The anti-gun rights extremists at the Violence Policy Center aren’t big on YouTube. This is only their fourth video in as many years. The VPC’s taken to the airwaves (as we old folks used to say) to decry youth model firearms and pink guns (for girls!), while showing a chart “proving” that American gun ownership is on the decline. Yeah, I don’t think so. And guns specifically made for kids increase safety; have you ever seen a young ‘un wrestle a full-size firearm? Anyway, what gun(s) did you start on, and what guns do you recommend for getting the next generation going, as we teach our progeny safe and responsible firearms ownership?

99 Responses to Question of the Day: What Guns for Kids?

  1. Started with a red Ryder BB gun, graduated to a break barrel air rifle. Then just about all the guns. Baby step, baby step, giant leap.

    • I started similarly. Red Ryder, break action pellet rifle, then a single shot 410 and I was off to the races. I still love shooting the BB gun at the very least it comes out every Easter for when we have games. It’s so much more fun shooting balloons to pop them instead of throwing darts.

    • Yeah, I agree that Red Ryder BB gun is a great first gun. Heck, they are even fun to shoot as an adult!

      After that you might want to move up to a pellet rifle of some sort. I liked the Crossman 760 pellet rifle that you had to pump (up to 10 times) to charge and allowed you to shoot pellets or BBs. It was short, light, and easy to pump for young children (say 3rd to 4th grade). I shot mine thousands of times until it probably wore out … well into high school years.

      And when children are ready to graduate out of the pellet rifle, a rifle in .22 LR is next of course!

      Having said all that, I seem to remember having a CO2 powered BB pistol at some point in there. As much as I liked it, those tiny CO2 cartridges didn’t last very long and I quickly lost interest. The crazy thing is I don’t remember whatever happened to it.

  2. When I worked at summer camp, we used single shot savage .22’s to teach the kids on, and 20 ga Yildiz O/U for skeet with the older teenage campers, and those types of firearms seemed to work well, along with Ruger 10/22’s and 22/45’s for home teaching.

  3. Well my young son and daughter both injoy shooting their Ruger 10/22 rifles… great first gun for kids to learn firearm safety and marksmanship. Fun to customize too. Stay safe.

  4. I’m training my 5 year old on a Crickett.
    Single shot. Bolt. A red dot allows focus on: 1) trigger discipline, 2) fun and rewarding shooting experience.
    Takes .22 Short – quiet, easy to shoot without ear protection.

  5. A very special firearm was given to me by a dear family friend when I was but 9 years old, a single shot .22 Remington Model 33. My father and I restored that gun together and it was the first gun I shot.

    Probably no better firearm to start a young person than a single shot .22 rifle.

  6. My kids started on a taurus winchester 62 clone, pump action .22 lr. That gun is probably my favorite, too. Just plain fun.

  7. if it had multiple barrels, was tripod mounted and fired by turning a crank handle, i would think that that would be pretty easy to learn on. i don’t know if they make anything like that, though.
    i remember the 12ga not being such a great first gun.

    • 12 Gauge Pump. The cousins thought a round of 00buckshot would cause eyes wide as saucers, and expected me to drop the thing from fright, run away and never want anything to do with any guns ever again. They got the first part, but I turned around with a big’ole grin that hasn’t gotten much smaller over the years since then. Ah, memories… I was 12.

      There were BB guns before that, but do they really count?

      I started my kids on a Ruger 10/22, but they didn’t catch the bug. Hmmm…

  8. The first firearm I remember shooting was a Ruger bear cat .22
    I was maybe 6. I use a old Winchester .22 slide action rifle to introduce new people to shooting because it can cycle. 22 shorts so no recoil and no loud report. I despise jackholes who think it’s funny to give a newbie a.375H&H just for laughs.

  9. The 10/22 is too long for the little ones, I got them a Savage Rascal. Im very impressed with how accurate and easy it is to use.

  10. I had a Daisy BB rifle as a suburban kid, then bought a Stevens 66 bolt action .22 in college. That Stevens is what my kids started on. My oldest now has “his own” gun, a Heritage Rough Rider.

