What's a good deer gun for youth?


huntin dad
November 8, 2008, 10:17 PM
Hi, I'm new hear. I'm starting to consider my options for a deer gun for my kids. My daughter is ten and my son is five,(waiting a couple years). I was considering a .357 mag rifle or a .44 mag. I have never shot either of these in a rifle, but I imagine the recoil is very mild. I'm looking for a gun that will be effective on whitetail deer at ranges 75 yards or less. I want a cal. big enough to make up for less than perfect shot placement (they're kids). As I wish there first hunting experinces to be positive ones. I'm open to other suggestion as well, but would like some advice. Thanks

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November 8, 2008, 11:08 PM
Consider a 30-30 but I would suggest a 243. I know its not a very big caliber but the recoil is not bad for children. As for shot placement goes get them out and let them shoot a lot. Then teach them that if they do not have a good broad sided shot to not take it. The 243 bullet might not be the biggest bullet but a Rem 100gr soft pt is traveling close to 3000 fps and has about 2000 ft lbs of energy, plenty enough to kill a big buck.

November 8, 2008, 11:19 PM
I started a recoil shy 11 year old with a .243 and he has taken 4 deer in the past two years. He is the son of a friend and now has moved up to shooting his dads '06 with a brake on it. I think the .243 is enough gun to take deer cleanly, with little recoil, and can work just fine for as long as they hunt.

November 8, 2008, 11:21 PM
My Marlin 1895 is 44mag, and it does NOT have a lighter recoil than a 30-30. The bullet may be slower, but it's twice as heavy and generates a stiff recoil. Furthermore, pistol calibers have a lot of bullet drop in flight compared to rifle calibers, so you really need to understand how to compensate for bullet drop on a 75 yard shot. And since the bullet is moving fairly slowly, be sure to select the right bullet type for the penetration and expansion you need on deer. Furthermore, the rifle is long and heavy. Especially with cartridges in the tube magazine, it puts a lot of weight under the barrel. Bottom line: It's probably not the right choice for a child.

They make bolt action deer rifles in proper deer calibers with a 20" barrel, but the stock is cut to youth size. It will fit the child better and teach them better skills. When they grow up, you can change the stock to an adult size and still use the same rifle.

November 8, 2008, 11:25 PM
My son has a youth sized .243 Remington ADL. Seriously accurate deerslayer:D Moderate recoil, easy for him to handle. He's itching for my .308, so it may be for sale after the season:cool:

Chuck Dye
November 8, 2008, 11:47 PM
I am convinced that the fit of the rifle to the kid is much more important than the round launched.

That being said, the honorary nephew, all 85 pounds of him, shoots a .243 Winchester. I argued for the .257 Roberts, but the availability of a left handed Savage and the greater availability (and lower cost) of the .243 won out.

November 9, 2008, 12:06 AM
After many years of having that question put to me in my gunshop I almost always advised the .243 was the answer as well. The youth models are a good choice for many reasons, I liked the Savage because as the kid grew you could change the barrel and stock to .308 win. for little money.

November 9, 2008, 12:30 AM
You might look into a Thompson Encore or Contender in a suitable deer caliber (there are tons that fit the bill, you're only limited my your ability to reload). Parts are readily available and inexpensive. Stocks, barrels, and sights can be changed as the kid grows and decides what they want in a rifle (or pistol as their skills improve and should they get the itch).

November 9, 2008, 01:36 AM
+1 koginam

November 9, 2008, 02:18 AM
I agree with the suggestions of a well fitted .243.

November 9, 2008, 03:07 AM
.30-30 is the traditional first deer rifle in my part of the world.

November 9, 2008, 07:22 AM
It's all about opinions, here are mine:

1. The .357 is not adequate for deer
2. As said, the .44 mag is high recoil
3. The .243 is good in experienced and skilled hands.
4. Go with the .30-30, keep bullets to 150 gr for less recoil (it won't be higher than the .243)

November 9, 2008, 07:30 AM
Soo does a 30-30 have less kick than a 243? I need a light recoil gun for my wife for deer? looking at rem 770 in 243 or mossberg 30-30 lever?


