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Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > Caliber for youth bolt action

Caliber for youth bolt action

21 Apr 2016
@ 02:36 am (GMT)

john feyereisn

my girls are both smaller tgan average for their ages, and i sm looking to get them shooting in a few years, i am looking for a caliber for whitetail deer under 300 yds. Most of the youth models seem to be in 243, and i just have not been impressed with the deer i have seen my uncle shoot with his 243 so i am thinking going bigger, not sure weather to stop at a 260 or 708 or should i just get a 308 and csn always download it as needed. As small framed as my wife is it is very possible they may never outgrow a youth sized rifle, or at least willbe shooting it for quite some time so i would hate to stick them with the 243.

Replies

21 Apr 2016
@ 03:38 am (GMT)

Grant Lovelock

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Ask your uncle what projectile he's using .... as Nath will most certainly tell you its most important to use a projectile that best suits your needs... if the pill is too hard it may well be poking a small hole through the deer where you really need a nice wide wound track.
21 Apr 2016
@ 04:30 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
6.5 × 55 Swede with 140 grn Nosler Partitions Or A-Max you can use 85 to 160 gn pills and with a modern action and reloading you'll have a great rig for the girls to use? A sensible middle caliber ideal for your needs. Bullet choice as Grant said is everything.
21 Apr 2016
@ 08:27 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
if you read Nathan's blog he's talks about Riley using his 308win and shooting downloaded rounds with Tipped match kings on goats, the ELD-m or amax's are other options.
i think a down loaded 30 cal would be my pick over a noisey fire breathing light caliber.
ruger american's come in a compact model, which maybe a good option you can always get after market stock or change calibers easy enough later on to.
21 Apr 2016
@ 03:16 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
As others have already said here, the .243 Winchester is a good round for open country whitetails.
My favourite is:

.243 dia. (6mm) 85 gr. HPBT GameKing Part# 1530
I also like the Nosler partitions.

Have your uncle try them before you make a decision perhaps.

One thing to note however, is that many of the .243 Winchester rifles sold today have a 1:10 twist (Sako, Tikka, Remingtons) so make certain that bullets in the range of 85 to 100 grains will be stable before you decide on a rifle brand, or buy a couple used ones and have them properly prepared for those bullet weights.
21 Apr 2016
@ 08:20 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
John what calibre do you hunt with and reload? If you get the same for the girls to use the outlay for reloading will be minimal and you'll just have to find a nice rifle to fit and work up some downloaded ammunition unless you have a 50BMG or other camel kicking cal? It may be the most sensible choice?
21 Apr 2016
@ 08:57 pm (GMT)

Joshua Mayfield

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Hi John,
It pains me to say this, simply because I am always slow to come around to anything I think may be or once thought was a fad, but the 6.5 Creedmoor might be a good option. Warwick mentioned the Swede and I do not believe the Creedmoor is superior to the Swede. But in the US it may be easier right now to find a solid rifle with a youth stock configuration in the Creedmoor. Recoil certainly won't be a problem. A guy I hunt whitetails with bought one 3 years ago and has had good results in the field with it. I've shot it on the range and found nothing to complain about.

My next thoughts would be a .257 Roberts, 7mm-08, or a .280 but my knowledge of those three cartridges is all second hand.
21 Apr 2016
@ 10:09 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Quote:


One thing to note however, is that many of the .243 Winchester rifles sold today have a 1:10 twist (Sako, Tikka, Weatherby Vanguards) so make certain that bullets in the range of 85 to 100 grains will be stable before you decide on a rifle brand, or buy a couple used ones and have them properly prepared for those bullet weights.


Just corrected my error in saying Remington .243 rifles had a 1:10 twist...they should do fine as some Rugers too.

I see many here recommending cartridges that might be hard to buy factory ammo for unless you are hand loading. I would agree with the .260 Remington in particular seeing as 6.5x55 or the 6.5 Creedmore in local stores are not often found here but for hand loaders there is no problem

If you are a handler I would go 6.5 Creedmore. Very nice to shoot an inherently accurate round, and not a barrel burner.
21 Apr 2016
@ 10:19 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Hi John, you can see here that the guys are going at this from two different directions. One is to use a light bullet at high velocity (and velocity does need to be high- downloads only for target work) or you go heavy soft and slow.

The Roberts is problematic in that it needs to be driven fast (or full power) for best results. So you are back into .243 territory but without the rifles to choose from such as the Ruger American.

