Looking for a great youth muzzleloader for your child to take hunting this year? Here are the best youth muzzleloaders currently available.
Using a muzzleloader can be a great way to introduce your child to hunting. For one thing, it is very easy to develop a custom muzzleloader load with mild recoil that's easy for a child or small-framed hunter to handle, while still being powerful enough to quickly and cleanly kill a big game animal. Additionally, many states have special muzzleloader-only seasons, which can really cut down on the number of other hunters afield and improve the overall hunting experience. Fortunately, there are several really nice youth muzzleloaders currently available to choose from.
One of the key considerations to keep in mind when choosing a youth muzzleloader is to find one that properly fits the hunter who will be using it. A muzzleloader that fits the shooter well will have less perceived recoil and be more enjoyable to shoot than one that does not fit well. For this reason, the best youth muzzleloaders have a slightly shorter length of pull and overall length than typical muzzleloaders. Ease of use, reliability, and accuracy are also important considerations for choosing a muzzleloader for a child.
Depending on the hunting regulations and the most likely ranges that the muzzleloader will be used at, it might be worthwhile to mount a scope (like the Nikon Inline XR) on the muzzleloader. With just one exception, it's pretty simple to install a scope on all of the rifles on this list of the best youth muzzleloaders.
So without further ado, here are our picks for the best youth muzzleloaders that you should consider for your child when hunting season rolls around.
Thompson/Center has long been a leader in the muzzleloader industry and it shouldn't be a surprise that the company is represented on this list of the best youth muzzleloaders. After all, it's not a coincidence that Jim Shockey, an authority on muzzleloaders, exclusively uses Thompson/Center rifles on his adventures. Even though it is not specifically designed as a youth model muzzleloader, the Thompson/Center Impact model is still a nice choice for a youth muzzleloader because of the removable spacer in the stock that allows the shooter to adjust the length of pull by 1" (12.5-13.5").
This makes it an incredibly adaptable and flexible muzzleloader and can "grow" with the hunter as he or she gets bigger and may need a slightly longer length of pull for proper fit. Add in the fact that the T/C Impact is reasonably priced, accurate, easy to use, ambidextrous, and can mount a scope, and you can see why it is such a great option for a youth muzzleloader.
Some hunters prefer a more traditional look in a muzzleloader. Others (like residents of Pennsylvania) have to abide by strict regulations that severely limit the types of muzzleloaders permitted during their primitive weapon season. Regardless of the reason, if you're looking for a more traditional youth muzzleloader, the Pedersoli Frontier Carbine is certainly worth considering. They aren't cheap, and side-lock muzzleloaders are a little more difficult to use than inlines, but Pedersoli muzzleloaders have a well-deserved reputation for good craftsmanship and accuracy. The Frontier Carbine is significantly shorter and easier to handle than their full-length rifles, making it a good choice for a traditional youth muzzleloader.
3. CVA Wolf
Even though the Wolf is CVA's budget muzzleloader, it's still a darn good all-around rifle. It's lightweight, accurate, reliable, easy to use, and comes from the factory drilled and tapped for a scope if you don't want to use iron sights. CVA also makes a version that's legal to use in the Pacific Northwest states or Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Finally, all CVA muzzleloaders feature a "quick-release" breech plug that's easy to remove without having to use a tool, which really simplifies the cleaning process.
CVA used to produce a compact version of the Wolf muzzleloader with a 1" shorter length of pull (13" instead of 14"), but recently discontinued production of it. If you can find one, those are great youth muzzleloaders because they have all the strengths of the Wolf in a slightly smaller package. However, the regular Wolf model is still a nice youth muzzleloader.
Just like its big brother the Knight Bighorn, the Knight Littlehorn is reliable, durable, accurate (Knight guarantees MOA accuracy out to 200 yards with the right load) and easy to use. They are both really solid muzzleloaders with great reputations among hunters. Really, the only difference between the two muzzleloaders is that the Littlehorn is specifically designed for young hunters with a 12.5" (instead of a 14.25") length of pull and a 39" (instead of a (40.5") overall length.
Unlike the other youth muzzleloaders profiled so far, the Knight Littlehorn also has a manual safety and an adjustable trigger. It's also 100% made in the USA and is legal for use in the Pacific Northwest. The biggest downside of the Littlehorn is the cost: it's over twice as expensive as the other inline muzzleloaders on this list.
Specifically designed with youth hunters in mind, the Traditions Buckstalker Youth managed to incorporate a 24" barrel (2" longer than the Knight Littlehorn) on a rifle just 39" long and with a 13" length of pull. This make it a compact rifle that a small framed hunter should be able to handle easily, yet still provides the option of taking slightly longer shots. It also features what the folks at Traditions call a "Speed Breech", which may be removed by hand after just three revolutions. Like the Littlehorn, the Buckstalker also has a manual safety. Finally, it comes from the factory drilled and tapped for a scope.
These features, combined with the very reasonable price of the muzzleloader, put the Traditions Buckstalker Youth over the top and into the top spot on this list of the best youth muzzleloaders.
What do you think about our choices for the best youth muzzleloaders? Did we miss any?