I'd still go with at least a 3-9 power. Especially on a 243, a caliber with good long range potential. Think back when you were a kid, you wanted the biggest and the best of everything. Why not in a scope. I remember when I bought my son his first. It was a Rem 700 Classic in 243 Win. with a Redfield Tracker 3-9. He loved it and still has it. Grandson will get it in a few years.
Good luck, its always fun shopping for the kids.
Field of view at 3X is very good, and they won't be young forever.
All kids should start out with open sights, so they learn how to REALLY aim. Then, they should go to a low, fixed-power scope, like a 4X, mounted on a 22LR. The next step might be a 2x-6x or a 3x-9x, but giving them anything more than that is not advised, unless they do a great deal of shooting. No young hunter should be attempting shots at the limit of the 243's range, unless they've practiced an awful lot and shown they are up to the task. However, like Tom says, the day will hopefully come when they ARE ready, so having a scope that will enable them will help.
Starting out with open sights will help a shooter understand that you don't have to see something in stark relief, with an "X" marking the spot, in order to make an accurate shot on it. I see too many people these days who have no idea how to actually aim a gun, unless it has a scope on it.
We like to put our kids in situation where the deer will be close enough for an easy shot. Valerie has a 2-7 on her 243; I believe it was set at 2 or 3 while she was hunting. Her deer was shot at 20 yards. A week later I shot one from the sdame tree at less than 10 yards. At ranges that close, you need all the field of view you can get, plus a four power scope doesn't focus so well inside of 20 yards.
I have a 2-7 on three of my rifles, and a 3-9 on the other. My 22s have fixed 4X32, but they'll get one of the 2-7s or a 3-9 next time I upgrade one of the other rifles. (If I get a Montana antelope tag next fall, the 270 will get a new scope with BDC reticle.)
When I started hunting whitetails in high school my grandfather helped me choose a 4X scope to start with on my .30-30. He said that would be a good beginner scope to get me use to using a scope. Therefore I'd definitely recommend a 4X scope for a youth or youth rifle. I've been hunting for 31 years now and my .30-30 now has a 4X shotgun scope on it and my son's .22LR has a 4X. My .30-06 and both .50 cal. MLs have 3-9X40s on them but like I said I moved into them as I gained experience. Hope this helps.
My first centerfire rifle, a Mod 70 XTR in 25-06 in the mid-70's got a Redfield widefield 2-7x scope on it. It hasn't been off that gun since and is still working fine. They're not very common these days, but that power range is very useful to new shooters, and aging shooters! Other than that, a 4x fixed would be my recommendation. It's easy to upgrade to a higher power range (or whole new rifle package) when the time is right.
I'm hopelessly in love with fixed power scopes but I will never say they're "better". Honestly, a variable is far more versatile... but I love a fixed 4x still.
The thing with kids, and my four kids are still a bit young, they have a bit of a "peripheral vision learning curve". You didn't mention your child's age but assuming this rifle is, indeed, for a child?
The younger the child the more likely they are to have a bit of tunnel vision. Their little brain concentrates on one thing and the rest of the world sort of blanks out. Anyone who has ever had to yell at a child knows how they can totally tune out your voice and flagrant gestures. As a child grows their brain starts to open up a bit and they notice more subtle things but this really depends on the kid, not an age range.
If you put a younger child behind a scope they're only going to see whats in the crosshairs, not the person or danger, safety wise, that stands just outside of their scopes field of view. ...heck they may not see it even if it is in their scopes field of view but not directly in the crosshairs. Iron sights really helps with this issue because their field of view is so much wider, they can see a person walking up form the side.
The problem, in my opinion, is that; iron sights require a good bit more practice to be proficient- especially with a child, or someone of any age for that matter. Also, many youth type rifles are not offered with iron sights and very low power scopes are less common in our high-magnification age.
Having said all that...
If the rifle offers iron sights please let them shoot it as much as possible with open sights, they'll learn that there's possibly more in the bullets path than just their target.
If the rifle does not offer iron sights then use a very low powered scope and, if it's a variable, make sure they keep it on the lower settings.
I agree with hardball's post in starting youth out on open sights, on a 22 rf. It gives them that alternate sight perspective compared to glass-only. If you've already done that, great. If not, I would recommend that step first.
After you are assured they have developed good habits and good accuracy, then a Leupold VX2 1-4x20 would be great. Low power, great eye relief (forgiving if they crawl up while learning) and clear.
Plus, who wouldnt want a warranty like that on a scope your kid is going to be using?
I just don't think you can beat a 3-9x40. It is the best all around for hunting. For specialized applications there are better, but for all around hunting use, you can't beat it, youth or adult. It is the .30-06 of the scope world.
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