How to Get Started Hunting with a Muzzleloader – Part 1
By Ed Hall
The New Muzzleloaders Are Easy To Master
Buckskin shirts notwithstanding, hunting muzzleloaders for deer and larger game have come a long way. You can still hunt with a flintlock, and deal with “phffft-bang,” sulphur smell and dutiful cleanup if you want. But there’s no stink, no inaccuracy, no limited punch and range, no misfires, no hangfires, no weather issues and no more messy cleanup if you choose to hunt with a modern muzzleloader.
The new muzzleloaders are easy to master. I would hope you’d get in some practice sessions, but a bit of reading and a few shots at the range and you can be ready to hunt.
You can expect your modern muzzleloader to just about duplicate the performance of either .44 Magnum or .45-70 cartridges in a rifle, the same jacketed bullets, the same riflescope, and the same two-inch (or better) groups at 100 yards and four inch groups at 200. Even better, modern muzzleloader bullets are nicely pointed for better long range performance.
There was a time about a dozen years ago when you had to decide between .45 and .50 caliber muzzleloaders, but new .45’s have all but disappeared from the gunshops. I prefer a .45 for deer as its forty caliber bullet has plenty of punch, but the .50 reigns.
The New Muzzleloaders Are Easy to Load
First fire off a primer or two to rid the barrel of moisture. Then drop two pellets of powder into the barrel, push a pointed, jacketed bullet in its plastic cup down the bore, affix a shotgun primer and close the breech to protect it from weather.
Modern muzzleloaders come with a breech plug that is screwed into the end of the barrel, so all the pressure upon firing is in the barrel and held by the breechplug. The ‘action’ of the muzzleloader needs no strength to contain pressure; it just affords a hammer and a trigger, and perhaps an additional sliding safety.
The shotgun primer is placed in a recess in the breechplug, where a tiny hole feeds its fire into the main charge. The hole is very tiny so burning gasses don’t spray back into the action. The action seals the primer against falling out and against weather.
Take a read at Traditions Performance Firearms, dedicated to muzzleloaders and all the accessories you might ever want. They have a new Pursuit Ultralight, the lightest muzzleloading rifle ever at 5.1 pounds, as the breaking trend in rifles today is light weight. Other catalogs to peruse are Thompson/Center and CVA.
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