Not too long ago, any kid who wanted to carry a shotgun in the woods had to lug around dad's full-size model that was too long, too heavy and just too cumbersome. It's a wonder any young hunter stayed in the sport.
Thankfully, gun manufacturers are appealing to future generations through trendy and practical offerings ranging from basic, time-tested, break-open single shots to rapid-cycling auto-loaders. Whatever you choose for your pint-sized companion, rest assured, a variety of shotguns designed for young or small-framed shooters will keep your little buddy in the field until he outgrows that shotgun you bought him for his birthday. Here's a look at ten youth shotguns that fit into any family's budget.
Benelli Nova Pump Compact
shortened version of their popular Nova pump is a superb choice for smaller hunters and shooters. It comes with a 24-inch barrel and an overall length of 44.2 inches (1.3 inches shorter than their standard 24-inch barrel Nova) and is chambered for 3-inch shells. The Nova Compact
comes with three choke tubes, a removable trigger assembly and a rotating bolt head. It weighs 6.4 pounds, making it a practical choice for young hunters. It's available in black synthetic or Realtree APG.
Browning Silver Micro Midas Buckthorn Pink
Browning's Silver Micro Midas
auto-loader is an ideal shotgun for young shooters. The Buckthorn Pink is even better for girls. It comes with a pink stock marked with black and white Buckmarks, Browning's signature logo. Browning's Active Valve gas system and patented Inflex II recoil pad takes the punch out of each shot. Offered in 20-gauge with either a 24-inch or 26-inch barrel and weighing a mere 6 pounds, this shotgun will perform on the range or in the field without wearing out your young companion. The Midas comes with the Invector Plus choke system and a 13-inch length-of-pull, but provided shims allow young shooters to grow the gun as they grow.
Franchi Affinity Compact
The shortened version of Franchi's popular Affinity autoloader
is a fine choice for young hunters and shooters. With a standard length-of-pull of 12 3/8 inches and four quarter-inch spacers, the gun can grow as your child grows. Offered in 12- and 20-gauge and with either a black synthetic stock or two popular Realtree patterns, this shotgun is a great gun for the turkey woods, duck blind or dove field. The 20-gauge models feature a 24-inch barrel; the 12 features a 26-inch barrel. With an MSRP of either $899 for black or $999 for camouflage, the Affinity compact is a high-performance autoloader at a reasonable price.
899 (black) or $
H&R Topper Junior
Countless young hunters shot their first dove or broke their first clay pigeon with a Harrington & Richardson
single-shot. Not much has changed. The Topper Junior
remains one of the most popular youth guns on the market. Featuring a 22-inch barrel, a 12 ½-inch length of pull, and a weight ranging from 5 to 6 pounds, the Topper Junior is the ideal size for young gunners. Available in either .410 or 20-gauge, it comes with a fixed full choke in .410 and a fixed modified choke in 20-gauge. Priced at about $200, this time-tested classic can make its way from one genetation to the next without breaking the bank.
Mossberg 500 Bantam
Mossberg's 500 Bantam
is a combination of value and function, making it a great choice for young sportsmen. The rock-bottom price of around $400 makes it a great choice for budget-minded parents, too. Offered in field, turkey, slug, and multi-barrel versions and available in a variety of barrel lengths and gauges, the Bantam pump shotgun gives kids the freedom to hunt a variety of game. It comes with a top tang safety for easy monitoring by mentors and is chambered for 3-inch shells.
Remington 870 Express Compact Jr.
Few names are as synonymous with reliability as Remington and the 870 Express Compact Junior 20-gauge
is as reliable and tough as any other Remington gun. Featuring a 18 ¾-inch barrel and an adjustable (with included shims) 12-inch length-of-pull, the Express Compact Junior is a great starter gun that can be passed down for generations. It's chambered for 3-inch shells and is threaded to accept Rem Choke tubes. The Compact Junior is a great choice for any kid's first gun or any parents' bank account.
Single-shots may not be the most versatile guns, but Rossi's popular line of synthetic single-shot shotguns
is a great choice for safety-conscious moms and dads. Offered in .410, 20- and 12-gauge, Rossi has a shotgun that will cover all of the game a young hunter could dream of chasing, thanks to interchangeable barrels. Several versions of the youth model single shots are sold paired with a rifle barrel in .22, .243, .223, or .50 caliber muzzleloader. Buying your child a firearm doesn't have to break the bank, either. Priced from around $170 for a single-barrel 12-gauge to $450 for a Rossi Trifecta, (20-gauge, .22 rimfire, and .243 Win.) versatility has never been more affordable.
170 to $
TriStar Viper G2 Youth
contribution to the youth shotgun market is the Viper G2 youth
, a smooth-cycling semiautomatic available in black synthetic, wood, or Realtree Advantage Timber. It comes with a 24-inch barrel and a 12- or 20-gauge action, three Beretta-style choke tubes, a Soft Touch recoil pad and a chrome-lined chamber and barrel. It's light, too. Weighing only 5.7 pounds for the camouflage model, the Viper G2 Youth allows your young partner to stay in the woods as long as you do. With an MSRP topping out at $579, buying an autoloader for your kid no longer requires a second job.
Weatherby SA-08 Synthetic Youth
Ideal for women and younger shooters, Weatherby's Synthetic Youth semi-automatic 20-gauge shotgun
is loaded with features. Your young companion will love this gun the moment he or she picks it up., The SA-08 comes with a 12 ½-inch length-of-pull and a 24-inch barrel weighs just 5 ¾ pounds. It's also equipped with a durable black synthetic finish. No worries about dents or dings. The 3-inch chamber on the Synthetic Youth makes it a great year-round choice for everything from September doves to April gobblers. It's at home on the clays range, too.
Winchester SX3 Compact
Packed with all the features of a full-size SX3, the Winchester SX3 Compact
has a 13 ' length-of-pull to better suit smaller hunters. Available in 12 or 20-gauge and chambered for 3-inch shells, it comes with either a 24-inch, 26-inch, or 28-inch barrel. The SX3 Compact features a high tech Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad to minimize felt recoil and weighs around 6 ½ pounds. Top it off with a price tag is at [imo-slideshow gallery=50],069 and you've got a great gun for any kid.