You could go either way with this so it must come down to your personal preference.

If you did wish to opt for the .243, the two areas that let people down are 1. Bullet choice and 2. not being confident in the ability of the .243 and therefore taking meat saver shots when a frontal shoulder shot will put game down rapidly.

As for small pre and early teen girls, the noise of the .243 is too much for sensitive girls. You would need to start with a very soft and quiet load for target, then make the jump to full power for hunting.

Regarding my choice of the .308 for Riley. For starters, it is a personal favorite of mine but I do not have any good reason for this- a 7mm-08 would shoot flatter with far less drift. I simply like what I like and this is also my client trainer rifle. Its easy to load for and many clients shoot .308 as starter anyway, so it fits the bill. Any extra wind drift can be used as a part of training here.

When reloading for Riley, I can load it right down for low recoil but also low report. And I find that accuracy tends to remain very good all the way through so I don't have to get into serious load work. I can start at sound barrier speeds and work up, allowing a straight transition from the .22LR to the .30 cal, without need of a .223 etc.

Just keep in mind that for hunting, you need the .308 to be going around 1600-1700fps minimum for short range hunting, then build up in speed in power as soon as longer ranges come into question. You can start with H1000 rather than trail boss for hunting loads. Make sure you have some good neck tension to ensure a full burn.

Note- the 6.5's are a bit harder to download to mid speeds. You can make them super slow with Trail Boss or mild with H1000, but its really hard to work around that 1600-2200fps range. That's the only issue I have with this bore diameter for youth training.

As for bullet designs, Thomas has mentioned how I have been approaching this. I also talked about the ELD-X in the long range thread yesterday.

Whether they shoot with a .243, .260, Creedmore, 7mm08 or .308, the key factor is getting the girls to aim forwards and aim small.

This can be a bit of a tough call because the fast .243 does produce a wider wound than a downloaded .308. So I can see why Bryan is pushing in this direction.

Take note what happens if you clap your hands in front of the girls. Some girls are so sensitive that they cover their ears, even when a person claps. If this is the case, the .243 is off the menu even if you have good earmuffs.

Regarding optics- make sure the optic has a good long eye relief and is also not sensitive to distance. Keep an eye out for a used VX1 3-9x40 or 4-12.
22 Apr 2016
@ 12:19 am (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Thanks guys, all interesting points to consider.

Nathan, for some reason my girls are far more sensetive than most to noise, when we go to a racing or motor sports event they usually want ear plugs and ear muffs both. So maybe the 243 should be out.

Also, my uncle with the 243 is not the kind who is a ballistics/ammo nut. He just shoots whatever is laft in the box from last year, which was probobly on sale.

One good point that someone mentioned is wahay calibers i already own and shoot. I handload a handfull of calbers for myself, 270,7 rem mag, 22-250, 223, and 308. I think the 308 will do everything i need it do do, wind drift coild be cut with a 708 or any of the 6.5s but for the terrain we hunt in i think it is a moot point
22 Apr 2016
@ 12:33 am (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Having just been through this with one son and hopefully another very soon l will offer some thoughts.

"Youth" rifles are for the most part a con, the last thing you want is an ultra light rifle in any calibre! I have set up std sporter CF rifles in T3 Tikka & Howa simply by reducing the length of pull, fitting a check wallet and fitting suitable optics as Nathan has advised. Triggers crisp at 2.5-3lbs.
Work out the calibre that WILL suit your game and ranges (you need confidence in it and so will they) and down load (with suitable pills & ranges) until confidence is built.
Make sure suitable components are readily available in your area and then work up to higher loads as they grow. The 7mm08 for example can easily load up or down with powder and/or pill weights suitable for game and plinking on a short action.

good luck!

22 Apr 2016
@ 12:43 am (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
You posted while l was typing John and yes l agree with you %100 the 308w will fit perfectly as long as it's not to light weight.
22 Apr 2016
@ 12:59 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
OK, any high report is off the menu, no light and fast loads.

I guess to some it would seem odd to think that a boy will handle the crack of a .243 while a girl may better served with a heavy and slow pill. But I think this is something that few people really get into and it is only now that we have truly suitable projectiles for this work (as long as folk hand load). I learned this approach myself from NZ writer Graeme Henry many years ago, then applied it to the NZDA youth HUNTS course when buddying youngsters.