November 9, 2008, 07:47 AM
The Remington Model Seven in .243 is a sweet little "carbine" and also comes in a "youth" model. Either model is a superb deer rifle.


They can be bought on Gunbroker.com for less than Remington's MSRP, especially if there is a used rifle.

The .243 is quite authoritative and legions of newcomers have been started with it. The Remington Model Seven (without a scope) weighs 6.5 lbs. - the same as a Winchester 94 and a half-pound less than the Marlin 336. Adding a scope will add about 3/4 lb. The recoil figures below are for an unscoped Model Seven and an unscoped Marlin 336.

The 30/30 has a little more recoil than the .243 (11.5 ft./lbs. instead of 8.5 ft./lbs.). Remington makes a "managed recoil" version of their 30/30 ammo that will help a lot if the recoil of regular ammo is bothersome. Using "managed recoil" ammo will shorten the effective range a bit but not so much that the shooter is seriously disadvantaged. Of course an inexpensive recoil pad would help too. It too is a splendid deer caliber and the lever guns are splendid deer rifles.

One of the nicest things about the lever actions is that they are less weight to carry and that makes a real difference after an hour or so. Unless you're hunting froim a blind, rifles are carried many, many more minutes than they are shot. Marlins are about 1/2 lb. heavier than the Winchester 94. Am not sure about the weight of the Mossberg but it should be close to the others.

P.S. I have found that earphones have a magical way of "reducing recoil" for young/small/timid shooters. Once such a shooter has fired a dozen shots or so wearing earphones they often reach the decision that the rifle really doesn't kick them much. ;) Making sure they begin with and keep using firm shoulder contact (not "death-grip") and good cheek contact is a must too.

Good Luck !

November 9, 2008, 08:09 AM
Weight of the rifle determines recoil as well as bullet weight. Some tables might show .243 recoil with an 8lb rifle with scope. it would be higher in a light Remingtom Model 7. Likewise .30-30 recoil might be based on a 6lb Model 94 with 170 gr loads and will be less in a 7lb Marlin 336 with 150 gr loads.

The advice on practice with ear protection is good. You don't want a new shooter to develop a flinch which can come from the bang as well as the kick. Also, not so much bench shooting, sight it in for them. Shooting at a bench amplifies recoil compared to standing where the body more naturally flows with it. Besides, there won't be a bench out in the woods.

If I were buying a deer rifle for a newbie it would be a good used Marlin 336 for under 300, iron sights. I'd check it out and sight it in at 50yds with 150 gr loads. Then using the ear protection, I'd have the new shooter shooting pop cans offhand at that range. 100 rounds burned that way (not in one day though) is money well spent.

November 9, 2008, 09:14 AM
I bought my 10 yo a Ruger youth model in .260 Rem. She'd been shooting her .22 for 3 years by then, but found the recoil of the .260 and a friend's
.243 to be too much, even with an 87 gr. bullet at the bottom of the reloading manual.

I called Speer, and explained the situation to them and they gave me a recipe of 10gr. of Unique for either one of these cartridges. I now load this for all of her PRACTICE loads, which is the key, because despite your request for I want a cal. big enough to make up for less than perfect shot placement (they're kids). .....there ain't no such thing.

She is downright deadly with her practice load to all practical ranges; she does not notice the full-house hunting load when hunting.


November 9, 2008, 11:01 AM
I highly recomend a versatile and easy to handle 25-06.

November 9, 2008, 11:06 AM
I seem to recall a little known section of the Constitution of the United States which reads

"all able bodies citizens must know how to load and shoot accurately, a .30-30 rifle or carbine."

Well, it should read that way. THe .30-30 is an American tradition at least as important as knowing how to play baseball, eh, make that basketball.

November 9, 2008, 11:27 AM
I agree with the .243 and disagree with that a 357 isnt enough for deer. Out of a rifle a 357 will level a deer within 100 yards.

huntin dad
November 9, 2008, 02:52 PM
Thanks for the replies. I should mention that I will most likely buy a single shot rifle that is either a youth model or have it fitted to the kids. I know that ALOT of people shoot cal. under .30 for deer. I am not one of them. I don't disagree with they're use but I am a fan of .30+ cal. for deer. I like large wound channels. I will let them practice until they are good shooters. I would like to know how the 30-30 managed recoil loads comapre in recoil to the .243 and others. Or if anyone knows what the recoil of the .357 in a rifle is like. I do believe would be effective on deer in the 75 yd or less range.