  11. I started on my grandfathers Ithaca M49, first gun my dad shot too. I was to young to even pull the hammer back and my dad had to do it for me before every shot.

  12. Probably not the best firearm to start a kid on, but my dad put me on a .38 when I was about 6. I think it was an old S&W 10 or 27. After he got fussed at by mama, we only shot .22 for a while.

  13. Stevens single-shot bolt-action .410 shotgun. Probably not the best idea, it got really frustrating trying to hunt quail with it. But I still liked it.

  14. I think an air rifle is a great first step into firearms. It was my first experience with a gun. Even a halfway decent air rifle is going to be cheap, the BBs are even cheaper and there’s zero recoil. (And no ear protection required, either). Once they’re used to that, step them up to a bolt action .22 and go from there as you see fit.

  15. Back in the day you learned to swim by being tossed in a lake. So I’d just start off with a .500 S&W. Baptism of fire, so to speak.

  16. My first was a revolver, maybe a .38 or .357, around 7 or 8 years old. Kicked like a mule and was louder than anything I had heard before. Scared the crap out of me and I loved it. About 15 years before I shot another gun though, which was also a .357 revolver.

    • Kids around the third world love the AK-47. With developing countries going to crap, kids worldwide will love the AK-47 or AR-15.

  17. I started on a Reminton Speedmaster and a bersa thunder in .22. Mostly the speedmaster. Still have a great fondness for both of those.

    We also did the bolt action gun thing at scout camp. Man was that boring after letting them rip as fast as you can plinking. Eventually it started to sink in about the basics of marksmanship, though. So that was beneficial.

    I think I’d like to start my daughter *gasp* on a pink cricket *GASP*. But probably I’ll just borrow the bolt action .22 my Dad has. For now we are practicing fundamentals with nerf and airsoft guns. Which is going well.

  18. My folks gave me a Winchester Ranger 20 gauge youth pump when I was 9. Thankfully, the recoil didn’t scare me away. I rarely shoot it much now but enjoy taking it out to lube up occasionally.

  19. My kids started on a Marlin Model 60 at 10 (daughter) and 12 (son) because that’s how old they were when I bought my first gun, and that was my first purchase. Even if I had the option, I don’t think I would have put them behind a gun much earlier than that. 8 years old, maybe; they could probably wrangle a .22 at that point.

    I don’t think kid-sized versions of full-powered firearms are a good idea. A child who isn’t physically able to wrangle a standard .22 rifle shouldn’t be shooting a firearm in the first place.

    For the really young ones, start with air guns. They can look forward to the day when they’re big/old enough to use a real firearm while learning all the fundamentals of safety and marksmanship on a low-risk, kid-sized platform. When they get their first .22 or whatever it be, they’ll be truly ready.

    That said, despite my discomfort with the way things like the toy-sized Cricket .22 rifles blur the line between tools and toys, I won’t say they shouldn’t be allowed. Just consider that bringing kids along slowly is okay.

    • I’m glad your opinion is just that, an opinion. My daughter handles youth sized firearms very effectively. Started with a cricket and then on to a .410. A childs maturity can overcome physical limitations(arm reach and strength).

      • Yes, there is that. They could be mentally ready even if they’re not yet physically able to handle a full-sized firearm. I just can’t get past the negative toddler-with-a-gun reaction that happens in my mind.

  20. Started out at about age 7. We had a couple single shot .22’s, one an octagon barreled break action the other a bolt action that I literally wore the rear sight off of from adjusting for distance. I’ll never forget getting off the bus one early spring day when my mom had a friend visiting. I went in and grabbed a box of ammo and some empty tin cans and went to plinking away. Business as usual. Mom’s horrified friend left in a complete huff and I can’t say I remember her ever coming back.

    • Even with the ammo prices of today I bet it would still be worth it to get one of those emotionally based kinds of people off your property haha.

  21. i think the best child starter gun is a single shot youth model 22LR. I wouldn’t let mine shoot a 10/22 until they could run the bolt 22 by themselves responsibly.

