Muzzleloaders have become more and more sophisticated over the last decade or two. Most hunters these days are not hunting with a muzzleloader reminiscent of something Daniel Boone carried. Until recently muzzleloaders were considered by most to be a “primitive” weapon. They still follow the same principals of loading in the powder and ramming the bullet down the barrel. They still require a primer to ignite the charge and fire one shot without reloading. However, with the introduction of the in-line muzzleloaders and other technological advances, newer models appear more like modern centerfire rifles, especially the Vortek Ultralight LDR.
I would like to quickly give a little background on myself so the readers can understand my level of expertise (or lack thereof). I am lifetime Michigan resident, and I think it is safe to say that I am a whitetail fanatic at this point. I have been hunting big game for more than ten years. I primarily hunt deer throughout the Midwest but often find myself on an adventure outside of my core hunting territories, chasing game that I know little about.
I would like to say that I am not a gun or muzzleloader expert and I have no affiliation or obligation to Traditions. I am reviewing this weapon from the perspective of knowledgeable big game hunter.
When I first pulled the Traditions Vortek Ultralight LDR out of the box I was very impressed. The gun is extremely attractive and can be ordered with a number of accessories. For instance, the LDR can be ordered in various camo patterns with a bore-sighted and mounted scope and a bipod in a package with a MSRP of $679.
For those that are unfamiliar with the gun, LDR stands for “long distance rifle” and that is just what this is. The barrel is two inches longer, at 30”, than standard muzzleloader barrels, which increases the velocity of the bullet and increases the accuracy downrange. Something to keep in mind will be the weight of the bullet and the amount of gunpowder you choose to use. The LDR is rated for up to a 150-grain charge but Traditions’ recommendation is 120 grains of loose powder or two 60-grain pellets. I found that two 50-grain triple seven pellets work well with a 300-grain SST Bullet .
The best-performing shots I had with the LDR were when I loaded the gun with 110 grains of 209 Blackhorn powder. I would like to note that when I personally used triple seven pellets in the LDR, it was very difficult to clean and I could only fire three shots before it became difficult to get the bullet down the barrel. This is a matter of choice but my groups were tighter with loose powder and the powder burned much cleaner.The pictures of my first day on the range tell the story. Out of the box I took three shots at 50 yards and four at 100 yards and was approaching 3-inch groups without adjusting bullet weights and powder amounts. Once I had a chance to make some tweaks and went to 110 grains of loose powder with 300-grain bullets, I was tight at 2.5-3 inch groups at 100 yards inside of my first 15 shots.
Images by Mike Lipa and Edward Pierz