7mm-08 hands down!Grandson turning 12 but expected to grow another foot. Will look at all options. Thanks.
I was fortunate to be a youth mentor this year in a Florida program with six kids from 11-15yo. The program's rifles are Ruger American (youth length) in 7mm-08 and shot Hornady 150gr ELD-X (Precision Hunter line, grey box). They totaled well 15+ deer, 3-4 hogs, and a couple coyote.
Additionally, my twin 12yo boys loved those guns so much that they each wanted a 7mm-08 just like mine, so they both got Tikka T3. (They are fraternal twins - remember Danny & Arnold in the movie Twins - one of my boys is built like a HS middle linebacker and the other could be a Kentucky Derby jockey.) The bigger opted for the adult model and the jockey got the "Compact" (youth/ladies) model which comes with extra stock pads to increase LOP. Matter of fact, I love the Compact version so much that if he grows into mine - I'll swap him for the Compact.
You can't beat a Tikka for quality and out-of-the-box accuracy, and its real hard to beat the 7mm-08 for recoil (kid friendly) and lethality on deer-sized game.