View Full Version : CVA Barrels

January 11, 2009, 11:28 PM
Hi Everyone,

I'm looking at buying a muzzle loader for the first time. One rifle I'm considering is a CVA. I have a concern though...I've been reading they have had safety issues with the barrels. Does anyone know about this issue?

Your help will be appreciated.

January 12, 2009, 12:15 AM
As far as I know, CVA only had one recall of an inline model and that was a long time ago.
The information was previously listed on their website but when I checked I couldn't find it.
The following is contained in post #7 of the thread linked below:

IIRC, the defective CVA barrels were on the 1996 or 1997 series Stag Horns and Pro-Hunters. Maybe some other affected models but the serial numbers are date coded with the 2 digit year being either the first two or last two numbers. I forget, been awhile. One of mine was an affected gun and CVA sent me a new barrel and breech plug for it. That was some time ago though.


I would not be concerned about shooting any CVA gun that wasn't directly involved in the recall. If in doubt about which model was recalled contact CVA.


January 12, 2009, 01:40 AM
Thank you for the reply Arcticap.

I've noticed posts in other forums talking about the same problem that is in your post. A friend of mine sent me a link that brought me to this article. http://www.randywakeman.com/WillMyCVAMuzzleloaderBlowUp.htm

I have considered the source may have a bias but figured bring the question up would be helpful in my decision. I just wanted to learn if CVA has this reputation with their barrels.

I'm interested in the Knight Bighorn (50 cal.)and the CVA Elkhorn (50 cal.). The Elkhorn is a bolt action and the Bighorn seems to be a proven rifle over time. I'm from Oregon so an open ignition is required to hunt.

Any thoughts?

January 12, 2009, 02:30 AM
Without making any bones about it, I do NOT like CVA & Traditions products because from an overall standpoint they are JUNK - by that comment I mean they have quality and design issues with most every part of them - some safety issues but mostly functionality & reliability issues. However, in all fairness, the statements and claims made by Randy Wakeman and the others who parrot these statements and claims are doing so purely to drive their chosen agenda and not to present "facts" in the interest of consumers.

I've made my statements loud and clear, in case you missed them, I have seen a number of safety & functionality issues with guns from the above two named companies - as they relate to SIDELOCKS only, the problems are with poor quality control and lack of craftsmanship. Lock & trigger failures and/or malfunctions resulting in inadvertent discharges (firing when they are not supposed to); lack of sufficient & reliable ignition and so forth. In all fairness, I have detailed the same lack of quality and craftsmanship issues with many Pedersoli muzzleloaders as well. To continue the fairness issue, I've also seen numerous part failures on Thompson Center sidelocks such as broken sears, galled tumblers and broken sear springs.

First and foremost, NO MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL DEVICE IS FOOLPROOF!!!! This is why we continuously stress the absolute need for anyone handling a gun at any time for any reason know and follow all the common firearms handling and operation safety measures AT ALL TIMES! I don't care if you buy a $150 CVA or Traditions, a $650 T/C, a $50,000 custom gun or a $530,000,000 bucket-wheel mining machine, any part at any time can fail without warning and improper operation will at some point injure/kill you or someone! I manufacture muzzleloaders, industrial machinery and associated items. I go to great lengths to test and/or specify every part/material used in the manufacturing process meets or exceeds the nominal operational and safety specifications ... but ... that does not mean something can't fail - thus is the reason why electrical circuits are protected by circuit breakers or fuses, it's an insurance policy to help prevent the possibility of catastrophic failure but it by no means can assure absolute protection. All that being said, when any item, including guns, are "built to a price" meaning they are manufactured in the cheapest possible manner so as to sell for the lowest possible price, the only way to achieve this goal is to reduced the manufacturing costs and that is done by reducing the costs of both labor and materials. When you reduce the cost of labor and materials, the result is reducing the level of quality.

