Best Youth Hunting Rifles – 2021 Top Picks

| Last Updated December 22, 2021

Hunting is a sport that's usually passed down from one generation to the next. Some gun enthusiasts introduce the sport to their children from an early age to develop their skills as they get older. 

The main challenge is that hunting rifles are generally designed for men and don't fit women or youngsters. To solve this problem, some manufacturers have designed weapons specifically for youth.

This article discusses some of the best youth rifles.

Comparison of the Best Youth Hunting Rifles

  • Extended magazine release and detachable rotary magazine
  • For target shooting, small game hunting, plinking, action-shooting
  • Durable polymer housing and hammer-forged barrel
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  • Best Youth Deer Hunting Rifle
  • Compact design is ideal for older kids and teenagers
  • Has a 4 + 1 round capacity
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What Makes a Hunting Rifle Great for Youths?

Aspects that make a hunting rifle great for a young person are the same that make it great for any shooter. It needs to be durable and perform well. It also needs to be accurate and easy to use.

Balances Power and Recoil

The weapon needs to pack enough power to bring down your target instantly while minimizing recoil. You should steer clear of a firearm that's not powerful enough to take down the animal your hunting. Many animals get injured this way and suffer unnecessarily. 

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The gun should be a comfortable weight for the shooter to carry, and it should also fit well. The best youth rifles have a shorter stock, and some of the components are adjustable. A weapon that fits right is more comfortable to handle and results in better accuracy.

Ease of Use

The user should be comfortable with the action of the weapon. Bolt action rifles are usually favored for young shooters as they are less likely to malfunction. They're also rugged and easy to understand.


Youngsters may also be eager to accessorize their guns. Many of the best rifles for youth are customizable.

Review of the Best Hunting Rifles For Youths

Choosing a starter rifle is exciting. You'll want to select an efficient hunting rifle to instill confidence and ignite your young shooter’s passion for the sport. This part of the review discusses some of the best hunting rifles for youth. 

Best Overall:
Ruger 10/22


  • Compact and will fit younger shooters well
  • Affordable for a starter weapon
  • Easy to customize
  • Reliable
  • Semi-automatic


  • Doesn't hold open on the last round
  • Plastic may not effectively reduce recoil

What Recent Buyers Report

The Ruger 10/22 is an excellent product, and most buyers claim that it performs well. They liked how smooth the action is and the overall quality of the weapon.  

Some customers commented that it needs to be properly maintained as it was prone to jams if it got excessively dirty. They also stated that the Ruger wasn't just a good youth gun, but a survival weapon as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It's compact and can easily be customized with affordable aftermarket parts. Youngsters will enjoy making changes to the gun. 

It features a ten-round rotary magazine, and it fits comfortably into the rifle, streamlining it. The firearm accommodates several ammunition options.

The Ruger 10/22 is popular with many shooters. It's ideal for individuals with smaller frames, such as youth, women, and even petite men. The ammunition is affordable, and should anything go wrong, finding replacement parts is easy as it's one of the most common firearms available.

The gun is also lightweight and easy to work on. Cleaning and maintenance of the Ruger 10/22 are straightforward. This makes it ideal for teaching novice hunters how to care for their firearms. 

Bottom Line

The Ruger 10/22 is one of the best hunting rifles for youth because it's easy to use and performs well. The rifle is also rugged and durable. It's convenient to clean and makes a great first firearm.

Best Youth Deer Hunting Rifle:
Mossberg Patriot Youth Bantam


  • Affordable
  • Streamlined bolt handle
  • Trigger is adjustable
  • Barrel is fluted with recessed grounds
  • Accurate


  • No pillar bedding, only plastic
  • Magazine well is also plastic

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers liked the fluted barrel and claimed that it cuts weight. It has a user-friendly magazine that's easy to load, and they also commented that the adjustable components made it convenient for multiple users. Customers also liked the metal sling studs, which are of superior quality to the plastic ones.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg has a skinny profile and a synthetic stock. The butt pad is soft but features internal ribbing to absorb additional recoil. The bolt, receiver, and sling studs are all made of steel, and the trigger is adjustable. 

The barrel is light with minimum weight at the front of the weapon, and a recessed crown protects it from damage. The gun's safety is on the right-hand side of the action and flicks on with a toggle. This toggle makes a distinct clicking sound so you won't accidentally turn it off.

