First Gun for Son/Daughter


January 24, 2012, 03:01 PM
I've been taking my son hunting for a few years, he's 10. We don't get a chance to go out as much as I'd like - maybe once a year. As a result he's a little behind the shooting curve for some of his friends.

Last year we shot a Remington 550 .22 quite a lot at camp. He demonstrated good gun safety and had a good time. This year we went hunting and I could tell he was itching to shoot something else. It was a quick weekend and we didn't have time, but I decided that I'd get him something and perhaps we could go squirril hunting or something.

Problem is that now I've been thinking and looking and put myself into a circle. I was thinking 410 single shot, then a .22 with a scope, then a 20 ga single shot, then some type of combo gun.... :what:

You guys are gun experts...what do you recommend for a 80lb 10 year old boy's first gun?

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January 24, 2012, 03:06 PM
Can't go wrong with a bolt .22lr. My advise is to avoid the scope though.

January 24, 2012, 03:07 PM
My eldest daughter started (non-airguns) with a 100 year old Bolt-action Marlin 101 .22. She learned the basics of safe handling, simple mechanical operation, and Single shot so no "accidents" Simple iron sights.. She ridicules the crickets.

She's been shooting my Ar-7 explorer (collapsing/floating survival .22) for almost 2 years now... and is moving into her first .22 handgun on her 10th birthday. I have a Bersa. 22 on order.

Normally I suggest a single-action .22 revolver when moving into handguns, no risk of a twitchy finger causing accidents. It depends on how well the kid is doing as an individual shooter.

I went from the same marlin and AR-7, to a High standard .22 and shortly afterward a "Victory" model 10 .38, slightly younger than my own sprout is climbing the ladder.

January 24, 2012, 03:10 PM
Both my boys got Ruger 10/22s for their 10th birthdays. I understand the "iron sights only" and bolt action preferences but for me that didn't make sense. They'll both get optics this year before we go to Appleseed.

January 24, 2012, 03:16 PM
Ruger 10/22 compact. Can use scopes, red dots too. My dad won't buy me guns, but the rental fit my 11 y/o brother just fine at the range. Plus the 10/22 is practically flawless.

January 24, 2012, 03:17 PM
They have to learn how to hold a Sight picture Wagon, nothing wrong with the scope, but good basics should be addressed. I've had to teach folks how to use Iron sights on a Cowboy gun after shooting their scoped revolvers when passing guns around on the range.

People MUCH older than me. You don't want your Kid to be "that guy"

Bolt action is usually just to slow them down and keep them thinking. but as my own daughter will attest, some kids are just beyond that.

January 24, 2012, 03:22 PM
A bolt action keeps them from trying "accuracy by volume." And iron sights teach them how to hold a good sight picture. I laugh every time I go to the range with my father and he can't shoot any of my guns because he never learned to shoot without a scope, and refuses to learn from his son.

January 24, 2012, 03:30 PM
I bought my son a 10/22, then a single .410, then a youth pump .410 and then a youth pump 20 and now a Mosin Nagant 91/30. He is now 12, 5ft 100lb. The only handgun he likes shooting is a Ruger Single Six.

I think most any .22LR rifle would be a good start. I started with the single shot .22LR as a youth, but didn't really love shooting until I bought a 10/22 & red dot. Learning to shoot with irons is good, but I love optics!

The key is finding something that fits the child. The LOP, cheek rest, butt stock all need to be good.

January 24, 2012, 03:37 PM
A lot depends on where he has to shoot, and what he will be shooting, if you were in an area with lots of wide open ground I would say get a .22 (in general anything that is not a semi-auto) I have a preference for slide action .22's, they are much faster to cycle than a bolt, and slow enogh to not be tempted to burn through ammo like tend to happen with a semi auto, however there are only a few on the market now, and the ones that are can be pricey, of course I learned to shoot on a WInchester model 61, after spending many years with an old Daisy BB gun. If safe backdrop range is more limited take a serious look at modern pellet guns, they have came a long way in the last 20-30 years, they are cheap to operate, have enough fire power to be fun and learn the basics, and are not potentially leathal at 1/4 of a mile+ like a .22.
There are lots of models out there, but for a start take a close look at the Bengamin Discovery PCP gun.

