Best Youth Shotguns of 2024 – Ultimate Guide

| Last Updated:
March 26, 2024

Receiving a first shotgun (or other firearms) is a rite of passage for many young hunters and shooters.

Having a gun to call their own is a special privilege that should come once they display a satisfactory understanding of firearm safety.

However, it can be hard to know what to look for in a youth shotgun, but this article is here to help. Scroll down to see some of the best youth shotguns to consider.

Comparison of the Best Youth Shotguns

  • Compact design with spacer-adjustable LOP plus a vent rib barrel
  • Ambi safety, dual extractors, and anti-jam elevators for smooth operation
  • Mossy oak break-up country camo and adjustable fiber optic sight
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  • Manual E-Z load magazine cut-off and quick shot plug removal
  • Vent rib with matted sight plane and 3 mobil style choke tubes
  • Fiber optic front sight and cool multi-color appearance
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  • Adjustable comb height and butt plate adjusts for angle & location
  • Ivory front sight with mid bead. Perfect for trap shooting
  • Eligible for Browning's growth insurance program
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  • Lightweight and balanced semi-auto shotgun chambered in 28 gauge
  • SA-28 series gas system vents excess gases to aid in recoil reduction
  • Improved swing and handling. Comes with 5 choke tubes
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  • Versatile 60/40 POI is ideal for hunting and all clay target sports
  • Butt plate allows adjustment for LOP, toe up/down and in/out
  • Wide floating rib and short LOP for easy handling
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  • Affordable and lightweight compact over under shotgun
  • Lightweight design with chrome lined barrel and tang-safety
  • Interchangeable chokes and perfect for upland game hunting
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  • Turkey hunting shotgun with synthetic stock is perfect for learners
  • Top picatinny rail and two 10 shot shell holders
  • Adjustable stock to be used by young or adult shooters
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What to Watch For When Buying a Youth Shotgun

There are a few different things to consider when shopping for a youth shotgun. The last thing you want to do is make a choice that could turn a young hunter or shooter off from the sport due to an uncomfortable shooting experience. Keep reading to learn more about what to watch for when shopping for a youth shotgun.

Avoid the .410 Mistake

The .410 mistake is a common trap to fall into with youth shotguns. Many people assume that since it has the least amount of recoil among the common shotgun gauges that it is the best choice for a young hunter’s or shooter’s first shotgun. However, that isn’t really true. Yes, the .410 has less recoil, but that doesn’t do enough to make it the best choice. The shot spread of a .410 shotgun makes it difficult for even seasoned hunters to be successful with. It also has much more limited ammo options when compared to both 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns.

Put simply, despite the lighter recoil, a .410 shotgun can actually be frustrating and restricting to a young hunter or shooter. Try to keep your focus on 20 gauge and 12 gauge youth model shotguns.

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Where the Action Is

Single-shot, pump-action, semi-automatic...when it comes to shotguns there are a plethora of different actions to choose from. But which is the best choice for a youth shotgun? As with most other things in the world of firearms, the answer depends. It depends on a few different factors such as intended use, ability level, and personal preference.

A single shot is a traditional choice for a shotgun. They are simple to operate, easy to use safely, and affordable. Young hunters and shooters can leave the shotgun open while carrying it between hunting spots or shooting stations. They are also easy to maintain. The main issue with choosing a single-shot shotgun is that most young shooters will tend to get bored with the limitations of a single shot and will quickly crave something else.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t settle on a single shot. It just means to be prepared for an upgrade sooner rather than later. There is a lot of merit to the idea of starting a young hunter or shooter out with a semi-auto. With proper instruction and supervision, they are a fun and exciting option that can help instill a love for the sport early on.

Hitting a Combo

Keep an eye out for youth shotguns that are designed to grow with the hunter or shooter. Some options come with both shortened and full-length stocks that can be changed out as a youngster grows. These are a good way to avoid a growth spurt making a shotgun uncomfortable to use.