    • My first firearm was a Chipmunk .22 single shot bolt action with a low power scope. In hindsight I wish it had been a set of quality iron sights, but oh well.

      For my children I started them out with a Ruger single shot break barrel pellet rifle and quickly moved up to a Savage Rascal youth model .22lr single shot bolt action. I went with the Savage Rascal because it has the AccuTrigger, which makes it a lot easier and more rewarding for a starter. Now we’ve got youth model 10/22s and 20 gauges.

      • I have a Rascal left handed bolt action for my son. He turns 8 next month. My plan is to take him to the range the weekend of his birthday. I’ve spent the last 5 years teaching him the 4 rules, so I think we’ll be OK.

  22. My first gun was an anshutz 14xx. I dont know the exact model but it was 14something. It had a youth stock though so i upgraded to a remmington 541T when i outgrew it. I wish I’d just bought a new stock for the anshutz though as that thing was a tack driver with eley pistol match.

  23. The M16A2, Marine Corp bootcamp at age 17 was the first gun I ever touched. My oldest daughter fired a Ruger .22lr plinker at age 8. Every so often, I go over firearm safety with my kids. It is important to me that they know the power and responsibility of pulling that trigger. I want them to have that respectful fear of firearms and not that hoplophobic, irrational fear of them. They know that they are not toys, but tools. I let them handle them (unloaded of course) so that their curiosities are satiated in a supervised, responsible and safe way. I do not keep them locked away, never to be seen or heard of, until they one day they find a firearm and it becomes some sort of forbidden fruit that gets them (or others) killed.

    • Along those same lines, I have to say that I fully approve of firearms specifically designed for children as far as size and simplicity. It is important for them to be introduced to firearms and firearms safety and so those firearms should be properly proportioned for them.

      I do, however, have a bit of a problem making these firearms in pretty colors as I tend to believe that it blurs the line between what is a dangerous weapon and what is a toy. Part of the early training, IMO, needs to be an awareness of the fact that these tools are not only fun to shoot, but they are DEADLY weapons. Pink, blue, yellow and green rifles just do not seem to convey that important point. Even the venerable Red Ryder BB gun came in realistic colors and my first Crossman BB pistol was solid black and looked enough like a 1911 that In Germany many of our officers wore them on field exercises rather than draw their pistols from the armory and risk losing them or having them stolen.

  24. Other than a tiny bit of .22 in a Boy Scout camp, I never got to shoot anything until I was 25 or 26.

    Been making up for lost time.

  25. Started my oldest on a Steven’s Favorite .22LR. More than 100 years old and still shoots great. It’s his little sister’s now. At 6, he then took his first deer with the same rifle I took my first deer with, the .410 slug from a Savage model 24. Then a Ruger Mark II. Then a Blackhawk in .44Magnum (he shoots .44SPL). His next was a Daniel Defense 6.8SPC with which he shot a record book Dahl Ram, then a series of .410s and 20 gauges, a Glock 19, a .30-30, a .45 caliber Hawken, and now a Mosin. Kids got more guns than most of the people that read this website. And he deserves them. He’s 11 and the best hunting partner I’ve ever had.

    • Deer with a .410 slug? What were the ranges? My son keeps telling me I can shoot feral hog with a .410 slug, but I figure you would need to be pretty close in.

      • Depends on the gun, a single shot with just a brass bead maaybe 20 yards, but a 500 youth with cantilever scope could have killing power out to 50 yards easily.

  26. Got a Stevens bolt action .22LR for my 10th birthday. Gave it to my son for his 11th birthday. Maybe not the greatest rifle ever manufactured but it has killed many a squirrel, rabbit and even a few grouse. Bolt action .22 is out the best platform you could start to learn with.

  27. Steven’s 1907 “Little Scout” .22 rifle. Still have it and everybody should be lucky enough to be given one as a child.