The bolt is efficient and sits on the left side of the receiver. It's effective for deer hunting and easy to use.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg Patriot is simple and effective. The caliber is suited to hunting humanely, and the appearance of the firearm is attractive. The plastic exterior is less intimidating to novice hunters, but the weapon's accuracy and performance are excellent.

3. Tikka T3x Lite Compact


  • Excellent trigger
  • Steel recoil lug
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate
  • Sleek, attractive appearance


  • Limited color options
  • Bolt doesn't stay secure

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of this firearm gave mixed reviews. Some positive comments were that it offered fantastic grouping and that the trigger was crisp. 

Some negative remarks were that the weapon had quite a bit of recoil and that the bolt doesn't always stay secure. Most customers were satisfied with their purchase. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

It comes with a single weatherproof stock with an asymmetrical grip. This allows you to hold the weapon comfortably, even with gloves. 

The back of the stock has a recoil pad, and a foam inserts to reduce both recoil and noise from the firing aftermath. The pistol grip is interchangeable, making it convenient to choose the best grip angle.

The gun is light enough to carry on long hunts and easy to accessorize. The Tikka T3x Lite Compact accommodated five calibers, including the .243 Win and .300 Win Mags

It holds three cartridges at a time and features a forged steel receiver. It's considered one of the best youth hunting rifles because of its simplicity. 

Bottom Line

This hunting rifle is an excellent starting rifle for young hunters. It's easy to use, and you can use several calibers with this gun. It's also one of the few youth guns that offer a left-handed option.

Best Youth Hunting Rifle Under $500:
Weatherby Vanguard Compact 308


  • Six-round capacity
  • Hinged floor plate
  • Two-stage adjustable trigger
  • Three-position safety
  • Cold hammer-forged steel barrel


  • Expensive
  • Significant recoil

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that they enjoy this rifle's feel as it handles well and delivers sub-MOA accuracy. They also liked the two-stage trigger and hinged floor plate. 

Customers are generally satisfied with their purchase. They appreciate the superior standards Weatherby sets with all of its weapons. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

It features an injection-molded composite stock and a removable spacer to adjust the length of pull, from 12.5 inches to 13 5/8 inches. The finish is matte bead blasted, and the barrel is 20 inches long. 

The Weatherby Vanguard Compact 308 is guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group of .99 inches or less at a distance of 100 yards. This guarantee is only valid if shooting from a cold barrel using premium ammunition.

The rifle includes an enclosed bolt sleeve and a fluted built body. All these features are what make this gun one of the best youth hunting rifles.

Bottom Line

The Weatherby Vanguard Compact 308 is a quality weapon that will fit young shooters well. With guaranteed accuracy and attractive design, this firearm is sure to be a hit with young shooters.

How Do I Choose a Youth Hunting Rifle?

When you're looking for one of the best youth hunting rifles, you want to ensure that the gun you choose isn't intimidating. It should fit well, and the grip should be comfortable for a smaller individual to hold. 

You need to find an option that strikes a balance between recoil and power. If you choose a large caliber, the recoil could instill fear in the youngster and dampen their confidence. You should also take tests if the weapon is too heavy for them.

The best youth hunting rifles are convenient and lightweight to carry. The length of pull should be shorter, and it should be easy for them to hold the gun against their shoulder. Young shooters should also be able to understand the safety mechanism of the rifle they're using.

Choosing a rifle for a youngster should be affordable, and the ammunition should be budget-friendly as well. The low cost shouldn't mean that you compromise on quality either. Select a durable gun that won't jam easily.

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Can You Really Find a Quality Rifle That's Affordable?

Finding an affordable rifle that's still good quality is possible if you know what to look for. High-end products from a well-established company are costly. Most of the time, you're paying for the brand rather than the product.

Some leading firearm manufacturers have budget options that perform well. 

These won't be the cheapest options available, but they will be reliable and more cost-effective than the other products they stock.

If you opt for a very cheap option from an unknown brand, you could compromise quality. 

A medium-priced firearm made by a reputable company is your best bet. An affordable rifle can be durable and accurate but may lack in terms of appearance.