Back to the basis of the issue at hand - First off, the "700Kp/cm2" is NOT a "proof mark" of any kind. A quick internet search will bring you numerous documents containing the past and present "proof marks" being used by the proofhouse in Eibar Spain and the above is nowhere to be found because it isn't a "proof mark". Without being able to contact the Eibar proofhouse personally, I have to settle for the word of a gentleman I have no reason to doubt that the "700kp/cm2" stamp is nothing more than an indication the steel meets the minimum acceptable standards - what we here in the USA would know as an ANSI, AWS, SAE, ect. specification - it does not mean the finished product was tested by either organization, it simply means the particular raw material in question was manufactured to meet the minimum acceptable standard corresponding to its identification mark. Example of this is ER70S6 welding wire. Because the number appears on the product does not mean it was tested by AWS or anyone else, it means that wire was manufactured in such a manner as to meet or exceed the minimum requirements for specification of that identifying number. Thus, the "70" portion of that identification number means that a weld bead laid down with that wire must achieve a minimum strength of 70,000psi - that does not mean the weld made will be a 70ksi joint, it means the composition of the wire must produce a minimum of 70ksi and in most cases the actual wire will test well above the 70ksi MINIMUM requirement. The same goes for the 700kp/cm2 marking, it means that steel meets or exceeds the minimum requirement for it to be labeled as such. If one takes the time to look, you can find other Spanish made centerfire guns wearing the same 700kp/cm2 marking in addition to the "actual" proof marks.

Going one step further, just because a particular gun/barrel has a "proof mark" it simply means that it didn't blow-up when it proofed and that doesn't mean it can't blow-up with the next round fired or the 1,000th round fired or the 10,000th round fired. A proof mark does not mean it won't or can't fail especially if it's operated/loaded improperly, it simply means that at the time it was tested it didn't fail. Proof marks are in reality worth about as much as an ISO rating - just because a company has an ISO 2xxx rating does not mean the product(s) they manufacture/sell are any good, it simply means that company has maintained their records properly. If you want to get down to brass tacks, firing an overpressure proof load can actually cause damage resulting in catastrophic failure at a later point in time with a standard pressure load.

A long time ago, I think in the 70's, maybe early 80's? Someone, think it was one of the gun rags did a series of destructive tests on the cheap mass-production ML's, I know CVA was one of them. At some point the stock broke but the barrel held and was strapped to a plank or some such fixturing jig and they continued upping the loads to further levels of insanity. This besides the point, I have seen several good-quality USA made ML barrels that have in fact suffered catastrophic failures but every single one was caused by either a improper operation or because the structural integrity of the barrel was compromised by a modification made after the barrel was shipped from the manufacturer thus making the failure caused by stupidity rather than a manufacturing or material safety issue. By far, the majority of catastrophic failures were the direct result of incorrect/unsafe loading.

If we really want to question proof marks and countries of origin, how about being truthful about where most barrels and other parts come from that are used on the alleged "made in USA" mass-production guns for use with both black powder and smokeless powder. Can you say?... Pakistan, India, China and Turkey to name just a few.

Another thing, how many of our domestic gun parts like barrels & actions are being made on machinery and with tooling that comes from foreign lands like China, Korea, Japan & Taiwan? What about the guns that are made in the Czech Republic, Romania, Germany, Georgia and so forth? Can we condemn Benelli and other high-quality Italian gun makers simply because Pedersoli produces a good amount of junk? Can we condemn all the American electrical equipment manufacturers simply because Federal-Pacific produces junk? Obviously the answer is "no" to all of these questions yet if we choose to accept the agenda-driven hype of a few people who have a vested financial interest in pushing that agenda, then we are simply being ignorant to the facts and making no progress than that which can be had from repeatedly hitting ourselves in the head with a hammer.

Summing all this up - First and foremost is SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY! Know everything about the gun! Pay attention to what you're doing! Don't allow yourself to be distracted when loading! When in doubt, throw it out! - Pull the load rather than taking a chance on firing it! If you don't know what you're doing, don't do anything, get professional help! If there is any question as to the maximum allowable load/bullet you can use in that particular gun is, contact the manufacturer BEFORE trying anything and then verify the information is correct! Common sense goes a long way!
If you buy guns built to a low price, barring the few very rare exceptions, normally you get cheap junk. If you buy a mass-production gun being sold at any price, do some homework and find out where all the raw materials come from and where all the parts are made before handing over your money. If you're buying a custom/semi-custom/handmade gun at any price, do your homework and find out where all the materials and parts come from. No matter what you choose to buy, get the facts, not agenda-driven hype! If we want to argue the fact that cheap production ML's can be unsafe because of "quality control" issues, I'll go along on that ride because I've seen way too many with lock and trigger issues that made them very much unsafe.

January 12, 2009, 05:08 AM
I had a CVA barrel reworked to fit my Investarms Hawken. I'm tickled to death with it.