November 9, 2008, 03:22 PM
Maybe I am different, but to me, the positive hunting experience is not in bagging a deer the first time. It is in being in the woods, experiencing the thrill of the shot, seeing the deer whether or not you take the shot. Ten years old is pretty young, you can't expect them to be on target all the time, motor skills are just developing. Just giving them the thrill of being there and partiapating is a good thing. Magnum calibers they don't need.

November 9, 2008, 03:39 PM
Recoil on a 357 depends on the rifle and the load. My 357 rifle has a cresent metal butt plate so you feel it more than if it had a recoil pad. As far as ammo I shoot fairly hot reloads out of mine. Actually my hunting load feels like it has less recoil than my main 357 load. My hunting load is a a 180 gr XTP over a full charge of 2400. My general load is a 158 gr JSP over 14 grains of 2400. I wouldn't have a problem using either on a deer here in Texas. I would say the recoil is similar to a 30-30. If you are going for a single shot I would say go with an Encore. They can grow with it and you can change calibers as needed.

November 9, 2008, 03:40 PM
My 11 yo boy has been shooting the Russ SKS lately. He is able to manage the recoil. This is his stepup from .22 lr rifle to a .30 cal round. I think SKS is pretty good bec of the shorter buttstock its easy to wield. Also the ammo is cheap so more trigger time. He made an aver of 4 inch groups at 50 yds, not bad for a young shooter with open sights.

And my son has claimed this rifle as his own. Oh well Im glad my toys are not going to waste .


November 9, 2008, 04:14 PM
The .357 isn't legal for deer in a number of states because the energy is lower than what is considered necessary for a clean kill. Just like it's a good idea for kids not to sour on hunting because of recoil, it's a good idea for them not to sour on hunting because they have witnessed an ugly scene with an inadequately shot deer. Yeah, yeah, "I" can be lethal on deer with a .357 too, but I still think more is better. If a .30-30 with 150 gr bullets in a 7lb Marlin with managed recoil ammo is too much for even practice, then maybe the kid in question just isn't ready.

Another thought: why are those rightfully concerned about recoil for kids also looking for the light rifle? The kid probably will have no problem with the weight and it damps the recoil a lot. An old Savage 340 bolt action .30-30 cut down to size might be a perfect way to go.

November 9, 2008, 04:39 PM
.243 would be the way to go. I was hunting deer with a 3" magnum 12 ga. slug when I was 14: It hurt and I closed my eyes when I shot. Make sure you start them off with a few bricks of .22lr. Each time you go out to shoot, start off with 50 or so rounds of .22. This will help to form good shooting habits such as follow through and flinch control.

November 9, 2008, 05:31 PM
I set up a friends 13 year old daughter with a 30-06 with a Pacmyter decelartor recoil pad and a muzzle break. She has had no problems and is quite proficent. That said a 243 works well but calls for a bit more skill in shot placement.

November 9, 2008, 05:41 PM
Soo does a 30-30 have less kick than a 243? I need a light recoil gun for my wife for deer? looking at rem 770 in 243 or mossberg 30-30 lever?

Here is a chart I found:


I put the increase in the 30-30 recoil about ~28% higher than the .243

November 9, 2008, 05:43 PM
How about a .243 in a single shot youth sized H&R Pardner?

November 9, 2008, 06:03 PM
Hi HuntnDad

Using the regular single-shot H&R Handi-Rifle (not the youth version) for all three calibers and using the recoil calculator at


It turns out that the .....

.357 with full power 125gr. loads has a recoil of 2.2 ft./lbs.

.243 with a full power 95gr. load has a recoil of 9.6 ft./lbs.

30/30 using Remington's "managed recoil" loads is at 7.2 ft./lbs.