  28. I call BS on their chart about gun ownership on the decline. WEEKLY CPL classes at my local range are always filled. With all kinds of people that are getting into guns for the first time. And kids LOVE guns. Toy guns, Nerf guns, BB guns, shooter video games, airsoft. Me personally (born in the early 90s) always liked guns, and dabbled in all those things, mostly self taught until i got into handguns. Am I wrong? What is the future of gun ownership look like?

  29. Crossman 760 if you don’t count the one time my dad let me shoot his Sears single-shot 12ga that scared the crap out of me (*at 8years old)

  30. getting my 5 year old a red ryder bb gun for his upcoming birthday. Once I’m convinced he has mastered gun safety, he will be allowed to shoot my bolt action savage .22. From there, he can move to a 10/22, then an AR-15, then larger caliber hunting rifles.

  31. I took my oldest (6 at the time, now 7) out for the first time last fall. She did quite well with the Stevens Crack Shot 26 in .22LR. It was my grandfather’s. Easy lever-action single shot. It’s seen better days but it still shoots well.

    We also tried her on a S&W Mark I, but she wasn’t quite strong enough for the trigger. Maybe this spring.

    I’m very seriously looking at a Marlin XT-22YR or Ruger 10/22 model 8303. Both are youth sized bolt-action, single shot or multi-round magazine.

  32. We grew up on the foothills of the Wasatch mountains in Utah. After school we would grab our BB guns and head up into the hills. Fun stuff.

    My son first learned to shoot with a Remington Nylon 66 22 caliber rifle. That is a sweet little rifle. It is very light weight, has a tubular magazine that holds something like 14 rounds, and fires every time. It was also very accurate.

  33. Started on my uncle’s Winchester model 70 Featherweight in 270Win…. Yeah I think I would have appreciated it a little of my parents had bought 10/22 or something like that first. I still spend way more time than I should fighting to overcome my trigger flinch.

  34. I’ve been saying they’re going to use the same arguments against guns as have been used to socially stigmatize smoking.

    • I agree, but they are not equivalent. One can own, carry, and transport guns without doing themselves and others harm.

  35. 1920s vintage .22 Pump up bolt action air rifle at age 7.
    Winchester 1890 pump .22long at age 8
    Browning .22short semi auto rifle
    Parker Trojan grade 16 Ga SxS at 12 also a High Standard HD Military .22 rimfire semi auto pistol

  36. Despite my belief that children generally do better with a crew served weapon so they can learn team work and they don’t have to carry the weapon, I’ve started my daughter out with a single shot .22 Cricket. I have a laser trainer that we use as she’s still learning responsibility, and I only get her every other weekend so we don’t always get much time to practice with trying to cram as much as we can into 4 days a month. I also seem to get all the homework and school projects to do, so it’s hard to plan anything out since I don’t get told about any school work until I pick her up. (Yeah, I know I need a better lawyer) She does very well and does enjoy the practice, and I hope to get her to the range this spring.

  37. Crossman 760 Pellet / BB Gun
    Practiced shooting twinlke lights stretched between two trees. Had a ball with that gun!

  38. AR with 22 conversion kit. Then AR in 223. Then AR in 300BLK. Maybe next will be an AR-10. These guns can grow with you with minimal additional investment. Manual of arms is all the same which leads to confidence and less chance of making mistakes. For the semi-auto haters, just load one round in the magazine at a time.

  39. Anyway, what gun(s) did you start on, and what guns do you recommend for getting the next generation going, as we teach our progeny safe and responsible firearms ownership?

    Squirt guns, cap guns 7
    22LR rifle (full size) > 13
    12GA > 14
    AKs, ARs, UZI’s, and anything else that floats your boat (or sinks it) > 15

    My father showed me pistols and rifles long before the age of 7, to educate me on their hazards. When I was little – 5… 6? I already knew where a pistol was, but had zero interest in it. I had seen my father dispatch a opossum at close range with it (which was eating our chickens). I knew it was very loud and dangerous, and he both explained and demonstrated such to me, and he set us both on the same page about each others expectations of my access, my curiosities, and my fears of those firearms at that age. He was aware of how I felt about it. I was aware of how he felt about it.

