I took the (new to me) .54 New Englander to the range for the first time last Friday. Shot nice, no problems at all. Shot about 20 rounds of .530 ball, .015 patches lubed with Crisco at short distances (we were on a plinking/tac range, not the 100yd. rifle range) .
The stock fit well and didn't slap me in the face like the Lyman tends to do. The factory open sights were fine, although I'd still like to eventually put a peep on it for 50 and 100 yard shooting (my eyesight isn't too good).
However, I must say that I don't like the QLA muzzle. I found it harder to load than a standard barrel. With my Lyman Trade Rifle, I can exert maximum force with the stubby end of the short starter to initially get the ball seated. With QLA, I can't use the stubby end to seat the ball. Because of that I found I had to pound on the starter with the palm of my hand to get the ball seated. I'm sure the seating effort will get somewhat easier as the gun breaks in (I don't think this gun has been shot much), but my first impression of QLA is not favorable.
But overall I really like my NE. My shooting buddy, who hasn't shown much interest in my Trade Rifle, offered to buy my NE (nope!) and last I heard was looking at NE's on Gunbroker!