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game gun for 12 YO's?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by labnoti, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I posted a question in the hunting section about getting some boys, 11 and 12 started in hunting, and the result is we may just focus on rabbits this season but I'm also looking to get them started with shotgun skills.

    They're doing a 4H class/project on hunting this year. They'll mostly learn about big game hunting and game processing, taxidermy and so on, and they'll be able to apply for license/tags beginning next year (due to age limits). This season they're able to hunt small game. Quail are abundant this year and we can get on cottontails easy enough. They're skilled with a .22 rifle and we have one that fits.

    I also want to get them started on a shotgun, but not sure the best way to go about it.
    They need something light, low-recoil and with a short length of pull. Am I better off waiting a year or two until they'll fit and handle a larger gun, or is there something that works well for small people? I imagine people suggesting .410, but that's a small pattern to hit game with. Supposing I consider .410 or 28 gauge, are there guns that fit small shooters? Do I just need to cut the stock down? What's the right balance of light weight without too much recoil?
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i would start them on a brake action 20 ga, most guys say a 410 but they tend to group tight and can make it hard to hit the target. also most 410s are light and can have some recoil, the brake action is nice to learn on and is safe, i do think a single shot makes u shoot better.
     
  3. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    My Father in Law used .410 his whole life. He was faster than most with the lighter
    cartridge and rifle. Took more game than most of us combined. Don't underestimate
    .410.
     
  4. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    not underestimating the little 410 but the shot patron is small u have to be dead on to get good kills with a 410. this will make u a better shot when u are older but 410 is pricey and people don't practice like the old days when a box of 410 was 1.25.
     
  5. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    I’m not a fan of 410’s for kids. Started my first kid with a youth 20 gauge pump, started second kid with a youth 20 gauge gas semi. 20 gauge semi is the way to go IMO. For safety you can plug a semi and a pump to make them single shots and some youth pumps come with a long plug you can cut down later.
     
  6. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    I started hunting (doves) at about 10 with an H&R break-action 20 ga. That's been a long time, but I do not recall the recoil being particularly bad. What I do recall is that it taught me to make the first shot count. A few years later, I graduated to a 20 ga Wingmaster that I still have.
     
  7. George P

    George P Member

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    If you reload, then the 28 becomes affordable or you could download the 20 to 28 by loading 3/4oz of shot. I do that for both 12 and 20 and that 3/4oz 12 ga load runs both my Beretta gas guns perfectly.
    The heaviest gun they can comfortably (and safely) handle with the lightest loads will have the least recoil. There are some guns with "youth" or "bantam" stocks that might fit, but unless your boys are both REAL similar in size and shape, what might fit one might not fit the other. Don't forget to check them both for eye dominance as it might not be the same as their hand dominance.
     
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  8. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    I don’t think most kids today are as tough as they were 50 years ago. I also don’t think the fault lies with the kids but with parents, of which I’m a guilty party.
     
  9. George P

    George P Member

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    If you do that, then you change the cast, pitch, drop, toe, heel and comb dimensions. To help mitigate recoil a shotgun must FIT, especially if they are going to be doing more shooting going forward.. There's more to fitting a shotgun that a rifle or handgun, but most know when one of those does not fit right. Use the wrong size and type of handgun grips and you will feel the result rather quickly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  10. paulsj

    paulsj Member

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    The koolest I have seen was King Ferry vintage Ithaca 87 with 24" vent rib barrel with coke tubes alloy receiver and special 12.5" butt stock ending in vented Ithaca pad. Proly never see another one as they probably assembled as many as one has fingers and toes.
     
  11. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Worst advice for starting a kid on shotguns, though it will weed the pretenders out from the hardcore fast. Unless you are talking about high-end O/U's, of which even most of the hunting versions would not be good choices, due to weight, or more specifically, LACK of it. Like many in my generation, I started out with a hand-me-down 20 ga, in my case a bolt action Savage/Stevens, and shot my first duck with it. So my dad 'graduated' me up to a 12 ga., an H&R Topper, which I shot horribly with. (Understandably, as the recoil was vicious; the 20 ga. version isn't much better.) So he figured I needed more rounds-his solution: A Tenite-stocked Savage/Stevens 311 12ga. Alomost as bad as the H&R, for the same reason: It was too light, the recoil was bad: I was conflicted: I wanted to go duck and pheasant hunting with my Dad, but didn't want to get beat up by the gun every time. Yes, I didn't feel the recoil as bad when a rooster flushed, or a flock of bills came in to the spread, but you have to practice, too, and I was tempted to give up shotgunning altogether. Then when I was 14, he let me try his back-up 1100, (he had 2, a 2 3/4 and a Mag) and voila, a shotgunner was born. I started hitting clays, I started hitting live birds, I started shooting Trap and Skeet, first for practice, then leagues.

