In the video below, a young lady fires a rifle that’s WAY too big for her; so much so she has to rest the stock on her shoulder. Wrong answer, Dad! The question is, what’s the right answer? What’s the best first gun for young ‘uns just starting out?
Home Question of the Day Question of the Day: What First Gun for Kids?
A youth shotgun.
Noise and recoil teach respect. A .22 does not.
Just my opinion.
After some .22 I had my 8year old son (31 now) shoot my 20Ga double with a slug into a gallon jug of water.
the recoil was sufficient and the exploding jug was enough to let him know that when you pull the trigger, you are releasing the devil.
(didn’t know what a Kraken was at the time)
Recoil teaches bad habits. Like a flinch and a push. Unless you only let them fire one shot per day.
A .22 can teach technique without fear.
If you are worried about respect, Show the kid what a HP velocitor will do to a bottle of water.
1st, not sure that’s a girl.
2nd, not sure that gun is WAY to big.
Notice the length of pull. His/her elbow is completely flexed to reach the trigger.
Boy/girl seems of sufficient size to have the strength to support what appears to be a.22.
I saw a lot of kids that were right-handed and left-eye-dominant hold a rifle like that in 4-H.
It can usually be overcome – but I was not always successful.
I think the “good job buddy” from dad(?) at the end is a clue.
Best first gun is a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun.
It is small and light and fairly young children can handle it — especially if they have a table for a gun rest. (They usually do not have the strength/coordination to cock it which is actually a good thing.) Not only is the Daisy Red Rider BB gun something that small children can handle, it poses zero risk of significant injury* in the event of a mishap.
Also on the plus side, a BB gun does not produce any significant recoil or report which would scare children or contribute to them developing a flinch. Best of all, almost everyone can safely, responsibly, and legally shoot one in their back yard assuming they have an appropriate backstop.
Once children have mastered the fundamentals of muzzle, safety, and trigger discipline with a BB gun, you can move up to a pellet rifle or a light .22 LR caliber rifle with close adult supervision.
* The only possible injury of any significance at all that a BB gun could produce is a fairly serious eye injury. And if everyone in the vicinity wears safety glasses (as they should when shooting any firearm), the risk of eye injury is effectively zero.
I agree. A BB gun was my first firearm (NJ considers them firearms, subject to NICS check and all). For others following that path, remember that the manual of arms is a little different than any cartridge arm, so some retraining will be required in the future, but they are gun-ish enough to begin training.
Strangely, airsoft is treated in the same manner as paintball, which is not as a firearm.
But the standard .177 pellet and BB guns must transfer with a 4473. BB pistols are no different than glocks as far as the state is concerned. I don’t try to find logic in their system.
It’s Jersey – ‘gotta turn right to go left’. I’d say “it’s all good, man” but it ain’t.
I was 10 and shot mine until the cocking spring broke. By that time I was proficient with both hitting a target and safely handling a real firearm. They make for a great intro.
I agree. I started both my kids on a BB gun, later graduated to a .22 LR bolt action rifle. I believe in bolt actions to start because some kids (my son being one) will shoot off an entire magazine as fast as they can if it is semiauto, no trigger discipline and minimal accuracy. After that, it was on to 9 mm handguns.
I TOTALLY agree. At first I gave the 8 year old boy a 10-22, on his 8th Christmas, soon found out those BX-25 magazines and the scope cause serious pray and spray disease. So….stepped it back to 5 rounds in the regular factory magazine, and replaced the scope with M1 Carbine sights for a 10-22. He’s a big fan of all the good war movies, so it worked out. Now he takes his time, and his groups are where mine could be if my eyes were still young.
But, yeah….he’s had a red rider 2 years longer than that, I just don’t really consider it a gun. It’s more like a good tool that we use to practice gun rules and reinstill safety, marksmanship is a good side-affect
I loved my first gun, which was indeed a BB gun. And no, I did not shoot my eye out.
“Not only is the Daisy Red Rider BB gun something that small children can handle, it poses zero risk of significant injury* in the event of a mishap.”
You have never fired the thing with the lever open! In case you don’t know, if the lever is down and the trigger is pulled, that thing slams shut like a mousetrap… right across your knuckles. You don’t do it more than once. You try to get your buddies to try it, but YOU never do it again!
100% agree. It was my first gun and I was so little that I would put the stock under my arm. My grandpa fixed that by cutting off two inches of the stock (does having a Daisy BB gun with a wooden stock date me?). I started my nieces at 7 and 9 with a modern version.