Marty has made a highly valid point. If you are going to settle on the .308, the next issue is gun weight. My rifle is a short heavy barrel so there is really next to no recoil. Kids seldom carry rifles far but if you want the girls to carry the rifle for longer jaunts as time goes by, then I do think you have to find a balance, the rifle will need to be of a more traditional weight. I think ultra lights might need to be avoided unless they are being asked to take full use and care of the rifle.

So, think about how far they will be carrying the rifle / whether you will be using two rifles as a means to asses appropriate rifle weight. Consider stock length and trigger. The trigger must be light for little fingers as per the settings in the book series.

Note that Riley is tall and growing taller each month. Her .22lr has a cut down stock but for the .308, she is currently shooting the full sized stock crossed arm. The Sightron has enough eye relief to allow for this. John- your girls will need a cut down stock or spacer type stock.

More on optics:

If you want to carry one rifle (their rifle only), then I suggest you entertain the idea of a dial up scope so that you can come up 6 MOA for their load or vice versa, down 6 MOA in a hurry and dump a full power load in the chamber for a finishing shot should things turn south.

22 Apr 2016
@ 01:43 am (GMT)

Grant Lovelock

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
so just for shits and giggles I'm wondering why we wouldnt consider a lightweight suppressor for a youth rifle especially when they shooter is small framed and sensitive to loud noises......
Sorry Nathan.... I had to ask....lol
22 Apr 2016
@ 02:50 am (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
I cringe a little when i look at the weights of the rifles i am looking at, i would like the ifle o be easily caried and handled by the kids, but the recoil could be pretty harsh with hunting loads. There really is no free lunch

Upon deeper reflection, maybee an AR10 with an adjustable butstock would be a better option for a kid, you could adjust the stock as Needed and the gas system and a little more weight would reduce recoil. This could get expensive haha

Nathan, that looks like a happy young hunter you have there, at that rate you have alot of hunting to look forward to. Have fun!
22 Apr 2016
@ 04:02 am (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
I have mentioned in other posts that I used a full sized Remington Classic in 7x57 for both boys to start out with. Lots of success there. Both of them shot a moose every year with it for around 8 or so years, when I bought one a 30/06 Sako and the other a 7mm Remington Magnum Winchester on graduating from high school.

I would do it again and like Martin, I would consider the .308 Win as well, but that 7x57 is a wicked little rifle now with a HS Precision stock and decent optics and it shoots very well.
22 Apr 2016
@ 05:56 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Suppressors can be useful but these are not freely available elsewhere as they are here. Some countries / states have serious restrictions while others have full bans. So I generally leave this out of discussions.

John, you'll find the AR10 does not fit kids well, the high scope position is just one aspect. Rifle weight is another. Plus, if you are using soft loads, you'll get jams.

So you want the girls to carry for themselves. That's fine, just means that you will have to start loads right down at sub / sound barrier, then work up to around 1800fps after they gain confidence. Its no big deal. Just means more time and practice with the Trail Boss loads. The end goal for them as late teens will be to either use loads going around 2400fps (200-300fps below full speeds with a 168gr) duplicating the .303 Brit.

Grant is right though, if you can obtain a suppressor, this can allow you to develop power without recoil or noise. You could put a .243 to good use in this manner.
22 Apr 2016
@ 06:11 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Yes John, she was happy. The thing is she was two shots for two goats, both collapsed on the spot. The soft loads really do give the kids confidence and she has developed excellent forwards shoulder shot placement. She really does aim small.

But then I keep drumming this into her.

When you go shopping, have a look at muzzle contours versus rifle weights. Hopefully you can find something that is of a light carry weight, but not silly thin at the muzzle. I think the new Howa is the worst at the moment. Have a good eyeball of a Ruger American All Weather if you get a chance. The barrel is a touch on the short side but is not too thin (but it is a light weight). You'll be running soft loads so noise won't be an issue from this barrel length. Plus the twist is ideal for lower velocities (1:10 as opposed to 1:12). Timney make a trigger for this rifle if you can't get the trigger set the way you want it.
22 Apr 2016
@ 09:47 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
I thought long and hard before replying to this one........
maybe you can learn from my mistakes
when our son started to tag along hunting with me my mind started on this issue,I use a .270 and pre suppressor she booted a bit
a .223 that is "my baby" and too good/nice to get knocked around
so considered down loading .270 with a 110 grn TTSX which looking back was and still is a good option
we opted to buy a cheap 7.62x39mm bolt action and sent all rifles off for suppression.
PROS the x39mm was great for young fella to use as next to no recoil,ammo was cheap (great for practise or shooting bunnies n hares) rifle was sturdy enough to take a bit or unskilled handling
CONS range limit of 150 yards to keep energy and group size within ethical limits for wee cartridge
rifle finish done "by foot"

at bush hunting ranges it drops deer no issue with good bullet placement,and as I reload we have 150s and 125grn ballistic tips as go to loads
havent talked myself into buying 500 of the zombie projectiles yet.

