Range of a Muzzleloader


October 19, 2007, 05:22 PM
Hey all,

new to this muzzleloader thing. Was out yesterday for the start of Maryland's deer season and spotted what looked like a healthy 8 pointer about 350 yards away late yesterday afternoon upwind and across a corn field from me. He clearly wasn't coming any closer to me so I got out of my stand and started stalking over to him.

Got within about 150 yards, but couldn't get much closer and indeed spooked him when I tried.

He was certainly within my range on a center fire rifle, but I just don't know about a muzzleloader.

I've got an inline - a 50 caliber Remington 700 ML that I purchased earlier this year. I have sited it in out to 100 yards, and am very comfortable with it at that distance. My question is how much further can I trust it to take down an animal.

I'm shooting .45 caliber saboted hollow point slugs out of it using Triple 7.

Appreciate your thoughts

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October 19, 2007, 06:33 PM
Mine's sighted in at 200 yards, capable of 2" groups. Since we can also hunt with handguns, I'm not concerned at where it hits if less than 100 yards. A good scope will help accuracy at longer distances. The tradjectory is about like a rainbow, so figure out what is a good point of impact you desire and set your sights accordingly.

October 19, 2007, 06:48 PM

Will put a scope on it Sunday morning and test it out (while the deer are resting)!

October 19, 2007, 06:55 PM
Remember, you're using "slow and heavy" vs. "fast and light".

Heavy bullets from black powder rifles decimated the American Bison. They'll work on deer, given that buffalo is to deer as deer is to jackrabbit.:)

Now actually HITTING something past 100 yards requires that you know your trajectory. Those old buffalo guns, at least the ones I've messed with, had finger-adjustable ladder rear or tang sights that popped up, and were graduated in 100 yard increments, like an A2 sight except that these things rise up a few inches, not the tiny distance an AR sight does.


October 19, 2007, 08:12 PM
It depends a great deal on the muzzleloader your using. One truly classified as "primitive" weaponry (Hawken and St. Louis styles) have a 75-100 yard range. More modern guns can go out to 300 yards. This also depends on powder or pellots and the ammo your using.

October 19, 2007, 08:19 PM
Looking at TC chart using a 100 yd. sight in with a 240 gr. XTP bullet with 150gr. powder.At 150 yds. the bullet drops 3.2".At 200yds. it drops 9.6".Change to a 300gr. bullet and it drops 3.8" at 150yds. and 11.1 at 200yds.

If you use 100gr. of powder the 240gr. is 4.8" and 14.1" The 300gr. is 5.6" and 15.9".

You were in range at 150yd.It would have been a hard shoot with iron sights.I admire your respect for the buck,and your hunting ethics.A lot of people would have tried it,possibly wouding the deer.

I made a 107yd. shot on a nice 12 point with a TC Hawkins,I don't think I would try a 150yd. shot.

October 20, 2007, 12:13 AM
My advice if you go with a scope get a mildot or something similar that you can use the dots to adjust for range. Then shoot that range when you practice. A 200 yard shot is a lot easier if you have had range time at 200 yards. I'm sure that the 700ml will do 300 or more but I would only feel comfortable at 200. It's my opinion that if your stalking skills can't get within 200 yards you should try video games.

Harve Curry
October 20, 2007, 12:39 AM
Each year I guide hunters for elk or deer using a modern inline muzzleloader. I insist they shoot a group at 100, 200, & 300 yards with a 200 yard zero. Depending on the individual firearm and load it will generally drop 26" to 32" at 300 yards. On an elk that is 12" to 15" over it's back and you have him.
Last year I helped a handi cap hunter who had suffered a broken back sight in and zero his rifle. We taped it to the stock. He shot a 300 class bull in it's bed at 302 yards. Year before was same work and then we stalked in on a bull at 37 yards in our socks. Year before that 265 yards.
Before that a 58 Hawken round ball gun at 50 yards in our socks, but that is a 100 yard firearm.
Modern scoped inline muzzle loaders should be treated like a high power rifle when it comes to range, they just reload real slow.

