Your Child’s First Firearm – How To Choose In Four Steps

By Charles •  13 min read
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There are several milestones in a child’s life that every parent looks forward to and for a hunter and shooter getting their child’s first firearm is one of these.  Even though you may have a few years to figure it out, your child’s first gun is a topic you will need to prepare for as they grow if you intend to pass down your family’s tradition of hunting or shooting sports.

After all, maybe the best way to keep children safe in a home with one or more firearms is to teach them about those firearms.  This education will not only keep them safe, but it could also end up leading them to an increased interest in guns later in life.  As they get older and they develop this interest, then you should encourage that interest and get your child their first gun.

Purchasing a gun for any kid is not necessarily an easy thing to do.  There are several steps a parent should take before placing a firearm in a child’s hands. That is why I have layed down this guide to show you how to choose your child’s first firearm.

1. Prepare Your Child Mentally For Their First Firearm

Make sure your child is mentally ready to possess and use a gun before considering purchasing their first firearm.  Your child may be ready to learn how to handle a gun, with supervision, at five or six years old.  However, your neighbor’s child may age into their golden years without ever becoming mature enough to safely handle a firearm. 

  • Talk to your child about guns, keep them informed, and do not make firearms a secret.  Answer any questions your kid might have in a way that they can understand what you are trying to teach them.
  • Make sure they understand that real firearms are NOT toys.  Drive home that an actual weapon that could hurt or kill someone.
  • While this may sound like a repeat of the last statement, make sure your child understands the importance of gun safety.  It is beyond important to make sure your kid understands the responsibilities that come with using a gun safely.
  • You know more about your child than anyone else. Pay attention to their abilities and you will know when they are ready to handle their first gun.

2. Consider What Type Of Action Is Best For Your Child’s First Firearm

To put it simply, a single shot action is the best option for your child’s first firearm.  A single shot forces the child to consider their shot more carefully in hunting situations.  In addition, this action adds the safety benefit of preventing unintentional or undesired follow up shots.  Let’s not forget that when it comes to cost, these single shot firearms are usually much more affordable.

If you are worried that your child will need the ability for a quicker follow up shot, the next best option would be a bolt action or pump action.  Both actions provide the possibility of a quick follow up.  However, they require the child to take that extra step of working the action to reload which helps to prevent any possible unintended extra shots. 

3. Caliber Choice Is Critical In A Child’s First Firearm

If you mess up in this step, you may just end up driving your child away from your love of shooting and hunting.  This is because you want to make shooting a fund and comfortable experience for your child.  Giving a child a gun with a lot of recoil could cause them to develop fear of the weapon as well as bad habits like flinching before the shot.  These things make it nearly impossible for them to focus on making a good shot.

Air Guns

Many hunting families start their fledgling sharpshooters out with BB or pellet-style guns. These low-powered guns provide young operators with lightweight guns that have no significant recoil or percussion, allowing them to learn safety procedures and develop shooting skills without being apprehensive about the kick or noise levels that typically occur when pulling the trigger.


It’s best to start with a smaller caliber, like a .22.  A .22 has virtually no recoil or report and will allow your child to properly develop proper shooting habits.  In addition, using a .22 to hunt rabbits and squirrels will teach them to be better hunters and better shots.

Once a child learns the basics of controlling the firearm you might consider introducing a .243 caliber rifle.  The recoil of this caliber is still not very great which will allow your child to continue to develop good shooting habits.  In addition, this is a very versatile caliber that can be used for hunting deer (as long as it is legal in you state) and most predators


To avoid the shock that comes with using a large gauge firearm, have your child shoulder a smaller gauge, such as a .410 or 20 gauge. These guns are suitable for hunting a variety of game, and the shot pattern is forgiving. This is a huge plus for young shooters who may be slightly unsteady in aiming.

While a .410 fits the requirement of lower recoil, it also has limited range and a smaller shot pattern than a 20 gauge.  This again forces your child to think about what they are aiming at and to take their time before shooting.  Therefore, in hunting situations they will have to get a little closer to the game and make better shot choices.

If your child is a little older and lager, a 20 gauge may be a better choice in the beginning.  The recoil is still not overpowering for these larger children; however, they are usually still lightweight and small.  Thanks to many new options firearms companies have made available, a 20 gauge you purchase your child now may be a gun they can grow into and use a long time.

