 2006, 05:08 PM
Sounds like a NEF youth model in 243 would do just fine.

Inner Monkey
October 25, 2006, 05:12 PM
My 10 year old loves our 30-30 Winchester lever gun.

October 25, 2006, 05:18 PM
Hi IM...

Top 10 deer cartridges for all hunters between the ages of 8 and 108 are:

.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester
.243 Winchester :D

October 25, 2006, 05:31 PM
I went through the same process choosing a hunting gun for my son a few months ago. I'll be honest though and say that while he's had a lot of range and shooting experience, I personally wasn't comfortable letting him carry a gun in the woods until he turned 11.

I chose H&R/NEF's Superlight Youth Handi-Rifle/Combo ( (comes with a .243 rifle barrel and a 20-gauge shotgun barrel) for him. He liked the way it felt a lot, and I was a lot more comfortable with a single-shot gun for a young man. I remember when I was a kid, knowing I only had one shot made me much more cautious and less likely to shoot carelessly.

Two other things I liked about the Youth Combo were that he can use the same gun for squirrels, deer, birds, whatever - and as he grows I can simply buy different barrels for it. I was also pleased to find that the gun has a big, black, prominent hammer, which means Dad can look over and make sure the thing isn't cocked from 20 feet away.

October 25, 2006, 05:36 PM
I was also pleased to find that the gun has a big, black, prominent hammer, which means Dad can look over and make sure the thing isn't cocked from 20 feet away.


Without his even knowing that you're "spying on him."

Apart from being an entertaining poster, you sound like a great Dad!

Perhaps you can give me lessons. We've got one on the way in a few short months, and I've never done this before. I mean, I guess the dog turned out okay, mostly, but that's as close as I've been.

October 25, 2006, 05:50 PM
You could get a savage youth hunter (smaller stock), either in .243,
7mm08,or .308(and just shoot the .308 reduced recoil loadings till hes a bit older). With the savage and some others he can upgrade to a full sized stock when hes a bit older.
The NEF single shot in any of the above calibers will do fine also, 'Card knows what he's talking about.

Mr White
October 25, 2006, 05:56 PM
.300 RUM!

that , or a .243.

I have a 700 SPS .243, 20" barrel, youth stock with a Nikon Buckmaster 4-14 scope. It does double duty as a varmit (groundhog/coyote) gun for me and a deer rifle for my oldest son.

I just read and article that the .243 is a cartridge on the decline because it straddles the fence between varmits and deer and the trend nowadays is for more specialization, but its an excellent cartridge capable of taking deer out to 400 yards.

Your other obvious choice would be a 30-30, but that might even be too much for an 8YO. IMO, .22-250 and .223 are too small for deer.

October 25, 2006, 07:53 PM
This is my son's first season (age 10). We put an Aimpoint on a 77RSI in .308 and loaded 150s to about 2400 fps with IMR 3031. I like the Aimpoint b/c kids don't need magnification, but have a difficult time with eye relief and with centering their eye.


Ol` Joe
October 25, 2006, 07:55 PM
A 6.5x55 or 260 Rem in either a M7 or Ruger M77 would be a good choice. The 6.5s with 120 gr bullets recoil very similar to a 257 Rbts and you have the option of useing the heavier 140 gr bullets in the future. I would look for a rifle that offers a "youth" stock and this way when he outgrows the one on the rifle you can replace it with a full sized one. I also would try to avoid the very light rifles. A little wgt in a rifle helps dampen recoil and especially if he hunts from a blind the couple ounces weight won`t be much of a hinderance.

October 25, 2006, 08:39 PM
my first rifle as a kid was a winchester model 70 in .270. i really liked it and shot good with it, and it was defenetly not to much for me at all. I was about the same age when i was hunting with it! I think the above would be perfect for him.

October 25, 2006, 09:05 PM
A guy I hunt with (who is 23 or 24) has been hunting with a Savage in .270 since he was 12. I would think a typical deer round with a reduced load (ie: Remington managed recoil) would be suitable.