January 12, 2009, 06:30 AM
after a member referred to CVA meaning as meaning "causes violent accidents" i sent an email to CVA on the matter. they replied i still have the reply in my mail. they told me it was in 1995,1996 models inlines only. the specific inline model/s was not mentioned. the reply did also say that the rifle has a/the 95 or 96 AFTER the serial number. it only was the inlines, not sidelock, percussion or flintlock. my sidelock CVA was made in 87.

i PM'ed you the reply they sent me.

if i recall right,i'm not condoning or leaning in any way,but the trouble was blamed on HUMAN error. the rifle shooter/loader overcharged the rifle,too much powder.

January 12, 2009, 12:03 PM

I recal reading a fairly extensive article in Chuck Hawks about a year ago, that had a good evaluation on barrels and not exclusive to CVA. I remember that it included barrels in Remington M/L's are well as other well known companies. You concerns are well founded. More and more, I see companies listing Green Mountian as their source for barrels. I only trust them with Heavy shot strings W/ 777. Keep looking and if i run into this article again, I will forward it to you. ....

Be Safe !!!

January 12, 2009, 01:15 PM
Thank you everyone for all the great information.

You guys are a great help!


January 25, 2009, 11:33 PM
I have several BP Riffles, and in CVA I have and hunt with a .50 Stainless (Elk) a .45 Stainless (Deer & Antelope) and the 12ga. (Turkey).

I have been hunting with these for several years and have had Zero trouble with any of them. I am very please with their performance.

I too have read all the "issues" they once had and have spoken to many who own CVA, but I have enough confidence in these guns that I let my son (11 yrs) shoot them.


Smokey 92
January 26, 2009, 10:44 AM
Chris, what powder, primer and bullets do use in your .50? Thanks.

January 26, 2009, 08:20 PM

I use 120gr 777 (weighed) with a 245gr tipped copper Powerbelt in my 50.
I use 105gr 777 (weighed) with a 195gr tipped copper Powerbelt in my 45.

My last buck I took with the 45 at just over 100yrds and it blew a baseball size hole out the back side. The Powerbelts are BAD!

I spent a lot of time playing with different loads and bullets.

The 50 setup (120/245) works so well that a friend of mine bought a CVA Optima Elite (same barrel as my Optima Pro) and grabbed a few of my speed loaders and the first 5 shots had 4"-5" groups at 50 yards. (open sights)

But like I said, I go against conventional wisdom and I weigh all my loads.
I like the consistency I get with weighed charges vs volume.

January 26, 2009, 08:32 PM
it blew a baseball size hole out the back side
Does that perhaps suggest the gun was overloaded for the situation?

120 gr by weight of 777 is way, way to much power for a deer.

January 26, 2009, 08:48 PM
These re high-plains deer in Eastern Colorado.
100yards is a "close" shot. 150yards is more typical.

The Powerbelts expand on impact and shreds most whatever they hit.

Also, I have tried lighter loads, but with much less accuracy.

Doc Hoy
January 27, 2009, 09:58 AM
It was a number of years ago and the test included superimposed loads if I am not mistaken.

I do agree with you on CVA stuff but I must add two caveates.

1. I can only rely upon experience with CVA single shot pistols and rifles.
2. My experience is not recent.

My quarrel was with the rifles, the design of which I felt made too many compromises to the marketplace. I could just imagine some marketer asking, "Okay now how can we get this to the market quick and cheap?"

I stay away from them now but I hasten to add that I have not compared present day offerings to the competition. I am just a creature of habit.

My feelings do not extend to the pistols which I found to be reliable and highly accurate and a fairly faithful representation of period pistols. (Keep in mind, I am not a purist or a reinactor)



Smokey 92
January 27, 2009, 06:30 PM
Thanks Chris.
Deer in Colorado can grow big and 120gr. is not overkill in my opinion. Those that blackpowder hunt whitetails in Saskatchewan for example, 150grs is the norm. Unless one is lucky enough to hunt Jackson, Mi. and surrounding areas, yes 100gr is sufficient, as elsewhere in the state, the deer are not allowed to get old enough to get that big.

January 29, 2009, 09:35 AM
I have a CVA .50 Cal Frontier Carbine kit. I never shoot over 75 grs, and I have only shot patched RB out of it with 1 exception, I fire six maxiballs some one gave me once and they did well. With the 75 gr pyrodex load, and the PRB I can group 3 shots at 50 yds inside of 2". I am a gun safety nut, and if I ever have any doubt about whether I loaded incorrectly I pull the load. My bbl was made in 1988 and I have had the bbl checked for uniformity in the bore by a competent gunsmith. That check just told me the bore was straight, and the rifling consistant. I would never assume it would tell me the quality of strength. Load to manufacturer specs and always resist the temptation to hot load your rifle or pistol for that matter.
My .02 fwiw.

