July 30, 2009, 12:32 PM
I have no experience with shooting muzzleloadesr but have always thought that it might be fun and certainly would expend my hunting season. Although I have hunted all of my life (shotgun, rifle & bow), I recently turned '65' and now have time to expore and learn more about some of the more interesting elements of the sport that my career did not allow time for me to do before. I've been researching muzzleloaders and want to eliminate any guns for consideration that don't have good reps. For example, I have read a couple of bad reviews on the CVA and Traditions brands with recommendations on Knight, NEF/H&R and Austin & Halleck. I know that you can find bad reviews on almost any brand so I want to get information from the people that hunt them not just review for a fee. Any information, advice or recommendations will be appreciated. Thanks.

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July 30, 2009, 12:46 PM
I think, this sould be posted in the "Muzzeloading" section, ask a moderator if you need to, but you might get a bit more info and help there.

Welcome to The High Road. :)

July 30, 2009, 12:51 PM
From what I understand Knight has gone out of business and is no longer taking orders. You might still be able to find one of their guns on a store shelf somewhere though. I shoot a 15 year old CVA, and have no problems with it.

July 30, 2009, 12:55 PM
I have a Knight Revolution (modern inline) and it shoots accurately , but have had some major issues with it. It currently has a factory recall on it and I am told by a good source that they will cease production of their firearms. Supposedly they will honor repair and warranty service. I have relatives that shoot CVA and Thompson with happy results. Muzzleloaders still have to be cleaned after shooting, even with modern "clean burning" powder or they will rust quickly. The good thin is that they clean up fairly easy and the new ones are made to be cleaned faily easy. I had a Hawkin traditional that I didn't care to shoot that much. I may have liked it better if it wasn't so old and worn out.

July 30, 2009, 01:20 PM
Hi Finewine,
I'm 64 and got started with muzzleloaders about 10 years ago. Favored TC (Thompson Center) because they always treated me right with my Contenders.

Started out shooting sabots over pellets out of a TC Black Diamond inline. Found that a lot of the muzzleloader hype about heavy loads, fast rifling twists, and 30-06 ballistics is just that. You don't need it, it causes as many problems as it solves, and it greatly detracts from the overall experience.

Although I still have some inlines and like to shoot them; I now much favor sidelock percussion arms with slow twist (roundball) barrels shooting patched roundballs over moderate charges of loose powder. I think the sidelocks are easier to clean, the loose powder fouls less than pellets, the roundballs are much more consistently accurate (not to mention cheaper), and a good .54 roundball gun is a devastating deer killer. Given the paper ballistics, I wouldn't have believed it, but nothing I've shot in the centerfire world kills deer any better than a .54 RB shooter inside 100 yards. Apparently projectile size is just as important as kinetic energy.

I still favor TC guns, even though they make few sidelocks these days. The Hawken and the Renegade are still great choices and you can find them used on GB at prices much better than MSRP. You can get new Green Mountain barrels for both in about any common caliber with either fast or slow twist rifling. So if you buy a gun with a rusty barrel, forget to clean, or bulge your barrel by short starting, barrel replacement is a drop-in affair. And TC warranty service beats anything I've seen. Heck, TC might send you a new barrel free if you ruin yours. They did that for me even though I confessed to my mistake and fully expected to pay.

Another good choice for reasonably priced sidelocks is Lyman which markets the Italian made Investarms MLs under the Lyman name. The Lyman .54 Great Plains Rifle (GPR) is the definitive slow-twist roundball shooter with a very traditional look. It's slightly more accurate and much more traditional than anything TC currently sells. They also make a fast twist version (Great Plains Hunter) if you're wedded to shooting sabots. They make handier carbine versions as well....all Investarms/Lyman guns that I've shot have delivered great to amazing accuracy. They're also rugged and reliable arms; nothing unsafe about them.

Having shot centerfire breechloaders for years before attempting muzzleloading, I naturally wanted something similar to what I was used to; hence the inline. Don't let that kind of thinking constrain you. The old-timers knew a thing or two about what they were doing. Not all that's new is best.

Good Luck.

July 30, 2009, 01:26 PM
From what I understand Knight has gone out of business and is no longer taking orders.

Hmmm... Time to reconsider my atheism.

Check your state regs. Most of the "muzzleloaders" you see aren't eligible for special seasons in this state and a growing number of others.

July 30, 2009, 04:18 PM
Orange said it about as well as it can be said. I have a TC hawken, a Great Plains rifle and a Cabelas along with a Traditions rifle. All are sidelock percussion guns and are they fun to shoot.

I killed my first elk with a 54 caliber cabelas hawken and a Lee improver mini. The elk went 40 yards and fell over. It had an exit hole I could stick three fingers in. I killed a whitetail buck with the traditions 50 caliber. He died where he stood.