October 25, 2006, 10:43 PM
The .243 is an excellent choice for kids, I have a 11 year old deer hunting with my 6x45 (sort of a neutered .243) this weekend. It's an upper for my AR so I installed a stock that can be shortened for him. I'd look for a youth model stock for the existing rifle, that's definately the cheapest answer, then as he grows you just put the original back on.

Personally I don't like the .2's for deer, although lots of people use them in Texas. I'd go with the .243, 7mm-08. 7.62x39 is a light kicker but to me doesn't have the all round capability of the 7mm-08. If all the hunting is relatively close distance it would do fine though.

October 25, 2006, 11:53 PM
if you can find an old remmy mohawk with the 16 inch bbl in 6mm remmy , this would be awesome. Other than that , the nef youth comes in a variety of cals, including 7.08, and the other excellent choice i see mentioned here is the cz carbine in 762.39 , I have one and absolutely love it. Also Savage makes a most excellent youth model.

October 26, 2006, 12:40 AM
Apart from being an entertaining poster, you sound like a great Dad!
Thanks a bunch for saying that - but I don't think I'm a great Dad so much as I just have a good memory of what a raving idiot I often was when I was a kid. :cool:

True story: When I was 13 or 14, I was deer hunting with my Dad, just up the holler from the little town where we lived. Dad had put me on stand, and he was working a little one-man drive around the ridge towards me. I was hunting with a Winchester Model 37 single-shot 16-gauge with slugs at the time, and Dad had told me my cardinal rules for hunting with that gun over and over and over again. "Don't put it to your shoulder until you SEE the deer. Don't pull the hammer back until you SEE antlers. Don't pull the trigger unless it's close enough that you KNOW you can kill it."

We didn't know it at the time, but we weren't alone in the woods that day. An old (he must have been pushing 80) man named Cuthbert Simms (yeah, that was really his name) who lived a few houses up the road from us decided to go hunting that day too. It was state law by that point that everyone had to wear orange when they were deer hunting, but apparently Mr. Simms hadn't gotten that memo. He had on a green pair of pants, a grey wool sweater, a white button-up shirt, and a grey felt hat.

So as I'm sitting there on that stump, with barely-teenaged eyes and ears peeled, Mr. Simms came crashing along through a thicket of mountain laurel, right along in front of me. All I could see through the thick brush was grey fur and white belly, and I raised the gun to my shoulder, but I didn't cock it. A couple of things stopped me. I hadn't seen any antlers yet, and Dad had really hammered those rules into me. Plus, I knew that if my first shot wasn't perfect, I probably wouldn't get another. By the time I reloaded that single-shot, the deer would be long gone. So I was frozen there with my gun up, waiting for a break in the thicket, heart hammering and nerves on edge.

I'm not a bit embarassed to say that when Mr. Simms came out of that thicket and I saw it was a person and not a deer, I dropped the gun and threw up right there on the spot. To this day I'm thankful for my Dad's rules and his insistence on them, and everytime I take my son in the woods I think about Mr. Simms and say a little prayer that my son will never have that close a call.

October 26, 2006, 01:08 AM
It was state law by that point that everyone had to wear orange when they were deer hunting, but apparently Mr. Simms hadn't gotten that memo. He had on a green pair of pants, a grey wool sweater, a white button-up shirt, and a grey felt hat.
LOL sounds like a vintage Darwin candidate. That story should be submitted to Field and Stream-well written as it was.

October 26, 2006, 01:42 AM
I agree with the guy who said .243 about a hundred times.

October 26, 2006, 06:24 AM
Thanks guys. It looks like .243 is the most common recommendation. I've got a Howa (Weatherby action) Lightning .243 with composite stocks. I wonder if I could find a short stock for that gun. That way I could keep my original stocks for me if I ever had to use it and he could shoot it with the youth size stock. I've got a Ruger M77 .308 that I use most anyway. Thanks for all the suggestions.

October 26, 2006, 09:24 AM
I had an H&R Topper, Jr. 20 gauge growing up.

That shotgun kicked worse than an 870 or 500!

