Introducing someone to the shooting sports is a tricky affair. You want to show them the fun and adventure behind the sport, but the last thing you want is to put the new shooter off by using the wrong gun for his or her initial ventures into the shooting world. Luckily there are some outstanding firearm choices for the new shooter including some of the best .22 rifles.

Lever-action rifles

Lever guns have a special spot in North American history, especially in the culture of the Old West. One name that many associate with lever-action guns today is Henry Repeating Arms.

Henry .22 LR and .22 Magnum Rimfire

henry lever 22 and 22 mag

These American-made rimfire classics are quite possibly some of the most famous guns you can still buy. Henry made a name for itself coming out of the Civil War and to this day the guns remain moderately priced. They feature nice walnut stocks and a fit and finish you’d expect in much more expensive firearms. Plus, they are just a lot of fun to shoot.

Henry .17 HMR

henry 17 hmr

The .17 HMR caliber has become an extremely popular rimfire round, and with good reason. The velocity and accuracy of the caliber combined with virtually no felt recoil has made it a great choice for the seasoned varmint hunter and the inexperienced shooter alike. Henry took the caliber and redesigned two of their famous rifles around it. The standard blued model has all the features you’d expect in a classic Henry rifle. The Golden Boy adds a 20-inch octagon barrel and a polished Brasslite receiver and butt plate, giving the rifle a high-end classic look that is very appealing to shooter and collector alike.

Henry Golden Boy .22 LR and .22 Magnum

henry golden boy

Everything about these rifles screams American craftsmanship and it’s hard to look at one and not want to own it. After all, it’s a piece of history. For the beginning shooter, they offer nostalgia, accuracy, and a connection that can only be made by enjoying some plinking at targets. You’ll never find that in a video game. The Golden Boy series sport Brasslite receivers, octagonal barrels, and high-grade American walnut. What better way to bring someone into the shooting sports than with one of these rifles that can be passed down from generation to generation?

Henry Youth .22

henry youth 22

The Henry Youth model packs all of the features of the legendary Henry rimfire rifles into a youth model. Weighing only 4.5 pounds, the Henry is sized just right for your kids.

Bolt-action rifles

Bolt-action rifles offer repeatable, accurate shots and for the first-timer. A bolt-action also helps train the new shooter for a career of hunting with big game rifles.

Savage Arms Mark II .22 LR and 93R .17 HMR

savage combos

Savage has built their reputation on offering affordable, extremely accurate rifles. They then revolutionized the trigger design with the AccuTrigger system, offering an outstanding custom-quality trigger in a bargain-priced rifle. These rifles from Savage arms take the legendary accuracy and amazing trigger system and partner it with a mounted and bore-sighted Bushnell 3-9X40 scope, making these rifles, available in the classic .22 LR or .17 HMR, a great choice for plinking and small game hunting. You’d be hard pressed to find the amount of rifle you’d get with one of these packages for this price.

Ruger American Rimfire

ruger american rimfire

When Ruger decided to redefine their entire lineup of quality bolt guns, they met the challenge of a quality rifle with a great trigger at a great price. The American series was so well-received that they quickly expanded it to a rimfire series. Available in standard and compact lengths, there is a Ruger American rifle for every shooter. The compact rifles offer a shorter 12.5-inch length of pull. Ruger also made the trigger adjustable from three to five pounds and made them extremely accurate. Each rifle comes with two stock inserts to set the rifle up for the shooter. The rifles use a rotary magazine like the legendary 10/22 and the composite stocks are light and comfortable. Available in most rimfire calibers, the Ruger American rifles are all under $300, making them an outstanding choice for the beginning shooter.

Marlin Model XT-22 series

marlin xt-22

Marlin designed its XT-22 rifles to fit just about any need and shooter looking for a quality .22 LR bolt gun. Whether you’re wanting a youth model designed to fit even the smallest-framed shooter or a stainless-steel full-sized rifle for the adult plinker, there is an XT-22 for you, all with an adjustable trigger system and pin-point precision accuracy. You can’t go wrong with a Marlin!

Single-shot rifles

How many of us started out with a single-shot rifle? Heck, most of us still have one or two sitting in the cabinet. A single-shot is a great teaching tool for the beginner because only one round is in the rifle at a time.

Henry Mini Bolt Youth

henry mini bolt

Henry also builds some of the best single-shot, bolt-action rifles for youth shooters you’ll find anywhere. With stainless steel components, an 11.5-inch length of pull, a light, 3.25-pound trigger pull, and bright green Williams Fire Fiber Optic sights, your beginning shooter will get on-target even faster.

