Want to buy a .22 to start my kids shooting? Advice Needed...


February 17, 2012, 10:09 AM
Hi All. I am in the market for a new .22 caliber to start my kids shooting on. Looking for a handgun not rifle. My kids are 11 and 7. I'm not partial to autos vs revolvers, I'd go either route where it makes sense. I really like the new Ruger SR22 auto. Can you all suggest what you've started your kids on in the .22 handgun world? Pricing, I'm willing to go up to $600 OTD. I'd like something to last as all my guns in due time will go to my kids. I think .22 is the perfect avenue to start with and cost affective. Pics would also be great if you got them.


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February 17, 2012, 10:29 AM
My son, now 12, does not like auto loaders because the brass tends to fly back at him (I've had/have Rugers, Smiths, Walther, and even a Phoenix Arms 22LR).

He does like revolvers.

So, perhaps you'd be best served by a Ruger Single Six, Ruger LCR .22LR or SP101 .22LR.

Just curious, why not a rifle?

February 17, 2012, 10:32 AM
I learned from my dad on the Phoenix Arms .22LR. It has a slide release that doubles as a saftey, and it has a hammer block saftey. Taught me about both slide mounted and frame mounted. Its a good starting point to teach kids about other platforms later because it has both safteys. Its also small, so it fits well in kid hands.

Its in the $200 range. You can get it with 2 barrels, and 2 magazines (one with pinky rest). Despite being relativly unheard of Pheonix has great customer service. Run to you tube and youll find videos of firearms replaced because of a part breaking 10 years after purchase. My fathers hasnt broken any parts... it has had FTF and FTE... but it is a .22 youll have that. And the ammo was federal *shudder*. Dad isnt the best at cleaning his guns so the FTE kinda goes with that. BUT, with FTF and FTE comes the knowledge of how to deal with them.

Hope you find something that will work for you and your children. Thanks teaching the next generation about shooting.

February 17, 2012, 10:47 AM
Browning Buckmark or a 1911 with a 22 conversion

February 17, 2012, 11:45 AM
I have a CZ Kadet and I'd highly recommend it for a .22lr handgun. The buckmarks and ruger mk. ii/iii are both excellent choices as well. I find the CZ fits me better though and you can easily transition to a 9mm slide down the road, while keeping the same frame with the same trigger/controls you're used to.

February 17, 2012, 12:10 PM
Thanks everyone for the replies. I will check out the models you have suggested.

Almherdfan - The reason for no rifle is we have one in the family an Ruger 10/22, just waiting on my dad to bring it out to us during his next visit in the summer. I wanted to get a handgun in ther interim.

Thanks Again!


February 17, 2012, 12:13 PM
A revolver would be a better choice, for safety reasons.

A semi-auto pistol with a light trigger and excitable kids is a recipe for disaster.

When I used to teach Kansas Hunter Safety, I was always amazed how fast a few kid's could hit the target the first time, excitedly jump in the air, and land with the gun pointing 180 degrees the other direction, at me.

Seriously, a kids first gun should be a .22 rifle, and not a semi-auto rifle.

Learning safe gun handling, muzzle awareness & control, using open sights, trigger control, breathing, etc. is much easier for them to learn without getting discouraged by missing all the time with a handgun.


February 17, 2012, 12:24 PM
I'm going to agree with RC on this one, a revolver is probably a better choice for safety reasons and you get the option of shooting even lighter loads like the .22 short. I also agree with him in regards to starting them off with .22 rifle as it's safer, more accurate and a better way all around to get them up and going into the world of shooting.

That being said, how old are the little boogers? I ask because I personally love my Browning Buckmark but my hands are large enough to palm a basketball so they may not be the #1 choice for kids.

February 17, 2012, 12:24 PM
A revolver would be a better choice, for safety reasons.

A semi-auto pistol with a light trigger and excitable kids is a recipe for disaster.

When I used to teach Kansas Hunter Safety, I was always amazed how fast a few kid's could hit the target the first time, excitedly jump in the air, and land with the gun pointing 180 degrees the other direction, at me.

Seriously, a kids first gun should be a .22 rifle, and not a semi-auto rifle.

Learning safe gun handling, muzzle awareness & control, using open sights, trigger control, breathing, etc. is much easier for them to learn without getting discouraged by missing all the time with a handgun.


