Skip to main content

The 4 Best Youth Rifles

Get Young Shooters Started Right with the Perfect Rimfire Rifle

The 4 Best Youth Rifles

As a father, few things are as rewarding as passing along my love of hunting and shooting to my three children. The looks of joy on my kids’ faces when their shot rings a freshly-painted steel target are memories that money can’t buy. Shooting was a way for me to bond with my own father, and I am now enjoying that same opportunity with my family. Teaching kids to shoot builds responsibility and demystifies firearms, hopefully satisfying some of that natural curiosity. With the correct equipment and close supervision, shooting is an incredibly safe activity. The ability to use a firearm safely and put food on the table is a valuable skill that has endured in our nation for centuries.

Through my own experience, I’ve learned more than a few things about the right and wrong way to teach young shooters. For starters, a rifle that fits the child’s stature is an absolute must. A rifle that is too large is setting the new shooter up for failure, so it is important to pick the right tool for the job. A rifle that fits an eight-year-old isn’t going to be ideal for a teenager and vice versa. Length-of-pull and comb height can be critically important since both dimensions are key in ensuring that the shooter can use the sights effectively. It can be incredibly frustrating to both the shooter and the coach when the child can’t find the sights or reticle.

A cartridge that is inexpensive to shoot and minimizes recoil and muzzle blast is a must, making the .22 LR a natural choice. Most children have limited attention spans so creating a rifle that will give the young shooter a good possibility of success is key. Nothing will be more frustrating to a young shooter than not achieving the gratification of a hit on the target so quality sights or the ability to mount optics are a must.

Choosing the correct rifle can mean the difference between your child or grandchild becoming a lifelong shooting enthusiast and someone who is scared of firearms. You only get one chance to take them shooting for the first time. Here is a closer look at four rimfire rifles that are ideal for youth shooters.


Crickett Rifle

kid loading Crickett rifle

When each of my children were born, my local gun store gifted each of them with their first rifles. Those little guns were made by Crickett, pink stocks for the girls and camo laminate for my son. Crickett rifles are single-shots with 11 ½” lengths of pull and 16 1/8” barrels. Weighing just three pounds, these tiny .22LRs are ideal for beginners. As the child grows, spacers can increase the length of pull so the rifle can grow alongside. Crickett rifles are available in a wide variety of configurations and colors and come equipped with simple but serviceable iron sights. I added an optional rail so that I could mount an Aimpoint Micro red dot to my son’s rifle, which uses with great success. For those who own a rimfire suppressor, threaded barrel models are available. I’ve found suppressors to be a fantastic tool for teaching new shooters. Starting at $163; keystonesportingarmsllc.com


Winchester Wildcat

Winchester Wildcat

A bolt action fire can get a bit boring for a child, especially a teenager. Winchester’s Wildcat is a compact and lightweight semi-automatic .22 LR. With a length-of-pull of 13 ½”, the Wildcat is better suited for older children. This autoloader comes with both aperture sights and a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. Its synthetic stock A 10-round rotary magazine means that more time will be spent shooting than loading. $250; winchesterguns.com

Henry Golden Boy Youth

Henry Golden Boy Youth Rifle

There isn’t much more American than a lever-action rifle, especially one made by a company that prides itself in making everything here in the U.S.A. Henry’s Golden Boy Youth rimfire will bring out the inner cowboy or cowgirl in all of us. This little rifle can use .22 Short, Long or Long Rifle ammunition, which is a real benefit for younger shooters. Like most lever actions, the Henry feeds from a tubular magazine, the capacity of which varies with the size of the ammunition used. The brass receiver, butt plate and barrel band are a throwback to some of the earliest lever-action rifles from the 19th Century. The length of pull on this Henry is 13” and the octagonal barrel is 17” long. A brass front bead and buckhorn rear sight come standard and the receiver is also drilled and tapped for scope mounting. Like most lever actions, this rifle is ideal for right or left-handed shooters. $589; henryusa.com

Ruger Precision Rimfire

Ruger Precision Rimfire

Long-range shooting has become incredibly popular in past years and young shooters aren’t immune to its challenging appeal. Ruger’s Precision Rimfire combines all of the features of its centerfire Precision in a lighter, more compact and less-expensive format. The real beauty of this rifle is its adjustability: The length of pull can be adjusted between 12 and 15” without tools so it can be tailor-fit to each shooter. An M-LOK-compatible forend makes mounting accessories such as a bipod simple and painless. The 18” barrels is threaded ½”-28 at the muzzle, meaning that it is compatible with rimfire suppressors. The rifle looks very modern, like something kids might see in a video game. Let’s face it, that’s important. $529; ruger.com

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Venison Curry Recipe

Venison Curry Recipe

Hearty and flavorful, this curry is simple to make and requires just a few ingredients you can likely find at your local store. The cooking method turns tough cuts tender, making it a great choice for shoulder and hindquarter cuts from deer, elk and other venison. Bonus points if you use axis deer, which are native to India.

New for 2021: MEAT! Grinders, Vacuum Sealers, Accessories

New for 2021: MEAT! Grinders, Vacuum Sealers, Accessories

MEAT! Your Maker, makers of quality meat-processing tools for do-it-yourself hunters. The company's commercial-grade products are built "with quality in mind, not price point" for fellow hunters.

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

Browning's X-Bolt Pro family has grown in 2021 with the addition of the Pro McMillan. An innovative muzzle break — the Recoil Hawg — also joins the line.

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

The 6.8 Western features a .277-caliber bullet loaded into a case that's been optimized to fit longer, heavier bullets. Consider it a .270 on steroids, or more accurately, an improved version of the .270 Winchester Short Magnum, which never gained enough traction to make it mainstream.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing strategies.Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working? Conservation

Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working?

Andrew McKean - May 05, 2020

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing...

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop is the most impressive yet; here's a look at the top five that caught our eye.Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020 Bowhunting

Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020

Chris Larsen - September 21, 2020

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop...

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong Optics

3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong

Tony J. Peterson

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.

Hunters may not have as much influence on buck movement and behavior as we think. Deciphering New Deer Data for Rut Success Whitetail

Deciphering New Deer Data for Rut Success

Jeff Johnston

Hunters may not have as much influence on buck movement and behavior as we think.

See More Trending Articles

More Guns

We pick the best guns and ammo from our giant Gear Issue.Top Firearms & Ammunition of 2020 Guns

Top Firearms & Ammunition of 2020

Petersen's Hunting Editors - July 31, 2020

We pick the best guns and ammo from our giant Gear Issue.

Browning's X-Bolt Pro family has grown in 2021 with the addition of the Pro McMillan. An innovative muzzle break — the Recoil Hawg — also joins the line.New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg SHOT Show

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

Petersen's Hunting staff - January 29, 2021

Browning's X-Bolt Pro family has grown in 2021 with the addition of the Pro McMillan. An...

Here are our choices for the five best hunting handguns on the market right now.The 5 Best Handguns for Hunting Guns

The 5 Best Handguns for Hunting

Brad Fitzpatrick - November 30, 2020

Here are our choices for the five best hunting handguns on the market right now.

Whether you're a novice hunter or an old pro, follow these steps to be certain that your new gun is ready for the field this fall.Setting Up Your New Rifle for Deer Hunting Guns

Setting Up Your New Rifle for Deer Hunting

Brad Fitzpatrick 

Whether you're a novice hunter or an old pro, follow these steps to be certain that your new...

See More Guns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now