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Thread: Need opinions for youth shotgun

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Need opinions for youth shotgun

    Hi guys.

    I'm planning on taking my son and grandson squirrel hunting this year. I have several 12 gauge shotguns but would like to get my grandson a youth model single shot. He is seven and slight of build.

    I am leaning toward a 20 gauge. I have seen H and R, Henry, Iver Johnson, Rossi, etc.

    Anyone have any ideas one way or another which way I should look.

    762
    Last edited by 762 shooter; 11-08-2019 at 07:37 AM.
    Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
    My amendment can beat up your amendment.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master


    richhodg66's Avatar
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    Only problem with a single is they are light and will recoil more. A pump weighs more.

    If you're set on a single shot, I see them at gun shows and LGS that have been cut down for a kid all the time. They're all good, so take your pick, I like the Savage/Stevens 94s and 220s best.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master
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    rich covered it well.

    It's a double edged sword - a gun light enough for a child to handle is going to have heavy recoil, with all other factors being the same.

    First and foremost, the shooter needs to be able to handle the gun, so I tend to err on the side of a gun that fits the shooter and they just have to deal with the recoil.
    20 gauge is a good compromise in the amount of shot payload verses gun size.

    A .410 is an EXPERT'S gun and not a good choice for a new shooter, despite its diminutive size.
    28 gauge is just too rare, too expensive and too small of a payload; so it's out of the running.
    A 12 gauge can work but the frame size of an average 12 gauge is typically larger/heavier than a 20 gauge.

    The gun MUST fit the shooter. Length of pull is very important. The overall weight of the gun is also important.

    A single shot, break action shotgun is: lightweight, safe, inexpensive and you will not cry when you cut the stock to length.

    And for what it's worth, I've seen very few 7 year olds that can handle a full size gun in terms of upper body strength.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I have decided to add 870 pump to the mix. Unlimited accessories. Still thinking 20 gauge.

    762
    Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
    My amendment can beat up your amendment.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    Do not do it. He is too small to shoot a light weight 20 ga shotgun with factory shells. You will both regret what should be a fun and memorable (good memory) experience.

    Get him a small .22 rimfire. Start him on a bench hitting paper. He might miss a lot a squirrels but he will not get beat up.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master
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    A Remington 870 Youth model in 20 ga. weighs 6.25 lbs. (per Remington) and is 40.5" long with a 21" barrel

    That's probably close in weight to a H&R 20ga but the single shot H&R will likely be slightly lighter AND the shorter action will result in most of that weight being closer to the shooter's chest. (easier for a child to hold).

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dverna View Post
    Do not do it. He is too small to shoot a light weight 20 ga shotgun with factory shells. You will both regret what should be a fun and memorable (good memory) experience.

    Get him a small .22 rimfire. Start him on a bench hitting paper. He might miss a lot a squirrels but he will not get beat up.
    /\ I'll second this

    7 years old and slight of build is going to make shooting any shotgun unpleasant.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    I got a youth 870 20ga for the kids. It kicks more than my 12ga and noticeably more than a 1100/1187 12ga. In the end my kids preferred the 12ga 1100's and wish I'd of just got a 20ga 1100 as the 20ga/870Y never gets used. They were 9 and 12 at the time and I was 10 when I realized that 410 shells were twice the price of 12ga and since I was mowing yards to buy shells that was a strong motivator for me to stop using the 410.
    Last edited by Moleman-; 11-08-2019 at 12:39 PM.
    350 Legend, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Aww, Thanks Winchester!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

    Hogtamer's Avatar
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    Ditto to what dverna said....
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  10. #10
    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    I don't know about the safety of starting out a seven year old with an auto loader but they do recoil less. I started out with shotguns at seven myself and it was with a Winchester single shot .410. I still own that shotgun of grandpa's and I'm sixty nine. It may not have the payload of the larger gauges but I believe it will fetch more small game for a small, young hunter than a 22. Also, when just starting out a young man who will have his share of mistakes as we all had, the shotgun is a short range weapon and what's down range is a consideration when firing a rifle, even a 22. In the excitement of the moment an inexperienced hunter may be more focused on the game than whats down range. I say start him out with a proper fitting .410. Gp

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Fit is important and will make a big difference in how recoil is felt. Mossberg offered the 500s in a youth model with 2 stocks one shorter and one full length for when the young'un grew up and into it. These are slightly heavier shotguns and that also helps with recoil. 20 gauge is good but may be a bit much starting out for a small statured shooter. A 28 gauge can be a better compromise even with shell availability. this isn't as big an issue with internet ordering available now. I had a 28 gauge 870 for years was a great shotgun for rabbits squirrels and other small game. A 3/4 oz load of 4s or 6s did the job. Simply order a couple boxes of shells each summer as needed. The 410 can be good but the smaller shot charge and more limited range become issues.
    Another small trick is on the light guns add some weight to them with lead shot in the butt stock hole and if possible forearm to help slow lower recoil. A 8-9 lb 20 gauge recoils much less and more controllably then a 6 lb so gauge does. Adding weight will lower recoil. If carry becomes an issue then add the weights for practice and remove for hunting

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Agreed.

