Choosing a Kids 22 Rifle

I get asked all the time what type of .22 parents should get when purchasing that first kids 22 rifle, so I did a little research and here you go.

For my kids’ first gun, we went with a cheap bb gun. Nothing fancy, just something so they could learn the mechanics of loading, cocking, aiming and firing. It didn’t take my son long and he wanted to “graduate”, so we looked at air rifles first, but then decided on a .22 rifle (I almost went with a .17, but that was more for me, for rockchuck hunting so I restrained myself).

Basically, there are a few different kinds of rifle available for kids first rifle: the single-shot bolt action, the bolt action repeater, the lever action repeater, the pump-action repeater, and the the semi-auto repeater.

I’m a fan of single-shot bolt action rifles for your kids 22 rifle. This is mainly because shooting them requires several steps for loading, time to think about each shot. The whole process is suitable for teaching gun safety and getting kids comfortable with the rifle.

I already have 3 or 4 .22’s around the house, but they were all too long for my son and not the right gun for him. So here are some good choices for your kids.

Keystone Arms’ – Crickett kids 22 rifle

For smaller-statured kids, there’s probably no better than Keystone Arms’ Crickett, which comes in several kid-pleasing colors. The little Cricketts are just over two feet in total length, weigh pretty much nothing, and are excellent “starter” rifles.

Keystone Arms’ Crickett comes in several kid-pleasing colors

Savage Cub 22 rifle for kids

If you’d like something a little more classy, then the Savage Cub is a pretty little thing:

The Savage Cub is a pretty little thing

Marlin 915Y is another good kids 22 rifle

…the Marlin 915Y isn’t a bad choice either:

The Marlin915 aint bad either.

The Stevens Favorite is a good 22 rifle for older kids

If your kids are older, and close to adult size, you may want to look at the Stevens Favorite:

Try the Stevens Favorite for older kids

The H&H Sportster is an inexpensive kids 22 rifle

If the budget’s an issue, which it is for me, then a cheaper option is the H&R Sportster:

The H&R’s 5lb weight makes it a natural for kids.

The Marlin 981T is an accurate bolt action 22 for kids

When it comes to affordable bolt-action repeating rifles, my pick is the Marlin 981T. It holds 14 rounds, the action is smooth, and the trigger is good.

A very accurate rifle

The Savage MK II is a good left handed 22 for kids

For about the same money, you could look at the Savage Mk II series (the only budget .22 rifle available left-hand):

The Savage also has the excellent “Accu-Trigger”, and has a removable 10-round magazine

Lever actions tend to be more expensive

Probably the most common is the Marlin 39A.

the action of the “39” has had the longest uninterrupted production run (since 1891) of any rifle type in existence

Speaking of old-timers, one of the oldest names in rifles is “Henry”, and the Henry Repeating Arms Company makes a very pretty (but quite spendy) lever-action .22 rifle, the Golden Boy:

A good lookin' gun, but I'm not sure it's a great choice for kids.

Pump action 22 rifles for kids

When I was a kid, I had a pump-action repeater, but sadly, the market for them is not big—and I can’t understand why because pump-action .22 rifles are a blast (pardon the pun) to shoot. Winchester no longer makes their ancient Model 62, and even Taurus’s faithful copy, also called Model 62, seems to be getting hard to find. Here’s the Taurus 62R:

Pump action .22s are my favorites

Henry also makes a pump-action rifle, and it has a cool looking octagonal barrel, but it’s more expensive.

And finally, there’s the Remington Mod 572 Fieldmaster.

This is what I had as a kid. I loved this gun.

Now, the only category left is the semi-auto repeater. In my humble opinion, these aren’t the right choice for a first kids 222 rifle, so I’m not going to list my picks here.

I hope this helps, and I know I’m probably going to get some argument from you. Let me know what you think.



  1. Linda Rosa says

    Great article! I agree with your assessment that a semi-auto is inappropriate for a beginner child. The bolt action establishes the forethought of actions making them a SAFER hunter.

  2. Tim Elliott says

    Items in a "perfect youth rifle"… 1. Single shot (to start with). For safety and learning the single shot is best. The ability to change to multiple shots (such as a bolt gun with a single shot ramp and a magazine) is a plus (ex. Mossberg 801 Plinkster Half-Pint). 2. The ability to safely remove a loaded round instead of firing. Some rifles are (in my opinion) too dangerous (for instance, the Crickett when unloading a cocked rifle requires grabbing the "cocking piece" while pulling the trigger and then slowly lowering the cocking piece… like on a cocked hammer on a single action pistol. For a child this is an invitation for an accidental discharge. One slip and the rifle fires. 3. All youth rifles have 16+ inch barrels, but most have a shorter reach due to a shortened butt stock. I would like to see an adjustable butt stock (like an AR rifle) so that the rifle can "grow" with the youth and not just be a "first kids rifle" that he/she out grows (as far as I know no one makes these except the semi-auto AR look-a-likes). 4. Good sights… (and maybe the ability to add a scope or red dot later). As far as I know, no one makes a rifle with all of these features. Savage now has "the Rascal" which deserves be added to your list. Just some things to think about. BTW, I am an NRA rifle instructor and get asked your question often. Thanks for all the pictures… I know that took some work.

