The idea was simple: Give a handful of young shooters and hunters a bunch of youth-model guns and a bushel of ammunition, then ask them to shoot all day and evaluate the firearms on the criteria that mean the most to them.
What we found in listening to the kids over the course of our test surprised us. Accuracy wasn't the most important consideration when they judged the rifles. Gentle recoil, while still plenty important, wasn't the biggest factor in how the testers graded the youth shotguns and rifles. Instead, what this next generation of firearms owners told us is that they want a gun that is built to fit their dimensions, is easy and safe to shoot, and has plenty of cool factor. Happily, there were more than a couple of youth shotguns and rifles in our field that satisfied their discerning tastes.
Here's their assessment of seven firearms you can find on the racks at your local gun shop.
We gave a crew of young shooters seven youth-model guns and cut them loose on a test range in Montana. Here's how the guns scored and what our testers had to say about them.