    As slim as he is any kind of shotgun recoil would be detrimental.

    I'll see if we can use 22LR. Walking and Hunting is the important part. I think as long as he can carry a gun he will be happy.

    762
    Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
    My amendment can beat up your amendment.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    BTW 762,

    I want to commend you for getting your grandson into shooting and for asking for advice.

    I suspect you already knew a shotgun was not a great choice for the lad and, like you said above, learning to carry a gun safely and walking in the woods carrying a gun "like a man" will be a hoot for him. Bagging a squirrel would be awesome too. Maybe he will get a good shot with the .22.

    Enjoy your time with him!!!
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    7 years old is likely a bit young for a 12 or even 20 ga. shotgun at least with factory/full power loads and also due to gun weight. However, a light single shot with reduced loads might be okay for him.

    My son was 10 when he really wanted to go grouse hunting and it had to be with a Remington 870 12 ga.! So, I tried him with a standard trap load and it was a bit much for him but he was bent on the 12 ga. so I lightened up a powder charge some then took him out again. This he could handle and it patterned well so I set up 2 liter pop bottles as "grouse" and had him shoot at various distances then we checked pattern and pellet count in the plastic grouse and set his maximum distance by that.

    That worked well for my son though he was older than your grandson.

    If the recoil beats your grandson up he won't like it and won't shoot well either.

    A 12 ga. or 20 ga. shotgun with reduced load might work for him and easy to try... if you load for shotshells that is.

    Although, as already said, for squirrels a .22 or 22 mag. might be better to start with.

    Longbow

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Double ditto to what dverna said. Getting thumped by too much gun will turn a kid off fast, even if they don't say so. And a 20 gauge with the lightest loads is still
    probably too much gun for a small framed 7 year old. Go with the 22 for a couple more years and let the anticipation build. Its darn hard to get a kid re-interested in
    anything after a negative experience.
    Go bust a few tin cans, Grayscale

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



    atr's Avatar
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    I would recommend a single shot .410 x 3" chamber. I have one and find it a most useful firearm. It is light and easy to carry.
    the other shotgun I find useful is a Mossburg bolt action 20 ga x 3" chamber.
    Last edited by atr; 11-08-2019 at 07:34 PM. Reason: single shot
    Death to every foe and traitor and hurrah, my boys, for freedom !

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    another thought on this. If leaning towards the rifle, you might look at one of the upper end pellet guns in 20 or 22 caliber. a side cocker or barrel cocker ( I prefer the side cockers) are up around 1100 fps and will dispatch most small game cleanly. Yet the lighter pellets wont have any where near the distance a 22 long rifle does. It would also allow for more practice with it in the yard or basement.
    There are a lot of good 22s out there a single shot with good iron sights to start. (I have a Stevens favorite set back for my grandsons). Marlin Winchester Springfield and many other made single shot bolt actions that didn't cock when loaded. Chimpmunk makes a very nice small bolt action single shot. Ithaca made a lever action single shot. Steven and savage made some nice 22s. Look around and see whats available in your area. I would start him out with a good set of iron sights and move him up to a scope later. A decent trigger is a plus not super light so much as crisp and clean for good control. If a bolt repeater is found reasonable a small block can be made to fit for single loading.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    country gent may be on to something. Pyramyd has the Benjamin 22cal. PCP with a hand pump on sale for $299. Many of the gas piston high velocity break barrels would be way to hard for a seven year old to cock. I still would worry about the range of a 22 LR. Maybe with 22LR or 22WM with the bird shot rounds. Lots of good options for a young man in 22cals. Henry makes a 22 smooth bore garden gun (lever action) if it fits in your price range. Gp
    Last edited by gpidaho; 11-08-2019 at 06:45 PM.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Traffer's Avatar
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    When I was 11 yrs old I hauled my mother down to JC Pennys to get a 410 single shot. My choice. Being a big store they wouldn't sell to a minor hence taking my mother with me.
    I believe that there is no better gun for a youth than a 410 single shot.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master


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    When my two boys got old enough for a shotgun (older than 7, by the way) I gave this a lot of thought.

    Narrowed down to either single shot or pump. All other actions are ready to fire immediately after a shot without any conscious action on the part of the shooter. The pump has the advantage of weight to absorb some recoil. I wouldn't get a .410 because the payload is so small, the kid will get frustrated by missing all the time, not to mention ammo is ridiculously expensive.

    I settled on a 20 gauge Browning BPS because one of them shoots left handed and it is truly ambidextrous, even more so than my Ithacas. Good gun. The variant we got has a stock that is longer than the usual youth stock, but not long enough for a grown man either. Worked out well.

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