A muzzleloader, in simple words, is simply any firearm where the ammunition is loaded through the front open end of the muzzle.
Even though muzzleloaders have long since been eclipsed in terms of innovation by more modern firearms, it still fills a unique niche and maintains a solid fanbase even in the 21st Century. There’s just something fun about the process of loading and shooting a muzzleloader that you don’t get out of an ordinary centerfire hunting rifle.
As technology has improved, so have muzzleloaders. Whereas older flintlock rifles had poor long range capabilities beyond two hundred or so yards, the newer muzzleloaders of today can touch targets accurately at distances beyond five hundred yards.
If you’ve been wanting to get into muzzleloading shooting or hunting for some time now, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss the different factors to keep in mind when choosing a muzzleloader, and then we will review the top three best muzzleloaders by make and model that are currently available on the market.
Here are the top things you need to keep in mind when choosing a muzzleloader:
First up is the finish of your muzzleloader. Fundamentally, the best type of muzzleloader you can get needs to have a weather resistant finish and coating. This is just common sense: chances are good you’ll be hunting or shooting when it’s raining or humid out sometimes, and having a gun that will not corrode or rust easily under moisture will be vastly preferable to not having one.
To this end, try to get a muzzleloader with a stainless steel barrel and with an alloy construction. A barrel of this build can be used in virtually any kind of weather conditions. Furthermore, you may also want to consider a muzzleloader with a coating on the barrel to further protect it against moisture and humidity.
Barrel Twist Rate
In addition, pay close attention to the twist rate of your muzzleloader. The twist rate basically refers to the rate of the spin of the projectile in your barrel when it is fired, and is measured in the number of inches per rotation. In other words, the twist rate refers to how stable your bullet is when it is fired out of the gun .
The best barrel twist rates for a muzzleloader will be either 1:24 or 1:28 for the best performance.
The most popular muzzleloaders made today are chambered for the .50 caliber, which means that the bore diameter of the barrel is .50 inches. A .50 caliber muzzleloader is very versatile and more than capable of bringing down any large game in North America.
Muzzleloader Action Type
The most popular muzzleloaders of today also use the break action method, which means that the receiver and the barrel are joined together using a pin. When you press the ‘breech button,’ the barrel will break open to allow you to clean and reload the rifle.
Last but not least, pay attention to the ignition system of your muzzleloader. The ignition refers to how the black powder is ignited inside of the barrel when the trigger is pulled to fire the weapon.
Themost common ignition system for modern day muzzleloader is the inline ignition system. This means that the primer cap is set behind the charge of your barrel and is ignited by sparks from the cap when the trigger is pulled.
This system is widely used today because it is known for being one of the most reliable systems for a muzzleloader. It stands in direct contrast to the more traditional flintlock method, where flint and steel would be used to create a spark to ignite the black powder.
The CVA Wolf Gun is a .50 caliber muzzleloader designed specifically for youth and smaller statured shooters. It is a break action rifle, which means that the barrel and the receiver are joined together via a pin. When the breech button is pressed, the barrel will break open to reveal the breech blog. This makes it far easier to clean and to reload. The breech button on the CVA wolf gun is located at the front of the trigger guard.
The CVA Wolf Gun also comes with a quick release breech plug, which can be removed very easily and without the aid of tools (unlike several other muzzle loaders). This, combined with the bullet guiding system in the muzzle and the Durasight scope that ships with the rifle means you can get slightly better accuracy with the CVA Wolf Gun in comparison to some other muzzleloaders that are out there.
Another advantage to the CVA that can make it a superior choice for beginners is the fact that it is very user friendly. It is designed to be user friendly, with a hammer spur that is reversible. The hammer spur also acts as a reversible cocking spur, which further aids in making this rifle truly ambidextrous.
CVA Muzzleloader Recoil
Recoil is mitigated significantly with the recoil pad on the rear of the stock. The ram rod is built out of a highly durable aluminum and can easily push a .50 caliber projectile down the barrel. Something that further makes this rifle easy to reload is the recessed muzzle.
The barrel itself measures 24 inches long and is built out of a 16 grade stainless steel, which as was noted previously is highly desirable due to the fact that stainless is very wear and corrosion resistant. The black synthetic stock is also great for all-weather use.
While a sling is not sold with the CVA Wolf Gun, it does come with sling swivel studs at both the front and the rear so you can easily add a sling afterwards if you so desire.
Overall, the CVA Wolf Gun is a great choice for youth, smaller statured shooters, or beginners who are just getting into muzzleloading.
