Smoke pole homework?


March 18, 2011, 06:18 PM
I was just tinkering with my CVA Buckhorn Muzzle loader today and was wondering if any of you may have done some customizing of you smoke poles for greater accuracy?

I can get some pictures of where I'm at and fill you in more on where I plan to go with this muzzle loader if you'd like?

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March 18, 2011, 07:52 PM
I can get some pictures of where I'm at and fill you in more on where I plan to go with this muzzle loader if you'd like?

I'm sure you are proud of it, but it's a modern in-line, so don't bother.

March 18, 2011, 08:25 PM
but it's a modern in-line, so don't bother.

I understand where you're coming from but if I'm able to help someone make their muzzle loader more accurate I can't see the harm in posting a few pictures of work done to a modern muzzle loader. :neener:

March 18, 2011, 08:35 PM
Heck I still shoot my side lock & hunt with it, A TC New Englander iron site out to a 100yds 3" groups from bench ; ) PS Good luck on the MODS

March 18, 2011, 10:00 PM
I approve of making improvements. I like for anything of mine to be the best it can.

March 18, 2011, 10:57 PM
Thanks! I may have even brought a second life back to my old Mosin today, got the stress off the receiver, found some points that were bound up. She gets some new scope rings tonight. This Barnes CR10 is some amazing stuff and I just don't mean the smell.:barf:

I'm all about that myself!

March 19, 2011, 01:35 AM
I'd like to know more.
What are the improvements, free float the barrel and/or bed the action?

March 19, 2011, 06:35 AM
Yep, although I haven't done the bedding yet I am working on a way to stop the tamping rod from creating tension on the barrel. The stock didn't seem real stable for the floating of the barrel so I cleared out all of the support plastic and epoxy bedded an aluminum channel for the tamping rod to slide in and to create some strength in the stock so it wouldn't move soo much after the barrel was floated.

I think I'll fill the plastic block full of epoxy, I was going to do it today but other projects came first.

I'll try to remember to update this as I go along.

March 19, 2011, 01:38 PM
The CVA buckhorn is a very accurate rifle right out of the box. There really isnt anything that can be reasonably improved. Same time why. Your biggest challenge is just finding the right load the works well with your muzzle loader. For mine. Right out of the box i found using Sabots was very very accurate. i purchased several different types as well as blank sabots to use my own bullets. I found that using any type of hallow point bullet reduced accuracy to the point to where it was useless to use. Most spiere type bullets worked very very well. However sabots were also a pain to load and clean. So then i tried using the R.E.A.L mold by lee. i started casting my own then just tailored down the load until i found something that really works. right now using the REAL mold with some bore butter i use 95 grains Goex 2ff and it seems to really work. So as for the muzzle loader there is not much to do. its a muzzle loader not like you can cut the stock and put a folding stock with a fixed bayonet and a red dot laser with a flashlight on the left when you have 1 shot.

I guess i can do all that, it may just scare the cardboard or steel that i shoot at to fall over on its own.

March 19, 2011, 05:44 PM
There really isnt anything that can be reasonably improved. There is always room for improvement. This muzzle loader had a slight push from the left side of the stock on the barrel.
Right out of the box i found using Sabots was very very accurate. They are illegal for hunting here so I can't see using a different bullet at the range and than have a different POI in the field.I found that using any type of hallow point bullet reduced accuracy to the point to where it was useless to use.The only bullets I have found that are legal are hollow points, 295 grain Powerbelt none coated are what we use for Elk here. If I am correct we can't customize our bullets here for hunting either.

I use 95 grains but I use 777 and I had to change the breech block to a #11 cap because we can't use 209s. I've read that the 777 and the #11 caps are a bad mix because of ignition issues but as long as I keep the nipple clean it doesn't give me any issues.

A laser would be illegal here as well as optics. I only shoot at paper with the muzzle loader for sighting in and then it's off to the field for freezer fillings.

Rules are pretty strict here in Idaho compared to other states when it come to hunting.

Loyalist Dave
March 19, 2011, 07:45 PM
While there may always be "room for improvement" not every improvement may be an advantage to the human operator. It's nice to bed the barrel, and worry about the stock rubbing, or pressure from the ramrod..., on a 1000 yard gun that would really be a factor. Are you shooting it that far?