  3. Brian Cox says

    Tim – what would you suggest for my 7 1/2 year old daughter? She asked me yesterday & if I could teach how to shoot & I don't want this to pass me by. Thanks if you can provide some suggestions. Brian Cox

  4. says

    I've just started looking for something for my 10 year old son. Some of the youth rifles feel too small for him already. But the heavier weight of full size is too hard for him to manage. I stopped by one store a while back and they suggested maybe a Ruger 1022 with a short stock. That can later be switched back to a full stock.

  5. Bryce Glass says

    Is it Ruger that makes the collapsible camping rifle .22? The one w/ a hollow butt and the whole thing seals inside? That always seemed like a pretty light, portable option.

  6. Cory Glauner says

    In my opinion, it depends on the kid. I think some kids are ready at 10 or 12 (with supervision)… and I know some adults who aren't ready for one.

  7. says

    We ended up going with the Ruger Mark II Compact/Youth model. It was a perfect fit for my 10 year old. A little bigger than the Cricket, etc. and he can always upgrade to a full size stock later.

  8. says

    I agree. Start with a BB rifle and see if your child can use it safely and respects it as a weapon. I took a NRA rifle safety course with my son when he was 10. Its retty cheap and they are great at making sure they leave remembereing the important safety points.

  9. Nick Dallege says

    I am 16 and i'm looking for a good .22 for shooting rabits. I'll be buying on my own dime so i'm looking for something cheap but with enough quality that my friends don't make fun of it. Would a Savage Arms Mark II G be a good choice or should i look for a better rifle?

  10. Cory Glauner says

    I'm no expert, but I think that would be a great rifle for you. Who cares what your friends think. I go on some pretty "fancy" bird hunts and the guys I'm hunting with are all shooting expensive, high end shotguns. I'm shooting a pump, 870 with a full choke. They laugh up until I outshoot them.

  11. Marcos Leyva says

    A 5 years Old just killed his 2 years old sister. But you ares saying that this shits are very safe. Idiots

  12. says

    :Have an 8 year old son. Started out with a red rider to learn about and understand sight picture , trigger squeeze and over all gun safety. Now he has Stevens favorite. It is an awesome 22. I'm 6'2 and enjoy shooting it. My son nailed a ground squirrel at 75 yards with open sights . Awesome tool that will stand the test of time.

  13. Andrew J. Haight says

    Great list. I have my 10 year old son learning with a Remington 572. I like all your choices. Only thing I'd disagree with is the Semi-Auto Repeaters not being the right choice. If your opinion is based on safety then I'd say the parent and child needs to reconsider whether or not now is the right time to learn about gun safety. If they are taught to begin to handle the firearm properly then it's a fine choice. If they mishandle it, they shouldn't be handling bolt, pump, semi-auto or any type at all. So in that sense the semi-auto just gives them more time shooting. More time shooting equals a better marksman and increased familiarity with the gun and it's attributes.

  14. says

    Buy a safe and put the guns up! My cousin's child killed his little brother as well, but how could this happen? My cousin was not very smart and left a loaded pistol in the kitchen drawer. Why would he do that? Who knows? Stupid move by the parent. Shooting sports can be educational, a great way to spend time with your kids, and fun for all ages. It's cliche, but this tragic death (any death like this is tragic) was not caused by the weapon…but by SOME PERSON LEAVING A LOADED WEAPON IN REACH OF A 5 YEAR OLD!!! My 8 year old and I spent this last weekend with several other kids (and their parents) shooting. Was a lot of fun, and NO ONE DIED! Don't call people "Idiots" for enjoying an activity that is safer than driving a car.

  15. Brittani Morrison says

    a five year old that probably had no idea about gun safety and should have never had access to the gun without a parent

  16. Anonymous says

    That is a horrible tragedy, but it has nothing to do with the gun and everything to do with parenting and supervision. Guns, weapons, kitchen knives, matches, poisons, tools…etc have the potential to harm children that are not supervised. We don't blame cars for the accidents that kill others, we blame the driver. A Gun is a tool, its the person operating the tool or lack of parenting/supervision.

  17. says

    My grandson started on a cricket. We have discover he is right handed left eye dominant and are looking for a left handed 22 for him.This is how they are teaching him to shoot at the NRA range,Does anyone know of a maker of this type of rifle?

  18. says

    You forgot the Henry youth 22 or the HENRY H001. I just picked up the H001 for $269. The youth will cost about $199. Both of these are lever action and will chamber 22 shorts, longs, or LRs.

  19. Shelly McCune says

    Tim I can't read your whole comment. It stops at #3. Interested to read the rest. I appreciate the help. Can you copy paste and send to shelly mccune Facebook ?

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