.243's a good choice. 7.62x39mm is also an excellent- perhaps even better- choice.


October 26, 2006, 09:53 AM
Depending on how much an after-market stock will cost, you might be better off just picking up a NEF youth combo. The local army navy store around here just had a sale, and I was out the door with a nice laminate stocked 243 which was bundled with 20 ga barrel for under $180.

I sold off the 20ga barrel and swapped for a set of full size stocks which brought my total cost down to roughly $135 for the .243.

October 26, 2006, 09:55 AM
but I would say the 243 (because you have it) or a 30-30 levergun... or maybe a 357 or 44 lever gun..

October 26, 2006, 10:34 AM
NO .22s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If the kid can't handle a .243, he's too young for deer hunting!:fire: One of my peeves is people giving kids inadequate rifles because of recoil. If they can't handle the .243, wait a few years.

The .243 is my choice. All else is compromise. Lots of kids started out with the .30-30, but they actually have some pretty hefty recoil compared to the .243.

I started with, and still own, a Remington M722 in .257 Roberts. Awesome caliber and it's the most accurate gun I have, by about a quarter MOA. I also own a M7. Mine's in .308, but it's available in .243 and it's a very light, short rifle that, with the stock trimmed down, would make a dandy kid's rifle IMHO.

The 7.62x39 is a wimpy short range cartridge, but low in recoil and adequate for deer to maybe 200 yards if the accuracy of the gun is adequate for it. I'd not consider any SKS and that leaves you looking for a Ruger M77 in that caliber, the only bolt gun I know of chambered for it. .243 is a superior caliber to the 7.62, anyway. It also will make him a great varmint gun if you guys hunt long range prairie dogs or woodchuck or that sort of thing.

October 26, 2006, 10:57 AM
Hard to believe .250 Savages, 7mm-08s, 6.5x55mm, and 6mm Remingtons are compromise calibers.

The CZ 527 ( is a neat little 7.62x39mm carbine, and just needs the stock trimmed down an inch to make a perfect youth rifle.

October 26, 2006, 11:22 AM
No, I wasn't talking about various calibers like .250 Savage, I was talking about the .22s, .22-250 or .223. If you can find a .250 Savage, that's a great low recoil deer caliber as is my .257 Roberts which hasn't been particularly popular either since the .243 took over the world. Facts are, there are more .243s out there and there is more ammo loaded for it. That's not a big deal for me and the .257 Roberts since I reload, but it can be for folks that don't handload.

The .243 is the obvious choice, I think.

October 26, 2006, 03:23 PM

Both Weatherby and Howa sell youth rifles based on that action. Contact them to see if they'll just sell the stock. I think they will. Only caveat is that the Youth is a #1 barrel, same as the ultralight/mountain/whatever version, whereas the regular .243 is a #2 (I think).

These guys also make reasonably-priced stocks for the Howa/Weatherby.

October 26, 2006, 10:46 PM
but you might want to give more consideration to the rifle choice as well. I do not own one of the NEF rifles but, other than trigger pull, I have heard nothing but good about them. With the youth model stock and relatively short barrel your son will probably find it a whole lot easier to lug around than the Howa even it you find a replacement stock for it. The other way to go would be a pistol caliber lever action rifle like the Marlin in 357, 44 mag or 45 Colt. The 94 c in 38/357 is what my daughter has been shooting Cowboy action with since she was 10. Cut down the stock and you will have a rifle that he can handle now and, with a new stock in the future, can hang onto forever. Another advantage to the lever rifle is that he practice with 38s to cut down on cost and abuse, to his shoulder.

George Hill
October 27, 2006, 01:49 PM
Browning Micro Hunter is a great option for the rifle. Calibers is a broad spectrum of good choices. .243 Winchester. .243 WSSM. .25 WSSM. 7MM-08. 7-30 Water. .30-30.

Smitty in CT
October 27, 2006, 02:27 PM
......"Thanks guys. It looks like .243 is the most common recommendation. I've got a Howa (Weatherby action) Lightning .243 with composite stocks. I wonder if I could find a short stock for that gun. "......

