A question we often get is what shotgun should I get my young shooter? Ask 100 people and you will get 100 different answers. “Get an A400.” “Get that Yildiz O/U at Academy.” “Get a Remington 1100.” “Get a Browning.” “That SKB is the way to go.” “Start them with a 20 Gauge.” “Start them with a 12 gauge.” Etc., Etc. It goes on and on. It can be overwhelming to the novice parent.
The answer is, there isn’t one answer. There are multiple answers to this question. Here are some tips to help you along this path. Brand isn’t as important as finding a firearm that fits your child, one that is reliable, and one your child can safely operate. Also, there is the recoil consideration. A small child may find the recoil of a 12-gauge unmanageable and even down-right punishing. The quickest way to turnoff a child is to have them abused by recoil. For this reason, we recommend a smaller child start with a 20 Gauge. A larger high-schooler may have no problem with a 12 Gauge.
Once the 12/20-gauge question is answered you then need to get your firearm fitted to your child. Find a knowledgeable individual in your community with shotgun experience and have them assess your child. Common adjustments are additions to the comb or adjusting the length of pull. You will need to check the fitment frequently for a growing child. Another important consideration is to pair the right kind of ammo to the gun and the shooter. Many options are available for a lower recoil loads. Higher FPS loads and higher ounces of shot carry more recoil. Some semis will only cycle hotter loads. Its important to pick the optimal load for your child and the firearm. Lastly, don’t expect their first gun to be their last gun. It’s not uncommon to go through 2 or 3 guns in a year as a young shooter finds what’s most comfortable to them. Some like the semis and some like the over/unders. Remember, it’s not one-size-fits all and this opinon is one of many.
At the end of the day its all about getting the kids interested, being safe and having fun. Break’em!