For many of us who grew up watching shows like Davy Crockett or Jeremiah Johnson, the idea of using a muzzleloader for deer hunting is a nod to the heritage of hunting and the history of how America came to be. Who hasn’t wanted to throw on a set of buckskins and wool and set out on a cross-country adventure in hopes of filling the meat cache with venison for the winter?

Modern muzzleloaders share little in common with the Hawken and Kentucky long rifles of the past, beyond the basic physics of how they are loaded – from the muzzle. Sure, you can still buy many of those traditional black powder rifles, but most of today’s diehard deer hunters are simply looking for a way to extend their whitetail season with additional days in the field. For these men and women, as well as youth hunters, you simply can’t beat the dependability, accuracy and range of the latest in-line muzzleloaders.

Important note: Always check your state’s hunting regulations regarding legal muzzleloader use. Some states require certain calibers, some allow only “open” or “iron” sights, etc. Click here to see the latest regs for your state.

It used to be that a muzzleloader’s maximum effective range on a deer was about 100 yards. That’s not even close these days. For example, the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader ($949.99) shown above has proven to be a true 300-yard shooter when loaded up to the maximum with a 200-grain magnum charge. The rifles are built on the legendary Model 700 bolt-action platform and feature Remington’s UML ignition system that uses a pre-charged casing as a primer for the load. What this does is give you a tight seal for the breech, and makes the rifle better suited to handle the magnum loads with near smokeless powder efficiency. The rifles have a 26-inch stainless, fluted barrel, and a Bell & Carlson Medalist stock. They also come with 24 primed brass casings and 24 sabotted Premier AccuTip bullets. If you’re hunting where there is the possibility of a longer shot, this is the rifle to carry.

TCBC Triumph

Another issue with older muzzleloaders was weather. Corrosion was always a problem due to the type of powder being used. Do you think a guy like Michael Waddell is going to let a hunt get ruined by a failing firearm? When the success of the show relies on the success of the equipment, there’s no chance. When Mr. Freak Nasty walks out, Waddell, Nick and T-bone click the safety off of a Thompson/Center Triumph Bone Collector Weather Shield/Realtree AP Muzzleloader with Bushnell Trophy XLT DOA-250 3-9×40 Scope and Gun Case Combo ($899.99). You get a lot of gun for the money with this combo, too. The Triumph (above) has a 28-inch barrel and has T/C’s Weather Shield coating to keep it from rusting and locking up on you. The barrel has the QLA system that aides in helping you load a shot rapidly. But you’re not going to need a follow up, thanks to the Bushnell Trophy XLT DOA-250 3-9X40 muzzleloader scope. The Triumph will take up to a 150-grain powder charge, and the handle has a T-end for easier loading. To help tame the thump, the gun has a FlexTech recoil dampening stock designed to keep some of the thunder from passing on to you. Add in a case and some other accessories and this combo will have you out collecting some bone of your own.

Traditions Pursuit

Another thing about some muzzleloaders is weight – they can be heavy. If you’re hunting a state with a late muzzleloader season and are trudging through snow up to your knees, the last thing you want is any extra weight. The Traditions Pursuit G4 Ultralight Muzzleloader with 3-9×40 Scope and Gun Case Combo ($469.99) proves that an accurate modern muzzleloader doesn’t have to be heavy. Weighing only 5.75 pounds, the Pursuit G4 (above) is lighter than many centerfire rifles. It has a 26-inch chromoly-lined tapered and fluted barrel to reduce some of the poundage, yet still be accurate. Outside you’ll find a Cerakote finish to eliminate corrosion. The gun comes with a scope mounted and bore sighted right from the factory.

