April 18, 2003, 11:45 AM
I've had the hankering for a blackpowder rifle for about a year now, and I think the time may actually be here. I've studied a couple of books and think I can load one without losing an appendage. I've been looking at a lot of rifles at pawn shops, most of them for under 100 bucks, and some of them look promising. For the most part they are CVA's. What should I look for? Are there things that should immediately disqualify a gun?

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Sir Galahad
April 18, 2003, 06:37 PM
First off, forget the pawnshops. Believe me, you're going to get gouged. And probably on a rifle with a pitted bore, too. Instead, set your sights to Midsouth Shooters Supply. You can get a Lyman Great Plains Rifle for $295 and you get the choice of .50 or .54 caliber. The Great Plains is a wonderful rifle and will provide you with loads of fun. It's a pretty close copy of an actual Hawken rifle (lots of ones called "Hawkens" by CVA and T/C don't look anything like a real Hawken; the Great Plains looks like an actual Hawken and is made fairly similar, too.) The Great Plains in .54 is a lot of fun and boy does it blow stuff to pieces! And pretty darn accurate, too. Just foolin' about, my .54 GPR put 30 balls through a hole the size of a quarter at 25 yards. The GPR comes with a 1-60" rifled barrel made for patched round ball whch is also the cheapest way to go for shooting. But if you want to ry your hand at conicals, you can buy a 1-32" rifled barrel for shoting conicals. It costs $125 from Midsouth. See, the GPR has a hooked breech, so the barrel lifts right out after you punch out the two removable retaining keys. Makes it easy to clean. And easy to change barrels. I highly suggest the GPR.

Now, for a little more money, you can get you a .58 Enfield or Springfield from any Civil War sutler or from Cabela's. These cost around $400 to $500. The conicl mines are pricey, but you can fire round balls, too, though the .58 round ball costs you a tad more than .54 or .50 round balls. Depends on what "era" you like best---Civil War, Mexican War (you might like the 1841 Mississippi Rifle), Fur Trade Era, Gold Rush, Bleeding Kansas (you can get a paper-cartridge firing 1859 Sharps), etc.

Now, I see you're not a hunting man. I bought a .54 to be able to down large game as well as for the fun of shooting .54 cal. But you might be better served by a .50 cal GPR if you want to go that route. You can get rifles in .45 and the balls are a tad cheaper than .50s, but most of the .45s don't have removeable barrels and are a tad more difficult to clean. If you're looking for a "modern" inline muzzleloader, the best one I've seen is the Ruger "Officer's Model". Just about all inlines are going to be .50s and above and made to fire conicals, though I hear tell they shoot round ball tolerably well. I wouldn't know because I've never fired an inline.

But the best all-around value I think you're going to find is the Great Plains rifle from Midsouth. It also has a double set trigger set up that is adjustable.

I suggest steering clear of CVA and especially a used CVA.

April 20, 2003, 11:16 AM
I'll second the Great Plains rifle even though I own several other types. The .50 caliber version has one many matches for me over the years and is also a decent deer rifle, though if your into that I'd say go with the 54. You also wouldn't go wrong with one of the Cabela's Hawkens, CVA's are fine too, however, I don't like the breech style since it's harder to clean. Whichever you go with, just buy a decent quality gun and you won't go wrong.

4v50 Gary
April 20, 2003, 11:47 AM
Lyman Great Plains is a good gun, but if all you can pony up right now is $100 or you just want a cheap starter gun, the pawn shop route is O.K. Remember, buy it, use it, keep it in good order and you can always try to sell it for $100 later.

Make sure the bore is bright. Remove the nipple and inspect the threads for sharpness, rust, pits, dirt (may be indication of how gun was cared for). If you can remove the barrel (most have "keys" which if removed, allowed the barrel (if hooked breach) to be lifted from the stock. You also want to bring an eraser or lead ball drilled out to fit over the nipple. You can test the lock (no hangups) and smoothness of the trigger.

April 20, 2003, 01:34 PM
That's the kind of info I was after. I've never shot BP, so the idea of spending 3 bills on a rifle, not to mention all of the assessories that I have to get, just so I can learn what I'm doing doesn't appeal to me. However, I've found literally dozens of half decent looking rifles from $50-100 that I think would be adaquate. If I really get into it, Cabela's has that double rifle and the Brown Bess replicas that I really like, but I like to start small.

April 20, 2003, 05:40 PM
I agree with the recommendations on the Lyman rifle. It is the best production rifle for the money... BUT...If that is too expensive for your taste for a starter..

A good CVA Mountain Rifle will shoot as well as most folks can..

My wife use to shoot rings around guys with $600 custom rifles..

Be very careful and examine any used gun or take someone with you that has some experience with them..

My wife and I both shoot custom rifles now, but we both have a lot of respect for a $100 CVA, and that's plumb center!!

April 24, 2003, 04:08 PM
I bought a .50 cal CVA in-line muzzeloader 2 years ago. I gave 115.00 for it brand new. I knew nothing about muzzeloaders at the time I bought this gun. I changed the nipple out on it so that I could use a 209 shotgun primer with pyrodex pellets and have yet to have a misfire. Both times I pulled the trigger in front of game, it did not let me down. I just make sure to clean it thoroughly every year when I'm done with it before I put it up. Works like a charm when I bring it out the next year. I am very pleased with my CVA.

April 24, 2003, 10:19 PM
You might want to check out the St. Louise Hawken that Brass pro shop list on theire catalog. I bought mine a few years ago and learn a lot of thing from it (like never ever try to wipe the bore with dry patch -it will get struck),it is not authetic Hawken rifle (but it look just like what Jeremiah Johnson carried into the Rocky) .It has lot of nice feature such as light weight , not overly long , has a stock drop that similar to modern rifle, easy removeral of the barrel, adjustible sight for windage and elevation .

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