All-weather rust and corrosion resistant construction
Excellent choice for youth and beginners
Ships with a scope
Comes with swing swivels
Easy to use and user friendly design
Does not ship with a sling
Not the best choice for more experience muzzleloader shooters
While the CVA Wolf Gun is definitely a prime example of a user friendly muzzleloader, the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader in .50 caliber is arguably even more so.
All you need to do to load it is to drop a piece of brass into the loading port, and then push the barrel into a forward position. Rotate the handle of the bolt in a downwards motion, and then slide the safety forward. Pull the trigger, and the weapon will fire!
While the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is certainly user friendly, it also utilizes a more unique kind of ignition system that is more similar to a centerfire cartridge. This should not be entirely surprising, since this muzzleloader is named after the famous Remington 700 bolt action rifle, which is a centerfire firearm.
Remington 700 Muzzleloader Ignition System
The specific ignition system that the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader utilizes is called the Magnum rifle primer system, which is basically a shortened cartridge case that can interface with the plug for a smooth operation. As a result, Remington claims that the 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is capable of shooting accurately out to three hundred or more yards.
The receiver of the Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is built out of solid steel with a matte stainless steel finish and a stainless fluted barrel that measures 26 inches. The stainless steel greatly aids in preventing corrosion and rust on the barrel, while the fluted barrel ensures that the projectile remains stable when fired.
As far as the stock is concerned, Remington gives you the option to choose between a synthetic stock to make it a truly all-weather gun, or an M40 laminated wood stock if you desire a more classic look. Both stocks feature a cheek weld that allow you to peer through the scope without actually having to raise your cheek. In other words, you can rest your face against the stock while looking through the scope.
While the bolt to this muzzle loader does have an extractor, it lacks an ejector. As a result, you will have to manually remove the fire case from the area of the bolt yourself, which is definitely a con.
Stainless steel corrosion resistant finish
You have the option to choose between a synthetic stock or a wood stock
Unique ignition system is closer to a centerfire rifle
Very user friendly design
You must manually remove the fire case from the bolt area
The third muzzleloader that we will take a look at today is the Thompson Center Pro Hunter Muzzleloader in .50 caliber. Thompson Center, usually abbreviated as T/C, is one of the largest manufacturers of muzzleloaders on the market.
The Pro Hunter Muzzleloader features a break-open action that is easy to use, with a speed breach (that is removable by hand), and a three breech plug. What this means in simpler terms is that the Pro Hunter Muzzleloader can be cleaned and reloaded faster and more easily than some of its competitors.
In order to remove the breech plug, what you will need to do is turn it around three times, and then it will come right off.
The Pro Hunter Muzzleloader comes with a weather resistant finish and a fluted barrel that helps stabilize the projectile when it is fired. The barrel measures 26 inches with an overall length of 40.5 inches.
The stock is a matte black ‘Flex-Tech’ composite stock that greatly mitigates recoil and the rifle has a QLA muzzle system that ensures simple cleaning and reloading. What this means in simpler terms is that the QLA system will prepare each bullet to get it loaded for the next shot.
As a final advantage, T/C sells the Pro Hunter Muzzleloader with a fiber optic sight and scope to help aid in accurate shooting.
Easier to clean and reload over several competitors
CVA is one of the biggest names in the Muzzleloader market, and their super-popular Optima Black Powder Rifle is back with a “Bang”. The Optima V2 is the 2nd generation of the already incredible Optima rifle, and it gives you some of the best high-end muzzleloader features at a very affordable price.
The Optima V2 has a 26-inch stainless steel barrel, that is fluted to decrease weight, and will not corrode with time either. It is chambered in 50 caliber and has a 1:28 inch twist rifling.
The trigger in this rifle is amazing, you get a crisp and smooth trigger pull with virtually no creep. The rifle is also very balanced, with the center of gravity near the trigger, making it very easy to shoulder and maneuver.
As opposed to the competition, opening the breech of this rifle is super easy, and does not require any tools, even after you have fired multiple shots. The rifle is completely ambidextrous and comes with either a back of the tree camo finish. The stock also has a CrushZone recoil made to ensure smooth shooting.
The Optima V2 comes ready to shoot, equipped with a KonusPro 3-9x40mm scope on a Durasight Dead-On mount. You also get a soft rifle case to keep the rifle safe during transport. A solid aluminum PalmSaver ramrod is also included in the package to make reloading super easy.
The Optima was the highest-selling muzzleloader for a long time, and the new Optima V2 is an excellent option for your next muzzleloader hunt.