Savage Arms Rascal Series Youth .22 LR

savage rascal

Savage brings their legendary quality, accuracy and the amazing AccuTrigger to a pint-sized youth rifle that will have your little shooter plinking targets in no time. Besides the manual safety, light weight and excellent feel of the rifle, shooters will also be drawn to the stock options. Available with a hardwood stock, or a synthetic stock in your choice of black or pink, lets your youth shooter really lay claim to the Rascal.


crickett single shot

The .22 LR Crickett rifles are not only a fun way to get your kid shooting—they’re easy on your budget, too. Lightweight at 2.5 pounds and available with a pink or black stock, the Crickett rifle costs only $129.99, making it a perfect way to introduce your kids to shooting.

Semiautomatic rifles

Semiautomatic rifles allow for fast follow-up shots and make for great choices for the first time shooter because accuracy is immediately repeatable. This builds confidence in the shooter and strong foundation for years to come.

Ruger 10/22

ruger 10 22

To say that the Ruger 10/22 is the most popular rimfire rifle on the market is an understatement. With proven reliability and accuracy, everyone should own a 10/22! First-time shooters can grab one and find out what millions of others have—the Ruger 10/22 is an icon of the rifle world.

Remington Model 597

rem modle 597

An iconic brand, Remington has a reputation for quality rifles. The 597 series has been around for a few years now and has proven to be a great rifle at a great price. The scoped combo from Remington gives you a superbly fast rifle with a mounted optic at an amazing price of $219.99! With internal parts that are Teflon coated for long life and smooth, reliable action, this is a great rifle package for the first-timer looking for a serious rifle at a seriously great price.

Mossberg 702 Plinkster

mossberg 702 plink

Mossberg hit the scene with some amazingly fun-to-shoot rimfires and the 702 Plinkster is no different. Here’s what you need to know about the Plinkster—it’s lightweight, comfortable for a wide range of shooters, accurate, and, best of all, very affordable.

This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.

Images courtesy Cabela's

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6 thoughts on “The Best Rifles for a First Time Shooter

  1. I strongly disagree with the writer’s statement that semi auto .22 rifles are a great choice for 1st time shooters! Nothing could be further from the truth! It makes me wonder how many shooters the writer has actually instructed! As a long time instructor (about 30 years), I teach shooters, especially with rifles for budding hunters, to make that 1st shot count. The best way to instill in them to absolutely make the 1st shot the most important shot, and to make sure they can make the shot or pass on it, is with a single shot rifle. If they know they only have 1 shot, they’re going to make it count. If they have a semi auto however, it’s going to tempt them that if they don’t connect on the 1st shot, to just keep pulling the trigger until they do connect.

    1. Nothing wrong with semi-autos as a first time firearm. For myself been teaching shooters for about 5 decades.
      What I have found is too many instructors fail to teach their students. Instead they “tell” their students!
      It makes no difference what kind of firearm a person first uses, it makes a great deal of difference how they are taught to use the firearm they are using!
      Blaming a student for not having the proper respect of the shot, is simply a failing of the instructor to instruct!!
      Everyone is tempted to do the wrong thing with a firearm, it is the duty of the instructor to show them how and why to resist the temptations of poor usage of a firearm, not the firearms responsibility!
      If you are so concerned about how they are going to misuse the rifle, then only give them one bullet at a time, but first look at what is so poor about your teaching skills you need to do so!!

    2. Mr. Sea,
      Of course, safety is first. It is taught before I allow anyone – kid or adult – to touch a gun. In that instruction is a certain amount of discussion about making sure of where the thing will be pointing. It all begins there.
      I have been promoting / introducing / teaching shooting and hunting skills for 50 years. There is nothing wrong with a new shooter being taught with or owning a semi-auto as a first rifle. You have a connection there to start with. If there are any second thoughts about a certain person, you can always load the rifle with as few rounds as you feel comfortable with at first. A very important thing is making sure the new shooter is taught correctly. If you do so they will know that HOW to shoot not only means how to pull the trigger, but also the importance of making the shot count. Proper sighting must be taught! It is a shortcoming in the teacher when you see someone out there banging away like you seem to encounter. Have you thought about taking a look at your methods and practices?

  2. I purchased my grandson the Savage Rascal when he was 4 1/2 years old, he is now almost 7 and an excellent shooter but most importantly he is very safe. I told him from day one that it is the unloaded rifle that kills people, the same thing my dad told me and the same thing that I told his mother. When I take the gun out and go to give it to him I say what do you say and he says its the unloaded gun that kills people, and he takes it points it away opens it and looks. He also knows all his gun safety commandments. I am very proud of him, grampa


  4. Well, commercialism at its best! I am training my grand kids with a brace of “Red Riders” cut down to fit, after that, they get Benjamins (Sheridan), then, and only then, do the get their 1st rimfire… a Single shot Bolt action 22, while many of the rifles previewed are exellent firearms, they are Too early and Too expensive to turn a kid loose with!

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