Review of the Best Youth Shotguns

Let's take a deeper look at this year's top picks:

Best Overall:
Mossberg 500 Combo


  • Adjustable LOP (using spacers)
  • Mossy Oak camo finish for hunting
  • Hi-vis fiber optic front sight and vent rib barrel
  • Widely used shotgun. Will be useful for years to come
  • Good capacity, lightweight design, and reliable action


  • None we could find 

What Recent Buyers Report

People have bought this gun extensively for their kids, especially in the 10 to 12 year age range. This gun is widely used for hunting turkey, pheasant, dove, and sports like skeet and trap. The adjustable LOP is a very good feature and when coupled with the low price, this gun becomes unbeatable in its class.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg 500 is a very popular and widely used shotgun. Even by the military and special forces. Buying this gun ensures that you’re buying a life-lasting weapon for your kids. The gun is packed with features including camo finish, fiber optic, 5+1 capacity, ambi-safety, lightweight, and most of all, the adjustable LOP.

This gun has a pump operated action which is very safe for beginners. Since a new round has to be chambered manually after every shot. The 22-inch vent rib barrel is great for hunting and shooting sports, making it a good overall weapon.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 500 is a simple, affordable, and reliable pump-action shotgun that is perfect for beginners as well as experienced shooters with a small stature. The gun has a 5+1 capacity with fiber optics and a camo finish to compliment your hunting efforts.

Tristar Sporting Arms Viper G2 Youth


  • 5 shell tube mag with shot plug
  • Includes 3 Beretta/Benelli mobil choke tubes
  • ‘Soft touch’ on stock and forearm for comfort
  • Semi-auto action with almost negligible recoil
  • Shim kits for adjustability and vent rib with matted sight plane


  • Break-in period for light loads
  • May be a bit heavy (6.5 lbs) for very young shooters

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun is very well built and cycles flawlessly. The red and black color combination excites young shooters, and the rubberized stock feels more comfortable than synthetic stocks. The gun has been specifically designed to suit young shooters and is perfect for shooting sports.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Tristar Viper G2 is the perfect semi-auto turkey gun for young shooters that doesn’t break the bank. You won’t hesitate to buy one for your kids because of its relatively low price than other semi-autos on the market. The gun has a vent rib barrel with fiber optic sights to come in handy for hunting as well as shooting sports.

The gun can be adjusted for maximum comfort and has a removable shot plug if you want to limit the capacity. The shotgun also has a Benelli/Beretta threaded barrel to accept chokes and comes with three of them. The recoil is almost negligent due to the gauge and gas-action, making it perfect for youngsters.

Bottom Line

The Viper G2 is a very inexpensive semi-auto shotgun that offers a good rate of fire while keeping the recoil at a minimum. The gun showcases exceptional accuracy and pointability. Also covered by a 5-year warranty, there’s nothing that can go wrong with your purchase.

Best for the Money: 
Browning BT-99 Micro


  • Ideal shotgun for trap shooting
  • Invector plus flush choke system
  • Adjustable LOP and comb height
  • Will last for and be useful for a lifetime
  • Impeccable accuracy, swing, and pointability
  • Perfect for advanced level applications like competitions


  • Priced on the high end
  • Not suitable for very young shooters

What Recent Buyers Report

The BT-99 is a no-frills, well-built, simple to operate trap shotgun. The gun will never have any misfire or issues in performance. It also has an aesthetically pleasing appearance and can be adjusted to fit perfectly. Most users review it as the best trap gun and the features of this shotgun are surely in-line with such claims.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The BT-99 micro is as good as it gets for a youth trap shotgun. This gun has been purpose-built for dedicated trap shooters who start practicing at a very early age. It has an adjustable buttplate and comb which makes it suitable for the shooter to adjust on the go. While keeping the gun usable for decades to come. The gun weighs about 7 pounds, but given its gauge and application, the weight seems very relevant.

The wood and aesthetics are excellent, and the gun performs really well at the range. As reported by most shooters using it for a trap. The long 30-inch barrel with a high vent rib offers perfect pointability and accuracy. Plus the balance offers a perfect swing.

Bottom Line

The BT-99 is the perfect gun to use for trap shooting sports. Due to its design, balance, and flawless performance. This is a single shot shotgun which is easy to maintain and will definitely last for a lifetime.