son has taken a few animals with this rifle and I ve taken half dozen deer no issue

we had MAJOR cock up on great red stag by underestimating range (closer to 250 than 150) resulting in low brisket/leg hit,a loooong tracking job and animal lost in rain and fog way outside area where we were allowed to be.it dropped as went down hill and I WRONGLY thought it was down for count so hadnt "backed up" with my rifle.

the .223 has proven fine for us but also under 150 yards with correct well forwards bullet placement

looking at your current calibre/cartridge list another option pops out (if legal) the .22/250 to me is .223 on steroids and not a heck of a lot different to .243/twoforfree/EBRG
given a decent projectile especially a 50 grn barnes TTSX I can see it being just great...but again you would need to keep ranges below 200 yards and be sure of bullet placement/girls ability to place shots.
your .308 downloaded to me is not a heck of a lot different to the x39mm thus why I mention our experiences with it. eg .308 projectile doing 2000-2400fps

300 yards is a long way out there for me and alot of other hunters MAYBE you might be better to limit girls to closer game..say sub 150 yards....
and take longer shots yourself if stalking closer isnt an option????
shoot some bunnies and hares with big rifle 1st so they gain confidence in abilities and know what rifle will do/feels like...this also lets you judge what is too far...after all a hare is similar in size to vitals of a deer..
they taste good too if you take out backstraps,cube and treat as venison steak,quick fry in pan over fire adds whole other dimension to hunting for kids,mine love it.

hope that helps or at least adds food for thought
23 Apr 2016
@ 12:53 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
John. How old are your girls ? Are they shooting a 22 LR ? Do they like it and have they shot cans n hunted small critters with it? My daughter wasn't that interested in shooting. She loved it when I put game meat on the table and would help butcher bag and label the meat. Then encourage me to get more. The thing that is important is not doing anything before they're old enough. For my girls 16th birthday we went to the indoor range in Perth, she started timidly with a. 22 pistol (Will it kick dad) then .32 revolver .38 special .357 Glock a 44mag and a 12 gauge shotgun for desert. She loved it and now aged 21 when she's home likes to kill cans and has asked to go for a Deer hunt? Don't introduce them to recoil and loud noise until they're ready for it. Girls are very strong and resilient and very able. You just have to be aware as a Father of where they are at emotionally in their development? Talk with them and their Mother about shooting? Its easier if it's the girls idea to go shooting and it rhymes with Shopping lol. There's no rush some times the hardest thing to do is nothing. Remember that feeling of not shooting a deer because it was the right thing to do? You don't want to scare them off too soon. I'm sure that you'll work your way through it . Good luck and enjoy the experience of Parenting. It's the best unpaid job in the world.
23 Apr 2016
@ 01:16 am (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Mike,
Where i came up with 300 yds is due to the terrain, its woods with some clearings, rail grades and pipelines where you can see farther. Usually, the deer come out onto the rail grade or pipeline and pause for a second ot two then cross. You might get a few seconds to estimate range and shoot, not usually enogh time to rangefind and dial a scope, or even turn up the power. At 300 seated from a stand with a rail, i can look at the deer, and know close enough to know how far to hold over with the rifle i am shooting, and that is about as far as i like to hold over n that manner. That being said, most shots are under 200, some are near point blank. One was directly under my stand, i shot a runnng doe entrance just missd the spine and exited the brisket going nearly straight down, looking back m lucky i didnt shoot my toes off being young and dumb! I will be exploring some other areas looking for closer shots in an area where we may see them coming. So, 300 will be the max range they should ever need.
The 22-250 with propper loads could be an option, but the gun is to heavy for the girls to handle, its a remington Vls 26 varmint contour barrel, laminated stock. Heavey and weight forward, i find t easy to shoot accurately with near zero recoil, but to bulky for the job in question.
23 Apr 2016
@ 01:30 am (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Warwick,
The girls are only 7 and 5 right now, so it would be a few yearsbefore they can legally hunt deer. The 7 year old has shot a 22lr a few times and my plan is to get them shooting the 22 regularly this year and get at least the older one off to a pretty good start. I think this year will be safety and 22 shooting next year will be maybee starting ceterfire with reduced loads. I do have them both shooting archery as well wich they really enjoy.
23 Apr 2016
@ 01:39 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Good point Mike. Riley is sighted 2" high at 100 for a 140 yard zero and the load drops off from there. It will be some time before she is ready for stouter and flatter shooting loads so we have to limit ranges for her. No point dialing up either as the bullet has no energy past her zero anyway.

