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

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.

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: Burris Oracle X Range-Finding Crossbow Scope

New for 2021: Burris Oracle X Range-Finding Crossbow Scope

The Burris Oracle X is the first and most advanced range-finding crossbow scope on the market, building on the company's long successes with range-finding optics like the Eliminator riflescope.

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

Salty capers add a burst of flavor to the sauce, which pairs beautifully with the grilled venison loin in this recipe.Grilled Venison Loin with Caper-Mustard Sauce Recipe Recipes

Grilled Venison Loin with Caper-Mustard Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Salty capers add a burst of flavor to the sauce, which pairs beautifully with the grilled...

The famous gunmaker – Springfield Armory – stakes its first flag in the hunting world with the new, feature-packed Model 2020 Waypoint bolt-action rifle.New Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint Rifle is a Must-See Guns

New Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint Rifle is a Must-See

Petersen's Hunting Staff - September 29, 2020

The famous gunmaker – Springfield Armory – stakes its first flag in the hunting world with the...

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. How to Properly Grill Venison Steak Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

See More Trending Articles

More Guns

The newest model — the Marlin 444 — is the latest of the iconic American lever-action rifles.Happy Anniversary: Marlin Celebrates 150 Years Guns

Happy Anniversary: Marlin Celebrates 150 Years

Keith Wood

The newest model — the Marlin 444 — is the latest of the iconic American lever-action rifles.

Umarex arrow rifles give archers air-powered capability that's fast, fun, accurate and deadly.Umarex AirJavelin Arrow Rifle Review: Archery Untethered Guns

Umarex AirJavelin Arrow Rifle Review: Archery Untethered

David Draper

Umarex arrow rifles give archers air-powered capability that's fast, fun, accurate and deadly.

It's a cause for celebration when you pair today's brand new rifles with two of the most popular cartridge options.New 6.5 and .300 PRC Rifles for 2021 SHOT Show

New 6.5 and .300 PRC Rifles for 2021

Anthony Licata - February 02, 2021

It's a cause for celebration when you pair today's brand new rifles with two of the most...

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