If you are looking for a high-end muzzleloader, with better range, and accuracy, you need to check out the CVA Paramount Pro Bolt Action Muzzleloader.
This premium muzzleloader is developed specifically to handle “super-magnum” propellant charges. Which gives it a higher muzzle velocity, and better range as well. Allowing it to take kill shots up to 300 yards.
With the high muzzle velocity, the Paramount pro, is also accurate. This is achieved with a custom-quality, free-floating Bergara® barrel in nitrided 416 stainless steel. The barrel is fluted to decrease weight and is chambered for a 45 caliber projectile. It is 26 inches long and is threaded on both the standard and pro models to adapt to muzzle devices.
The rifle has an Upgraded TriggerTech™ trigger. The trigger is fully adjustable for the perfect trigger pull for your needs. Adding to the accuracy of the rifle as well.
The Paramount Pro muzzleloader is considerably lighter than the previous model. This is achieved because of the Grayboe fiberglass stock. It also features an improved pistol grip and raised cheek rest for easier aiming.
With the rifle, you also get 15 PowerBelt ELR bullets. 10 VariFlame adapters with a re-priming tool. A Breech plug wrench for opening the breach, and a fast deploying ramrod for quicker reloading.
You also get an additional cleaning rod and sling with this rifle.
The paramount is one of the premium CVA rifles, designed to give the best performance imaginable from a muzzleloader. It can handle heavier loads of powder and has a longer effective range as well. Which is why it is more expensive. However, once you shoot this rifle, you’ll agree that it is worth every penny, and then some.
Traditions is another popular brand when it comes to muzzleloaders. And one of their more popular rifles is the Buckstalker XT Muzzleloader.
One of the best things about this rifle is its incredible trigger. The Buckstalker XT features an Elite XT trigger system. Which results in a crisp trigger pull and helps with precision and accuracy. You can easily get kill shots from this muzzleloader up to 200+ yards away. The trigger system also features a cross-block safety and a rebounding hammer.
The barrel is 24 inches long and made from premium Chromoly steel. It has a corrosion-resistant finish, allowing you to use this rifle in any hunting environment without damaging the barrel. The barrel has a 1:28 twist rifling and is chambered for a 50 caliber projectile
The Accelerator Breech Plug on this muzzleloader can handle both loose and pelletized powder. Allowing you to shoot a variety of different loads. The breakdown rifle can be opened easily. And the breach can be screwed open for cleaning with the tool that comes with the rifle.
The Traditions Buckstalker XT Muzzleloader comes with a 3-9×40 Traditions Duplex matte-black scope for reliable hunting performance. The scope comes pre-sighted and adjusted from the factory. So the rifle is ready to shoot as soon as you take it out of the box.
With the Rifle, you also get a quick ramrod made from solid aluminum. You also get a sling that can be easily mounted on the Sling swivel studs.
Here is another excellent Muzzleloader from traditions. The Nitroflare is made in collaboration with Federal Premium and Hodgdon Powder. We feel like partnership makes one of the best muzzleloaders in the business.
The new Nitrofire Muzzleloader has a 26-inch barrel. Which is fluted and tapered to decrease weight and increase maneuverability. So that you don’t get tired of carrying the rifle on long hunting expeditions. The barrel is chambered to fire a 50 caliber projectile and has 1:28″ twist rifling for high accuracy.
Traditions take the safety of its muzzleloaders very seriously. This rifle also comes with a Dual safety system, featuring a trigger block safer and hammer block safety as well.
As far as the trigger is concerned, it is the same as the one on the Buckstalker. The Elite XT trigger system is crisp and has a light trigger pull for perfect accuracy. The action of the rifle can break open and the breach can be removed. This is great for cleaning with the tool that comes with the rifle.
To help you take those long shots on your deer, this muzzleloader also comes equipped with a scope from the box. Which is sighted in and pre-mounted on the rifle. So, just use the ramrod that comes with the rifle to load it and get shooting.
Best Muzzleloader – Conclusion
In conclusion, you should find any one of these three muzzleloaders to be a decent option for you. But honestly, what’s more important is you follow the criteria we set before in order to make sure you buy a quality product. Don’t think that the three models of muzzleloaders we have just covered are the only quality ones available.
As a final tip, remember that muzzleloaders require a higher level of maintenance and care over more modern firearms. Just so in order to get the best performance out of them. If purchasing a muzzleloader is something you really are considering. You need to commit yourself to the process of not only learning how to load and fire it but also learning how to properly take care of it.