Quoted for truth. I learned to shoot pistols long after I learned to shoot rifles. Learning the fundamentals of both shooting and saftey are easier on a rifle. I would wait until your kids were good around a rifle before starting on pistols.

And a bolt action .22 is a good rifle to start with. And not long after a semi. I would even think starting with a semi could be a good place to start... as long as slow fire was used.

EDIT: I will disagree about the revolver bit. I learned on a semi auto pistol. I didnt shoot a revolver until much much later.

M2 Carbine
February 17, 2012, 12:41 PM
The gun doesn't matter so much as the instructor knowing what they are doing.

Personally I've started young kids out with 22 revolvers or the little Beretta 21A 22. Makes no difference.
I like the Beretta tip up barrel for kids that are too young to be able to pull the slide on a semi auto.
By the tme they were 8, with the little Beretta, my friend's three boys could outshoot most adults on the Texas concealed carry course.

Just like with adults, usually I start new young shooters out with a 22 semi auto.
No problem, heck the kids usually catch on faster than the adults.:D

February 17, 2012, 01:11 PM
I'm biased toward the revolver. I learned on a Single-Six and I'm teaching my kids on the same. While proper instruction is indeed critical, no two students are alike. With young kids there's little room for error. I have introduced my 7 yr. old to the autoloader in the form of an AR and a Beretta Neos but the precautions necessary are restrictive and therefore less fun. When things are less fun kids are less interested.

February 17, 2012, 02:43 PM
Revolver is generally the better choice overall, can't go wrong with the Ruger, but the choice depends on the child's level of progress. Best indicator is if they're considering their shots, or just dumping the magazine as rapidly as possible. I was a Thinker, so I was allowed better guns earlier.

I started on a High Standard with a feather light trigger very young, I'm starting my Eldest daughter off with a Bersa .22 as her first pistol at age 10 next month ( a bit older than I was when I started on handguns) .

I can load single rounds as needed, DA and SA trigger pulls, and a Decocker-safety for small hands that might not be able to let a hammer down safely for a few more years. She gets to take Legal ownership of it when she shows me her CHL card. (yes I'm mean, but I'll pay for the class and license, I'm not a complete monster.)

February 17, 2012, 10:31 PM
Browning Buckmark with ears on the slide for a pistol, a terrific gun. A Ruger 10/22 is the best rifle for a kid (or a man, lol). I say that because of all the extra stuff you can add later as your kid grows to be a man. I have both of these guns and like them a lot. I remember my first 22, a Sears bolt action single shot. I put many rounds through it and it is still in my safe. I may go shoot it tomorrow. The "first 22" is a rite of passage for twelve year old boys in the South. Usually for Christmas. I have great memories.

February 18, 2012, 02:23 PM
My kid loves the S&W 617 (10 shot) revolver and the Ruger MKII that I gave him equally as well. Either is an excellent choice and good deals on lightly used ones are to be had.

My son (before his haircut) shooting his MKII:


He is a terror with it.

February 18, 2012, 02:56 PM
Ruger Single Six .22lr.

That is an heirloom pistol for parent to child.

February 18, 2012, 03:17 PM
I really like a revolver for young kids to get the hang of guns. My youngest daughter felt much more comfortable with a revolver at first but quickly moved up to a semi so now I have a .22 revolver that I never shoot. Spending $4-500 on a gun that will not be used a great deal may not make much sense. We shot my Buckmark about 200 rounds yesterday and the kids, 10-11, really enjoy it. We also have a MKII that we shoot often. I have bolt, pump and semi .22 rifles. You can usually get a very good single shot .22 rifle for less than $100 even if it is a bit rough looking. The Ruger 10/22 is by far my favorite and is $200 NIB at Wallyworld.

February 18, 2012, 03:29 PM
There was another dad on the revolver forum with the same question. He was limited by budget. He wound up purchasing the Rough Rider with the smaller, birds' head grip. His daughter loves it because it fits her so well. Is it an heriloom gun? Nope. But for $180 it is a good starter gun and, if she later despises guns, it's a minor investment.

In addition to price-point, as a single-action revolver the kid can't burn up ammo too fast.