The only accuracy "advantage" in an inline is the ability to throw the projectile accurately over a longer distance than its traditional ancestors (imho). The best method for this is the sabot, but if you are limited to modernized conicals a-la the CVA powerbelt..., you are now closer to traditional range, OR you are mounting a tang peep sight or mounting a mil dot scope (or perhaps messing with scope adjustments when in the field).

The Civil War rifles threw heavy conicals over long distances, with adjustable sights, at standing human targets. Before I'd worry about improving the barrel accuracy, I'd get a load that was accurate close, and a sight system to extend that accuracy beyond a football field. When I got it close to 250 yards and accurate enough to hunt, then I'd worry about bedding, and stock pressure and ramrod pressure. :D

Otherwise it's an academic exercise, which can be lots of fun I admit :D, but are often not practically applicable. (OK I will also admit I have tinkered with many a long arm to see how accurate I could really get it to shoot, and I wasn't competing or anything..., I was just curious. :D) Meaning, I know a fellow who uses his own loads for his rifle, and at the range he can put bullet after bullet in the same hole at 200 yards..., but he can't get anywhere close to that shooting it without the bench and a stool. Put him in the field, and all that "accuracy" gives him fits (barrel heavy, stock doesn't fit him right when he's all that is supporting it, high magnification scope "dances" all over the place, and he's not used to a tight shooting position in the field). ;) In fact he doesn't use his bench rifle for hunting.

Another person at the local club has a Remington bolt action carbine in .308. Pencil thin barrel, and it doesn't group well at all at 100 yards. BUT the first shot from the barrel is extremely accurate. (Additional shots heat the barrel and he throws a "string" on the target)

He could worry about the wooden stock changing pressure on the barrel as the humidity and season changes, he could free float the barrel and bed the action, he could have a better barrel installed, and he could have an after market trigger (maybe a Timney) installed. AND he wouldn't take more large game than he does now, for all of those modifications really make a difference at a match nor at very long range..., not necessarily on the first shot for most folks. ;)


March 19, 2011, 09:02 PM
Hurry, let's all p*ss in his Cheerios and trample his enthusiasm.
Come on, guys. There's nothing wrong with his endeavors to improve his gun. After all, why should we even shoot black powder when much more modern guns exist?
The answer is for the fun of it. For some of us, improving things is fun. I enjoy modding and improving air rifles as much as powder burners.
Small improvements are improvements, nonetheless. Better is better than not better.
Why put a scope on a gun? It doesn't make the gun more accurate. But, it DOES enable you to shoot more accurately, by eliminating some of the human error/limitations of human eyesight involved.
I am intrigued by his efforts and applaud them.

Just because a particular load shoots well prior to bedding/accurizing, doesn't mean it'll shoot as well after. It could shoot much better, or much worse. I say apply everything that is known about accurizing rifles to the gun, and then work up a load.
I've had plenty of powder burners and airguns that shot better with one load/pellet after tuning/accurizing than they did before. I've seen mediocre pellets/loads become preferred by the gun and I've seen stellar performers become mediocre after accurizing.

More accurate is always better, so long as it doesn't adversely affect reliability.

I say bed it, free float it, and then work up a load. Most of all, enjoy it. We don't have to justify our hobbies or pleasures(as long as no one gets hurt) to anyone other than ourselves, and sometimes our wives.

March 19, 2011, 09:11 PM

March 19, 2011, 09:58 PM
Some folks who have gotten less then stellar performance from their expensive muzzle loaders often resort to bedding their gun and action, sometimes very elaborately. A lot of otherwise nice guns of all sorts only need some expert tinkering to help them give more accurate and reliable performance.
Only the owner can decide whether the rifle is meeting his expectations or not. Shooting and making improvements to them can be a rewarding hobby, the gun is a personalized tool, and learning how to fix some of their related issues are all part of the art of gun smithing.
A lot of folks like to tinker with their revolvers and I've seem some great improvised fixes shown by people who are very talented and dedicated to the shooting sports.
Everything that they do and show us is archived here on THR for others to learn from and to try out for themselves if they think that it's a good idea.
Even how a gun is adorned is a form of art.
Well done Wylie1, please keep us updated about your progress.
That's an impressive custom ramrod channel and artfully done. :)

March 19, 2011, 10:00 PM
I was questioning myself in posting modifications to a short range gun but this is what I do. I am a perpetual tinkerer and there is a lot of trail and error involved in a lot of cases.

