View Full Version : Best Black Powder "Traditional" Deer Rifle

October 1, 1999, 03:48 PM
Folks, I want to take up deer hunting with black powder (or pyrodex). Have never hunted deer with black powder before. I want to be "traditional" in the sense of not using a modern in-line rifle. Percussion caps or flint lock are fine. What caliber do you recommend? What manufacturer? Whose rifle is most accurate and easier to clean? Thanks!

October 1, 1999, 07:29 PM
I'm hardly an authority on BP wpns, but if you'd like a first rate quality production BP piece that you won't outgrow, look for one of the now discontinued JONATHAN BROWNING MOUNTAIN RIFLES (.54 first choice & .50 second choice) or one of the old Parker-Hale made ENFIELD MUSKETOONS sold by Navy Arms (a ready made sporter in .58; not one of the later Italian made copies).

You will still see them advertised in GUNLIST and run across them in gunshows from time to time.

A pretty standard choice and generally sound quality is THOMPSON CENTER. Hardly authentic, but close enough to be acceptable in a hunting rifle unless you're a purist who dresses the part and the TC's have durable modern designed locks.

Admire your choice of the traditional style rather than the new in lines which seem little different to me than hunting with centerfire pieces.

Hold off on the flinch-rocks 'til you've shot percussion a bit. The delayed ignition can be disconcerting 'til you get used to it and it requires a little more attn in the woods to ensure your piece shoots when you want it to do so.

Shooting BP is like everything else: you get what you pay for. Both of these pieces will shoot as well as you can hold if you do your part in finding loads and holding well. Ease of cleaning isn't related to manufacturer unless you deal with the crudest pieces, though having a keyed takedown in the "Hawken" style is preferable and simpler to clean to me.

One opinion, in the FWIW Dept and oughta be good for 2 cents at least.

October 2, 1999, 08:42 PM
I believe your purchace should be a new or used Thomson Center firearm. Very good quality at a reasonable price. $300ish new. .50 Cal. is the choice for deer. Accessories for that caliber are everywhere. If Flint is you- go for it. With load development and technique a flint goes as fast as cap-lock. If you are using this with other REG rifle hunters as competition- go with the cap-lock for better foul-weather.

October 4, 1999, 10:34 AM
WHATEVER you buy, get a SLING.

Lol those T/C hawkens weigh 11 pounds or so and are a bitch to carry in hand when there is 100 pounds of deer on your opposite shoulder hanging from a carry pole.

I looked at T/C's , Lyman's and Pedersoli rifles before i bought my TC Hawken. If I had to do it over again I'd buy a TC Pioneer rifle (54 cal) or an enfield musketoon (but i'd remove all that "shiny" parade rest chromed steel and charcoal blue it.

Lessons learned...

Curved brass buttplates LOOK COOL but KICK HARD when you throw a 400 grain bullet downrange with 100 grains of ffG. I was bruised for 3 weeks solid before i fugured out how to brace the gun properly.

Buying a rifle with a sling already installed is worth the extra $20 in cost.

Lightwieght makes a difference. Lugging a rifle that long and heavy will wear you out if you aren't in shape, and can beat you up even if you THINK you are in shape. Buy one in stainless or in carbine length to save weight, you likely won't shoot over 100 yards anyway so a shorter barrel won't make a huge amount of difference.


Your Rifle is only as leathal as its marksman, it takes a while to firgure out the most accurate load for your gun. In my case its the load that kicks the hardest ;)

But seriously REMMINGTON Deerslayer bullets have ballistic tables on the back of the pack so you can get some idea of the ballistics you can expect, including midrange trajectory (50yds) and final trajectory (100yds) velocity and various powder charges.

Good luck, BP Hunting is a kick in the ass.


October 4, 1999, 09:02 PM

I started not to post, as this will sound like a classified ad, but I'll try it anyway.

I was looking for a traditional muzzleloader a few years back and checked with a fellow who hand builds them to original specs. His guns start at one grand and I couldn't do it. He said the Dixie gun works models were very close but still $600 or more and some assembly required. Then he said the Lyman Great Plains Rifle was the closest to the original "true" Hawken Rifle of the modern production guns. The main difference was blued rather than browned furniture.

