Do you remember your first gun? There are lots of benefits to introducing a kind to responsible gun ownership with his or her “own” gun. For one, it’s good to develop strong gun safety practices at an early age. Learning to take care of a gun can be a way to cultivate responsibility. Kids take pride in being trusted with an actual firearm as opposed to Nerf and toy guns. And of course, target practice and varmint hunting are both good ways to get kids outdoors and away from all the screens in their lives.
For both safety and usability reasons, we recommend long guns as a kid’s first firearm. Below are seven great guns for kids – five rifles and two shotguns – all reliable and enjoyable enough to remain a part of your kid’s life for years to come.
Rifles for Kids (.22LR)
Ruger 10/22 Compact: $268 via Brownells
America’s most beloved .22 rifle is a great beginner gun in any of its many configurations. With a 16.5-inch barrel, the compact version is easier for kids to handle. You can’t say too many good things about the 10/22. It’s a great USA-made semi-automatic rifle that looks good, it feels right, and it deserves the loyalty and recognition it’s gained.
Savage Mark I Youth: $216 via Brownells
This sweet little bolt action with a 10-round capacity is an excellent scaled-down version of Savage’s full size rifles. The trigger pull is user-adjustable, which is always a great feature for a kid’s first gun. Accurate, reliable, and a pleasure to shoot, this gun will give a kid hours of pleasure and fun. You might even wind up getting one for yourself.
Henry Mini Bolt: $238 via 1800GunsAndAmmo
Weighing in at just 3.25 pounds, this bolt gun is a surprise to some, coming from a company that’s known ore for their excellent lever action rifles. It’s a well-made gun, and the single-shot capacity with a simple thumb safety makes it an easy starter gun for kids to learn with.
CZ 455 Scout: $319 via 1800GunsAndAmmo
The CZ 455 is a neat piece for a young shooter. It ships with a single-shot adapter, but you can get 5- and 10-round magazines for it, too. The 455 Scout features open iron sights as well as an 11mm dovetail for eventually mounting a scope. This rifle can grow with the shooter and is a solid option for target practice as well as hunting.
Crickett Single-Shot Rimfire Rifle: $120 via Cabela’s
The ever-popular Crickett rifle is the choice of a lot of parents for their young shooter’s first gun. This is the lightest rifle on the list, weighing under three pounds, and is certainly a great value for the price. There are a number of colors available (including pink) via Sportsman’s Guide.
Shotguns for Kids (20 gauge)
Mossberg 500 Bantam: $338 via Brownells
The stocks on Mossberg’s Bantam models are 1″ shorter than the standard Mossberg 500, making the gun more comfortable small people with shorter arms. There are also “E-Z Reach Forends,” which reduce the trigger-to-grip distance. Even though it’s designed for youth, this is truly a “forever shotgun” that kids can enjoy throughout their lives.
Remington 870 Express Compact: $350 via Cabela’s
The Synthetic Compact and the Synthetic Compact Jr. models of the Remington 870 Express are both good choices for young shooters. At 6lbs and 5.75lbs respectively, they’re a bit lighter than the Mossberg’s 6.5lbs. They’re available with a wood stock, but the synthetic models feature adjustable length of pull, which is ideal for growing kids.