rifle for a 7 year old
Hello and some advice .
I have a son who is mad about the bush and itching to hunt . He started on an air rifle(aged 5) , taken various birds .
He has also shot with a .22 and at a 100 m is generally within the bull .
What would the experienced of you recommend as a starter rifle . I would like him to take his first animal next year , when he turns 8 .
We live in South Africa . I would be looking at him taking one of the following as his first animal being : springbuck /impala/blesbuck/duiker/mountain reedbuck .
Thanks in advance for any contributions
So, the last time I responded to a pot like this I made a fool of myself by assuming the hunter was in North America.
I am glad you say you are in SA.
So, what rifle calibers do you have access to?
Given the fact that firearms registration in SA is so amazing and efficient.
Then this will be a monkey puzzle test (multiple choice) that I can have a chance of passing.
Without that information I would say a .243.
It will take any of those open country critters you listed without an issue.
100 grain soft point and it won't kick you son too hard.
Hi Brickburn ,
Thanks for the reply .
My own rifles are a 7 x 64 and a 375 . Looking to purchase the appropriate rifle for myself and use/training for the wee one and his brother ( when he is of similar age ,although he loves fishing ! ) . More specifically I am in the Eastern Cape , so the targets will be walk and stalk to get as close as possible .
As to the CFR , finally got my renewals earlier this years after 5 1/2 years !!!!
Congratulations on your lottery win with your permit. You got into the approved pile.
If you can access that .243 I would get one.
I used one in the Karoo on Blesbok and it did the trick.
Walk and stalk and close range will work will with any rifle really. The restriction is the game animal (you have listed small and medium antelope) and the cover and the hunter. Get a clear shot, up close and the .243 should be small enough for a young hunter to be successful while having enough power to do the job.
I personally love my .270 and am prejudiced about it. I am not sure it is for the little guy though.
There are lots of others on this forum that know more about guns than me and they may also have some great suggestions.
Good luck getting the young ones out hunting. It is the future of the sport.
I say the .243 would be good as well. I am not an expert but maybe a .308? Gets you a .30 cal bullet. This gives you the option of small bullets. 100 grain up to 200+. This allows the gun to grow with him. I have not shot the .308 enough to tell you how it kicks. If you hand load (not sure how common that is in SA?) I am sure you could load it light. Just something else to think about.
I think you have a problem and I can see why you posted.
My 14yo son started shooting with me at about 5yo too. At 12yo he had a .223 and at 14years he used a .243W very successfully on our 2008 hunt on the grassveldt and will not give it back :( I feel I can talk from experience. The .243W is perfect for the game you list and your son could use it for the rest of his life.
However, your son is 7yo and I wonder if the .243 would put him off. I'm concerned he is too young for a .243W.
How does he shoot with a 222 or .223 ? If he can handle a smaller centrefire well then the .243W may be an option. The problem with a small .224 centrefire is that he will be limited to head/neck shots and will need a larger rifle sooner, rather than later.
Is there any way you can borrow/rent a .222/.223 and buy the .243W for later ? There is a lot involved in moving up to bigger calibres for kids and IMO it is a matter of slow and steady.
Edit: There is a huge development gap in boys from 12yo to 14yo. At 7yo they are basically just little animals (Lol) wanting to rove in packs, get dirty and have fun. Well mine son and his mates were.
The only compromise I can suggest is the .243W with 70 grain loads. Get a long barrelled rifle to keep the muzzle blast and noise away from him, hollow out the butt, add some lead to increase weight to reduce recoil. You can take the lead out later.
I would go with the 243 Win too. If you use premium bullets and stalk close the animals will hardly know the difference. It's better than a kid developing flinching problems and wounding animals. I was going to say 270 Win with reduced loads...but the 243 Win makes more sense.
If it available to you I would take a close look at the 7mm-08. A friend has one and its a great rifle with little recoil. We used it spotlighting several years ago and I couldn't believe how mild the recoil was with a 120 gr bullet. He like to use it on Mule deer. The nice thing is that if you reload you can go up to a 175 grain bullet. Big enough to use on a Kudu with decent shot placement. A friend has some 7mm bullets in the 190 grain size. Don't know how available these are yet... Lots of choices on what to use. Lighter bullets and loads would have very light recoil. Another friend bought one for his 12 yr old last year for deer and elk. His boy has a light frame. Closer to a normal 10 yr old. He used it last yr and seemed to enjoy it.