“* The only possible injury of any significance at all that a BB gun could produce is a fairly serious eye injury.”
This is a local story near me not long back:
“According to WTSP10 News, Skyler Richardson of Frostproof was firing at targets outside his home with his brother, Taylor Richardson. During the target practice session, Taylor, 13, accidentally accidentally shot Skylar at close range.”
“Sadly, Richardson’s tragic death isn’t the first fatality caused by a BB gun. According to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about four deaths and 30,000 injuries are caused annually by air rifles.”
Ha, it is an excellent question. My first gun I ever shot was a 75 year old Colt .38 with my dad. I think I was about 5 or 6. No ear pro, eye pro or anything. My ears rang quite a bit afterwards, but it hurt so good, and I didn’t have to hear the tongue lashing that dad got from my mom.
My first was a .22 Marlin 80DL bolt. All of my kids were taught using a 10/22.
I taught my nearly adult son on a Daisy Red Ryder first at 6. Then on to a rimfire at 8 on my Marlin 780. I think shooting a .22 bolt gun first allows a new shooter to develop better marksmanship(slows things down). I moved on next to a semi-auto 12 for his 12th birthday where he proceeded to make his old man look bad(and proud!) by going 17/25 on his 1st round of skeet and I only got 16! His 18th is coming up and we will be finishing up putting together his AR.
You guys with single digit age kids out there enjoy it, because it seems like just yesterday that we were going out back and tacking up that first shoot n see target on Christmas morning.
The 22 has long been the first gun many people have shot. I have also found people do well with ARs.
Its not funny to give someone with little to no shooting experience a gun without properly teaching them how to hold it and manage recoil. All you are doing is turning them off to shooting and making yourself look like a jerk.
Well written Bill, I hate to see people hand an inexperienced person some large caliber gun and laugh when the recoil hits them or the gun jumps out of their hand.
I always start a new shooter off with a 22 when possible then work up to a .38 or 9mm.
Shooting should be fun not stressful or scary.
Once at the range, a guy asked my teenage daughter if she wanted to shoot his .50 Deagle. She was eager to do so, and her eyes were gleaming with excitement afterwards. I suspect that’s why she likes .45 ACP.
Something like the Ruger 10/22 is about right for all. Simple, right sized, not pricey, and not hard to reload. As i recall, I learned on a old Remington 581 at Summer camp.
A couple of months ago, I got my granddaughter her first rifle for her 9th birthday.
A chipmunk .22 in pink, of course. Came with a scope and case that says
“my first rifle”.
That and a case of .22 ammo.
She loves it.
My daughters first rifle was a colt AR govt model a month before she went into the marine corps. We spent every free moment at the range.
She shot sharpshooter.
My first gun was also a Chipmunk. I loved that little gun.
/S Deagle in .50ae. If they can’t handle it, maybe they should go inside with mamma and bake something. /S
I LOL. But it would have been more hilarious without the sarc font.
Anybody that couldn’t get that joke needs to go inside with mommy and bake something in an Easy Bake Oven.
True, but you know how some people around here can be.
Personally I think a .22 is appropriate for a very first gun. It’s light, but still a gun, which makes for easy manipulation which means fewer opportunities for Mr. Murphy to inject himself into the situation.
Rapidly following that, once basics are mastered, should be something with slightly more power to instill some respect. Others have said a 20 gauge, with respect I would submit some like a .30-30 lever gun for consideration, assuming the kid is physically large enough to handle it.
I have a winchester 68. Single shot .22 rifle, very easy to use. I would use that.
Mine when I was little was a Marlin model 60 that my grandfather ended up giving me, I put a new recoil spring in it last month and it runs like a beast.
When my son starts, it will be using a single shot air rifle and a single shot .22 LR at the local small bore range a few minutes drive away.
This is how he says he wants to start. From the absolute beginning where he can learn the basics and fundamentals.
The guns in question are a Feinwerkbau 300S match air rifle and a Lee-Enfield No8 trainer. The weight won’t be a problem as my son is an athlete who competes at state level and swims laps because he wants to. He can swim 12 50 metre laps in under 20 minutes, and he is 9!
Because of local laws he can’t start shooting until he is 12, but he has been learning theory, safety rules, assists by scoring for other shooters at the service range, and also assists the safety officers in clearing rifles.