I bought one, killed four deer with it, kept it clean and "as new". It has been for sale for a little while, as I haven't hunted much in the past couple of years, but I didn't post it here because I didn't figure there would be much interest since most folks go in-line these days. I love the gun but don't intend to hunt blackpowder any more. It shoots great, very accurate and very little recoil with round ball.

You can look up the specs in most catalogs and see what the prices are. I can tell you that this one has an exceptional stock on it, nice and dark with good grain contrast and satin oil type finish. The furniture is traditional (although blued instead of browned) with snail curl trigger bow. It is a percussion 50 caliber with 1/66 twist for traditional round ball. Buckhorn sights set dead on at 75 yards using 100gr of FFF black powder and patched ball. It has a 32" octagon barrel, 1" across the flats. The buttstock has a cheek rest and crescent steel buttplate. Lock is traditional Hawken pattern and is color case hardened. The rifle has double set triggers. The barrel has a hooked breech for easy takedown and cleaning with double wedges for secure attachment. The balance point is dead center of the forearm between the barrel wedges, as it should be, and makes carry and off hand shooting easy.

Sorry if this sounds out of line for the request - if you're interested you can e-mail me. And if you don't want mine be sure to look at a new one - I think you'll like what you see.


October 5, 1999, 03:52 PM
Kinda depends on how traditional you want to be. For a great hunting caplock, try to find a good used Thompson/Center Grey Hawk. This gun is short, light, extremely accurate. It is all stainless steel with a non-glare matte finish. The stock is black plastic with a good recoil pad. Barrel twist is 1 in 48 ins., a compromise between the round ball twist and the sabot twist, and it's a compromise that seems to work. For a pure hunting gun, I don't think you can beat it. People with blued/wood guns may scoff, though. You may find it a bit hard to find one of these, they seem to be a discontinued model now, not to be found on the T/C web page. Mine is .50 cal; I shoot it mostly with patched round ball but it really comes into its own as a hunter with sabots. And mine is not for sale! slabsides

An armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject; a disarmed man is a slave.

October 6, 1999, 11:18 AM
Thanks folks for the replies. I need to do some serious homework. I was thinking of plunking down some dollars for an 1863 Springfield musket chambered in .58 caliber to cover two bases: hunting and reenactment (in case I ever got a wild hair to play Billy Yank or Johnny Reb). Then I see where all of you advocate .50 cal for deer hunting -- is that .58 caliber load just TOO much load for hunting white tails?

October 6, 1999, 12:40 PM
On the question of .50 vs. .54 caliber (or more), the opinion is mixed. My feeling is that a deer doesn't know the difference, and doesn't care, because if he's hit fairly with either one he's steaks, and if he's hit around the edges, no gun is big enough. To put the notion of the 'fifty as a smallbore' in perspective: a friend of mine who has built more rifles than most of us will ever shoot, and brought home more game than most will ever see, chose a neat .50 flintlock to fill his moose permit. Shot clear through and dropped on the spot, the moose thought this was enough gun. I have told this story in other forums and had it scoffed at as a 'stunt'. It was no stunt, just a good man with a good gun who knew how to stalk close and aim carefully. On the other hand, if the quarry is something that can bite, maybe a bigger bore would be reassuring. I have seen a hefty bear folded up like yesterday's newspaper with a Renegade .54, and I had no arguement to give that hunter. slabsides

An armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject; a disarmed man is a slave.

October 10, 1999, 06:38 PM
I have a TC Cherokee .45 that has neatly taken many Sitka blacktail deer, using either Buffalo 300+grain bullets or Hornady 300 Great Plains. I have a tang peep sight, and have shot cloverleafs at 100 yards from the bench. Most of the time the bullet exits, even on quartering shots. None of the deer go far.

This piece weighs only 6.5 pounds, and smacks the shooter almost as hard as the target. Those curved buttlplates and thin combs ain't comfy, but they sure are pretty. Plus, I have a .32 barrel for it, and that is fun.