Best 22 rifle for kids / youths

A 4-H member competes in the rifle discipline at the 2018 Nevada State 4-H Shooting Sports Match.

If you are looking to purchase a starter rifle for your kids, this post should be very helpful in bringing all of the popular youth rifles together for you in one place. Much better than shopping around in several stores to find the best pricing and / or to find the rifle that matches your situation or youth’s needs it is intended to guide you straight toward the best purchase.

We compared features offered by all popular youth rifles listed below to determine which was the best for the money. For those of you in a hurry here is the one we identified.

The Savage Rascal ranks #1 as the best youth rifle for the money.

It offers features normally only available in larger rifles at a fraction of the price. Only one other youth rifle came close. The Keystone Cricket.

In this article

All Youth rifles examined

Savage Rascal
Keystone Crickett 240
Keystone Cricket CPR
Rossi Trifecta
Rock Island Armory 14Y Youth
Keystone Chipmunk
CZ 452 Scout
Mossberg 702 Plinkster Youth
Henry Golden Boy
CZ 457 Trainer 
Magnum Research Lite 22LR 
Browning BL22 Micro Midas

#1 Best for the Money, Savage Rascal

Single shot with feed ramp. Adjustable peep sight. AccuTrigger. Cocking indicator. Standard safety. Blued barrel.


  • Rascal Single Shot Youth .22 LR/Long/Short
  • 16.1 Inch Blued Barrel
  • Synthetic Stock
  • Caliber : .22 LR/Long/Short

This little rifle has started off many shooters over the years. At less then $200 it still manages to be a “real” rifle. Although there are no frills, the lessons learned here are invaluable to the beginning shooter.

Again, it is a real rifle but made on a smaller scale for the smaller shooter with a length of pull around 11 inches. It’s very light weight and total overall allows little ones to handle it easily which prevents those bad habits developed when learning on a rifle that is too large and too heavy.

It can be had in a multiple of stock finishes and colors.

#2 Best for the Money, Keystone Cricket 240

Bolt action single shot rifles. Peep sight. Drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Two and one half pound trigger pull. Youth models length of pull is 11 1/2 inches and overall length is 30 inches. Package includes scope, mount and rifle case.Check price at Impact GunsAdd Button

#3 Best for the Money – Keystone Cricket CPR

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cricket-cpr.jpg

The Crickett CPR rifle has a precision stock design and a manual cocking single shot bolt action rifle. Integrated rails make customization and adding options easy. It comes with CPR Crickettinny rail. Also, includes a standard trigger lock, eye and ear protection in every box.

•Synthetic Precision tan stock with adjustable cheek piece & LOP (10-3/8″ to 11-
•Blued, threaded 1/2×28 bull barrel with thread protector
•Includes eye & ear protection, Crickettinny rail, & EZ Loader feed ramp
•Adjustable LOP: 10-3/8″ to 11-7/8″
•Wt.: 4.7 lbs.

•Made in the USA for the beginner youth shooter
•Manually cocking single-shot bolt-action made from Alloy Nickel plated steel
•Trigger Pull (lb): 2.5 to 3.0
•Rebounding firing pin automatically blocked, prevents accidental discharge
•EZ Loader makes loading simple
•Lifetime Warranty

•Synthetic Precision tan stock with adjustable cheek piece & LOP (10-3/8″ to 11-
•Blued, threaded 1/2×28 bull barrel with thread protector
•Includes eye & ear protection, Crickettinny rail, & EZ Loader feed ramp
•Adjustable LOP: 10-3/8″ to 11-7/8″
•Wt.: 4.7 lbs.

•Made in the USA for the beginner youth shooter
•Manually cocking single-shot bolt-action made from Alloy Nickel plated steel
•Trigger Pull (lb): 2.5 to 3.0
•Rebounding firing pin automatically blocked, prevents accidental discharge
•EZ Loader makes loading simple
•Lifetime Warranty

  • Category : Rifles Centerfire Tactical
  • Action : Bolt
  • Caliber : 22 Long Rifle (LR)
  • Barrel Length : 16.1″
  • Capacity : 1
  • OAL : 44.25″
  • Weight : 4.7 lbs
  • Stock Description : Adjustabl FDE
  • Metal Finish : Black

Why buy a youth rifle ?

Let’s start with why you should buy a separate rifle to train your young person with. Why not let the youngster learn with your rifle, like your dad did with you. He’ll grow into it eventually…right.

Most of us learned to shoot this way. Heck, we were just glad to have a rifle. Fit didn’t matter. We learned to shoot those full size rifles as best we could and enjoyed it.

The fact is, learning to shoot in this way forces the youngster to develop some really bad habits that are hard, or even impossible to break later on in life.