    – Also – I’m not an OFWG. That nonsense about guns owners aging is what it is – nonsense.

  40. I started with a single shot 20 gauge when I was 13-14. I started my daughter out at 10 with a BB gun then a .22 at 12 y.o.

  41. Cross man 760, my folks never owned guns so I never shot them till I was 18 and my friend took me skeet shooting. I have a model 60 that I bought first which I start almost everyone with but I think my daughter is getting a rascal .22 the single shot aspect makes me more comfortable. The simplicity will make teaching cleaning guns easier too.

  42. My granddaddy was a WWII Navy veteran (multiple purple heart awards) and managed to trade with a GI somewhere along his journey home after the war for a P38. He kept that and a Smith and Wesson .38 my great-granddaddy had as Chief of Police and taught all the kids and grandkids to shoot on them, including me at an age that I honestly was too young to remember. We kept shooting with him until he had a stroke when I was about 9 but I was already hooked.

    My daddy got me a single shot 410 and 22 that Christmas. Can’t remember the makes though.

  43. First gun, Daisy lever BB. Second gun @ 23, Sig P226 .40s&w. Then commenced ~20 more years of buying/selling/trading. Still have the Daisy, but not the Sig.

  44. Starting guns were Daisy and Crosman BB rifles. Stevens Favorite, Savage A36, Nylon 66 .22 rifles. Later Model 12 shotgun.
    Ruger 10/22 rifle would be better than most people think, but a CZ .22 bolt action rifle would work well.

  45. There have been guns made for kids almost as long as there have been guns.

    You can find advertisements for “Boys’ Rifles” in magazine as recently as the 80s if you know where to look.

    Hell, I have an old copy of the Boy Scout Manual (One of the good ones, from when they actually contained useful information) that has a full page marlin ad in the back. Model 60 for fifty bucks? Hell yeah, I would.

  46. Savage Cub. Has been replaced in Savage’s lineup by the Rascal I think.

    Some single shots like the Cricket or Henry require you to manually pull back the cocking knob in order to fire the rifle. I do not consider this a safe action for young people. They take a lot of strength to pull back the cocking knob, and doing so discourages proper muzzle discipline.

  47. My little boy got his daisy red rider for christmas this year. You should have seen the look on his face. He’s getting to where he can hit cans at 10 yards. he loves it and it provides very important early lessons in life. We go into back yard to shoot and when he breaks one of the rules, the gun goes up and the shooting is finished for the day. It’s amazing how a few times having your shooting cut short will get a child to do behave responsibly.

  48. Crew served weapons are best. They are stable and not as likely to tip over. Plus they build teamwork and teach sharing.

  49. My 3 kids each started with a .22LR rifle. The step son got a Mossberg 702 Plinkster, and the girls got a Rossi .22/20GA combo and a Crickett single shot bolt action (not pink). The youngest has outgrown her Crickett and recently we got a Ruger American rimfire .22LR. It’s still a little heavy for her, but she’s commandeered my Heritage Rough Rider revolver so she can still shoot when she wants.

  50. I don’t have any spawn of my own, but I have introduced a few to shooting with my Winchester Model 1906. They have all been between 8-10yrs old, and I keep a stash of .22 shorts purely for that purpose. Once they get a handful of those downrange, we switch to lead round-nose .22lr.

    I’ve found that the old Winchester is great for kids to learn on; it’s light, easy for them to use, accurate, and the pump-action gives them a feel for shotguns later on. Plus, they get a kick out of shooting something over a hundred years old; it’s history they can touch & use.