Once your child has become comfortable with harvesting game with these small gauge or caliber guns, you can let them decide on which path to take thereafter. Should they stick with small gauges, or should they move on up to a larger gun such as a 12 gauge or a long-range rifle? Let them decide. By this point in their life, they should have enough shooting experience to know what they are comfortable handling. By letting them make their own decision about what gun to progress to, you are creating a rite of passage from childhood hunting into the world of adult wild game harvesting.

4. Make Sure Your Child’s First Firearm Fits

Proper fit is an important aspect that anyone should take into consideration when purchasing a firearm.  However, it is even more critical when choosing your kid’s first gun.  If you want to keep your child interested in shooting or hunting, they must enjoy what they are doing. 

If the gun does not fit correctly, then your child will likely not develop a proper shooting stance.  This means they will most likely miss more than they hit anything.  No one would find that fun, especially a child. 

That is of course if they do not get hurt or hurt another because they cannot control the firearm.  Without proper fit, you can not assure that your safely handle and shoot the gun.  Therefore, proper fit is considered one of the most important aspects of buying a first gun for a child.

What To Look For To Determine Proper Firearm Fit For A Child

  • The most important factor in determining fit is the length of pull.  Simply put, this is the distance between the center of the trigger and the center of the recoil pad.   On many modern firearms, the length of pull measures 14 to 14.5 inches.  This is just too much for a child to be able to hold the gun, aim, and shoot it properly.
  • Today many manufacturers have developed an alternative option to a fixed length of pull.  Many youth firearms not come in adjustable stock rifles, which your kid could adapt to their own size.  In addition, this would allow your child to make use of the same gun for a considerable time.  This makes them a cost-effective solution.

In Summary

When choosing that first gun, keep in mind that the initial days, months and years of training will be the ones that form a lasting impression on your child. Choose a gun that they will be able to wield easily as you guide them in safe and proper handling procedures. Their comfort plays a key role in his confidence as a young marksman and future hunter.

Start your child out as early as feasible with gun safety and target practice. Once they are old enough to understand the power of a gun and how to handle it safely. Stick by their side to ensure they learn proper firearm handling and safety methods.

Finally, take them hunting or shooting as often as time allows. Spending as much time as possible in the woods and on the target range will help develop the hunter and shooter within your child. Keep in mind that they will grow up all too quickly. Take time during their formative years to encourage them to train diligently and enjoy the hunt.

Options For Your Child’s First Firearm


Crickett Synthetic Rifle

Crickett Youth 22 - Child's First Firearm
Crickett Synthetic .22 Rifle

This is the perfect example of what your child’s first firearm should look like.  The reason is simple, this gun has just the right mix based on its size, weight, and safety features. The key lock feature that can only be unlocked using a special key, the gun becomes completely unusable until it’s no longer locked.

  • Caliber:
    • .22 Short, Long or Long Rifle standard or high velocity.
    • 22 WMR
  • Action: Manually cocking single-shot bolt action
  • Trigger Pull: 2 1/2 – 3lbs. (approx.)
  • Safety: Rebounding firing pin automatically blocked to prevent accidental discharge.
  • Length Of Pull: 11.5″
  • Sights: Adjustable Rear Peep sight, Fixed front sight
    • Drilled and Tapped to accept Crickett® scope mounts
  • Barrel Length: 16.125″
  • Overall Length: 30″
  • Stock: Synthetic with Hydro dipped options
  • Weight: 3 lbs.

Savage Rascal

Savage Rascall 22 Caliber -Child's First Firearm
Savage Rascal .22 Caliber

This gun comes with a replaceable synthetic stock. When your child grows up, you can remove the small stock and place a larger one instead.  Savage Rascal also allows you to mount a scope.  Shooters cock the rifle by lifting the bolt and unload without pulling the trigger.  The platform builds superior shooting skills thanks to full-size rifle features, including adjustable peep sights and Savage’s user-adjustable AccuTrigger™

  • Safe, accurate, easy to use
  • Manual safety
  • Unload without pulling the trigger
  • Adjustable peep sights
  • Adjustable AccuTrigger
  • Feed ramp
  • Cocks by lifting bolt
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel
    • Color: Blued
    • Finish: Traditional
    • Length (in)/(cm): 16.125 / 40.6
    • Material: Carbon Steel
  • Caliber: 22 LR
  • Magazine Capacity: 1
  • Hand: Right
  • Length of Pull (in)/(cm): 11.25 / 27.9
  • Magazine: Single Shot
  • Overall Length (in)/(cm): 30.625 / 76.2
  • Rate of Twist (in): 1 in 16
  • Receiver
    • Color: Blued
    • Finish: Traditional
    • Material: Carbon Steel
  • Type: Rimfire
  • Stock
    • Color: Black
    • Finish: Matte
    • Material: Synthetic
    • Type: Sporter
  • Weight (lb)/(kg): 2.71 / 0.91