When it comes to hunting the gun will be determined by the type of game your after, for game involving the use of shotguns I would strongly consider the new Mossberg 510 Mini in 20GA, it is a scaled down 500 with a stock that can be adjusted as the kid grows, not just a youth stock on a full size gun. Personally I just don't see the point in .410 given the high cost of shells, better to move on up to 20GA as soon as they are big enough to handle it and opt for one of the ultra-light loads.


p.s. I also say learn on iron sights, save the optics for later

January 24, 2012, 03:40 PM
Both my boys got Ruger 10/22s for their 10th birthdays. I understand the "iron sights only" and bolt action preferences but for me that didn't make sense. They'll both get optics this year before we go to Appleseed. I think we all agree that everyone needs to be trained to use open sights. And maybe for the OP's son (who is clearly "into it") it makes sense to do that now.

I find that, for ealy shooters, it's just plain simpler to hit well with red dots or scopes (especially if there is a cross-dominance issue), and hitting is more fun. Let them get into the sport with fun; and bring on additional challenges (smaller targets, greater distance, more recoil, and iron sights) as they're ready for them.

JMHO. Every kid is different.

January 24, 2012, 04:01 PM
Thanks guys. I agree with the open sights and my son likes those better. He's been shooting his BB gun for years and my old .22 has iron sights. I just put a scope on his BB gun (came with it) and he hates it. I just wanted him to get used to it.

I'll opt for some type of .22 rifle. Now to find just the right one...

The first gun I shot was a 12GA SxS. First gun I hunted with was a 20GA, birds.

We live in the burbs, so we'll have to go out to shoot anyway. Probably the hunting club or a range.

January 24, 2012, 04:44 PM
Alabama Dan,

You might want to consider taking your son (and/or daughter!) to one of the Appleseed shoots. He will learn a lot from that weekend and be a better marksman for it. Most of the Appleseed guns are Ruger 10/22's with either tech sights or scopes - if he's used to iron sights, then go with tech sights. Take at least 2 magazines with you (more is better - I took 4 to mine).

If you'd like to know when the next Appleseed shoot is being held in your area, go to and look for the date and location.

January 24, 2012, 05:01 PM
I would recommend an over/under shotgun in 410 gauge, assuming you can find a light one. They're rather handy light things, so you could do a variety of things with one.

I'd personally say that starting a kid on a .410 is a mistake. Its HARD to do good wing shooting with a .410 and a lot of kids get discouraged.

IMHO, a 20 ga. is a better option. Still fairly manageable on the recoil, but a lot broader shot pattern making wing shooting easier. You also use slugs and/or buckshot (depending on legality of where you're at) if you want to deer hunt.

My first gun ever as an NEF Pardner 20ga. I think it cost my parents about $79 at the time (1989 or so). Nowadays they're still $125 or under, and make great starter guns. I still own mine and take it out squirrel hunting every now and then.

January 25, 2012, 01:03 AM
An SKS is a very good first gun, the over-sized safety control appeals to me alot. Simpler is better, too.

January 25, 2012, 02:17 AM
If the young person is advanced I say go with an M-4 of some flavor so the buttstock cheek weld is adjustable. If that is too much then I recommend a bolt or lever action in .22WMR with a thumbhole grip. My 9 yo daughter loves mine, and I know I will have to buy one with the pink and grey stock :eek::rolleyes::what::barf:

January 25, 2012, 02:40 AM
I agree with those who recommended a bolt action 22LR, and I'd stay away from optics for now as well. I would have recommended a 410 shotgun, but this is a key time in your son's life (IMO) when the basics of shooting need to be shaped and molded, and that requires measuring accuracy.

While its possible to do the same thing by shooting clays with a 410 shotgun, it will be much easier, and likely much more effective, if he shoots a rifle.

Look into the Henry H005 or Savage MKII for a relatively low priced option. If you want to spend a bit more, the CZ 452 may serve him well for his entire life, if he takes care of it. Note that neither the Savage nor CZ come with iron sights.

January 25, 2012, 06:06 AM
I started my son out with my semi-auto .22. Then when I thought he was ready for his own .22 rifle, I let him pick out the one he wanted. He didn't really care for the bolt action models and was thinking about either a lever action or a semi-auto. I think the ability to use a magazine for loading and the ease of mounting a scope made the semi-auto the right choice for him. Once he mastered the iron sights I mounted a 4X scope on it and he's proven to be a fine marksman with it.

January 25, 2012, 06:59 PM
I started both my step kids out on BB/Pellet guns.

I got the boy a .410 H&R for his 8th birthday, but the recoil has proven to be a little much, so i traded it in for a Cricket.

The girl is 10, and wanting a .22 rifle of her own. She's already outgrown a Cricket, so I'm thinking about getting another Savage 64, maybe in Wood and Stainless, so it looks different from mine. She shoots mine just fine.

January 25, 2012, 07:15 PM
pellet gun first, 22 next, then 243, then 20 gauge.