  51. I started with .22 rifles in summer camp. My wife and kids progressed from a pellet gun to a 10/22, and onwards. I started late so my youngest was almost adult size at 11. Since then we’ve tried .22 pistols which they loved, an AR everybody but my wife liked, and my son got a kick out of the M1A. OTOH, the Remington 700 wasn’t too popular so small caliber semi-auto seems to be the family preference.
    Out in left field, there was a cool video showing 3 kids with a Vickers gun, so tripod mounted machine guns offer an interesting mix of teamwork and built in muzzle control.
    More seriously, scaled down .22 rifles like the Cricket make a lot of sense as starters, but I agree with avoiding “toy” colors and keeping guns serious looking. When my wife was looking at a Ruger SR22 she originally wanted a cute color like raspberry or lilac but decided it should be black, because a pistol was a serious thing.

  52. Crossman pellet pistol at about 6 that I only could shoot with my father and then graduated to a Springfield 30-40 Krag at 9 then on to various .22lr Anshultz competition rifles until I started buying my own.

  53. CZ 452 Scout. It’s a bolt gun in .22 lr, and comes with a single round adapter,but you can get a 10 round mag for it. We outfitted ours with a picatinny rail and a 3-9X56 Bushnell Trophy. It’s a kid sized rifle, and it’s good equipment. The kids love it.

    And screw the twerps that say we shouldn’t have kid sized guns. They’re a bunch of idiots, and their opinions do not be considered in any serious forum.

    Charlie

  54. Started off by combating the menace of empty beer cans with my sister at a family friend’s house using pump-action BB guns, unsupervised. While that may not have been the wisest of ideas, common sense ruled and the days went off without a hitch. Aside from almost blowing a hole in the ceiling by not being able to operate a 870 properly at 12, I didn’t touch another gun until I joined the Air Force at 20. The gun bug bit me and I have been doing it ever since.

  55. first gun used was brothers Winchester 37 break action 20 ga. Shot gun! Used most was Savage over and under .410 & .22 LR, Only Gun used for Hunting, deer, grouse, rabbit, Squirrel and once for self defense until I left service!

  56. My grandsons have a savage rascal single shot bolt action with the original aperture sight replaced with a custom installed fully adjustable for windage and elevation Williams aperture sight. When they can put all their shots into the 10 ring at 10 meters, they’ll graduate to the Savage Mark 1 single shot bolt action until they can put all their shots into the black at 25 & 50 yards. Then they’ll graduate to the Savage Mark II for their first rimfire sporter match. When they’re solidly shooting all practice matches and junior matches at the Bronze level, I’ll take them with me to the national rimfire sporter matches at Camp Perry. My belief is that it’s the shooter that scores and the rifle is just his tool. Practice practice practice and stand knee deep i brass as you learn your tool. Let the dilettantes go for the fancy anschutiz and cz’s. The all the .22lr savage rifles are plenty accurate to score Gold with.
    My hope is my grand sons use their shooting skills to get into college on a shooting scholarship and qualify for the US Olympic shooting team for the 2028 Olympics.

    MY advice is start your juniors out with the an affordable light rifle fitted to their length of pull and then coach them to bring out their best. They’ll do the rest.
    Senior Gun Owner 1950

  57. Something crew served since they don’t have fully developed muscles yet to carry larger guns. Also promotes team work.

  58. First rifle? I can recommend the CZ 452 Scout in 22 LR without reservation.

    My Remington 510X was too heavy for the kids to shoulder without a rest, so I picked up the CZ. It comes with a single shot adapter and open sights, but 10 round mags and scope rings are available. It’s not cheap, $291 at Buds (I checked), but it’s real good high quality equipment. We put sub MOA groups on paper at ranges between 0 and 100 yds (when the wind was calm). The kids loved it, and we wiled away many an hour punching paper with it.

    My daddy had a saying: “I don’t have enough money to buy cheap tools”. That’s how I fly.

    Charlie

  59. The old man got me started with a Red Ryder until I got the hang of it. After that it was his old Remington 511 Scoremaster.

  60. Dad’s Slavia 631 (full size break action airgun) was my first, later CZ 452 bolt action .22. Then straight to Sa. Vz. 58P. The real deal, full auto one. I might have been about 8 years old. At the same time I started shooting my first handgun – Vz. 52 in 7.62 Tokarev.
    We never used eye protection in those days and ear pro was often only pair of cartridged stuck in my ears.

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