October 20, 2007, 10:24 AM
I have my Encore .50 sighted in at 150 yards and feel comfortable shooting out to 200. 240 grain .44 cal in a sabot and 120 grains Pyrodex RS.


October 21, 2007, 03:09 PM
No question about it.
A modern scope sighted in-line is capable of excellent accuracy at extended ranges.
However bullet energy retention at the longer ranges must be considered.
Personally, I would not attempt a shot at a deer at more than 125 yards tops.

October 21, 2007, 09:49 PM
During the War of Northern Aggression snipers using either heavy barrel bench guns(slug guns) or Withworth Rifles were killing Yankees at 1000yds!

Livin in Texas

October 22, 2007, 07:54 PM
A good quality, properly mounted, and sighted in scope is a necessity for any long range deer hunting.

Once the gun is set up with the scope and sighted in at long distance (say 100 or 150 yards), practice, practice, and practice at the longer distances shooting from tree stands and/or whatever situation you will be hunting in. Always use a rest to help support the gun and steady your shot. These tips will build confidence and are essential to making an accurate shot that produces a quick humane kill.

Good luck.


October 22, 2007, 09:08 PM
I took a large doe last year at 245yds. Stay with me, I'm not bragging. Shooting a Thompson Encore 50 with 285gr Barnes spitfires, 150 grains triple 7, open sights. I'm very comfortable with the gun to 100, thought she was around 150-200, put the sights on here back and pulled the trigger. After the smoke cleared I spotted her laying in the field. I was aiming at her chest and caught her between the eyes, pure luck. It turned her head into a rattling bag, but didn't exit. Point being if I would have caught her shoulder blade, instead of here skull, it might not have made it to the vitals.

Jim K
October 22, 2007, 09:42 PM
Well, 100-300 yards might be the maximum practical deer range with a modern muzzle loading rifle in the hands of an average good shot, but it certainly is not the maximum range of a muzzle loader, even when shooting for accuracy. The old time target shooters routinely shot muzzle loaders at ranges up to and beyond 1000 yards. Even after the introduction of breechloaders, some shooters continued to use muzzle loaders and beat breech loaders in matches. Some combined the systems, loading a brass case with the powder into the breech, then loading a paper-patched bullet through the muzzle.

As to absolute maximum range, the loading system has little to do with that. A .50 caliber rifle with, say, a 550 grain bullet and 100 grains of powder will shoot so far, whether the load was contained in a cartridge case or stuffed in through the muzzle.


October 22, 2007, 11:45 PM
Thanks all

Was presented with a 221 yard shot this evening (as measured by Google Earth) but declined to take it.

Just wasn't comfortable enough shooting that distance with the muzzleloader. I went out and purchased a scope, once the early muzzleloader season ends here next week, I'll get it on and sighted in and be more comfortable for distance shots.

Fast Frank
October 23, 2007, 12:49 AM
I shot these at 200 yards with a TC renegade and a patched round ball.

65 grains of 777.

Point of aim was the top of the paper. (Iron sights zeroed for 50 yards)


I believe I could take a deer with that, but it's probably the outer limit.

October 23, 2007, 07:09 AM
I think you could hit the deer. Most of those shots would not be quickly fatal.

4v50 Gary
October 23, 2007, 09:51 AM
Back in the Civil War, the average minie ball gun was capable of shooting accurately out to 500 yards. It all depended on the solidier and despite the availability of two marksmanship manuals (one by Cadmus Wilcox and the other by Henry Heth), most soldiers of the period received no marksmanship instruction. The British, French and other European powers all had schools of markmsmanship at the same period.

October 23, 2007, 11:07 AM
I'm looking over some old loading tables from T/C for the Maxi Ball and Hunter bullets.

Seems like, with a 90-grain load of loose powder, the muzzle velocity of a 350 grain bullet is around 1500 fps, about 1800 ft/lb. of energy. It should have 1000 ft/lb. left at 200 yards. If you can hit your deer accurately, and that is easier said than done because of bullet drop, it should work at 300 yards. Big bullet, sufficient energy. Nothing magical about it.