Speaking candidly - if someone was seriously bothered by the 7.2 ft./lbs. of the 30/30 "managed recoil" load they probably shouldn't be taking shots at game until they grow a bit more - no matter how much they beg or how much Daddy wants to take them hunting.

Good luck !

November 9, 2008, 07:22 PM
"Soo does a 30-30 have less kick than a 243? I need a light recoil gun for my wife for deer? looking at rem 770 in 243 or mossberg 30-30 lever?


I can't say the 243 kicks more or less than the .30-30, but the .30-30 is a very mild round. I fire 170 gr corelokts out of my 7.5 gun and I wouldn't know it went off if it weren't for the very light bang and the movement of the front sight. I think I calculated it at somewhere around 7-8 ft lbs of kick at about 8 fps. I can fire that thing all day long and the only thing to get tired is my elbows (I sight in from the prone). The 243 is a good round, but I would go with which ever is more available in your area (here either are common but the .30-30 was free).

November 9, 2008, 07:24 PM
Looks like our numbers are about the same for the kick. I do think the speed of the recoil will also make a difference. The faster the kick, the more it feels like a punch and less like a shove (which people may tolerate better). What speed is the recoil happening at? The .30-30 should be about 7-8 fps IF I remember right.

November 9, 2008, 09:10 PM
Speaking for myself (6'4"; 300 lbs), I don't care for these single-shot rifles. To me, they kick harder than a comparable-sized bolt action gun. While the price is good, if I were buying my kid a new gun, I would stay away from them.


I like the Savage rifles for their value - accuracy at a good price. Used Marlin .30-30s seem to be running in the $300 range. While there's nothing wrong with Gool Ol' Thuddy-Thuddy, a .243 has greater potential for variety of uses - small varmints through deer - and at greater ranges.


November 9, 2008, 10:02 PM
Hi Scythefwd...

I don't know how to calculate the speed of the recoil. Using pure amateur Logic (and my Ouigi Board:)) it seems to me that the .243 couldn't be too different from the 30/30.


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 9, 2008, 11:48 PM
Shawnee and others speak very wisely on this issue. Stock fit and recoil pad most important (and ergo friendliness of sighting system for the kid). As for caliber, that .30-30 Win managed recoil load is golden!

November 10, 2008, 12:14 AM
I started my boys off with H&R .243s and they became proficient very quickly, but both took their 1st deer with a 7400 30-06 (Oldest was 11, youngest was 9), and both have stayed with the .308, 30-06, or .7mm mag (my father in laws, their uncles or my rifles) until I bought them their own 30-06s. (Neither have ever seemed to be bothered by recoil).

Had I to do it again I would have started both with Marlin 336s in 30-30. I have shot both them and the H&R .243 and to be honest 150gr winchester 30-30s seem to have less recoil than the 110s from the .243. Of course neither are bad, and as most new hunters should not be shooting at 300+ yards the 30-30 is really plenty of gun anyway.

November 10, 2008, 01:10 PM
I am trying to answer the same question about what gun for a young hunter, and boiled it down to being between the H&R handi rifles or something else. Well, the something else for me is possibly a Mossberg in .243 that sell for a whopping $20 more than the handirifle around here new at Academy.

I am really hoping to find a used .243 after season this year of a Remington for not too much more. Just my assessment.

November 10, 2008, 01:21 PM
My 7 year old nephew took a buck this weekend with a .243 Harrington and Richardson Handi-rifle at around 80 yards. Works great for him and his 8 year old brother. It's small and fits both of them well, and is plenty accurate, and they handle the recoil fine. The buck went down when he was hit, got up and ran a few yards, and went down for the count. We recovered the bullet under the skin on the opposite side he was hit on, and it had nearly turned inside out, and had expanded very nicely.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 10, 2008, 01:35 PM
LKB3rd - which ammo/bullet?

November 10, 2008, 02:08 PM
I think the H&R/NEF's are the best option for a young inexperienced hunter for one very important reason.