    When I was looking for a gun for new shooters to use for 4-H Trap, I went with a Tri-Star Raptor in 20 ga. I believe a gas-operated semi-auto, in either 12 (adult, or larger youth) or 20 (smaller youth), with correct fit, at least LOP, (VERY important) is the best choice to start new shotgunners off with. I have seen droves of kids show up with Dad's 12 ga. 870, and it is waaaay too long for them. They try a couple shots, miss, complain about the recoil, and never show up again, particularly if Dad is criticizing them when they shoot.

    By the way, Dads are the worst coach for their own kids, unless they can detach and coach them as if they weren't their kid. I was lucky and was able to do this for mine because I was a 4-H Shooting Sports Leader, and also lucky that my Dad was taken out of the equation quickly by his best friend Rich, who was a much better shotgunner, and taught me well. My Dad returned the favor for Rich's son with rifle. I had a kid on the HS team that would not listen to me, and wouldn't try a different starting (aiming) point in Trap, because "That's how my Dad taught me". Her Dad had a 16 average, also. :rofl: Add in that when she got frustrated when she missed she would miss more, she dropped off the HS team and leagues within months. Her brother is a good shooter, (19 avg.) just needs to slow down and learn to follow through hard angle birds better. (Sounds like me at his age...)

    This part of your statement I heartily agree with, when starting out with .22's. We had Marlin 15Y's for 4-H. For shotgun however, most single shots except Trap specific guns, which can weigh up to 10 pounds, are way too light for beginning youth shotgunners. For shotgunning, for beginning shooters, stock fit and low felt recoil combined with a patient, encouraging coach is the foundation for success.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  12. kscharlie

    kscharlie Member

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    The good thing about youth model 20 gauge shotguns is that they are lighter. The bad thing about youth model 20 gauge shotguns is that they are lighter. Less weight of the gun translates into more felt recoil, regardless of gauge. A youth model 20 gauge can be quite punishing. I started one of my boys (many years ago) on a Remington 870 youth model. Even had a Kick-Eez recoil pad put on it. It beat the crap out of my boy. My other son started on a Remington 1100 semiauto 20 gauge. Recoil was not so bad on that one. Both of them ended up becoming excellent trap shooters, so we were able to "overcome" early recoil problems.

    I was a certified NRA shotgun instructor for many years, and taught many youngsters at NRA shooting camps. The one gun I would strongly recommend that you NOT get them would be a single shot break open gun. This is probably the single best way to introduce flinch to a new shooter. I would suggest taking a good look at the Mossberg line of youth shotguns. Either the 500 Bantam (pump) or the SA-20 Bantam (semiauto). They sell versions that come with a stock spacer that can increase the length of pull as needed.

    Good luck with your decision and your boys. Let us know how it all works out.
     
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  13. George P

    George P Member

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    Same for husbands/boyfriends teaching their wives/girlfriends................

    IF the kids can handle the weight of the 1100, the 28 gauge version is, IMO ideal for young/small stature shooters, especially new ones.
     
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  14. LRDGCO

    LRDGCO Member

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    Youth model, gas operated 20 ga. They will grow into it quickly, so even if this year it's a little heavy, by next year it will be fine. Low recoil. 7/8 oz is plenty of shot and 20 ga shells are much less expensive than 28 ga. I went with the Weatherby SA-08 for my son. The shotgun is well made and functions well but reassembly after cleaning is an unnecessarily arduous PITA. I believe Mossberg does a Bantam?
     
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  15. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I was reading a F&S article on the subject and the author lamented parents buying short, light and heavy-recoiling guns for their kids. He advised gas-operated semi-autos and suggested loading one shell at a time if there was a concern about that. He also suggested 85 pounds as a minimum weight for 20 gauge (the kid not the gun). Entropy's statements seem to agree on a number of those points.

    I am concerned about fit, and I don't see guns available that do fit or could easily be modified and it's probably because the boys are too small. Based on the advice, I'm attracted to something like an 1100 in 28 or 20 gauge and a 27" barrel, but I don't think I can get a good fit for another year or two. The boys are about 55" and under 65 pounds. I'd rather wait and get good fit and a good experience. If I start them on clays in summer of 2020, they'll be ready for birds that fall.
     