Some of the most fun I have ever had shooting was with these guns. Too bad they aren't as common as they once were. If you cast your own bullets and balls they are pretty cheap to shoot. Thats not so much true for the inlines. I never liked those anyway. My buddy has a TC firestorm IIRC that he shot maybe 50 times and put it up. It hasn't been shot in 15-20 years.

Get one and try it. Be ready to have lots of fun.

August 1, 2009, 03:52 PM
Many thanks for all of the replys. This (THR) is such a great resource for the sport and I thank each of you for sharing your knowledge, experience and opinions. There are not many sports where the participants are so willing to give freely of their time and experience to help other sportsmen.

August 1, 2009, 05:53 PM
Stick with Thompson Center for modern black powder rifles. The Omega is very good.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2009, 06:27 PM
I've been shooting and hunting with muzzle loaders for almost 40 years. I have several, including an 1840s original caplock, a Kentucky flintlock made by Bob Watts of Stone Mountain, GA, and a Lyman Deerstalker carbine. The latter is .50 caliber and rifled 1 in 28, which means it will shoot about any bullet well (but not round balls.) I shoot a 300 grain minnie ball in it, and it flattens deer.

August 1, 2009, 06:28 PM
I shoot a .54 CVA Mountain Rifle and have had no problems with the rifle itself. What few problems I have had were from my lack of experience with muzzle loaders. I will tell you though, to get the extended hunting season, go with the traditional "sidelock" gun. Many states consider the fancy new "high tech" in-line guns the same as a center fire rifle, due to the fast twist rifling and sabot polymer tipped bullets. They actually word their muzzle loading season as "Primitive Weapons Only".

I personally believe "high tech in-line" rifles with their high mag scopes, pellet type powder, and saboted polymer tipped jacketed bullets to be a slap in the face of true muzzle loading black powder shooters. Give me loose powder and round balls or mini-balls any day. To each his (or her) own, but I prefer the traditional ways.

Vern Humphrey
August 1, 2009, 06:51 PM
That's why I like my Lyman -- it's a traditional sidelock. With a peep sight and it's fast twist, it's just about ideal to my way of thinking.

August 1, 2009, 08:02 PM
I got a Thompson Center Arms Hawken .50cal flintlock muzzleloader. Flintlocks are more fun than inlines in my opinion. Also, some places have muzzleloader seasons that you can hunt with either a flintlock or inline or only a flintlock. Therefore, you might be able to do more hunting since there are exclusive flintlock seasons, but not exclusive inline seasons. It is a joy to shoot. It looks classy and is incredibly accurate. I can easily hit a white sheet of computer paper everytime with open sights at 50 yards.

To start, I recommend going to a local gunshop and asking a knowledgable worker what you need before you can get a shot off or take someone who knows what you will need to start. It might be confusing at first.

Typically, you will need:
-Powder for the barrel- I use FFFg
-Powder for the pan- I use FFFFg
-Balls/bullets- I use regular roundballs (they work fine on deer)
-A powder measurer
-A powder holder/funnel for your barrel powder
-A powder holder/funnel for your pan powder
-A pick to clear the hole where the pan powder flash flows through in before igniting the barrel powder

With powders, the more F's in the designation, the finer the powder. The finer the powder, the quicker the burn. Some people use FFg in the barrel and FFFg in the pan. It is a matter of availability and personal preference.

Expect to pay a pretty penny the first run to the gunshop. I left paying about $700 for my Hawken and all the supplies. However, after the initial run, you should be good to go for a long time. Muzzleloaders are a blast.

August 1, 2009, 09:26 PM
My 1st choice: T/C Encore Stainless with 26" .50 muzzleloader barrel.
(I would not get the Pro-Hunter because I don't feel there are enough "improvements"
over the Encore to make it worth the extra money - but you might!)

My 2nd Choice: T/C Omega
(inexpensive and a super muzzleloader - best value I think)

I guess I'm saying I would stick with Thompson/Center. They make the BEST
muzzleloaders. Get some 240gr or 300gr Hornady XTP's (.430") and a pack of sabots.
One pound of loose Triple Seven (I use 120gr loads) and you are going to have
one sweet muzzleloader setup.

August 1, 2009, 09:34 PM
T/C Omega SS Thumbhole in .50cal
250gr T/C Shockwave
150grs (eqiv)Triple 7 loose
Nikon Omega 3-9X40 scope

3.5" average for 5 shot groups at 300 yds. Under 1.5" at 100yds. Freezer full of deer meat.

I have TWO of these rifles that will do this!

My CVA Optima Elite will not do 5" at 100yrds with any load. However, the "free" 30-06 barrel they sent me drives tacks and is sub-moa. Go figure........

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