The safety or lack thereof rather. These rifles use an internal transfer bar system and can be carried hammer down which leaves one less thing for a youngster to have to master in the excitemt of the moment, and of course once fired they're 100% safe again with no additional manupilation requ'd. All you need do is teach the youngun that the hammer NEVER gets pulled back till you're about to shoot

I'm adamant that a levergun with a hammer block or half cock saftey are the absolute worst platform to start a new shooter on. I never will forget the AD I had when I was 12 from trying to put my winchester's "saftey" on

November 10, 2008, 03:36 PM
I used an online recoil calculator to get it. It has got to be a function of acceleration vs weight (how fast the pressure builds) as a ratio to the weight of the rifle (how much of it). Or, that would seem to be right to me, but I don't claim to be the brightest hammer in the bag.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 10, 2008, 03:46 PM
I never will forget the AD I had when I was 12 from trying to put my winchester's "saftey" on

How do you have an AD from trying to put on a cross-bolt safety?

November 10, 2008, 04:25 PM
How do you have an AD from trying to put on a cross-bolt safety?

a real winchester doesn't have a crossbolt safety.;)

With the crossbolt guns the problem is that the hammer will still drop in the heat of the moment if the safety is left engaged. Resulting in even more confusion in what's likely already a flustered youth

huntin dad
November 10, 2008, 06:59 PM
I agree that the handi-rifles are great beginner guns. In fact I use one in a 45-70 govt.I love it. One shot is all one should need, and I find them to be plenty accurate, as well as a great value. From what i'm hearin a 30-30 handi-rifle w/ managed recoil ammo,fitted with a youth stock and recoil pad, and a scope would be my best bet. The youth stocks can be purchased for about $30. So as the kids get older I could put the original stock back on and use full power ammo. What do you guys think?

November 10, 2008, 07:50 PM
Remington 7 youth in 260 Remington, add a recoil pad as they get older,(just for lengh, not recoil) and you have a gun for many seasons under all kinds of hunting conditions,


November 10, 2008, 07:53 PM
I guess the handi rifle would be ok and I agree that .30-30 is the right round. But my guess is that by the time they outgrow the short stock, they'll be clamoring for other rifles anyway :)

November 10, 2008, 09:34 PM
LKB3rd - which ammo/bullet?
It was a 100 grain Remington jacketed soft point.

November 10, 2008, 09:42 PM
Welcome to THR. About a year ago, I bought a LNIB H&R single-shot in .30-30 Win for my 14-year-old daughter. I paid $125.00 for it. They really are great little rifles. I cut my own teeth on a single-shot, then stepped up to a model 94.

Depending on the extent to which $$ is an issue, I would strongly suggest that you look into T/C's G2 Contender and Encore. They are both simply tremendous firearms, and the interchangable barrels are all gauranteed to fire 1 MOA at 100 yards.

Smitty in CT
November 10, 2008, 10:42 PM
I bought my 10 year old a Walnut stocked Mossberg 100ATR "Bantam" in .243.

He practices at the range with Winchester 55 grains, very little recoil, then steps up to the 100 gr for the hunts.


November 10, 2008, 11:10 PM
Try the CZ 527 carbine in 7.62 x 39. Equivalent to the 30-30 round. I have several deer rifles but prefer using my CZ in the woods.


or if you can find a Ruger 77/44

both are bolt action, light, magazine fed which in my opinion is safer when unloading and cheap ammo is available for practice. Also the round doesn't travel as far if there is a missed shot

November 10, 2008, 11:28 PM
NEF handi rifle in .243 or 7mm-08. cant go wrong and they can shoot them both forever if they want.

November 10, 2008, 11:28 PM
mossberg superbantam model, in 243, with several adjustable buttpad inserts, to use as the person grows... very good deal/ right now Academy has these on sale, with a scope mounted , for 300 bucks, super deal.

November 10, 2008, 11:33 PM
I highly recomend a versatile and easy to handle 25-06.

I can't wait to give my kid my .25-06. I have not met anyone yet who thought it kicked a lot.

November 11, 2008, 09:12 AM
First, are there any caliber requirements in your state?

I am sure many people will object, but we use 223 a lot in this state for white tail. Modern expanding bullets make this a quick killer at the ranges specified. I'll also put in a vote for the CZ-527, in that caliber or in the 7.62x39 Russian. The rifle is light and short, and the detachable magazine makes it easy to load and unload.

