Youth Recoil (at a minimum) Rifle for big game

JerichoBronco

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I've read through the forums here and don't have the answer I need to get my 11 year old daughter her first rifle for next year. We will for sure be deer hunting so the .243 seems a logical starting point. But am I inviting disaster if she gets an elk tag? (assuming I keep her shots inside of 200 yards?) The 7-08 seems a good choice but the recoil looked much higher. She is under 70 lbs so every lb of recoil matters to a kid of that slight stature. And of course I need the rifle light as possible. I'm about to pull the trigger, so to speak, on a Tikka T3 Compact 243 as a starter rifle, but I want to make sure I'm not making a $ mistake I'm going to have to quickly remedy. Thank you in advance for your replies.
 

brymoore

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I’ve seen very dead bulls killed with a 257 Roberts. I wouldn’t pass an elk if I had a 243 in my hands.
 

elkantlers

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I love the 243 for a first rifle caliber. All my kids have used it to take deer and pronghorn starting at 12 years old. You are correct in that it isn't the best choice for elk but that will give you an excuse to buy something bigger if she draw an elk tag. I hate to recommend it because I have never shot one, but I love the 6.5 caliber, Maybe look at the 6.5 Creedmore. My girls have all used the 6.5x284 to take elk at 12 years old. The 6.5 just flat knocks stuff down.
 

MJE2083

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You could probably go one of a few ways....
#1 Stick with the .243. When it comes to elk, you're probably going to feel undergunned and rightfully so. I believe that a .243 will kill an elk with proper bullet placement, quality bullet, and appropriate range. However there are probably better choices.
#2 Split the difference and get a 6.5 Creedmoor
#3 Go with a 7mm-08. Some good reduced recoil loads are available to start and you have the option of heavier bullets and full power loads as your daughter matures and wants to take elk. This is what my wife shoots...granted she is not 11 years old and weights more than 70lbs, but we find the reduced recoil ammo to be very manageable. In fact my wife can pretty much shoot them all day long without hesitation. She tolerates the full power loads just fine in small doses.

Kids grow so fast, if it was me I would probably err on the side of the larger caliber, but that's just me.
 

SFC B

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My daughter is 14 now and last year I built her a 7-08 for her first real rifle. With the Hornady reduced recoil rounds she has no problem at all. I would just say that is more versatile down the road especially.
 

Quackillr

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I would choose a 7lb 7-08 over a 5 3/4 lb 243 all day. Especially if elk are a possibility..
 

LMD423

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I got two boys one is eleven and he has a 308 youth howa. He shoots it good we use hornady light ammunition in it 125 grain sst bullets. I want to say he weighs about 80 pounds. My other son is 7 and he shoots it also i was hesitant on letting him shoot it but the recoil doesnt bother him. he weighs around 47 pounds. I hope this helps you.
 

JerichoBronco

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I should say that I am open to other calibers. But the more “mainstream “ the caliber the better for ammo reasons. I can reload, but would prefer not to. Too much recoil will lead to poor trigger control in my opinion. So that is my biggest concern.
 

MJE2083

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I would say that all of the calibers mentioned have a wide array of factory ammo options. The 6.5 Creedmoor might be 'new' but I think that most here would agree that it is here to stay and ammo is readily available. The only downside is that I don't see a reduced recoil ammo available for it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was available very soon.
 

Washington Hunter

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I had the same dilemma last year when I bought my daughter her first rifle. She was 11, and on the small side for an 11 year old. I was also debating between the 243 and the 7/08. I probably would have gone with the 243, but a good sale came up just before Christmas, and I got a Savage Axis youth model in 7/08 for only $150 after the $50 rebate. The 243 was sold out. I'm a reloader so I wasn't too concerned, plus I didn't really plan to take her elk hunting anytime soon. As it turned out, she drew a special youth cow elk permit. So I was glad she had the 7/08. For practice I had her shooting 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips at around 2500 fps. Recoil with this load was almost non existent. For her elk hunt, I loaded up some Barnes 120 grain TTSX bullets, at 2800 fps. She never shot any of these until she shot her elk in August.

So, I would go with the 7/08 and if you're not going to reload, buy reduced recoil loads for practice, and they would probably be just fine for deer as well, if the distance isn't too far. If she does hunt elk, buy some standard loads with a good 120 grain bullet, and just don't have her use those except when she is hunting elk.
 

bbright

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.223 or .243 for deer. She’ll change a lot in 3-4 years but if this year is important to you to get her in the field, plan to buy another gun if she likes hunting and elk is in the cards. Worst thing now is to get her gun shy. I did 7mm08 for my boys. We practiced on lead sled and never off hand except for shooting a deer. Kicked good but they didn’t care when the cross hairs were on game. Length of pull was an issue at 10-11 yo. I would also suggest you invest in a good tripod. I used the outdoorsman tripod with an adapter that is great for supporting the weight and allowing the tripod to be dialed and locked on. Good luck and good job for getting the youth out.
 