Best Youth Semi-Auto Shotgun:
Mossberg SA-28 Youth


  • Very lightweight and slim profile
  • Comes with a set of 5 choke tubes
  • Best balanced gauge for youth shotguns
  • Gas system vents extra gasses and aids in recoil
  • Durable construction with detailed checkering on stock


  • Trigger feels a bit heavy
  • 28 gauge has limited applications

What Recent Buyers Report

The SA-28 is a well-made, reasonably priced, and lightweight shotgun with a perfect balance and pointability. The gun is mostly used for hunting ducks and small game like rabbits. The SA-28 is very hard to beat at its price. Especially where the 28 gauge comes relevant.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The 28 gauge is also considered as the dream-gauge to shoot upland birds because of its uniform pattern, low recoil, and the lightweight of these shotguns. The SA-28 features durable construction and a very slim profile due to the size of the gauge. Making it perfect to cup with small palms of a young shooter.

The gun has a semi-auto operation which further reduces the almost negligent recoil of a 28 gauge. The SA-28 can be carried along all day without experiencing fatigue or discomfort. Coupled with the fast and accurate shooting of a 28 gauge, this shotgun is perfect for wood walking and bird hunting.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg SA-28 is a compact, lightweight, and low-recoil firearm that can be the perfect starter shotgun for kids. The 28 gauge shells have very low recoil and this gun can be handled easily with minimal effort. Additionally, 28 gauge has become very affordable these days.

Best Left-Handed Youth Shotgun:
Browning Citori CX Micro


  • Perfect fit, finish, and ergonomics
  • Wide floating rib with mid bead sight
  • Adjustable LOP (toe-in/out and up/down)
  • Great pointability and swing. Very accurate
  • Versatile 60/40 POI is perfect for sports and hunting


  • Expensive for low-budget buyers
  • Needs proper attention and care

What Recent Buyers Report

The Citori CX offers the perfect balance between clay sports and a hunting shotgun. Obviously, because it is designed that way. The comprehensively adjustable buttpad is an amazing feature for competitive shooters. People like the fit, finish, and durability of these shotguns. With zero complaints about performance issues from any user.

Why it Stands Out to Us

While we could have included a Browning BPS on this spot due to its bottom ejection feature. The Citori is a more classy deliberate shotgun that is used for the right purpose. This gun has been included here because of its high-end features and LOP appropriate for small-statured shooters. The Browning Citori CX (CX stands for a crossover) has been designed to suit all clay shooting games as well as hunting.

The inflex recoil pad uses directional deflection to deliver a more comfortable shooting experience. Plus the flush-fitting choke tubes help with switching application modes.

Bottom Line

The Browning Citori CX is a perfectionist’s shotgun. Designed intricately for sports and hunting, this shotgun is a worthwhile investment for your money. Being an O/U, this shotgun is ambidextrous and the adjustable LOP helps with obtaining the perfect fit.

Best Youth Over Under Shotgun:
Savage Arms Stevens 555 Compact 20 Gauge


  • Single selective mechanical trigger
  • Comes with a set of 5 choke tubes
  • Most inexpensive beginners o/u shotgun
  • Tough, durable and lightweight construction
  • Good for both clay shooting sports and hunting


  • Quality pertains to the price
  • The gun is quite stiff right out of the box

What Recent Buyers Report

Users qualified it as a great little gun for hunting quail or pheasants. The shotgun is quite inexpensive and is great for teaching young shooters the basics of o/u handling. Some users reported the action to be stiff initially but sorted it out with time. The gun is very lightweight and it is recommended to add a recoil pad for increasing LOP and countering the recoil.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Stevens 555 compact is the perfect and most affordable shotgun for introducing young shooters to over/under’. The gun features a good Turkish walnut finish which doesn’t require much attention, and also won’t make you fret upon damage. The included set of 5 choke tubes makes your purchase more valued. The gun is lightweight and compact, weighing at about 5 lbs. Which is appropriate for young shooters.

The manual safety and single selective trigger are good and desired features in an over/under. While there are a few mixed reviews about the performance of the 555. This shotgun can work wonders in the right hands.

Bottom Line

The Stevens 555 compact is an affordable beginner over/under shotgun with good swing and accuracy. The shotgun can be used for hunting and casual clay sports. It is a good overall o/u shotgun that can be used by all the members of a family.

