On Youth Shotguns
The Mossberg 505 Youth 20 gauge with a 20 inch barrel and a 12 inch length of pull is ideal for many young shooters.
My first shotgun, given to me when I was five years old, was a .410 bore bolt-action Mossberg with replaceable chokes. It was a later version of the 1933 Oscar Mossberg designed .410 Model G Bolt Action repeater. It wasn't a very heavy or large gun, but when I was five years old, it was still too big. I could get it up to my shoulder and make it go bang, eventually, but I can't say I hit many doves with it. I'd carry it out to the dove field, but my Dad would carry it back to the truck every night . . . or so he claimed. Fifty years later I'd tell my Dad that I was “stuck in a rut.” Dad would raise an eyebrow, and ask, “How's that?” I'd answer, “Well, fifty years ago I was out in a field shooting at dinky, darting doves. Now, here I am, half a century later, doing the very same thing with the very same guy!” Dad would just take a puff from his cheap, Muriel Coronellacigar, chuckle, and say something about how hellish it had all been, for both of us. It was anything but, of course.
So, although I had fun with that bolt-action Mossberg, I didn't particularly like it one bit. A short while later I upgraded to a cheap Crescent SxS .410, with a dramatically cut-down stock. Now, things changed, for I could hit what I was looking at, and it was with that cheap old Crescent that I got my first double on doves, and also shot my first wild pheasant outside of my Great-Grandfather's orchard. Great-Grandpa was pleased.
The problem with kids is that they come in all kinds of sizes, and they grow. There was no money for expensive anything when I was a kid, so you just did the best you could with what was available. Right now, one of the most practical solutions is the Mossberg Flex 500 20 gauge pump. You can quickly change the buttstock without tools from a 12-1/2 inch length of pull to a 13-1/2 inch to a 14-1/4 inch. With an ambidextrous safety, it is good for both right-hand and left-hand use. It is about a 7 lb. gun, so perhaps it fits the teenager category the best.
It is Mossberg again with the “510 Mini Super Bantam” .410 and 20 gauge field models, with 18-1/2 inch barrels and about a 5 lb. weight. Length of pull is from 10-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches. That's what I wish I had when I was five years old.
It is Mossberg yet again with the wood Model 505 youth model, with a 20 inch barrel, a 12 inch length of pull, and about 5-1/4 lbs. of weight. Retailing for $428, street price is about $340. The 20 gauge is the most practical, as it comes with three choke tubes, and a decent recoil pad.
All told, the Youth 500 / 505 / 510 Mini series is offered in a whopping 23 models, so there is bound to be a version just right for your son or daughter. None of them are expensive, and all are simple to use, reliable, and easy to get familiar with. For those who don't like the idea of multiple shots, a section of dowel rod turns them into single shots. You'll be out there shooting with them, of course, so it is easy enough to hand them one shell at a time until you're satisfied with their progress. Check them out at your local pro shop with your family.
Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.