I'd take that first shot pencil thin barreled rifle over a heavy target rifle any day of the week because it's the first round out of the barrel that matters to me. Loyalist and Purist are synonymous Dave and I don't hold anything against fly fishermen either but when it comes down to it I can fish the same waters with a spinning rod and most of the time match or do better then most fly fisherman.

As far as ranging at greater distances I am working with a three sight system at the moment that does make target acquisition a bit tougher but narrows down the error margin IMHO. The verdict is far from being cast on this system at this time being all the projects I have going but I hope to make up my mind before I have to hunt with this muzzle loader.

No worries man. :)
Even award winning inventors have critics and nay sayers, if they are open minded enough to take the greater percentages comments into account the better they make out in the end, is the way I have been dealing with it.

I shoot black powder because of the Elk hunts we have here in Idaho. Although I wasn't lucky enough to bag one this year I did help pack one out that was taken with the same muzzle loader I own. The 54 cal. that was loaned to me for the weekends hunt wasn't grouping very well so the weekend after I had the Buckhorn without much experience with it.
Just because a particular load shoots well prior to bedding/accurizing, doesn't mean it'll shoot as well after. It could shoot much better, or much worse. I say apply everything that is known about accurizing rifles to the gun, and then work up a load.This is exactly what I'm doing although I have a good idea of what could be brought out of the gun while the barrel was bedded in the stock pushing on the barrel.

I say bed it, free float it, and then work up a load. Most of all, enjoy it. We don't have to justify our hobbies or pleasures(as long as no one gets hurt) to anyone other than ourselves, and sometimes our wives. I agree 100% although the wife had to go!

March 19, 2011, 10:13 PM
Looks like you beat me to the post. :)

That's an impressive custom ramrod channel.

Thank you!

I'll just have to see how it does once I'm finished with what I'm doing and go from there. Being what tension there was on the side of the barrel is the only reason I floated the barrel. If I end up bedding the barrel again I'll start by just bedding it to its taper point and go through the evaluation again.

March 19, 2011, 10:30 PM
Wylie1, funny you mention that it's a short range gun. Look at the time and money spent customizing and accurizing pistols, and it's universally accepted as a good expenditure of money.
I'm not a huge fan of inlines. I like them, but I'm more interested in traditional. However, they do have their uses and advantages.
I own a TC Thunder Hawk inline that I was thinking about using as the basis of either a BP shotgun, or a prechargaed pneumatic big bore airgun. I paid 30 dollars for it and found it has a Timney trigger when I stripped it to clean it.
I may bed the action, install a Pachmayr Decelerator or Sims Limbsaver recoil pad and keep it as a frontstuffing .50 cal rifle, using cast conicals. I'm just not a huge fan of plastic sabots and pistol bullets. If I want .444 Marlin power, I can hunt with my Marlin .444 and have 6 shots on tap. Though it is nice to have that kind of power in a smokepole. I think I'll stick to TC Maxi Hunters in it. That gives even more muzzle energy.

March 20, 2011, 12:46 AM
30 dollars for it and found it has a Timney trigger when I stripped it to clean it. Nice! That would be $30 well spent.

I swap over a limb saver (The squishy rubber Wally World model)from my Mosin when I'm shooting the CVA. The $20 for this limb saver has gone a long way so I got another for the 770 I was given as a gift.

Sounds like you have a pretty nice collection!

March 20, 2011, 05:53 AM
We the issue is most places they are not legal for for hunting is all.

March 20, 2011, 07:44 AM
Excuse me, I don't understand?

March 20, 2011, 08:41 AM
I scope and sight in a lot of muzzleloader rifles for local hunters. The CVA BuckHorn is a very good rifle.

Wylie is right: When the ramrod is installed and removed the stock flexes. The CVA BuckHorn suffers from the flexible "tupperware" stock that plagues the StagHorn and the Mag Hunter. For several years i've been floating the barrels and glassing the receiver contact points; but the ramrod problem is still there.

Wylie, i'm interested in the modifications that you're making to your rifle. Please keep us informed.

March 20, 2011, 04:44 PM
Okay, I'll get pictures and post them as I progress with the Buckhorn.

March 21, 2011, 03:27 PM
As I am waiting for reloading materials for my .308 I decided to turn my attention toward the stock on the Buckhorn today.

I still haven't got the ram rods pressure off of the barrel but this is all working up to just that.

