[SHOT Show 2020] Federal FireSticks & Traditions Firearms Reinvent Muzzleloading
Russ Chastain 01.20.20
Sometimes, you know history when you see it being made. That’s how it was for me today at the 2020 SHOT Show Range Day, when I discovered the new Federal FireStick muzzleloading system. It’s muzzleloading like you’ve never seen it – and it’s likely to change the way many people think about muzzleloaders.
Federal’s new FireStick is a self-contained propellant charge of Hodgdon “Triple 8” which can be used in specially-designed rifles… and for 2020, Traditions is the exclusive manufacturer of compatible rifles. In short, you have a weatherproof powder charge — which can easily be removed and reinserted into the rifle.
When I began hunting with muzzleloaders, we used loose black powder as propellant, in old-fashioned sidelock muzzleloading rifles. If you wanted to get really modern, you could use Pyrodex powder instead of BP… but that had a shelf life, and lost its potency after a while.
Then along came the popularity of inline muzzleloaders and a bunch of different propellant options, including pellets of Pyrodex, Triple Seven, and various other “black powder substitutes.” About this same time, it became common to use jacketed hollowpoint bullets of modern design in plastic sabots. This made muzzleloading more reliable and more accessible… but it still came with limitations.
With any of these systems, your propellant is susceptible to getting wet… and there’s no way to unload your rifle without sacrificing your powder or pellets and going to a lot of trouble. But the FireStick can be removed as easily as slipping a shotgun shell out of a chamber — and it’s impervious to water.
The Traditions Nitrofire has a shoulder inside the barrel, against which the base of the bullet is seated.. so you still ram the bullet down from the muzzle. Afterward, you break it open as if it were a single-shot shotgun, and insert a FireStick. Slip a 209 shotgun primer into the hole in the FireStick’s base, close the action, and you are ready to go.
When you’re ready to fire, switch the safety off (it won’t cock on safe), cock the rifle, aim, and fire.
Done hunting for the day? Slip the FireStick out of the chamber, and the gun is as safe as can be.
Federal FireSticks are currently made in 100- (orange) and 120-grain (red) equivalent versions.
This is really cool, and I think it’ll make muzzleloading more appealing to many folks who might otherwise be turned off by it. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to seeing what Federal has up their sleeves next!