  16. George P

    George P Member

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    Yep, the last thing you want to do is discourage with several bad outing. In the meantime, keep them shooting something, even .22, by using both eyes open. That will make it easier to transition to shotgunning - something I did not do when I first started shooting and it was rifles. It is a HARD habit to break, about as hard as quitting smoking,
     
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  17. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    A youth SA-08 is what I started my daughter on.
     
  18. kudu
    • Contributing Member

    kudu Moderator Staff Member

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    Lots of decent advice here. I would say a gas auto in 20 or 28 gauge is ideal. My first shotgun that I still have my Dad bought me a Remington LT 20 1100 when I was 15. Before that I was using Grandpa's H&R single 20 gauge. That single kicked the snot out of me, but I didn't know better. If you reload you can load your shells down to soft bumps instead of harsh recoil. There are factory superlight shells available, but are hard to find, might have to order special.

    See if a local shotgun club has a youth shooting team. My local club bends over backwards to help get young shooters set up with guns and fit to them, and many have some available that you might be able to look at or shoot. That way you have an idea of what you might want to start with. I know there are some kids on our youth team that didn't weigh in at more that 65-70 pounds when they started.
     
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  19. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

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    ," are there guns that fit small shooters? "

    several companies make youth model shotguns. Check out Remington or Mossberg. Mossberg has youth models that include additional butt stock spacers so the gun can grow with the younger shooters. I think either the .410 or the 20ga. would be just fine. Which is a better starting gauge? for shot groups the 20ga , for recoil and handling it will depend on the shooters size , attitude, etc.
     
  20. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Youth models are available. I'd go with a 20 or low recoil 12s if you want to go hunting. The 410 has no recoil, but it takes a seasoned shot to bring home meat for the pot with a .410 and that's at pretty close range. Your youngster's chances are better with a 20 or 12.
     
  21. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Remington, Browning, Winchester, Tristar, Weatherby and Mossberg sell youth gas semi auto shotguns. Some companies have gone politically correct and changed the model name from “Youth” to “Compact”, such as Weatherby but they are the same.

    My daughter has a Weatherby SA-08 20 gauge and a SX-3 12 gauge, both youth/compact models. The Winchester is noticeably heavier so felt recoil is about the same for her with 7/8” ounce 20 gauge loads and 1 1/8 ounce 12 gauge loads at the same velocity. She prefers the Weatherby even though it cost half of what the Winchester did because it’s quite a bit slimmer and livelier handling.
     
  22. oldrevolverguy

    oldrevolverguy Member

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    I have a Remington 1187 20 gauge 28" barrel with three butt stocks at different lengths just for introducing children and ladies to shotgunning. The gun is light, points well and with 7/8 oz field loads very light in recoil. The manual of arms is simple and easy for new shooters to learn. This combination of attributes allows new shooters to focus on learning shooting fundamentals without unnecessary distractions. YMMV.
     
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  23. entropy

    entropy Member

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    And it would not be a very good choice for the reasons I outline in the post below yours; it is a very light locked-breech pump gun that will transfer 100% of the recoil to the new shooter. It would be a great Turkey gun for a smaller shooter that is used to some recoil. :thumbup:
     
  24. jeepnik

    jeepnik Member

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    Well, I'm just an old dinosaur. But, I started with a Mossy .410, still my favorite shotgun, at eleven. Those who say it shoots a smaller pattern are right. But it makes one slow down and concentrate in order to hit a target. Especially if it's one of our big ole jacks which never run in anything near a straight line. The advantage of learning on a shotgun with a smaller shot charge is that once you learn with it you can transition to a larger gauge with ease.
     
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  25. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    I started at age 12 in 1964 with a Springfield Arms break-open single-shot 20 gauge (Chicopee Falls Mass, later to be acquired by Savage/Stevens) with no recoil pad. At that time I had no clue about stock fit, but it must have been OK as I had no complaints when shooting it. I certainly agree that when shooting a single-shot shotgun one must make every shot count, and with the scarcity of pheasants in Southern Michigan one never had much of a second chance.

    Maybe we were a bit tougher back then, and I never grew over 6' tall even as an adult. When I enlisted in the USAF in 1971 I weighed 142# which was 1# over the minimum for acceptance, so I am not a big guy.

    I'll take that 20 gauge gun any day to hunt upland birds. One just has to keep the gun moving.

    Jim
     
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