If your ever up in Qld your son can shoot at 11. I have .22 Lithgow single shot I have used to start lots of shooters with.
just out of curiosity, where do you live where the age is 12?
They are in Australia.
It should be a SINGLE SHOT 22 rifle. I said single shot because it will make the new shooter a better shot because they will concentrate on making the first shot count since it takes a lot of time and trouble to reload. I appreciated my $10.88 JC Higgins rifle I got for Christmas around 1960.
Probably not an Uzi….
. . . But maybe a Carl Gustav?
By round 2 you KNOW if they’re SERIOUS ABOUT GUNS !
Henry Mini-bolt; a bit pricy, but very solid and easy-to-see fiber optic sights.
AIr Rifle at 5 along with a Walther P-22 (5 inch barrel).
Graduate to a Winchester Model 67 Youth model at 6.
Also at 6 was a Rossi Youth 410 which kicked a lot more than I thought it would.
After firing it the first time my son looked at me like I had punked him.
We settled on 2.5 inch shells to get him used to the 410.
I shot it and was surprised at the recoil. The gun weighed 4 pounds – 1.5 pounds less than an H&R with a longer pull. Weight matters.
A decent AK (PSA), an AR stock adapter (because children need shorter length of pull) and a spam tin of 7.62×39. AK-47s for everyone! Cheaper than most “youth” guns on the market after ammo
Some time on a BB gun then a 22 before that, but AK for first actual gun gifted to them.
keystones kricket, or savage rascal, both single shot .22lr, and my daughter is 3, fully capable of running her little pink kricket start to finish, she refers to the red ryder as “the quiet one”. she has also ran my Sears bolt .22, mommas marlin semi .22, my m&p sport2, and a heritage arms .22 revolver. she is still safer than 90% of the “grown men” I see shooting at boulders up at the range.
KSA Crickett or Chipmonk. Weight around 2.5 pounds, single shot bolt action .22LR, designed for young ‘uns. Safe, fairly accurate, light, reasonably priced. What’s not to like?
A savage model 42 compact. Nothing reinforces good marksmanship like a single shot 22, and .410 has plenty of power to teach them how to handle recoil without being too much. It’s light enough for a child but is handy and useful enough that they won’t outgrown it. I come from an anti gun family and the only gun I remember shooting was a friends dad’s 12 gauge when I was much to small to handle it. It is not a pleasant memory
Whatever you want to set in your kids’ hand. You want a break open .22lr? Great! It’s your kid. You know what they can handle. On the other hand, an AR-15 doesn’t recoil so much that it’d hurt even a 4 year old. Maybe you want to hand them an S&W .500Mag. Is your kid mature enough to handle whatever gun you pick? Not my call. Should never be the state’s call either.
The first gun my son shot holding it essentially himself was an AR-15; prior to that he shot a 10/22 with way more help from me; its stock was just too long for him. With the AR-15 all I had to do was put my hand behind his shoulder just to steady him a bit. He said it pushed him too hard, but otherwise he loved it. That was when he was 4 or 5. He’s turning 8 this month and he wants his own airsoft or bb gun (that’s his, as opposed to shooting my guns) and he just shot my 9mm handgun the first time last month. I was quite hesitant about that, but he did ok (good gun discipline and shot it fine, if not accurately) and learned that he still isn’t quite strong enough to enjoy shooting that.
I vote for most any single shot .22 that fits – plus start basics from a bench.
We fill aluminum drink cans with water and have ’em shoot one – the hydraulic pressure turns the can into a jagged mess – a good demo to show the destructive potential of even a .22.
I sure hope that’s not an open field past those little trees in that video ’cause they sure can’t see what’s back there.
First shots @ 5
First gun that was mine @ 7 (single shot kid-sized Remington 514 bolt action)
First Shotgun that was mine @ 9 (Browning A-5 20 ga.)
First handgun that was mine @ 15 (Browning Challenger 22 lr)
Still have each one. And two safes to hold all those obtained subsequently.
Worked for me. I vote for the single shot .22 bolt gun as a first.
I might start with a BB gun. Once they’re ready, first firearm would be a .22 or .410 that would be small and light enough to fit them, but could also eventually be adjusted to fit them when they get older. The Mossberg 500 Super Bantam comes with inserts to let you grow the stock with the shooter. The magazine can be limited to any size by cutting a dowel to length. If they’re old/strong enough, you can skip the .410 and go straight to 20 gauge to give them something that will be useful even as an adult. I built one with an 18 inch cylinder bore barrel as a home defense gun for my smaller framed sister.