For heavier rounds, 243 or 260 are both excellent choices, but the weight of the rifle is a factor too, particular with smaller women who don't have the same upper body strength as men and may have trouble holding up a rifle for any appreciable time.

You didn't specify a budget. How much are you willing to spend?

November 11, 2008, 09:25 AM
anyone used the reduced recoil loads? I think Remington makes them in 30-30. With two kids, he won't have to worry out growing the gun too fast. One of the single shots are a great value for a kid. If dad likes them the contenders are great too.

November 11, 2008, 02:11 PM
I think the 30-30 would be more effective than the .243 at the ranges you mentioned. With the reduced recoil rounds, you're probably looking at less recoil than the .243 too. Another option might be a .308 with the reduced recoil rounds. .308 will probably kick harder than the 30-30, but would be a great round for the kid down the road. That's only if the gun would still fit him.

November 11, 2008, 02:34 PM
i would say it depends on what the terrain you are hunting. are you hunting open ground farms/cattle ground in the mid west?, you hunting heavy thick woods/swamps of the south? hard woods of the east??

this would be my opinion.

7.62x39 heavy woods/ thick woods/ swamp grounds. AK 47 style rifle. Saiga or straight up military configuartion or the bolt action version of the CZ would be good to. Open or very low power scope. the AK style rifle is very simple to operate the saftey is kinda loud on some rifles. and chambering a round is VERY LOUD would defently be a rifle to be used under adult supervision or experinced young shooters.

open ground/long range shots .243 or 6.5x55 swede bolt action or single shot break open style. it was posted above for a young novice shooter with very little experince a break open style single shot rifle would be perfect very little to mess up when excited pull hammer back and squeeze the trigger. recoil would be managable for a young shooter (if noticed at all while shooting game!) light weight.

November 11, 2008, 03:24 PM


November 11, 2008, 04:43 PM
I have to say I find this attractive:


Ruger 77 Mark II Frontier, ss/laminated, .260 Rem, 16.5 inch barrel, Prostaff 2-7 - isn't 500 a deal?

huntin dad
November 11, 2008, 07:31 PM
thanks again everyone. I am on a very limited budget. As I said before the range they will shooting will be 75 yards or less. Most likely less. Most of my shots are around 40-50 yards. I still haven't completely given up on the idea of a .357 but leaning toward the 30-30. I do have questions as to the effectiveness of the 7.62 x 39. My dad shot my first deer as a follow up shot to mine with an SKS when I was a kid. My shot was true with a 30 '06. We found his bullet just under the skin on the opposite side. Has anyone had experice with this round and how well did it penetrate.

November 11, 2008, 07:49 PM
7.62x39 is more than adequate at those ranges and then some. I have a friend on this board who built an AR in that calinber specifically for hunting. There is also a thread where somebody shot a doe at 247 yards with 7.62x39. My 11yr old shoots my buddies sks and loves it. You may check that out. Also I really like .243 in the hands of a youth.

November 19, 2008, 10:41 PM
I Know A 12 year old that starred with a 300 savage and got his first doe with it.

November 20, 2008, 01:09 AM
Hi there!

Nothing takes the place of shot placement.

I think most would agree the 243 is prob. the all around best youth cal. in America for taking deer size game.

The perceived recoil for the 243 75 gr. is about 8.5 fp's. Compare that to the 3006 with 150 gr bullet of 17.6 foot pounds of recoil. That is less than half the felt recoil!

The 3030 comes in at about 10.6 foot pounds with a 150 gr bullet., and the 2506 at about 12.5 with a 120 gr bullet.

The fit and weight of the gun is a big factor also.

Nothing takes the place of practice, and knowing your rifle, before going to the field.

For a small framed youth, I would suggest buying a single shot Handi rifle in 243, or another less expensive rifle and cut the stock to fit, and add a nice recoil pad. Save the piece you cut off and re attach it as they grow into it.

Jeff F
November 20, 2008, 07:58 AM
I have seen a lot of deer and other things killed with a .243. I have only shot one a little and have only taken varmints with it. I think it makes for a fine deer caliber.

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