That all said, I would agree that the better choice would be a good bolt action rifle. If he can handle a larger gun, get something like an old Marlin [better quality than the newest version] Stevens, Savage or Remington. If not, the Cricket .22 is a great low-cost and low-volume starter.

FWIW, I learned to shoot on a Stevens 15A and a Winchester 250 lever-action. My dad wouldn't even let me talk about a pistol. I bought it my own on my 21st birthday.


February 19, 2012, 01:33 AM
I would recommend a revolver for starting a young person off because the mechanism is easier to understand because all of it can be seen operating. Also it's harder for a kid to rip off a bunch of ammo with a revolver. More chance they will concentrate more on marksmanship than making a lot of rapid shots. An auto loader wouldn't be a disaster either. I recently got a Ruger SR22 and think that would be a good one to start a young 'un on. It's light with a DA/SA action. In SA it's trigger is decent with a slightly heavy pull which is safer for someone who hasn't much experience with firearms. I wouldn't start any beginner with a hair triggered target pistol, a 5-7lb. pull is safer at first. I won't start my grand kids on my Buckmark with it's 26oz. trigger. Thats for grandpa's Bullseye shooting.

February 19, 2012, 09:03 AM
My kids shot .22 semi autos from an early age without issues besides shooting more ammo through them than they did with revolvers.
I think the SR22 Ruger may make a dandy .22 trainer pistol for kids for a lot of obvious reasons.

February 19, 2012, 01:47 PM
I know I've already chimed in but it seems responses are varying widely.

1. I believe a single action revolver is the safest option combined with a youngster who may forget muzzle direction after a good shot.

2. I believe a single action with a good lighter trigger will be more enjoyable because 7 lbs. to a 7 yr. old is a tall order that will lead to bad habits (yanking trigger, sight mis-alignment). It also allows for the sort of surprise break we always talk about.

3. I believe single action revolvers help enforce the idea that every shot is important because action is necessary before firing each shot.

4. I believe single action revolvers allow kids to slow down their otherwise frantic pace and any discipline that can accomplish that will help them with focus.

I don't believe that any single .22 is an ideal mind you, merely that a SA revolver is a starting point. From there I moved on to DA revolvers and a good while later to SA/DA and SA pistols. All handgun shooting was preceded by the rifle of course which was infinitely more accurate and controllable.

February 19, 2012, 01:56 PM
Id say a Taurus 922 is a decent choice. Its a little on the larger side, but ive been told its a fantastic .22 Revolver.

February 20, 2012, 05:53 AM
For general firearm safety, start off with the .177 millimeter. I still remember, 20 years later, the moment my pops gave me those first 10 bb's on my first daisy bb gun, how excited I was........and all the safe handling practices he taught me and my bros before giving me those bb's. And how serious he took shooting at the cardboard box filled with newspapers and a homemade bullseye stapled on that we made with a protractor and some crayons. The whole experience left an impression on me that's since been unshakable, the fundamentals of gun safety have forever been ingrained in my mind since then. Bb guns are perfect platforms for training children, training wheels if you will. You don't throw your kid on a sportbike that can kill him before he knows how to switch gears on a scwhinn right? The point is, you don't have to drop a fully loaded semi auto rimfire pistol into a kid's hands the second you start training him/her how to properly use it and how to respect its power. You don't have to buy a single shot rifle as a first step to firearm safety. Proper safety techniques can be taught with bb guns, airsoft, hell, paint a stick black and pretend, kids are good at that. Buy the gun that suits you and the kid's long term needs/wants, a single shot 22 rifle can be as unsafe as an AR type 5.56 in the wrong (read unsupervised) hands, don't blame improper handling on the function of a particular type of gun over poor supervision. The Walther 22 is a great, modern functioning auto, Ruger has a version, and, of course the Mark II, Ruger also has several revolver offerings in 22, someone mentioned a Kadet kit for a CZ, which is probably just inside of your price range, but long term putting a regular 9mm slide/barrel on it would be a great transition to a centerfire. I would advocate the Chiappa 1911-22 as it's a great shooter, loads of fun and fairly cheap, but mine recently suffered a catastrophic failure, which I'm waiting on Chiappa to remedy. Kids these days would probably show more interest in the modern looking and functioning pistols due to their prevalence in video games so I would lean towards the Walther or Ruger SR22, the point is to get them excited about shooting right?