You can probably pick up one of the Mossberg 100ATR .243 youth guns from Academy Sporting Goods cheaper than you could find a new stock.

The Mossberg rifles have been getting much better reviews (trigger and accuracy wise) recently, compared to when they first came out.


October 27, 2006, 02:28 PM
my brother in law (i think hes 12) shoots with a .240 or a .270, iirc.

October 27, 2006, 02:33 PM
my brother in law (i think hes 12)

Is you're sister a teacher, by chance?:D

Just kiddin', I figured it out...rofl!

October 27, 2006, 02:42 PM
that'd be my wife's brother, not my sister's husband ;)

October 27, 2006, 03:54 PM
I am going to second MCGunner, and go one better.

I don't believe that old chestnut "Better to hit with a .223 than miss with a .30-06". If a person hasn't shot enough to master the recoil of a .30-06 or similar, they probably haven't shot enough to wield any high power rifle well enough to pursue game in good conscience.

I also am hesitant to take any youth hunting who up to the other parts of the hunt, either physically or mentally. I am always aghast at the people who think their kid is old enough to pull the trigger, but wouldn't dream of giving them a sharp knife to field dress the critter, or send them back to the pickup with their rifle and flashlight.

I say, any age is old enough to tag along, but if kids are going to hunt deer, they should be able to manage the whole thing from fillling out the permit application to disposing of the gut pile.

If not, as MCGunner says, let them wait a few years. Anticipation never killed anybody...:)

oklahoma caveman
November 7, 2007, 06:38 PM
well guys you all seem to really be into the 243. personally im not a big fan. i started deerhunting at 8 myself and my first deer rifle was a 30-30 win. at 9 i started using a 7mm-08 in the rem 700 and ive never looked back. that gun has gotten me through childhood, through teens, and im still using it now. virtually no kick, extremely accurate, what more can you ask for?
i am a collecter tho and as such have several different caliber deer rifles. and in the hands of a person who has done their homework and spent alot of time at the range i have found the 223 to be a very servicable deer cartridge.

its not the size of the bullet that maters, its being able to put it where it does the most damage

Smitty in CT
November 7, 2007, 10:01 PM

Add spacers as the kids grow.....

November 7, 2007, 10:25 PM
A gas-operated autoloader is going to kick way less than a bolt action. A Saiga in .308 or Remington 7400 in .308 or .243 might be a good choice. You can also now buy reduced recoil loads for 30-06. Make him load only one cartridge at a time until he gets to know his rifle.

Another possibility with less power - requiring more practice and better shot placement...a SKS or AK clone. An AK is probably a great fit for a youth. You will need to track down soft point hunting ammo. I know it's out there. 7.62x39 has its limitations, but I personally could not see taking a shot at a deer at more than 150 yards, but that changes as you go west.

Moving away from autoloaders - a cut-down Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55 (that will be my son's first deer rifle), a Marlin 336 in 30-30 or a NEF Handi Rifle in .243. The NEF is probably the easiest to buy in a youth configuration - and the cheapest. You may want to add a scope.

Nothing wrong with your bolt gun idea in .243. Just throwing out some other options.

That Mossberg 100 ATR with the add-on spacers is a great idea. You may want to check around for .308 reduced recoil loads. That would be the perfect rifle for him to grow up with and use forever - or at least until he goes after Cape Buffalo.

Just don't hand him your 30-06 and let him put his eye right up against the scope. It hurts. And he will dislike scopes for a long time.

Jimmy Newman
November 7, 2007, 10:30 PM
I shot my first deer with a normal, full size (synthetic stock, stainless barrel) Remington 700 in 7mm-08 when I was 11. I think I got the rifle for Christmas when I was 9 or 10. It's still what I shoot at deer.

I did fine with it.