Just as I found with the Remington 770 the Buckhorn utilizes tapered screws which I find to be a mistake in plastic stocks. At least the Buckhorn has the trigger guard for proper seating of one of these screws the other I think I have worked up a pretty good remedy to.

First I chucked up a hex screw left over from some motorcycle handlebar clamps and drilled a depression for the screw to seat into properly leaving enough of the hex recess for a wrench to get a good grip on the screw.
Then I ran a smaller drill bit in just beyond the depth I needed for a pillar bedding application of this screw.
After that I had to make a couple runs at getting the length just right because the tapered screw head messed with me a little. Once the length was correct it screwed right into place.
Then I grabbed another threaded cylinder I had from a lamp I scavenged and made a pillar for the rear screw at the trigger guard. I plan to make a sleeve and press it into this pillar later to tighten up tolerance.
So in effect I pillar bedded the Buckhorn's stock today and once I have the material to bed the two connection points I'll go ahead with that.

March 21, 2011, 08:40 PM
Other then a little epoxy to hold it in place and a little thicker o-ring I think I have the ram rod tension on the barrel cured but I have to see when all the stock work is finished. I'm going to mill a little area on the ram rod where it sits in the sleeve attached to barrel and put some shrink tubing on it to quite any rattles.

March 22, 2011, 11:04 AM
I'm surprised at the attitude of some folks to this thread. While Wylie's gun may not be an old classic or even a copy of an old classic the stuff he's doing could easily apply to the oldies in principle and for some of us the fact that he's using a muzzle loader and plain sights would make him a brother in arms. And then the old adage comes to mind "If you don't like what you see then don't look".

Wylie, the channel you added should result in some added stiffness. If you still want more than merely filling in the open cells of the shell will do more to add weight than making any appreciable difference in stiffness. If you want to add a lot more stiffness I'd suggest you chew out the plastic along the sides to allow sections of carbon fiber to be laid in with epoxy to bond it in place.

Carbon fiber rod is available in various round and rectangular sections from quite a few places these days but the one I know of in particular is .

Any carbon fiber "rails" you lay in do not need to be one solid piece or even full length. But any overlaps you make should be over a few inches and fairly close together to ensure that the encapsulating epoxy provides a good bond between the rods or plates used to form the stiffening rail inlays. And sanding down the outside of the rod to remove the shiney finish is also a good idea. Such sanding should be done outdoors and it needs to be fine paper used so as not to cut into the fibers more than needed to obtain the dull finish for a better bond.

I'd suggest using small rod sections in multiple pieces so it can fill more of the channel over a single larger piece. For example a bundle of ten to a dozen overlapping .030 rods cut to fit and fill whatever track you chew out and then all laminated into one rail would be better than a single 1/2x1/8 rectangular section that you have to cut and notch to make it fit and that still doesn't fill in the channel all that well. And using smaller section rods to form a bundle means you can mold the rails around corners so you could extend these stiffening rails along the barrel, past the action and fan them out into the rear shoulder portion of the stock a couple of inches behind the butt of the barrel to stiffen up the stock from stem to stern. This last part may require drilling a few holes that extend back but it would be very much worth it if the goal is to stiffen up this plastic noodle that it appears to be from your description. There's not much point in stiffening up the fore end if it "hinges" at the rear of the barrel around the action.

This bundle of carbon rod would be wetted out with mixed laminating epoxy and then bedded in with more of the same epoxy thickened and made lighter by adding phenolic microballoons. And be sure to use the thinner laminating epoxy so that it wets the surfaces out more fully and flows better than with the more common and thicker glueing epoxy found in tubes. And when you're mixing in the lightening micro balloons for the filler part don't be stingy with the phenolic. As long as it is still able to slump down it's good. Just "putty" it in, lay in the wetted bundle of rods that you prefit and then top it off with a little more. What little you use will then at least be as light as you can make it.

Between your aluminium channel and a couple of laid in built up carbon rails the stock should come out easily as stiff as a good wood stock.

March 22, 2011, 01:04 PM
Funny you mention this as I was thinking along the same lines although from a different angle. Your structure would be much stronger and more rigid I do have to admit.

I have narrow strips of foam with an adhesive backing I was going to use small pieces of to create a honey comb structure of Devcon Plastic Steel Liquid epoxy with.

I think I have a broken carbon fiber fishing rod that once the exterior is sanded, cut into small pieces, ends sealed with epoxy and epoxied into place, so they don't float should have the same effect as what you have suggested. I like your idea!