If you must shoot to 300 yards and want to get into this early John, then Bryans suggestion of .243 is still the way to go, set the zero 3" high and teach them how to use this zero buy having them shoot beer cans after formative range work. Aim at the bottom of the beer can in close (but not too low), aim at the top of the beer can out long (but not too high). I know beer cans sound crass but the height and shape is ideal. Can fill them with water from a water bottle to give the kids a visual kick.

If using a .243, you will have to do a lot of sub work, then mild load work with some noise- all at the range. Then finally high power loads at the range with an 85-87 grain bullet going 3000fps or faster and finally commence hunting with it. I would not put Riley near an 18" barreled .243, would have to be around 22", probably a Tikka.

Sorry, I hope these posts do not add confusion.

The two distinct methods are light and fast or heavy and slow. The girls can get into the slow .308 very quickly for hunting, but the ranges will be limited until they are well into their teens based on their sensitivity level. Once in they have increased body weight, you can run the high BC Sierra 168gr TMK above 2000fps, sighted 3" high at 100 yards.

I don't know how useful any of this is for tree stand shooting. I have taught Riley how to shoot over a backpack and or bipod so gun weight is no great issue. She will not be able to hold anything bigger than her cut down Toz for some time yet, not ready to shoot off her knees or other positions. All work at this stage is prone. I'll keep building this foundation with her for several years. You'll need to come up with some good strategies regardless of what weight rifle you adopt.
23 Apr 2016
@ 05:36 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
thought i would talk about few of the things i learnt with my Nephew.

i decided i would pick up a cheap lee enfield for us to work on together nothing much, just polish bolt and trigger etc. teach him how to clean it properly and reload.
being open sight it'll be good to teach him how to stalk game and get in close.
he's 13 so we only ever take the one rifle out unless we doing some range work and shoot one rifle at a time, but when he turns 16 and get his gun licence he can have it.
first mistake is the lee enfield isn't the best rifle to learn with specially with the military trigger.
second mistake is full power load and a steel but plate isn't a good idea for a 13 year old.
i have been playing around with 215gr cast projectiles and trail boss in this rifle and it'll make some fun light target loads, i may also use 2206h and make some close range lead hunting loads.

since i brought this rifle i have picked up the same model 7.62x39 norinco that Mike Davis has i think this is a far better option for training low recoil, short, good trigger and scoped.

there's so many options now when it comes to rifles or calibers, you might need to down load some rifles you have and see there reactions to each one before you make a decision.
even if you take them to the range with you just to watch you shoot and gauge there reaction.

my nephew did shoot is first goat with my tikka in 270 close range shot but perfect shot for a standing shot, goat dropped on the spot which helps build confidence, he should be doing more hunting with me this year which would be good

25 Apr 2016
@ 03:28 am (GMT)

Chad Klein

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
Raised my three boys. Now 19,17, and 12 on 22 iron sight first to teach to shoot without flinch and understand a sight picture

Next .243 for scoped shooting in light load and hunting javelina in az less than 100 yards

The my all time favorite for youth is the 7mm-08. 139 grn sst is deadly. I like this for a flat shooting hard hitting and makes up for mistakes by youth Hunter

I have a light tikka t3 lite in 7mm-08 my boys shoot lights out both off hand and on on a rest.

And light for them to carry in the field. Very accurate for a stock in modified rifle.

If like to put a bell and Carleson and bed the action but it defeats the purpose of a light carry for the boys

My two cents.
26 Apr 2016
@ 10:46 pm (GMT)

john feyereisn

Re: Caliber for youth bolt action
I have never owned a 7-08 Chad but i have looked at the balistics and the choice of 7mm bullets many times and thought to myself "hmm, i should by one of those" haha
 

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