November 7, 2007, 10:33 PM
My boys started shooting centerfire rifles around 7 or 8. The NEF .243 was the tool of choice, but both very quickly moved on to the 30-06. Both of my sons took their first deer with a Rem 7400 in 30-06, (the oldest was 11 when he took his first and my younger was 10 for his) and both can easily hand the 06, and in fact both have also taken deer with their uncles 7mm mag. But they love the little Tikka .308 more than about anything. Although my oldest has developed an affinity for my BLR .308. If the kid can shoot then I would suggest you look seriously at either a .308 or a 30-06. A kid that can shoot the .243 comfortably can with a good shooting jacket and good ear protection move up to the two above very easily.

November 8, 2007, 10:25 AM
A guy I hunt with (who is 23 or 24) has been hunting with a Savage in .270 since he was 12. I would think a typical deer round with a reduced load (ie: Remington managed recoil) would be suitable.

This is exactly what I've done for my buddie's boy. Savage 110 (you can pick up a used one for under 250) Get a wood stock and cut it to the right length (Save the original stock for when he's grown) Use the Remington Managed Recoil ammo, it has ballistics similar to the 257 Roberts, but with a larger diameter bullet.
Put a Limbsaver slip on pad, just to absorb more recoil. A small scope and good to go. He can use that rifle for the rest of his life.

November 8, 2007, 01:04 PM
I think most everyone is in agreement that the .243 is probably the best all-around load for everything in North America except very large and/or dangerous game. That being said, I'd probably go with something like the youth model Savage 11FYXP3 ( You can get aftermarket stocks for the Savage as he grows, and it has the Accu-trigger so you can fine tune it as his skill level dictates.

It's $426 shipped from Bud's, but that includes a bore-sighted 3-9x40 scope, rings, bases and a sling. Just sight it in and hit the woods!

November 8, 2007, 01:34 PM
not to beat a dead horse but I started off with a 243 model 7 and I think it was perfect. Although if you get something like the CZ 527 in 7.62x39 you could have him practice a lot for cheap, and to those that say its a bad caliber should compare it to the 30-30 on paper. Which BTW would be another excellent choice.


November 8, 2007, 01:45 PM
700 BDL in a .338 RUM with a Vari-X III 4.5x14 AO sitting on a dual dove-tail system

November 8, 2007, 02:01 PM
I'm also for the .243. That's what I started with. It was a Remington something .243 in a youth stock and short barrel and a 3x9 scope. Killed a LOT of deer with that gun.

November 8, 2007, 02:48 PM
The 7.62x39 has significantly less recoil than the .243 and it is NOT a wimpy short range caliber. Do you want an 8 yr old taking 200 yd shots? I doubt it. The x39 is the best cartridge that has been named and I think it is now available in the handi rifles. I like single shots for young shooters for the reasons in your own story. Knowing he only has one shot might save him a lot of grief and no doubt it will make him a better hunter. My first deer rifle (Marlin 336) wasn't a single shot but my dad made me have only one round loaded until I got my first deer. When I got my second I got the scope. Great incentives!

November 9, 2007, 12:19 AM
Thanks guys. It looks like .243 is the most common recommendation. I've got a Howa (Weatherby action) Lightning .243 with composite stocks. I wonder if I could find a short stock for that gun.
That sounds like a good idea. I'm sure the .243 will do a fine job if he gets a good shot off.
If you can't find a stock for that gun you might look into a Rossi Single Shot Combo ( for him. One of the choices is a .243/20ga Combo. H & R ( also has a lot of accurate single shot rifles available at a good price. Since they are so inexpensive you can get him one for now and when he can shoot a full size stock get him something he will have for a very long time.

November 9, 2007, 07:38 AM
30 30 Marlin levergun model 336

November 9, 2007, 10:06 AM
I went through the same thinking process for my son a few years ago. Settled on a Remington Model Seven Youth in .243. Set it up with a Burris 4X scope. Since then, we've restocked the gun with a full-length factory take-off. He still hunts with it, as does his younger sister. The .243 is a great deer cartridge, and the Model Seven is a great, short-action, carbine-length rifle. They are not inexpensive, but they also hold their value very well.

The Howa Lightning is the same thing as the 1500, correct? If so, you could simply buy a Hogue stock and cut it down to youth length. MidwayUSA has 'em for $105. Far less expensive than a new rifle!

