Youth Rifles
Minimizing Recoil

We all know how important it is to introduce our children to hunting. Youth rifles can be found in several calibers these days. One of the things that can turn them off real quick is the recoil from a large caliber rifle. Fortunately there are many calibers available today and several of these have light enough recoil for young hunters.

The table below shows the recoil for many of the popular calibers. The actual numbers do not mean as much as the comparisons unless you are a physics professor. You simply note the recoil for calibers that you have shot and compare it to the recoil numbers for the other calibers, with the lower number representing less recoil.

Other than the caliber there are other variables that contribute to the recoil. The overall weight of the gun has a large effect. Heavy guns will have less recoil than the same caliber in a lighter gun. The problem with this is that a small young hunter will not be able to carry around a heavy gun and most likely will not be able to shoot it accurately. My son has a Rossi .410 that he shoots slugs from to hunt deer. This gun fits him well but has a pretty good kick to it since it’s so small and light. The nice thing about the Rossi youth rifle is that it has interchangeable barrels and he can use the .22LR barrel to practice with and all of the mechanics of the gun are the same. Recoil pads can reduce the felt recoil and technology is advancing in this area. The only problem is that a recoil pad adds to the length of the gun unless the stock is shortened. It is very difficult for a young hunter to shoot a rifle that is too big. The recoil will seem worse and accuracy will suffer. If you put a recoil pad on a youth rifle, make sure that the gun still fits them.

I always wear hearing protection when I shoot at a target with a large caliber rifle or shotgun and this is a must for children. Not only will it protect their hearing, it will also help keep them from flinching. Even I anticipate the loud bang when shooting at a target if I’m not wearing hearing protection.

It is interesting how the recoil and loud bang disappear when you are shooting at game. My son is not real crazy about shooting his .410 at targets due to the recoil but when he has shot at deer or squirrels he doesn’t feel a thing. It’s amazing what a little adrenaline will do. Just make sure that they hang on real tight and don’t get too close to the scope.

Caliber Recoil [Foot Pounds]
.243 8.4
.25-06 12.4
.270 15.7
7x57 12.2
.280 16.2
7mm Rem. Mag. 24.3
.308 14.8
.30-06 20.0
.300 Win. Mag. 27.2
.30-30 11.4
(Recoil data in ft.-lbs. based on selected typical hunting loads and rifle weights published in NRA Firearms Fact Book and Balltec Tioga Engineering.)

I bought a Sims recoil pad for my son's .410. I shot it and it felt to me like it made the recoil feel a lot softer. The slip on design went on the end of the stock real easy.

The Sims Recoil Pad is made by the same company that have produced the new vibration reducing materials for compound bows. Just make sure that the recoil pad will fit your youth rifle correctly.

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