Sawtooth

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All of the above suggestions are right on the mark. The .243 will drop an elk at respectable ranges and has a mild recoil. Kids grow so fast that she could use reduced loads in a 7-08 this year for deer, she could very well be ready for the 7-08 standard load by the time she draws a elk tag in a year or two. As a reloader, I bought my son a 308 win. and reduced the load for a couple of years. He is 22 years old now and has been using that same rifle for the last 10 years.
 

elkduds

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Couple things:
1. Data: https://www.chuckhawks.com/recoil_table.htm. Note that lighter rifles recoil much more.
2. Hopefully she shoots a good bit. What is she comfortable with now(as in wants to keep shooting 20+ rounds from the bench), maybe rimfire or 223? As you increase cartridge power for her, she will tolerate more w good hearing protection than without. A brake (or silencer, even better) will cut recoil a lot. 7mmHT, 7-08 w a brake, reduced recoil ammo recoils less than 243 without brake.
 

robsev

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My 13 year old granddaughter hunted for the first time this year. I was a little worried because she was a little scared of shooting a big rifle. I took her to the range to shoot my 6.5 CM. The look on her face was kinda comical after her first shot. She was expecting it to knock her off the bench. I reload and these loads were pretty hot. After that she was having so much fun she shot 20 more times. Took her out and she dropped her antelope buck in his tracks with one shot. 6.5 CM would be my recommendation.
 

Redman

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Gun design has a lot to do with recoil. Not going to name manufactures and derail the tread, but I have a friend that has a 30-06 that loosens your teeth when you shoot it. I have a very light .300 WSM that is a pleasure to shoot. I have a light .243 that seems to kick harder than my .308. I wish you lived closer to me I would let you try out a few rifles of mine to see what would suit her. My 14 year old uses a .308 and she does not like recoil. I started her out on a .357 bolt action rifle for whitetails.
 

spinal tap

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When making the same decision for my son, I chose a Ruger Hawkeye in 7mm-08. I had a local gunsmith cut the stock to 12.5 LOP and attach a Pachmayr Sporting Clays recoil pad for him, too. I've used these shotgun pads on several rifles after being introduced to the idea by a friend and have been very pleased with the results. Hornady's Custom Lite 120gr reduced load is perfect for whitetails in our area and should he need it for bigger game, we can always go for more powder and bullet weight.
 

shaffe48

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I'm about to pull the trigger, so to speak, on a Tikka T3 Compact 243 as a starter rifle.
Wow spoiled kid!

Now if you just got a Mossberg Patriot, Savage Axis, or Ruger American or other reputable quality rifle for a lot less money....

I mean, if your worried about spending on something for an 11 year old little kid that won't grow with her. You could probably buy two of the rifles above for the price of the other.
 

shaffe48

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Wow spoiled kid!

Now if you just got a Mossberg Patriot, Savage Axis, or Ruger American or other reputable quality rifle for a lot less money....

I mean, if your worried about spending on something for an 11 year old little kid that won't grow with her. You could probably buy two of the rifles above for the price of the other.
Plus you need to save up for her first car brand new Mercedes in five years to keep the precedence of rifle.
 

maxx

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Gun design has a lot to do with recoil. Not going to name manufactures and derail the tread, but I have a friend that has a 30-06 that loosens your teeth when you shoot it. I have a very light .300 WSM that is a pleasure to shoot. I have a light .243 that seems to kick harder than my .308. I wish you lived closer to me I would let you try out a few rifles of mine to see what would suit her. My 14 year old uses a .308 and she does not like recoil. I started her out on a .357 bolt action rifle for whitetails.
Fit also has a lot to do with it also. I have a 300 win mag that doesn't really bother me all that much to shoot. I had a Stoeger M2000 in 3 inch with a 24" barrel. Turkey loads out of that gun were miserable.

We cant use rifles here in Iowa but we can in WI. I built both boys 300 Black out AR's. They are heavy and since they are auto loaders the recoil isn't bad. They work well for hogs up to Deer but that is where we would stop with it. I also have a 6.8 SPC in a AR. It has a little more to it.
 

wihunter12

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I was in a similar situation as you two years ago with my nine year old son. We ended up going with a Browning X-bolt Micro Midas 7mm-08, it has been the perfect gun for him. With the reduced recoil Hornady loads, there is very little kick.
 
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