November 9, 2007, 11:30 AM
IMHO the fit of the gun to the shooter is more important than the caliber. Perceived recoil is greater if the shooter is over balanced backward trying to shoot a long arm that is to long for him. A person can absorb more recoil if the rifle fits.

The NE multi barrel youth combo is a nice system that doesn't break the bank. 243 is a adequate deer round if he is accurate enough with it.

November 9, 2007, 12:44 PM
Any decent deer caliber, preferably one with low recoil. Just make sure the stock fits him. Marlin spikehorn? Wonderful kids gun and not bad for adults too.

November 9, 2007, 12:50 PM
Smiity in CT posted excatly what I was thinking...The Mossberg ATR-100 "Super Bantam" in .243...several butt-plate spacers to adjust the LOP as the young hunter grows into it.

Mossberg also offers a 'pre-scoped Combo' model in the Super Bantam line. Model 26260 for the .243 Super Bantam, MSRP of $414, IIRC.

I have an ATR-100 in .30-06...very good rifle for the $310 (2 years back) I spent on it, with scope-n-rings/sling/swivels, etc.

November 9, 2007, 01:35 PM
I shot my first deer with my older sister's .243 when i was 12. The next year i used a heavy sako (so it was less than 12g 870 recoil) 30-06. They both FELT the same to me with the adrenalin. I'd recomend at 1.5-6 or 2-7 power scope and leave it low. that helped me acquire when i was young.

my sister still shoots the .243 and she's killed 9 deer with it, 6 neck shots, 1 head shot.

cracked butt
November 9, 2007, 01:54 PM
Rem mod 7 in .243

November 9, 2007, 01:55 PM
I bought my son a 7mm Mag for deer and elk. He took his first cow this year, at 18.

However, I worked up to the 7mm Mag by having him shoot my .308. Since I reload, I could really tailor the loads to the appropriate power levels, and even though it's a lot more expensive now than a few years ago, you just can't beat the economics of practicing. Surplus ammo is still cheaper than the factory stuff.

Though I love the .243 and .270 as deer rifles, I think the .308 is a better long term choice because of ammo/relaoding costs. Plus, he can take it if he ever does go elk or moose hunting. I use mine for it - killed two elk just last week with my lowly .308.


November 9, 2007, 03:59 PM
My short list would include the following calibers and rifles

6.5x55 Swedish
.30-06 assuming recoil does not bother him, if so magnaporting or a muzzle brake may help:D

Rifles would include the following

Remington 7
Remington 700 Mountain
Ruger 77 Ultra Light or Frontier
Browning A Bolt
Browning BLR
Remington 788
Decently sporterized Swedish German Czech FN or Yugoslavian Mauser or 1903A1 1903A3 Springfield rifle.

Any good gunsmith can shorten a gun stock.
I would pick up an aftermarket one and have this stock cut and shortened in increments using dowels as alignment pegs that way the length of pull could be increased and the joint would be covered with a slip on recoil pad.;)

When he is older the original stock would be put back on the rifle the old shortened replacement stock would have lots of well earned dings dents scratches and marks by then.:D

November 9, 2007, 04:55 PM
I think most everyone is in agreement that the .243 is probably the best all-around load for everything in North America except very large and/or dangerous game.

I like the .243 just fine, but I don't think that above is an accurate assessment of the prevailing thoughts on "best all-around" cal

November 9, 2007, 05:01 PM
I would reccomend the Remington 7 rifle as a solid Youth deer rifle.

November 12, 2007, 04:29 PM
I like the .243 just fine, but I don't think that above is an accurate assessment of the prevailing thoughts on "best all-around" cal.Ditto. I would personally give that nod to the .30-06. But the .243 would be just the ticket for the application you describe.

Eric F
November 12, 2007, 05:14 PM
I have seen some great answers and some....well less than educated responces on this subject.:cuss:

The concideration here is not so much what calibure as it is what rifle? He is 8 years old I have seen some large 8 year olds and some small 8 year olds. Find the right fitting rifle then pick a calibure he can shoot.