January 26, 2012, 12:08 PM
I started my kids out with this:

A bit pricey, but it's a tack driver. The gun was designed for youth, not just shortened for them. This is a gun that could be handed down for generations.

January 26, 2012, 12:12 PM
My advise is to avoid the scope though.

+1, my dad didn't let me even look through a scope till I had iron's down to perfection. I often shoot 100 yards with my old reminton 512 with iron's and thanks to my dad's teaching I am not too shabby if I do say so

January 26, 2012, 12:27 PM
The 10/22 is a good idea. You can buy a variety of stocks and acccessories, so the rifle cN be adjusted and improved as the child's skills progress.

January 26, 2012, 12:57 PM
My advise is to avoid the scope though.
+1, my dad didn't let me even look through a scope till I had iron's down to perfection
Add another, my first rifle and for several years was a Winchester M67 single shot .22 bolt-action with no scope, not that it needed it that thing even with iron sights had pin-point accuracy. Teach the fundementals first.

January 26, 2012, 01:53 PM
He is 10. Get him something he can use now but will grow into. Its only a single shot, but check this out:

My friend's kid has one and loves it. The 20ga gives some great wing shooting fun as well as squirrel time. The 22lr is great for economical practicing. And the .243 is a "real" caliber that can take real game. I believe you can get it in a youth model with inserts to add in the stock so it will grow with the kid.

It really is the perfect first gun (or second after a cricket). I even think that the barrels are tapped so you can add a scope later if you so desire.

Get it. You wont be disappointed, and neither will your son.

Hoppes Love Potion
January 26, 2012, 04:03 PM
I think a lever-action is a good compromise, and lots of fun. Look at the Henry Youth Model. When he gets older, you can order a full-sized stock for $50 from Henry.

chris in va
January 26, 2012, 05:21 PM
Having watched countless shooters at the range, I'd have to say a Henry lever action would be a fantastic starter rifle for a kid. Racking the action really gets them interested and also helps them learn to slow down and think about the shots instead of ripping through a mag like with a semiauto.

January 26, 2012, 05:27 PM
One of my favorite toys as a pre-shooter was a toy blue-steel lever action that made a loud THUMP and had some sort of whizzing noise maker like a miniature decelerating air raid siren.

Wow, haven't thought of my first "rifle" in years... almost a "Rosebud" moment there.

Now how many folks will get the reference? ;)

January 26, 2012, 08:35 PM
CZ 452 Scout with scope. I gave one to my son on his 10th birthday. Started out with the single shot and moved on to the 5 round magazine when he proved he could operate it safely.

January 26, 2012, 09:34 PM
Bolt action .22lr with iron sights. The CZ 452 Scout is exquisite for the purpose.

January 27, 2012, 03:42 PM
Marlin 60 or Ruger 10/22

January 29, 2012, 03:04 PM
go with a .22 single shot rifle, there are lots of them out there. Avoid the scope, no need in giving him something that will ruin everything he has been taught at camp about proper sight picture and sight alignment. Focus on getting the fundemental skills of using iron sights first. Skip the .410 and go with a 20 ga. He will enjoy it more and so will you. His chance of hitting his target with a 20 ga is increased over the 410. Really a 410 is an expert gun, with the 20 you can focus on the general techniques of point and shoot.

Glad you get the opportunity to enjoy the outoors, and open up the opportunities of shooting sports with your son. With proper safety procedures practiced you will never regret the times you spend together with him.

GySgt USMC (ret)
Boy Scout Shooting Sports Director
NRA Instructor and Range Safety Officer.

January 29, 2012, 03:24 PM
"An SKS is a very good first gun, the over-sized safety control appeals to me alot."........ ummmm for a 10 year old....... could not disagree more......

Like others I would suggest the 10/22, they are perfect to teach on and come in many different models. Upgrades and aftermarket items would make great presents over the next few years. One item I would suggest if you go this route is installing the extended mag release, a simple $20 upgrade..... best wishes with your decision, it will provide years of enjoyment and quality father and son time.........

February 1, 2012, 02:15 PM
Thanks so much for all these ideas. They are all so good that it's hard to decide, but I like that Rossie Trifecta idea. It could find all our needs. Hunting medium game with the 243, birds and small game with the 20ga and plinking with the 22. Now to find one...

February 1, 2012, 03:09 PM
If you don't get out too much, I'd say a .223, .243, or something else that's "real" but suitable for a small boy.

If you think you'll go often, get him a 10/22 and let him shoot thousands of rounds at a time if he wants. LOL

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