My second choice would be the .243. We were in the So Cape in May. That was what my son brought to hunt with. We had loaded up some Barnes 80 grain TTSX bullets in a fairly fast load. I used it for a 1 shot kill on a Nyala when he borrowed my 7mm for his Kudu. The big story was his Lechwe. When the PH told him to squeeze the trigger he did so although a bit too slow... A yearling Lechwe jumped in front of the big bull. He killed them BOTH with one shot. Through the neck of the young one and all of the way through the big bull in the ribs behind the shoulder. Good bullets help a gun kill better... It has more recoil than what I expected. The fast load is part of that and then the stock fit and design. Light weight gun without a good recoil pad.
My third choice would be a 6.5X 47/.260 Rem cartridge. If this is available they are quite a low recoil type of round. Bullets are available up to 142 grains with several in the 110-120 range as well. This would be an intermediate cartridge. Friends have both. They tend to be quite accurate and work well on the size of animals on your list. Its a bullet that seems to kill well.
I realize I didn't give you just one choice. Availability will part of the deal for you. Also if you are able to handload. I think that the 7mm-08 is the best choice as he can grow into it. Lots more bullets in different weights than any of the others. As important as anything is a good recoil pad. Spend the money a good one. Also you may need to have the stock cut down to fit him. Good fit reduces felt recoil. Best of luck. Bruce
The .243 is a great recommendation, but you could also try a 6.5x55. If you know anyone with any of those calibers, you might want to arrange a range trip so he can test-drive them and see how he responds.
On our last safari in SA, one of the other guests had brought a 10-year-old girl who took two animals with a 7mm Ultra Mag, but I don't expect that's typical :)
Thank you all , very much . Interesting comments and certainly some food for thought .
I shot my first white tail deer at just about that age, my dad back in 1962 gave me a 22 RF and a 7.62 x 54 Mosin Nagant. That rifle was made in 1938 and I always wondered about that. Learned to shoot with that rifle and killed a deer with it. It was a little much for a little guy like me at the time, I didn't know any better and my dad didn't hunt and though learning to shoot would be a good thing. I have never been with out a rifle since. As for your son, I think a 222 or a 223 with some good loads should be just the ticket for spring buck type game. The Idea is for him not to develop a flinch or some other bad habit or a distaste for hunting. Here in the States the 223 is popular with some deer hunters. They shoot the heavier bullets out of them. One load that is popular is the Winchester 60 PP 223 load. Post some photos of the little guy when he collects a spring buck.
Mine got his first buck when 9, 222 was a good choice. As covered above don't want to put him off.
Pretty good advice here, I live in Zambia and started out with a .22 Hornet at about 8/9yrs old. Took impala, reedbuck, puku, warthog and a couple of other smalls. At about 12 I got a nice Kudu, albeit with a head shot. It has also been the demise of several crocodiles. All these animals were within 20m to 70m range and almost all I can remember were head shots (shooting for meat, not trophy except the crocs which were shot by my father).
20 odd years on and I now shoot a .243 for small buck. I used a .223 on a small cull last year and it impressed me enough to consider one after my .416 arrives!
Consider .222, .223, .243
All the best
same , my son used a .22 hornet at the same age on puku and lechwe, then got him a .223 when he was 10 and he shot a waterbuck with it no probs . the .22 hornet is a great little round.
My youngest son started using my silenced .308 when he was six years old. I have taught many youngsters, both boys and girls, to shoot with this combination. You should definitly try to offer him that option as well. Good luck with your choice.
Last year I hunted a impala in escourt KZN. The PH had a choice of three guns for me to use, a 222,270 and a 30-06. Being a little recoil shy I chose the 222. The following morning I practiced enough that I was happy I could hit a tea cup saucer at 100m. Long story short I shot a big ram at a 130m, through the heart. A perfect pass through. He hardly went 20m. And the best thing was the 222 only kicked a little harder than a 22. You could also install a silencer to a 222. Which would not only help with the noise but a little on the recoil side to!
Best of luck with choosing the right rifle