Now on calibure I personaly feel that anything less than .270 diamater would be wrong. The reason why......less than this diameter in IMO requires a lot more velocity to kill a deer with out question. More velocity means more recoil and most likely to a newer shooter less control.

Also though popular in lever guns pistol calibures would not be good either often times they are short barrles and therefore have more recoil. I have shot a .44 mag in a lever gun way more recoil than my 30-30.

So what does this leave? 270 is great 30-30 is better but much larger than 30-30 would be too much for an 8 year old. So
+1 270
+1 30-30
-1 7.62x39and 30 carbine(too short range not really proven to my satisfaction):banghead:

"exotic" options 7-30 waters, 7mm-08(may be too much), 303 savage, 307 winchester, 32-40,38-55 and 40-65

or do it like I did at 7 years old a .50 muzzle loader with a patched ball and 80gr black powder.:D

November 12, 2007, 05:37 PM
1 vote here for the .243 Winchester


November 12, 2007, 06:10 PM
Now on calibure I personaly feel that anything less than .270 diamater would be wrong.

Then there are a whole lot of wrong people. You are entitled to your opinion of course, but the majority of deer I've shot and countless others would disagree.

Eric F
November 12, 2007, 07:02 PM
oh I know and have read this through out this thread Its just my oponion. I see 243 mentioned so much I am really suprised. I had no Idea there were so many 243 shooters out there. I am equally suprised that there are not more votes for 30-03 its such a "universal" deer round where I came from and still is.

August 23, 2009, 08:19 PM
I have 2 girls, 1 is 19 and is very petite and the other is 14. I bought them a Savage 243 youth package. Comes with a decent scope, but I plan to upgrade to a scope that will allow max visibility during end of day hunting. (That time of day when you are hunting just before dark). Both girls loves this gun and both have dropped dear at 100 yard range with no problems. I hunt with an adult Savage 243 and have dropped dear @ 300 yard range. This was pushing the range of a 243 though. Any how, you can pick up a Savage 243 youth for $300.00 at Walmart. Great gun with little kick. Here are some links of the 2 guns. One is wood and the other is Black composit. I bought the black composit for both because it is very lite. My Adult Savage 243 is wood stock and it is very heavy.

August 23, 2009, 09:13 PM
Welcome to THR, fatherof2girls.

It sounds like you have some great kids. I hope that they are happy with their new rifles.

Here's a link to Marlin's clone of the Savage, and it has a very good trigger from what others report. Also a great price tag.


August 23, 2009, 09:20 PM
My son now 16 loves the TC contender 44 mag carbine I set up for him and has shot both his deer with it. My 14 yo daughter loves the TC contender 10mm carbine I put together for her. My son also loves his moms 243 bolt when he can borrow it from her. My buddy's 9 yo daughter shot her first deer with a NEF 243 with a stock cut down for her. His 16 yo daughter used the same 243 when she was younger and has since moved into a 3006. I think a nice NEF 243 or 44 would fit the bill.

August 23, 2009, 09:53 PM
The 243 would be great. You could find a replacement stock and cut one of them down.

For a first time deer hunt, I wouldn't want anyone to shoot over 100 yards or so. Too many things can go wrong. My son took his first deer last year at 9 with a CZ 527 in 223. The big does around here are about 100 lbs, so the 223 is plenty of gun. The gun would not have fit him the year before at 8. If I had been confident in his shooting, we would have likely cut one down.

A close friend of mine has an 8 year old son who is very small. He is only comfortable with a 12" LOP or less. I had a cheap replacement stock for a Mauser in 7.62x39; we cut it down and weighted it. He shot it this weekend and loves it. My friend's older son shoots a 700 ADL youth in .270 with reduced recoil loads.

August 31, 2009, 10:36 PM
Interarms and Charles Daly both imported the mini-mauser (short length of pull) in the 7.62x39 in bolt action. Equivalent in size to a youth Model 7 Remy. Great kids gun. The 125 soft point is death on deer out to 150 or so.
Ruger and Remy now offer them in bolt action. Saw them at the gunshow last weekend.

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