Ruger 10/22 Compact

Ruger 10-22 Compact - Child's First Firearm
Ruger 10/22 Compact

This gun is a good fit for older kids who are comfortable with semi-automatic action. With fiber-optic sights and 10 rounds of .22 ammo in the magazine, the Ruger will prove to be a good companion at your kid’s first hunting adventure. In addition, there is also a 25 round magazine available, for even more firepower.

  • Ruger® Modular Stock System includes a low comb, compact length of pull module. Additional modules are available at
  • This legendary action is a tried and true Ruger design that ensures consistent, reliable performance.
  • Detachable 10-round rotary magazine features a unique rotor to separate cartridges and provide reliable feeding.
  • Easy-to-use, prominent magazine release provides smooth, no-fuss removal of flush-mounted magazine.
  • Cold hammer-forged barrel is locked into the receiver by a unique, two-screw, V-block system.
  • Positive, push-button, cross-bolt manual safety.
  • Combination scope base adapter for both Weaver-style and .22 tip-off scope mounts included.
  • Heat-stabilized, glass-filled, polymer trigger housing assembly is precision made of high-tech material for improved manufacturing tolerances, impact and abrasion-resistance and an unmatched ability to withstand the elements.
  • The receiver and stock combine to create classic lines for attractive styling.
  • Fiber optic front with adjustable fiber optic rear sights.
  • Stock: Black Synthetic
  • Front Sight: Fiber Optic
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Fiber Optic
  • Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
  • Twist: 1:16″ RH
  • Capacity: 10
  • Barrel Finish: Blued
  • Weight: 4.4 lb.
  • Overall Length: 34″
  • Barrel Length: 16.12″
  • Length of Pull: 12.50″
  • Grooves: 6


Crickett My First Shotgun

Crickett My First Shotgun 410 - Child's First Firearm
Crickett My First Shotgun

410ga 3in Single Shot Shotgun – 18.5in – The Crickett Shotgun “My First Shotgun” is great for those beginner hunters. Folding design is handy for backpacks or small spaces.

  • 2 Position Corssbolt
  • Soft Rubber Recoil Pad
  • Special Recoil-Reducing Chamber
  • Stock: Turkish Walnut
  • Gauge: .410 Gauge
  • Choke: 3″ Fixed Modified Choke
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs
  • Barrel: 18.5″ Blued
  • LOP: 11″
  • OAL: 32″

Mossberg 510 Mini All Purpose

Mosberg 510 Mini Shotgun - Child's First Firarm
Mossberg 510 Mini All Purpose

With an adjustable synthetic stock, the Mossberg® 510 Mini™ Super Bantam™ .410 All-Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun lets you adjust the length of pull for comfortable use. Dual extractors, twin action bars, positive steel-to-steel lock-up and an antijam elevator deliver smooth, reliable performance, and dual bead sights promote accurate aiming. The ventilated-rib barrel offers great heat dissipation, and at just 5 lb. this lightweight shotgun is easy to carry and lets you draw your shots quickly.

Features and Benefits
  • Synthetic stock adjusts length of pull from 10-1/2″ to 11-1/2″
  • Ventilated-rib barrel aids in heat dissipation
  • Dual bead sights promote accurate aiming
  • Fixed-modified chokes
  • Blued finish
  • Dual extractors, twin action bars, positive steel-to-steel lock-up and an antijam elevator for smooth, reliable performance
  • Pump action with a 3-round magazine capacity with 2-3/4″ shells and a 2-round magazine capacity with 3″ shells
  • Handedness: Right
  • Product weight: 5 lb.
  • Type: Pump-action
  • Manufacturer warranty – general: 10 years limited
  • Metal finish: Blued
  • Rear sight: Bead
  • Stock: Adjustable synthetic
  • Product Type: Pump-action
  • Barrel length (in.): 18.5
  • Action: Pump
  • Gauge/bore: .410
  • Cylinder capacity: 3
  • Front sight: Bead
  • Product length (in.): 34.75
  •  (improved cylinder, modified, full)
  • Ventilated top rib
  • Equipped with swivel studs and recoil pad

Featured Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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