Ruger Explorer Youth Rifle

Purchasing a Youth Air Rifle

I have fond memories as a kid out in the backyard with my dad learning to shoot the pellet gun. I was about 9 or 10 years old and there I was with his old Slavia break-barrel air rifle plinking pop cans left right and center much to my dad’s delight. I remember how neat it felt to hold the air rifle in my hand and feel like a little army man or other hero I watched on TV growing up.

The Slavia probably didn’t shoot over 400 or 500 FPS per second and had an FPE of probably under 5 .It was the perfect youth air rifle although at the time it was made (1960’s) it wasn't necessarily meant for kids. My big brother and I would go out into the forest and continue our adventures setting up targets and pretending we were in a some particular battle of much older times.

best youth rifle reviews

I also recall my father sitting us down before our first shot and explaining all of the safety precautions we had to be aware of. We were never supposed to point the air rifle at another living thing which included everything from squirrels to bird to humans. We were also taught how the safety worked, how to cock the gun properly and strategies to steady your shot. Before the end of our first day I had improved so much and by the end of my first summer, I had my very own youth air rifle which was one of the fondest gifts I ever did receive.

What to Consider When Buying a Youth Air Rifle

Compared to buying air rifles for adults, buying for youth is much more straight forward. Generally, air rifles for kids will have many similar features including an automatic safety, minimal recoil, low power and easier cocking than adult rifles. Plus they will also be much smaller than adult rifles.

Keep in mind that air rifles for youth will generally not be competition ready so if you’re son or daughter is interested in joining a school team or after-school club, you’ll want to find out if the other kids in the program are using youth air rifles or full sized adult rifles.

Ruger Explorer Youth Air Rifle

The Ruger Explorer was definitely designed with kids in mind and has an abundance of features which are perfect for youth shooters. As well all know, air rifles, although lots of fun, can be extremely dangerous which is why I was really excited about the variety of safety enhancements that are offered in the Ruger Explore Youth Air Rifle.

One of the most important things to me when trying to encourage a new shooter to take up the sport is that the cocking is easy. This is where the Ruger really shines as it’s extremely easy for even a 9 or 10 year old boy to cock and load over and over again.

It’s a single shot rifle which requires one pump to charge the rifle which is no problem for an eager kid to use. It probably takes about 10 seconds between shots as you need to cock the rifle and pump it. The Explorer also comes with an automatic safety which is a great feature as well as kids will often forget about the safety. This will get them in the habit for when they move on to bigger guns to always ensure the safety is on when not in use.

Performance wise, it will fire about 495 FPS which I think is ideal for a youth air rifle. It’s powerful enough to remain accurate from a good distance but not too powerful where you could possibly get into serious trouble if you missed.

And with a price tag of under $100 I’m really not sure if it can be beat!

Crosman Raven Compact Break Barrel Air Rifle

Another youth pellet rifle which is designed with the first time shooter in mind, the Raven is a one-pump cocking force break-barrel air rifle which can fire pellets up to 600 feet per second. Weighing just 5 pounds and an overall length of 37.5 inches, it’s an ideal size for a younger shooter. As an adult who is used to full size rifles, it obviously feels way too small but like I said, for the first time shooter it’s perfect.

One thing I look for when purchasing a youth air rifle is durability. As a parent, we’re all aware at how kids will often times not take care of their things. Sometimes it’s intentional and other times it’s purely inexperience on how to take care of something like a pellet rifle. Before I let my son use his first pellet gun, I made sure to go over a full orientation on how to properly take care of a rifle from how to hold it securely, how to clean it and how to trouble shoot if it ever jams. The Raven is extremely durable which is a huge plus in my books.

As with all youth pellet rifles, it’s a .177 caliber so make sure to explain that shooting any animal is not permitted. It’s a great pellet gun for target shooting and plinking though and in my testing, the accuracy was pretty top notch. Make sure to explain the break-in period as it should take a couple hundred shots before it’s really ready to go.

All in all, a great air rifle for youth and a product I would recommend

Gamo Outdoors Bone Collector Youth Air Rifle

As you may or may not be aware, we here at Pellet Gun Guru LOVE Gamo air rifles and for good reason. They are dependable, high quality and often retail at a great price. The Gamo Bone Collector Youth Air Rifle is no different as one of my favorite options for youth who are looking to get into the sport for the very first time.

Firing up to 880 FPS, this air rifle is anything but a toy! With an ergonomic pumping grip, it's a multi-pump style of air rifle that will be easy for youth to use. It also features classic Gamo synthetic construction and a fiber optic front sight. Firing a 60 round BB capacity, this air rifle will keep on firing over and over again. No painful reloading process like when I was a kid. 

Again, like pretty much all of the best youth air rifles we review, the Bone Collector also has some great safety features that will get a first time shooter on the right track to begin their shooting career.

Final Thoughts - Youth Air Rifles

Shooting pellets with my Dad when I was a kid was one of my fondest childhood memories. I encourage all parents who are considering buying an air rifle for their son or daughter to do so as I think it teaches valuable lessons - the most important being responsibility. Even though the above air rifles are classified as 'youth' you could still do major damage to an animal or even a person if the user isn't responsible. Remember to go through all the pertinent safety information and then get out there and have some fun!


Hi! I'm Dave - an air rifle enthusiast and a bit of a geek to be honest. When I'm not out at the range or on a hunting trip, I enjoy writing about different air rifle products and accessories.