Best Types Of Youth Hunting Rifles 

Youth hunting rifles come in different actions, calibers, and have different cartridge capacity. The most popular hunting rifles for youth are bolt action and semi-automatic. 


A semi-automatic rifle is easy to use and is convenient because you don't have to continuously remove the shotshell. This occurs automatically when you pull the trigger. 

You need to pull back the bolt's operating handle to open the action. These rifles allow you to have faster follow-up shots and have low recoil even on lighter weapons.

The reason is that semi-automatic weapons are usually gas-operated, so the recoil of heavy calibers is absorbed better, and your muzzle-flip is lower. Another benefit of this type of youth rifle includes a higher ammunition capacity.

The drawback of getting a semi-automatic for a young shooter is that it's not as accurate as a bolt-action. It's also more likely to malfunction or jam and isn't as straightforward to clean.


Bolt-action rifles have been around for a long time. It allows precision that could, in turn, boost a young hunter's confidence. The simplicity of the design means that it's reliable and durable. 

These weapons are quite versatile and work well with multiple calibers. It only has one moving part, which is the bolt itself, and the user operates this. 

The main disadvantage with choosing a bolt-action is that follow-up shots aren't as fast, and recoil can be significant. Many gun enthusiasts opt to get bolt-action rifles for their youth as it's safer.

Youth 243 Vs. 7mm-08 Hunting Rifle - Comparison Overview

Rifles chambered in .243 can easily kill full-sized deer. This cartridge is a good combination to balance power versus recoil. If you opt for a 7mm-08, you have more than enough power but heavier recoil.

If we compare these two cartridges, the 7mm-08 delivers better energy at all distances, while the .243 is flatter and quicker off the mark. The .243 comes in weights ranging from 55 to 115 grains, with the most common being 70 to 100. The most common grains in factory 7mm-08 are 120-150 grains.  

For a young shooter, the most important aspect is comfort. They need to become self-assured in sport, and what's suitable for one young hunter may be too much for another. The best option would be to have them test both cartridges on a range before heading out on a hunt.

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How to Teach a Youth to Shoot a Rifle

In any sport, you must learn some rules and skills. Hunting is no different, and despite what you many think, it involves more than just aiming and pulling a trigger.

This section of our review explains how to teach youths how to use one of the best youth hunting rifles.

The very first lesson to teach children is safety. Some of the most important rules are to keep your finger off the trigger, point the gun in a safe direction, and not touch a gun unsupervised. 

It's also good to teach them to always treat it as if it's loaded even when it's empty. Another important rule is that if your eyes leave the sight, you should remove your finger from the trigger area.

Once they are familiar with the safety aspects, you can introduce them to the sport with pellet guns or similar non-lethal options until they show that they're capable of using a real firearm.

You should also establish which is their dominant eye and ensure that the gun fits them properly. They should also wear ear and eye protection.

You need to instruct them on how to use sights and assist them with setting up the rifle on sandbags. Teach them how to load the weapon and remove the shells, and try not to be too strict on form. 

For hunting, you may want to invest in an adjustable rest. The main factors you need to teach are how to be safe around guns and shoot safely and on target. 

For a visual representation, refer to this video.


Introducing a youngster to hunting is an exciting experience. You get to help build their self-esteem and nurture their passion for a sport that requires practice and skill.

To do this successfully, you need to choose a firearm that's dependable, safe, and easy to use. Whether you opt for a semi-automatic or a bolt action, the most important factor is that your young hunter is comfortable and confident.

People Also Ask

This review has provided extensive information regarding youth rifles; however, some frequently asked questions may remain unanswered. This section will address some of these queries.

What Has More Recoil, .270 or .308?

The .308 has more recoil.

What Is a Safe Trigger Pull for a Youth Hunting Rifle?

This question is open for debate. Some gun enthusiasts state that anything less than 3lbs is dangerous, while others say that heavier triggers teach children poor technique. The common 4lbs or 5lbs trigger is a middle ground.

What Caliber Rifle for Youth Deer Hunting?

The most common calibers used for youth deer hunting are the .243 and the 7mm-08.

How Young Can a Child Shoot a Rifle?

Younger children aged four and five can start with air rifles and pellet guns while learning the safety rules. Once they understand the basics, they can progress to real firearms. Most people wait until their child is nine.

My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.