Best Youth 410 Shotgun:
Rossi Single Shot Tuffy .410ga


  • Ergonomic and cool synthetic stock
  • Top Picatinny rail and sling swivel studs
  • Detachable shell holder carries 10 shells
  • Removable stock extension to convert LOP
  • Perfect turkey and small game hunting shotgun for young shooters


  • Limited applications
  • Low capacity (single shot only)

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun is very easy to handle and shoot. It is also very easy to hide/carry and has a little kickback. The shotgun is perfect for young shooters due to its size, safety, and limited capacity. Many people who have bought this are beginners, vermin hunters, or want their young kids to be introduced to shotguns.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Rossi .410 Tuffy is a cool looking shotgun with just the right capacity and safety features for a young child. The shotgun fires .410 bore shells which have low recoil and are very controllable. The gun has a top rail in case you want to add optics(a very cool feature for a low powered shotgun) and the side shell holders allow you to carry extra ammo conveniently.

The pistol style stock is very ergonomic to handle. Plus the rear extension allows you to increase the LOP. So it can be used both by young and adult shooters.

Bottom Line

The Rossi Tuffy shoots great and is well worth the money. It is an amazing shotgun for eradicating or scaring off vermin while being fun to shoot. The low powered .410 bore shells are perfect to teach beginners the basics of shotgunning or hunting.

Best Youth 12 Gauge Shotgun:
Winchester SX4 Waterfowl Hunter Compact


  • Fiber optic front sight
  • Mossy oak shadow grass blade camo finish
  • Large components for easy handling with gloves
  • Inflex recoil pad and ambidextrous cross-bolt safety
  • Self-adjusting active valve gas system cycles flawlessly
  • Semi-auto action for low recoil and faster follow up shots


  • Requires regular cleaning and maintenance

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the weight of this shotgun is concentrated rearwards which helps with swing and handling. The gun has shown exceptional performance in clay shooting sports and bird hunting. Cycling of loads is flawless and the gun is very accurate. It requires regular cleaning but the disassembly is very easy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The SX4 comes ready for the field right out of the box. There’s no break-in period as you may expect and the shotgun is very durable. The oversized parts promote easy handling, even with gloves on. The back bored rifling along with a large invector plus choke tubes deliver optimum patterning. The inflex recoil pad makes the shotgun comfortable to the maximum extent possible.

The weight is optimal to help the shooter handle recoil of the mighty 12 gauge ammo. Plus the camo finish keeps the shotgun prepared for brush and woods.

Bottom Line

The SX4 is the best 12 gauge on our list for young shooters because of its ergonomics and recoil handling capability. It has a fiber-optic sight and raised vent barrel to help with acquisition and accuracy. A good gun that will stay useful as the kid grows.

Best Youth 20 Gauge Shotgun:
Remington 870 Express Compact Jr 20 GA


  • Adjustable LOP and comfortable recoil
  • A lot of aftermarket accessories are available
  • Very compact in size with an 18.75-inch barrel
  • Durable and dependable pump-action shotgun
  • Compact version of the most popular shotgun of all time


  • None we could find

What Recent Buyers Report

As obvious, most people find the 870 junior remarkably reliable and easy to handle. The shotgun is priced close to the regular-sized 870 and has optimal safety features to suit youngsters. The shotgun can be and is used for hunting, casual shooting, and home defense (if the need arises).

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Remington 870 doesn’t need an introduction. It is one of the most trusted and used shotguns of all time. Now in a compact package. This shotgun features a very short 18.75 inches barrel to offer easy handling and movement. Machined from a solid billet of steel, this gun can be thumped against a rock and it would still work. The synthetic parts used in the design are very durable and soft on hands.

The gun will seldom jam if the pump is stroked fully. Which is an important thing to be taught to beginners. It holds ample ammo (4+1 shells) in it and can be a very versatile shotgun if the limitations of the 20 gauge are respected.

Bottom Line

If you really like having a normal Remington 870, you can purchase a full-sized stock and keep using it for life. Like many other shotgun owners, this gun will decorate the gun safe for a lifetime and more. It is a trusted, tough, and reliable shotgun perfect for hunting and defense.

Are All Youth Shotguns The Same

The most common characteristic of youth shotguns is their compact size. Which helps them to suit young shooters having a small stature. However, youth shotguns will differ in features such as gauge and action (double barrel, semi-auto, pump, or single shot). Along with other additional features such as sights (bead or fiber optic), finish (simple or camo), stock material, barrel length, chamber length, and price. 