January 29, 2009, 07:19 PM
I use 120gr 777 (weighed) with a 245gr tipped copper Powerbelt in my 50.

Thanks Chris.
Deer in Colorado can grow big and 120gr. is not overkill in my opinion. Those that blackpowder hunt whitetails in Saskatchewan for example, 150grs is the norm. Unless one is lucky enough to hunt Jackson, Mi. and surrounding areas, yes 100gr is sufficient, as elsewhere in the state, the deer are not allowed to get old enough to get that big.

100 grains by volume of 777 weighs 70 grains, therefore 120 grains of 777 weighed is equal to 171 grains in volume. 777, volumetrically, is 15% hotter than black powder resulting in pressures comparable to 197 grains of BP.

January 29, 2009, 08:10 PM
That's just simply a ridiculously high load, no matter how big your deer grow. You are seriously abusing that gun. The damage to the carcass should be the first clue, but whosyrdaddy's calculations have to convince you.

January 30, 2009, 07:39 PM
dang 120gr triple by weight? Thats a scary load!

Just curious but when you shoot deer or elk with those loads have you ever recovered a powerbelt or do they exit?

January 31, 2009, 02:14 AM
Are you guys aware that the CVA Optima Pro can handle 150gr of Palletized powder (about 120gr by weight)? I am not claiming to know everything. Nor am I recommending that you all head out and pack your ML's to the brim; however in all fairness I did answer the questions asked.

They are designed for these kinds of loads... Now before everyone gets their panties in a wad, yes I know that CVA recommends that you only go to 100gr (by volume) of loose powder and that is somewhere around 80-85gr of 777. These are their "recommended" loading amounts.

However, after talking with & CVA, I have been shooting with 120gr for many years. I have done rather well with these loads... I have seen many of these barrels produce some very satisfactory results at 100yards.

And yes, it is a bit much for Deer, but not so much for Elk. AND here in Colorado Deer & Elk (and Bear for that fact) all run the same week for Muzzleloaders to hunt. In most cases a hunter will have a tag for at least two if not all three of these critters.

And yes, retrieving a Powerbelt from an Elk is not uncommon, and yes is it typically the size of a silver dollar when found.

And if you don't mind, let me state one more thing... For me, I would rather put a baseball size hole "through" a deer - rather than wound an Elk and spend the next five days of my hunting trip trying to find the dang thing! I hear it all the time - hunters that either shoot high/low trying to compensate for a too light of a load for a too heavy of a bullet or thump an Elk and bitch because it didn't drop and then go walk off looking for another animal to harvest.

I am not target shooting, and we are not shooting tin cans. When we hit the woods, we have a job to do and a duty to the animal to harvest it as cleanly & quickly as possible. Pie plates at 100 or even 150 yards are very satisfactory for us.

Let me also state that Muzzleloading season (here in Colorado) is the 3rd week of the 4 week Bow Hunting season, so a hunter can also have a Bow! I know many hunters that take both, myself included - and if the animal is with in reach of a bow that will typically be my first choice (tag permitting).

Now I can hear the whispers "dang that boy is carrying a ton of crap to hunt with!"

In some ways, yes - but note this - I am fat and lazy and my horses (yes multiple) carry most my gear. And when hunting we (not just me) will have a bow scabbard on the right and my riffle scabbard on the left. While this is a little uncommon to see everyday - it has proven to work very well for us.

Having multiple weapons has also saved our butts! On a trip a couple years ago we were hunting Elk and while sitting and calling, we actually called in a cat (Mountain Lion for you city folks). She was not in any mood to discuss the weather that day - I tell you what. Mike fired a shot with his ML thinking that she would leave... Wrong - just ****** her off. So at nine (9) yards I put an arrow right through her chest. Job Done.


January 31, 2009, 01:14 PM
Bergara barrel Info

Mike Belms news letter,
Last night curiosity got the best of me and I uncovered the Rockwell hardness tester to check out the hardness of the Bergara Encore barrels.

"Cheap, Soft Spanish guns" has traditionally sometimes been true, unfortunately, which I can personally vouche for in regard to some I have had such as a Llama 1911 type .45 ACP that had the slide showing signs of stretching after very little use. Likewise, my .45 Firestar shows signs of stretching with only a few Federal +Ps run through it.

Likewise, Taurus handguns from Brazil once had a reputation for being cheaply made, but today it is another story entirely with Taurus putting out superb guns that rival the very best. Frankly, I have picked up several Taurus wheel guns that left me lusting for one myself!

