In Mississippi, there is no lower or upper age limit on hunting. In the state, minors under the age of sixteen (16), are not even required to have a hunting license and can attend a hunter’s education class as early as age ten. Many young sportsmen, in this 10-16 age group, cannot physically handle a large, full-sized rifle, shotgun, or handgun to hunt with yet still want to engage in the hunting and the shooting sports. Luckily there are several options out there, made just for this reason.
Almost every traditional rifle maker in the US, including Remington, Marlin, Savage, and Winchester, make shortened versions of their standard rifles for the kids market. Listed usually as ‘youth’ models, they have a shortened length of pull, lighter construction to make them less heavy, and chambered in milder yet still capable rounds such as.223 and.243. To illustrate this, Remington’s Model 700 ADL Youth Rifle has a 20-inch barrel 7.62×39 bulk ammo , 12-inch length of pull (from the buttstock to the trigger), is just over 38-inches long, and a 7-pound total weight while carrying four rounds of.243WIN ammo in a bolt-action. The regular ‘adult’ version of the 700ADL in the same caliber has a 24-inch barrel, longer length of pull due to butt pad spacers, is 43.63-inches overall and weighs 7.625-pounds.
Cricket Firearms, with their Chipmunk and Keystone line of single shot rifles, are the leading contender for a child’s first rifle. Their.22 rimfire shoot either shorts, longs, or long rifles, have a 12-inch length of pull, are only 30.5-inches overall, and weight 2.5-pounds loaded. This is actually handier and lighter than most pellet rifles. They have a no less than 27 versions of these tiny rifles including those with pink laminated wood stocks for the little princess, Mossy Oak variants for the little sharpshooter, and beech walnut for the more traditional. I bought one of these years ago for my daughter and it proved such an enjoyable and simple rifle that it gets more attention and use around the hunting camp from kids with full beards and grey hair than from those still in elementary school.
Youth shotguns have been a controversy over the years, with much debate over caliber preferences. Some argue that a.410-caliber single shot youth shotgun, such as the H&R Pardner Compact, with its 5.5-pound weight and simple action are the way to go. Others argue that a young sportsman will outgrow the.410 fairly shortly and buying a larger caliber shotgun, such as a 20-gauge, will allow more versatility for dove and even waterfowl hunting over the.410 as time goes marches on. A 12-gauge can also be used, with reduced recoil ammunition and low brass rounds at first, then switching to regular shells once the youngster gets older and feels more confident.
Just as with rifles, most large shotgun makers such as Mossberg, Remington, and Browning market youth versions of their popular firearms. Mossberg sells its Bantam version of the Model 500 and even a special 505 model. For comparison, the Mossberg 505 is a 12-gauge pump with a 12-inch length of pull, 24-inch barrel and 37.5-inch overall length shotgun that weighs in at 5.5-pounds. The standard Model 500 is a 12-gauge pump with a 14.5-inch length of pull, 28-inch barrel, and 48.5-inch overall length with a weight of 7.5-pounds as comparison.
While a person needs to be 21 to buy a handgun in Mississippi, there are no laws against sporting youth for hunting with one. Supervised small game hunting for rabbit and squirrel with a.22LR pistol is both enjoyable and exciting for many youngsters across the state starting at an early age. Various polymer-framed rimfire pistols are light enough for small statured shooters to aim safely and carry all day. These include the 15-ounce Walther P22 and the 17-ounce Ruger SR22 among others. Many of these, like the Smith and Wesson made Walther have interchangeable frame back straps that can be changed out to help fit a growing hand better.