The .45-70 was used to decimate the buffalo. Yes, it can take some long bullets. The other day I stuffed some 500 grainers over 68 grains of holy black. But that's 68 grains. Most modern muzzleloader nuts think that's a pathetic powder charge. And that was the American Bison, about the size and weight of a Volkswagen, not a deer. Heavy bullets work. Always have. They just don't shoot flat.

It sounds like the muzzleloader market is infected with the same magnum mania that the centerfire market is, if you all really think that a round that will drop a buffalo at 250 yards won't kill a deer at 150.

Roy Weatherby showed that a tiny bullet going really fast could kill large game. However, people had been killing big and dangerous game with big bullets going slow, for a long time. Either way has been shown to work.

Again, the reason a .30-06 is a more manageable deer rifle than an old BP rifle is mostly because of its trajectory. With something like a .30-06, you can guess that something is 250 yards away, and whether it's 200 or 300, you'll still hit a deer well enough. A .45-70 drops so much that you could miss the animal entirely.

October 23, 2007, 01:13 PM
Again, the reason a .30-06 is a more manageable deer rifle than an old BP rifle is mostly because of its trajectory.

That trajectory thing is my concern. I have it sighted in for 100 yards, but until I get it sighted in for 200 yards, and an assortment of ranges in between, I'm just not going to be comfortable taking the shot.

The shots on Fast Frank seem to have fallen 6 inches (assuming 1 inch graph lines on the target) from where he aimed at 200 yards. For deer, thats well within the 10 inch point blank range, but I wonder how quickly they fall after 200 yards. Is it only another inch at 220? Or are they falling quicker than that, perhaps another 6 inches at 220 yards? Thats the difference between a shot that kills and a shot that cripples (or if I aim too high a shot that lands who knows where).

My concern isn't with the need for magnum power or the effectiveness of 300 grain .45 caliber bullets on a deer, its with being comfortable in the knowledge that the bullet is going to go where I intend it to go.

October 23, 2007, 01:17 PM
That's why long distance BP shooters use ladder sights.

The fact is, modern muzzleloaders with scopes might not really be all they're cracked up to be. A good BP shooter with the right sighting system can hit an animal plenty far away. And if all you're doing is shooting at 100 yards, anything will work.

October 31, 2007, 08:16 PM
Somewhere in my junk I've got an article written by a member of a Colorado chapter of the NMLRA. The club added an event to their yearly shoot that placed a deer sized target at an unknown distance and had members estimate the range and shoot at the target. Although I don't have the data the result was that we hunters are lousy at guessing distance and that with iron sights at distance we maim more times than we kill. The lesson is shoot within your comfort zone.

Harve Curry
October 31, 2007, 09:11 PM
Laser range finders are very affordable now. Some even work well as a monocular. Use them to help learn judging distances, and especially before the shot to eliiminate guessing distance.

October 31, 2007, 09:40 PM
we hunters are lousy at guessing distance and that with iron sights at distance we maim more times than we kill

Iron sights have nothing to do with that.

A crosshair doesn't tell you the distance, either.

Ladder sights are also no good unless you know the distance.

Harve's right.

If you know the trajectory and the exact distance, you can hit something pretty well. BP cartridge competitions have events out to 1000 yards, with iron sights, and good shooters hit their targets with amazing consistency. What they've got going for them (in addition to top-notch skill at rifle shooting, a lot more patience than I have, and ridiculously anal-retentive handloading sessions) is that they KNOW the target is at 100, 300, 1000 yards or whatever.

November 1, 2007, 10:13 PM
The museum of the Rockies is close to where I live. The family and myself went there the other day. They have a small field piece that I thought was unusual for a front loading cannon. It had a rifled barrel! The sign under the gun said it was accurate out to two thousand yard. That's a muzzle loader isn't it?

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