The basic idea is to get a short, lightweight, and low recoiling gun to suit young shooters. Whereas other features are a matter of personal taste. 

Young Man Aiming a Shotgun (Photo credit:

What Size of Youth Shotgun Do I Need

The size here refers to the length of pull (LOP) of your shotgun. It is the distance between the end of the buttstock and the trigger shoe. The length of the barrel can be decided relevant to the application or personal preference. 

A good way to find the appropriate length for yourself is to calculate the distance between the interior part of your elbow to the middle pad of your trigger finger. Do this while keeping your forearm at 90 degrees to your biceps. 

Adding a recoil pad to the shotgun will make a small and negligent difference in length of pull. But when you donn thick winter clothing, this difference can be about 0.25 inches or so. 

Characteristics of Our Favorite Youth Shotguns

The best shotguns for youths bring the following:

Offer Value

All the youth shotguns mentioned on our list offer great value for money. While some are very affordable, others are expensive but designed for high-end applications. Each of these shotguns is manufactured and sold by renowned companies, known for their good warranty policies and prompt customer support. 

Grows With the Shooter

A lot of the shotguns on our list have an adjustable LOP (spacer or mechanical). This ensures that the gun grows with the kid and allows changing of the length of pull in the future or when needed. 

Start hunting while still young (Photo credit:

Quality and Use

All these youth shotguns are suitable for precision applications and are not just guns for plinking or casual shooting. Some are great for hunting, others for competitions and some are good for things like survival or home defense. These shotguns will stay relevant and useful for years to come. 

Good Balance

These shotguns offer a good balance between weight and barrel length. The average barrel length for youth shotguns is around 22 to 24 inches. These guns will definitely be comfortable for young shooters due to their appropriate ergonomics and weight.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

Here's a couple things you should pay attention to in your quest for the right shotgun:

Proper Age

Make sure that your kid is of the right age and mature enough to handle a firearm. Especially something as powerful as a shotgun. Teach the importance of safety and how to use it before handing over lime ammunition. Plus always supervise a young shooter while shooting. You can refer to the FAQ section below for detailed answers to such questions.

Local Laws

Gun laws vary from state to state. Make sure to check and confirm your local state laws regarding the possession of firearms by children. Youth shotguns are also suitable for women, and legalities are not a concern in such cases. 


Youth shotguns are a great tool to introduce young shooters with the basics. These shotguns are also useful for women, recoil sensitive shooters, and people with a small stature.

Make sure to choose a youth shotgun that grows with your kid, has good ergonomics, and manageable recoil. Additionally, you can go after high-end models for pursuing deliberate purposes like sports. 

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People Also Ask

Check out some common and important questions related to shotgun and purchasing firearms for minors. This section will try to offer comprehensive and important knowledge about such subjects. But always check out your local laws since they vary largely from state to state. 

Can a 10 Year Old Shoot a 12 Gauge?

If shooting means pointing and pulling the trigger hoping you won’t fall back on the ground. A 10-year-old kid can shoot a 12 gauge (some kids are bigger than their age), but it’s not recommended. Since the handling of the weapon is more likely to be clumsy due to its weight and recoil. 

What Makes a Shotgun a Youth Model?

Shorter size and lower weight than a normal size shotgun make it a youth model. Most importantly the length of pull. A normal shotgun has a LOP of about 13.5-14 inches, whereas a youth shotgun has a LOP of about 11- 13 inches. 

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At What Age Can You Teach a Kid to Shoot?

A kid should be mature enough in mind and size to properly understand the basics of firearm handling and absorb the recoil of a gun. 12 years is the minimum age for obtaining a firearms safety certificate in most states. A good option would be to start with BB guns/air rifles for safety. 

Is it Legal For a Kid to Shoot a Gun?

Yes. In most states it is legal for a minor to shoot a gun, but only when supervised by a parent or guardian. Talking about law, it is legal for a child to possess a rifle or shotgun in 30 states. Additionally, there are 13 states with no restriction on a minimum age for purchasing long rifles or handguns. 

Can My Parents Buy Me a Handgun?

Yes. Your parents can buy a handgun by filling the apt forms and undergoing a background check. But it should only be a gift and not a straw purchase, and you and your parents must be residents of the same state. Plus, you must be at least 18 years of age to own a handgun.

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