Bourjaily: Why the T/C Hot Shot is a Great First Rifle for Kids

My kids are both almost my height and shoot my guns, so as far as I'm concerned the biggest problem with the new Thompson/Center Hot Shot rimfire is that it wasn't around 10 years ago when I needed it.

Youth guns should be inexpensive because kids outgrow them so fast. But, they should be good guns, too, safe, accurate and shootable. Styled to look just like a little version of Mom or Dad's T/C Encore, the Hot Shot is a good first rifle for even very young kids.

It is the tiniest youth gun I have ever seen, weighing 2.7 pounds. It has a 19-inch barrel and an 11 ½ inch length of pull and comes with a 1-inch spacer to lengthen the stock. The grip is contoured to fit small hands. The hammer is easy to cock and an internal safety means even if the hammer does slip during cocking, the rifle won't discharge accidentally. The trigger guard is also the lever the opens the action, same as the fullsize Encore. It has a peep sight with a large rear aperture which I think is an ideal iron sight to learn with, as there is no need to line up front and rear blades.

My test gun had a wonderful trigger: crisp, with a consistent 3 ½ pound pull. It was accurate, too. At 25 yards it put half a dozen shots into a group I could cover with my thumb. After shooting it I would have expected it to sell for much more than the very low list price of $209 in black. The Hot Shot is small, but a lot of gun for the money.