February 20, 2012, 07:02 AM
Seriously, a kids first gun should be a .22 rifle, and not a semi-auto rifle.
Quoted a second time for even more verifcation of Truth.

However, if you've got a 10/22 coming, is there a reason there can't be 2 .22 rifles in the family? Aren't there two boys? As it is, that still leaves you without one! ;-) If you want to go with a handgun for variety, I'd strongly recommend a revolver. A lot of people have suggested the Single Six. While this is a great gun, I tend to avoid single action revolvers because their hog's leg grip shape is not a very good choice for a kid's hand, and it's a terrible choice for my hand. You should be able to find a Taurus 9 shot model 94 for around $300, a Smith & Wesson for $500-$600.

February 20, 2012, 10:51 AM
For smaller hands, I suggest the Ruger Bearcat. I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet.

February 20, 2012, 12:25 PM
I agree with what one person said about how kids will probably like a more modern firearm better.

What I would personally do, if you have ANY doubt in your mind that either of your kids would be able to effectively listen and follow safety rules/instructions, then FIRST buy something like a .177 pistol (if you want them shooting handguns) and have them follow the exact same safety rules as if it were a real handgun. Once they both show you they are capable, THEN have them start shooting a .22 such as a SR22 or perhaps a MKIII...Maybe that's just me though.

February 20, 2012, 01:19 PM
Like many others have already posted, I would most likely start out new shooters with a .22 rifle first (single shot or mag fed bolt action), then move on to a handgun once they have mastered all of the fundamentals.

My first choice in a handgun would be an older S&W Model 34, preferably with a 4" barrel. The grip size of the J frame revolver is great for smaller hands, and can be fitted with any number of aftermarket grips. Easy to see adjustable rear sight, easy to load/unload swing out cylinder, and DA/SA capability.

If a semi-auto seems more like the way to you want to go, then I would recommend a Ruger MK.II or MK.III, Browning Buckmark, or a Beretta Neos.

February 20, 2012, 01:30 PM
I see a lot of posts above that are suggesting that a single action is somehow safer if waved around than a semi auto. HUH?

It really doesn't matter if you start them with a single action or a semi. Safe is safe. The adult supervision with a handgun would always need to be very close and "hovering" with kids of this age. This would be so until they can prove themselves worthy by abley demonstrating a long history of proper muzzle and trigger discipline. It really does not matter a whit if it's a single round or 10 at the command of the shooter. Each gun needs to be properly handled with exacting and non wavering safety.

Through helping out at my club's Junior .22 evenings I've had a chance to observe kids from 7 on up shooting their first ever rifles. The other instructor and I have also brought in a variety of .22 handguns for them to try. During these sessions we each take over close monitoring of one gun and one kid at a time so we can block any errant sweeps of the gun.

Oddly enough we have not had to deal with any at all. Part of the original safety briefing concerns trigger and muzzle control. And for the first while the shooters will be reminded with calls of "trigger finger!" or "muzzle!" if they slip up even a little. These are also reinforced before allowing them to shoot any of the handguns.

They are so keen to aim and hit the targets that I can't really remember any of them trying to "ammo dump".

So all in all from what I've seen I'd say that it really doesn't matter if you start them with a single action revolver, double action revolver (which they'd shoot as an SA because they won't be able to pull the DA trigger anyway) or a semi. None of them is in any way more inherently safer than the other.

Just start them right with UNBREAKABLE safety practices. Along with this strict denial of shooting privilages must apply for ANY slips. Even if those slips are obviously caught by the adult supervising the kid. For example finger on the trigger while loading a mag would mean a missed turn or a 10 minute "time out". A sweep to the side which is corrected with a verbal reminder would be the same. The need to block by the adult supervisor is the end of the shooting for the day. Along with a talk about how safety is not an "accident", how there is no "reset button" in real guns and in this case how "sorry" doesn't count.

Then give them one of those little flip up steel rimfire targets to aim at. The urge to see and hear those flippers will contain any tendency to ammo dump.

Notice I haven't said anything about which gun to buy? Because it really doesn't matter. Take them shopping with you and let them be part of the buying experience. But make it a gun which YOU will like to shoot as well. Since you should get to play too.... :D

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