Selecting a Youth Rimfire Rifle for your Child
Welcome back to another edition of the Rimfire Report. Today we’ll cover a topic many of us will hopefully go through at one point or another in our lives – teaching our children to shoot. Sharing our hobby with the next generation is not only a rewarding personal experience but is also a surefire way to help safeguard our 2nd amendment rights. Youth Rimfire Rifles are a great way to introduce even the youngest of shooters to the sport. Today we’ll cover 5 things to consider while selecting a youth rimfire rifle.
The thing you should consider is going to be the relative size of the firearm to the child. Not every child is the same and not everyone starts at the same age. Shooters as young as 5 or 6 years old are probably barely able to hold little more than a BB gun, which can be a great segue into actual firearms. But they probably can’t handle the weight of the fairly small Ruger 10/22 at that age.
Picking a rifle that is either too large or too small for your child can hurt both the enjoyability and performance they’ll experience. Rifles that are too large will prevent them from learning to shoot offhand easily. Rifles that are too small can lead to other issues, such as the child not being able to get a good sight picture with the rifle. As a rule of thumb, your child should be able to manipulate the rifle easily but they also shouldn’t dwarf the gun.
This point is highly subjective. Whether you’re planning on purchasing a plinking Youth Rifle or something for more serious varmint hunting or target shooting, you’ll want a gun that is priced to match. Children tend to go for not only what looks cool but also what appeals to them.
While a pink .22LR Crickett may not be constructed out of the latest space-age polymers, have a glass bedded stock or a match grade trigger, It may be just what your child wants. And to be completely honest, depending on their age they may not be able to make use of or appreciate such features until they’ve developed their own shooting preferences.
I’d generally err on the side of purchasing a cheaper firearm as their first rifle. Not so cheap that it is a safety concern but affordable enough so that you’re not hurting when it comes time to buy them their next gun. By then they’ll probably have developed some small preferences and on top of that, your child will most likely grow out of their first rifle like they grew out of their first pair of clothes.
Youth rimfire rifles can come in almost any adult platform. Semi-automatic youth rifles are quite common, although, single-shot bolt-action rimfire rifles tend to be the most common. If you plan on using this first gun as purely a training tool my suggestion would be to go for a gun like the Savage Rascal or the Keystone Sporting Arms Crickett. Both rifles can serve as a great first live firearm for your child.
Both options above are safe, reliable and inexpensive enough for target practice and general plinking. I recently bought a Savage Rascal for my 10-year-old and he absolutely loves it. Close supervision is always required but the fact that it is a single-shot rifle will provide an extra layer of safety.
Slightly older children who are competing in rimfire competitions will benefit from some higher-end equipment along with features such as Picatinny rails for mounting optics, bipod attachment points as well as lengths of pull custom-tailored to their size. Companies like G.A Precision are filling the need for this growing market with customized Youth Rimfire rifles.
Humans are sentimental beings. We always tend to remember stuff we grew up with like our first dog, our first cat, our first childhood friend and sometimes our first rifle. For me, it was a Ruger 10/22 right around the age of 10. The 10/22 is well known for being reliable, durable and long-lived. If you’re looking for something that your child will be able to cherish their entire life, you may want to consider something like a 10/22 or maybe even a Henry .22 Lever Action Youth.
Solid companies like these make great youth rimfire rifles that can last a lifetime and possibly be passed on down through the generations if they’re taken care of – which is something you should be teaching your child to do alongside their marksmanship skills.
These “investment” type rifles can be slightly more expensive. However, they still won’t break the bank and they are sure to provide generations of shooting enjoyment for your family line.
5. Skill Level
All of these points above will still fall under one large blanket category: Skill Level. Although your child may older or younger when they start shooting, they’ll all learn differently and at different rates. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Different rifles will be better suited to different shooters.
For example, if your son or daughter is not very familiar with firearms, a semi-automatic rifle might not be the best choice. Semi-automatics are more complex, usually containing removable magazines or magazine tubes. That being said, maybe your child has learned from shooting with you and can handle that level of responsibility.
Some children may even be ready to shoot with a magnified optic if they’ve already got a solid hold on shooting with Iron sights. Adding optics to a youth rimfire rifle can add a whole new level of challenge and learning for them as they learn to shoot alongside you. Pick something that not only they can handle, but will provide challenges for them as they learn to shoot.
The overarching premise I’m trying to get across is to think first and foremost about your child. Think about their skill level, what they’d like, what they can handle and what would work best for them. While it can be tempting to go and buy a decked out Ruger 10/22, it may turn out not to be the best rifle for them. Shooting is and always been a family sport in my mind and each member of your family should be equipped with the firearm that suits them best.
If you have any family experiences with youth rimfire rifles, feel free to leave your comments and stories down in the comments below, we always love hearing from our readers. Thanks again for reading and we’ll see you all in the next Rimfire Report.
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