I have just a little of the Devcon Plastic Steel Liquid left, although it is heavy stuff it is extremely strong and the cure time allows for the barrel, taped to maintain position in its float and action to be attached to the stock again so everything sets up in the correct position.

A leveling jig to hold the rifle and the assembly of the rifle with the runny epoxy inside is really the biggest trick in doing this but I've done it before with my old Mosin.

As well I have noticed some contours of parts on the under side of the barrel and action I'm going to have to smooth out with maybe some epoxy putty in order to not lock the rifle together for eternity when I bed the connection points of the Buckhorn.

I appreciate the input BCRider! So with your screen name I'm left to think you're a two wheeler like myself, what kind of scoot would you have?

I forgot to mention I went ahead with epoxying of the part I made to alleviate the pressure created by the ram rod on the barrel and it works as planned, if there is any pressure on the barrel it is really hard to discern and the shrink tubing is likely not needed, no need for the thicker o-ring I mentioned as well.

March 22, 2011, 05:06 PM
Wylie, you're doing great.

March 22, 2011, 06:33 PM

March 23, 2011, 12:52 AM
wylie, the work you've done is down right awesome! My fellow tinkerer!

I havent done anything as extreme as you have but i fully support your knowledge and tinkering idea's.

All i basically do for the plunger style rifles like the buckhorn is remove any stock material touching the barrel and free float the barrel.

This area is extremely important to pay attention to and remove all the pressure it puts on the barrel.

March 23, 2011, 01:08 AM
Thank you kind sir! :)

Might you be able to post a picture of the other side of your rear sight?

My interest is to knowing if there are any outer edge reference markings outside of the slot. This stocker on mine has been bugging me from day one! Dang thing tilts when it is tightened down and gets maddening sighting in! The only thing I like about it is the high vis plastic reference point outside of the slot. Although a bit tall I do like the front sight.

Are you running the stock front sight? If so what height would that rear sight be?

So were you prepared for the 20 question drill? LOL!

March 23, 2011, 01:33 PM
Hey,Wylie1! Your Buckhorn has the same stock as my Hunterbolt magnum,and I have a tip for you.The rear (comb/butt section )of the stock is hollow,and I found that it actually "flexes",when fired!I made a long,honeycomb brace from composits,trimmed it to slide in,and epoxied it.No more flexing!I also added a solid piece at the end of the stock,so I could use a HI-Viz screw-on pad.Works great!

March 23, 2011, 01:57 PM
Thats a traditions evolution in my pic. But they are pretty close. That stock was terrible though once the weather got hot. Your hands would actually stick to the stock.

Sights are the factory plastic crap. If you have these, take them off ASAP and buy a good quality set. Durasight makes some fiber optic metal sights for only around $26

This is what i run now on my CVA Optima " Shown on my old cva accura",
Truglo ghost ring rear sight and Globe front sight.

Hood allows you to adjust brightness,

March 24, 2011, 12:06 AM
I hadn't noticed the butt section of the stock flexing although I could see it happening. I was going to at least fill the stock full of expanding foam behind the kick plate, maybe I'll work something else up.

I usually pull the Limb Saver off of one of my other rifles when I'm hunting or sighting in the Buckhorn, not so pretty but works well enough.

That's funny as I think the Durasights are what come on the Buckhorn or at least the one I have! I'm just not fond of the rear sight and the way it's elevation tilts when it is locked down with the set screw.

I know there are a lot of people that like the ghost rings I haven't shot anything with ghost rings yet. The florescent or hi vis plastic is nice for quick target acquisition.

I had been looking at rear sights for my Buckhorn and just ended up not getting one. If I remember correctly the diameter of the barrel and the height of the sight needed were giving me a hard time finding something I thought would suit my taste and be suitable for the rifle.

April 5, 2011, 03:33 PM
I think I found my new rear sight although the seller isn't really very good with the information I'd like to find.
I guess the Williams site is my next stop. One problem I seem to have the worst time getting away from with the Buckhorn is the barrel diameter which is slightly under 1 inch where the rear sight attaches. This can allow a slight pivot of the rear sight if the correct form of spacer isn't used under the rear sight.

April 11, 2011, 12:29 AM
I couldn't find this sight on the Williams web site. Would any of you know the height of this sight from center of bore. Oops maybe that won't work being different barrel diameter and thicknesses, okay maybe a measurement from lowest setting to highest from the base of the sight?

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