I posted a question a few months back asking for recommendations on a rifle for a 12-year-old. He's skilled with a rifle in .22LR, and I was looking to upgrade to centerfire for two reasons: increased range on targets, and to get away from lead styphnate priming compound in filthy rimfire ammo. Some of the challenges have been to fit his short length of pull, and not to have a sudden big increase in recoil. My first thought was to cut down the stock of a Tikka T3X or CZ 527 in .223, but I was also considering precision-style rifles with adjustable furniture like the Ruger Precision Rifle, also in .223. I got a few recommendations here for .243. I hadn't made a decision yet, but then he got into a hunting class with 4H. In addition to that, he's studying the hunter safety training and wants to get a license. He'd be able to put in for a deer tag next season. So now I'm considering a chambering that would be well-suited to mule deer. I have some doubts that .223 is well-suited to deer. Surely, it depends on the range, the presentation, the shot placement, and the bullet, but I'm concerned .223 would be demanding of those things whereas a different cartridge would be more forgiving. .243 Winchester is well-proven for deer and would seem the obvious choice, but it has higher recoil and uses toxic large rifle primers. The 6mm Creedmore is very similar within hunting range and Starline makes cases that use small rifle primers I have that are lead-free. But those .243/6mm cartridges probably have excess energy for deer within 200 yards. The .30-30 is a lower-recoil cartridge that's well-proven on deer out to at least 150 yards. The way I see it, in the case of the .243 Winchester particularly, we're suffering excess recoil in order to deliver high-drag bullets with sufficient energy by brute-force out to four or five-hundred yards where we're not going to hunt. I started to look at more efficient intermediate cartridges like .224 Valkyrie. The problem I see there is the low-drag bullets in that caliber aren't well-suited for medium game. But one person in my earlier thread recommended a Howa Mini-Action in 6.5 Grendel. I hadn't really thought much of it because I just saw it as another chambering intended to chase improved AR-15 performance like so many others. But the Grendel's .264 bullets come in a wide variety, many of which are suitable for medium game, and it carries them out to three or four-hundred yards with sufficient energy despite having significantly less recoil than .243 Winchester. The 123 grain Hornady SST seems to be the most popular for the Grendel, but I would go with the Barnes TSX or Hornady GMX all-copper bullets to keep lead out of the meat. We may even hunt in California where we'd have to (and no, despite my strong convictions against lead I don't think a ban should be imposed on people who think otherwise). So I was considering the Howa Mini-Action in 6.5 Grendel with a lightweight, wide field-of-view scope (VX3i 1.5-5x20 or 2.5-8x36 Leupold), Harris bipod and sling. He should be able to get real comfortable with it by next fall. What do you think? The alternative to the Grendel would be a .223 target rifle and working up to a higher-recoiling cartridge in a heavier deer rifle. A Ruger American Predator in 6mm Creedmore would weigh at least a pound more and still recoil significantly more than the lighter Howa. I realize there are some more obscure options like 6BR, but most of the mainstream alternatives with factory rifles chambered in them use Large Rifle primers. I did consider handgun cartridges. It would be .357 or .454. .357 would be limited to close range and while .454 has a little longer legs, it drops a lot and requires accurate range estimation. I think the kid will do better with something flatter-shooting. I can tell you when I went through this, I was 18-19 and I just started with 8mm Mauser cause the rifles and Yugoslavian ammo were cheap, and then like .300 Magnum and 12 gauge 3.5" magnum because they were cool and ruled the charts. I didn't have anybody thinking smarter for me.