Over the past year and a half doing machine work on Bergara barrels, I have rechambered, cut and crowned, relined, had numerous barrels cut rifle rebored to larger calibers, drilled and tapped, and cut my TBOSS into them.

Their steel machines VERY nicely. Harking back to the days when I did a lot of cut rifling reboring, off the cuff in terms of machineability, I would put the Bergara Encore barrel steel somewhere between early Winchester stainless steel and Ruger's blued, chrome-moly, steel for machining easily and very cleanly.

Cut rifle reboring will tell you more about the machining qualities of barrel steel probably better than any other test. The Bergara barrels I have had rebored recently have cut rifled beautifully!

Internal finishes and the costs to produce those finishes are in part a function of how readily the steel machines and is reflected in the finishes of both the bores and the chambers of the Bergara barrels and their excellent price points.

The point of this Newsletter is this. Has anything by way of barrel hardness (ie, tensile strength) been sacrificed to get these nice finishes at the price we pay for the product?

Drum rollllllll:

Blued steel Bergara Encore barrels Rockwell hardness tested at Rc 25.
Stainless steel Bergara Encore barrels Rockwell hardenss tested Rc 17.
(Their Encore muzzle loader barrels are made from the same steel as their rifle barrels.)

How does this compare with other high power rifle barrels?

Quick summary of checks I have made over the years:

Older vintages of military Mauser barrels and early 1903 Springfield .30/06 manganese steel barrels around Rc 10.

Later Springfield .30/06 barrels made from what P.O. Ackley said was "WD4140," WD meaning "War Department", was around Rc17, the average hardness of "normalized," ie, air cooled 4140 steel.

The majority of commercial barrels from Winchester, Remington, Ruger, etc. tested around Rc 24-26, while at the time I tested them, the Savage 110 barrels were right up there at around Rc 30-32.

Shilen barrels at the time were Rc 19 while Douglas was around Rc 25.

Current Shilen barrels run around Rc 29-30.

Most 416 stainless rifle barrels are around Rc 20, +/-.

As you can see, barrel steel hardnesses range all over the planet, over the entire hardness range from dead soft annealed up through about Rc 32, the upper end of the hardness range that still readily permits the types of machining operations involved in making barrels.

Bottom line:
The Bergara Encore barrels made in Bergara, Spain are right where they need to be for hardness, which determines in large part the tensile strength of the steel.

"Soft Spanish guns" does not apply here!

Another plus for Bergara barrels!

Mike Bellm

January 31, 2009, 01:18 PM
Chris, Do you have pics of the recovered bullets? I do a little experimenting with powerbelt bullets and like to take the info down along with any pics and make adjustments to powder charges.

This was my doe i got in 2007 near Burns Colorado *unit 35* 80gr triple 7 3f, 80 yards and a 225 grain .45cal Aerotip Powerbelt.

February 1, 2009, 12:08 AM
No pics, typically the processor is the one who finds them.

Nice harvest; what was the shooting distance?
Also, I see you are using 3f instead of 2f, what the difference in loads (not the actual difference of the powder), how does that shoot, why did you pick 3f over 2f?

I choose to weight my loads vs. vol just for the consistency value.

February 1, 2009, 12:38 AM
80 yards. I picked 3f on accident and so i went with it. I usually shot pyrodex rs in that rifle i had but the store was out. I hate t7 and refuse to use it.

You'd be surprised at how accurate it is to load by volume. I have my own way of doing it. I'll send you the info on how to do it. Check your PM when you can.

February 1, 2009, 12:49 AM
Some more pics of that deer on the inside,
Part of the blood trail * she only went 5 yards if that*



225 grains New/Recovered bullet weight,

Smokey 92
February 9, 2009, 06:52 PM
I realize that the hunters on television programs likely get the firearms they use for nothing, save an endorsement. Year before last while watching Versus, Mark Keyser, using a CVA Kodiak dropped in it's tracks, a huge Montana whitetail at 100 yards. No ad for CVA was aired that program or any other Versus shows I've watched. Begs the question, did he choose it? Either way, if it was junk and likely to come apart, I doubt any professional hunter would risk his bacon, for a freebie. I'm not afraid to give one try.

February 9, 2009, 06:59 PM
do yourself a favor, buy a used T/C Renegade and forget about the inline junk!

use BLACK POWDER, and a roundball! they have killed and do deer just as dead and will always do so fine!


February 10, 2009, 12:37 AM

What "personal" experience do you have with the newer in-line CVA rifles?
Which one was it you mentioned you owned?