Traditions Vortek

Some hunters don’t like muzzleloaders because they used to come with bulky, heavy triggers, making accuracy pretty difficult. The Traditions Drury Outdoors Vortek StrikeFire Muzzleloader Combo ($749.99) shown above dispels that myth. The two-stage TAC2 trigger comes from the factory set at an amazing 2 pounds. Yes, you read that right, a creep-free factory trigger set at 2 pounds – on a smokepole! Being a StrikeFire Vortek, the traditional hammer is replaced by a striker system; simply slide the striker button forward to engage the system. The loss of the hammer means the scope can be mounted closer to the bore, too, for a more natural feel and improved accuracy. And what a scope they include with this combo: a factory-installed and bore sighted Nikon 3-9X40 Inline XR muzzleloader scope. Add in a titanium-nitride finish and many other features making this a great option for shooters concerned with pinpoint accuracy.

CVA Optima

And what about price? Just because it’s a good gun, does that mean it has to be expensive? Not hardly. Take, for example, the CVA OPTIMA V2 Muzzleloader that costs a mere $279.99 – for a stainless-steel firearm! For many of us, a CVA was the first muzzleloader you owned. They have made a reputation for high-quality firearms, and let’s face it, the price is pretty nice, too. The newest Optima (above) has a 26-inch 416-grade stainless steel fluted barrel and a CrushZone recoil pad for taking the sting away from your shoulder. You’ll also get a DuraSight Dead-On one-piece scope mount, which is one of the best muzzleloader scope mounts on the market. For the deer hunter on a budget, it doesn’t get much better than this CVA.

CVA Accura

The last notion some shooters have toward muzzleloaders is the guns must be really long and bulky. Who wants to go up into the mountains with a gun that has a massive, long barrel these days? You don’t want to have to have a pack mule just to haul the artillery. Instead, buy a CVA ACCURA MR Mountain Rifle Nitride/Stainless Steel/Realtree MAX-1 Muzzleloader with Bushnell Trophy DOA 3-9×40 Scope and Gun Case Combo ($699.99). The MR (above) has a 25-inch 416 stainless-steel fluted Bergara barrel that is compact and accurate. It’s corrosion resistant thanks to the nitride coating, and the trigger is adjustable from 3 to 4.75 pounds. It comes with Bushnell’s Trophy DOA muzzleloader scope and a case. Like the other muzzleloaders discussed here, it is a deadly choice for the modern muzzleloader deer hunter.

This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s


Images courtesy of Cabela's

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3 thoughts on “Modern Muzzleloaders: Deadly on Deer

  1. I hunt with a TC Hawken .50 percussion ignition rifle. The only two concessions to modernity are Lyman aperture sights, and conversion to shotgun primer ignition. With the guns reviewed having nearly identical ballistics to modern center fire rifles, that makes the loading and single shot of a muzzleloader the only distinguishing differences. So, I think it is reasonable to ask this question–why a special separate season for this type of modern muzzleloader? One sentence in the article is revealing–“Sure, you can still buy many of those traditional black powder rifles, but most of today’s die-hard deer hunters are simply looking for a way to extend their whitetail season with additional days in the field”. As we say in Minnesota, ‘Nuff said.

  2. Hawkeye, agree 100% on seperate season for the “moden ML, as they have zero resemblance to what the orginal special seasons were set up, and might add that the crossbow should be removed from archery season as neither are anwhyere close to the original concepts-rational. Way back when worked with other ML organizations to get special seasons, under the assumption the guns used were 1860 or earlier types.

    Today, and mostly due to manufacture’s lobby efforts ML season is populated by guns that in truth are more like cartridge guns, some even use smokeless pellets-etc and sabots are not the original intent, aks patched/mini balls, few load from horn, and scopes/performance equal to modern rifles, same for crossbows.

    Despite Mfgs wishes, strongly support separate season for inline, cross bows, and other such hunting devices, they simply violate the spirit and intent of the traditional ML’s and bows, that so many of us worked hard to obtain. Not slamming the modern stuff or crossbows, but reality is used during seasons now, they are cheater guns. No reason for them to not have own season, say after ML/Bow and before conventional gun seasons. Time for reality check by the sportsman, change rules to reflect the guns and bows and intent of the laws, sportsman would surely agree…

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