Alternatively, a 10/22 in a Knoxx Axiom stock can be adjusted to a very short length of pull, and is very lightweight with irons or a small red dot. While it wasn’t my first gun, I received one in the 8th grade for Christmas. I still enjoy it 18 years later, and it’s become a project gun that I’ve replaced everything on short of the receiver.
Crossman 1077 pellet gun. Pistol and rifle conversion, you choose how many pumps no recoil, no noise. And they actually handle the projectile. though i started her on an Air Warriors Ultra Tek Predator Suction Dart Blaster when she was 4 so she could learn the mechanics for a .22. She slept with the fake acog sight under her pillow for months
I learned to shoot a bolt action .22 at summer camp from a WWII veteran. No waivers or parental consents were signed. Digest that for a moment.
I bought a CZ 452 Scout for my kids to learn on. Bolt action, scope grooves on the receiver, and has a single shot feed ramp that can be replaced with a 10 rd mag. It’s light, small, and very high quality. Still have it.
Recoil may teach respect, but it also teaches bad habits.
Same CZ452 Scout here. I started my 7-8 year old with my CZ452 full size, but saw immediately it was way too big.
Both are a cut above a cheaper 22 rifle IMO. They will go to him decades from now to teach his kids.
I think a progression of power and size so the kids understand safety rules and fundamentals is the way to go. I started my kids with a pellet gun and worked up to a .22 rifle, centerfire rifle and .22 pistol and 9mm pistol. Also remember to respect the student’s likes and dislikes. Our daughter likes the 10/22 and AR but doesn’t like pistol shooting, my wife likes .22 rifles and pistols but never touches my AR, and true to stereotype, my son likes shooting everything.
I don’t like semi-autos for a first gun. My kids started around age 5 with a Savage Rascal. This gun is so superior to the popular Cricket, its not even worth considering the Cricket.
Its a great gun that just happens to be small.
My 9 year old has graduated to a Henry lever action small game gun, also with an aperture rear sight.
She’s nearly ready for my 10/22 carbine. She has the discipline to not just blast away.
Savage Rascal. Works great for my 7 year-old daughter. Will likely move to a single shot 410 once she masters the sights
A semiautomatic with a scope. A compact 10/22 does well. You can single load as long as you feel you need to, but the scope and magazine allows both uninterrupted shooting and easy targeting. And a sandbag to shoot from.
Add in skills slowly. They don’t have to have a perfect cheek weld and grip right away with this setup. You can add those in over multiple sessions, keeping fun up and frustration down. This also lets you save the focus for safety.
But the targets are more important.
You can start with paper, but get something that reacts, too. Clays, steel gongs, target trees, poppers, soda cans, etc. Make it fun.
I am going to with a snake charmer .410 bore shotgun.
On a related note the dad is taking (presumably) his kid shooting. Dad is doing good he is not the problem. It is very possible that this is not his kid or that he cannot afford a separate firearm for Jr. You shoot what you got. Oftentimes that means the shooter must adjust to the gun. In an age where everything adjusts to the user, teaching a kid how to adjust to anything is a good idea. Even if that means shoulder firing a .22.
A BB gun.
I vote .22 rifle for a first “real” gun.
My daughter is 11. So far, we have taken the the Red Ryder -> 10/22 ->AR route. She is very good with the 10/22; she has become safe, proficient, and enjoys shooting it quite a bit. She does very well with a Ruger 22/45 pistol as well. However, she does not care for the AR at this age not because of recoil, but due to the concussion when the rifle goes off (for those that are wondering, yes we are using E & E protection). This is OK, she’s still a novice and a child. However, this is something to consider when choosing a first gun. The report of a center-fire rifle is something that experienced shooters have grown used to and consider part of the experience, for a beginner it can be uncomfortable and intimidating.
Started out with my dads .22 at 5, 410 at 7 and on my 10th birthday my granddad handed me his Marlin 55 bolt action 12ga. but I always knew it as his goose gun. I thought that damn thing was an artillery piece from WWII. I could barely hold it to my shoulder and when I fired it my grandad thought I would bust my ass but I handled it like a champ but my shoulder was bruised and sore for about 2 weeks.
I miss those days.
A BB or pellet gun is not a firearm.
A Ruger 10/22 is the perfect first gun for a child. It is simple to use, and it is a platform they will be able to use for the rest of their life.