After hundreds of thousands of shots, I still have to think about relaxing my head position on the stock instead of straining forward to get a good sight picture. If my rifle had fit when I was learning to shoot at 6 years old, this habit wouldn’t have developed and my shooting today would probably be much better.

Imagine yourself now trying to shoot a rifle that was six feet long and weighed 50 lbs. Imagine the comb being too low for you to get a good cheek weld or see the sights without your head bobbing around loosely in the air. It would all you could do just to carry the thing for extended periods much less hit what you were shooting at.

This is what it’s like for a youngster trying to learn to shoot Dad’s rifle. My guess is in the situation above, it wouldn’t be long before you gave up and lost interest.

This is why you should take the time to select a rifle that fits your youngster. Your choice could affect his interest in shooting or the rest of his life.

What factors are important for a good youth rifle ?


Round capacity should be one of the first considerations when searching for a rifle to teach your young one to shoot.

A single shot might be the right choice if your are working with a 5 or 6 year old child. A single shot rifle is a huge safety factor when the gun is being handling one who is not experienced at all.

Children of that age also have very short attention spans. Their focus can easily wander to a new shiny object and they could activate the trigger on a semi auto by mistake.

A single shot rifle will help minimize the chance of that happening but there is no substitute for constant adult supervision until the youngster gains you trust.

If your youth is older and already has experience with a single shot and you trust his attention to safety, it may be time to upgrade to a magazine fed bolt or semi auto rifle.

Barrel Length

Barrel length has an affect on bullet performance. This subject is not a simple one and I won’t try to get into it here but you can get more information in this article on this website. Optimum length of a 22 lr barrel.

From a youth’s view though, barrel length, if too long, can make the rifle very awkward to handle. Generally speaking, the smaller the youth, the shorter the barrel should be.


Most youth rifles on the market today are bolt action due to the majority being single shots. This is primarily for safety purposes but also contribute to accuracy.

A bolt action rifle, just due to it’s design and stability through the firing process, are more accurate than any other action….normally. This is good when training a youth completely new to shooting. An inaccurate rifle can easily discourage him.

Weight and stock material

Total rifle weight is a big factor as well as you might suspect. Remember, you don’t want to teach your youth how to just shoot from a bench. Learning to shoot from the standing, prone and other positions should also be done.

Also carrying a rifle that is too heavy on his / her first squirrel hunt could be a dampener on what should be a very special day.

Stock material contributes to both overall weight and distribution of weight. If you have two rifles of the same weight but one has a synthetic stock and the other a solid wood stock, the rifle with the synthetic stock will be slightly heavier on the front which is good.

Rifles with the weight distributed more toward the front are easier to hold on target when not using a rest.

I also believe synthetic stocks are affected less by environmental factors such as humidity, temp, etc. This means a rifle that holds zero. For more information on this topic check out this article. Best 10/22 after market stocks.

Length of pull

Length of pull is the distance from the trigger to the end of the butt stock that contacts the shoulder. It goes without saying that a smaller person needs a shorter length of pull in order to get a proper cheek weld with the rest of the muscles in the body relaxed.

Learning to shoot or extended shooting with an incorrect length of pull can cause problems for years. Start it out right to begin with.

Actually take some measurements with your youngster pretending to shoot a rifle. This will be real close to the length of pull he really needs. Most younger shooters need around 11.5 – 13 inches to be comfortable. Comfort during the shot is what is important. This prevents muscle trembling, etc.

Total Length

I think this picture says it all. How many bad habits do you think this little girl would develop if she tried to shoot this thing for the next couple of years..

Depending on the size of your youngster a good total length to stick with is 30-35 inches.


Plain and simple, a trigger that is hard to pull cause more of a jerk which is the enemy of accuracy. Pulling the trigger is the heart of an accurate shot and you want to make sure you teach your youngster how to do it correctly.

A slow smooth squeeze straight back along the axis of the firearm does the trick every time. The smoother and light the trigger is, the better job anyone can do at this task, especially new shooters.

Realize though that very light triggers tend to go off accidentally. This slightest touch or bump of the rifle can make a trigger that is too light execute the firing pin.

About 2.5 lbs is a good place for a newbies rifle trigger to be set.

How did we determine the best for the money ?

The table above lists all of the important factors important for a great youth rifle discussed above. Every factor discussed above is measured by the features used in the table.

All of the major rifles on the market at this time were compared. Use the table to compare the features offered by each one.

The table has cells that are shaded green which identifies the best feature of all. To learn more about what is considered good for each feature / factor see the section above that discusses this subject. The column listing the “best of category for the feature” is just a count of how many times that rifle had the best feature offering compared to the other rifles. Grading was done as discussed above for each feature.

To determine the best for the money, this number was divided into the price to get a good understanding of what you are paying for the best features on each rifle…..or what rifle gives you more for the money spent.

In stock at Cabela’s at this writing