View Full Version : Looking to buy Muzzleloader (1st time buyer)

November 17, 2009, 05:44 AM

I have been thinking about buying a muzzleloader. I have asked a few of my friends but none of them are into it. The only thing I have heard is get one that breaks open, and use powder that comes in pre-measured tablets.

Can anyone recomend a halfway decent starter rifle and what I would need for a starter kit.

I will be using it for White Tail Deer hunting and target shooting.

Thanks in advance for the info.


November 17, 2009, 06:51 AM
As in most shooting, there are many ways to go. The "break-open-use-pellets-shoot-conical-or-sabots" path is one way. Lots of shooters follow that, a modern way of getting the job done.
Then there is the more "traditional" way. Percussion or flintlock/sidelocks - Hawken/Pennsylvania/Tennessee type rifles - black powder and patched round balls.
The second was my choice. I started with a CVA percussion carbine and then picked up a Lyman Great Plains rifle, a flintlock; the Lyman is all I shoot anymore. It's reliable and extremely accurate. That's what I recommend - either the percussion version or the flint gun. Extra drop in barrels are available.
What would you need?
The gun.
A powder measure.
round balls
a "ball starter"
a tin of #11 caps
a can of FFg powder. A percussion gun (a caplock) will allow you to use a black powder substitute like Pyrodex or even the pellets.

November 17, 2009, 09:42 AM
i started with a side lock percussion muzzle loader, killed many deer with it(dads old t/c hawken) wore the bbl out.

i then picked up a knight wolverine inline muzzle loader, and killed many deer with it. i also have a scope mounted to it.
inline rifles have many advantages over "classic" muzzleloaders. easy to clean, easy to clear a misfire, more accurate(generally), more powerful, wide range of bullet types available.

you should check your states laws on muzzleloader hunting, some states require a flintlock, or percussion cap, ban .209 primers, ban scopes, etc...

November 17, 2009, 10:43 AM
First decide if you want to go in-line modern or with the traditional side lock.

If you decide traditional the Lyman GPR or a TC Hawken are good starting points.

.50 or .54, if your going to hunt check your local game laws. I believe some states require a .54 for large game.

A percussion cap is best to start with, if you like that, a flint lock can be the next step. You could start with a flint lock but it is a bit more advanced technique than a cap lock.

Check Gunbroker for used rifles, lot of them listed and it can be a considerable savings.

Most of all, have fun with it.

November 17, 2009, 10:56 AM
Thanks for the info. If anyone else has suggestions keep them coming

In Connecticut the minimum is .45 caliber

was thinking about going with a .50

November 17, 2009, 11:57 AM
if you go traditional lookinto using mini balls or buffalo bullets, both are great for deer, if allowed in your state.

November 17, 2009, 03:48 PM
Do you want to use a scope?
If so get an inline.
If not, get a Thompson Center Hawken, or Lyman Great Plains Rifle.

November 17, 2009, 05:13 PM
You've gotten a lot of good suggestions, but I'll add my two cents. I don't know any people that shoot the modern in-lines as target rifles. I'm sure some do, but I've never seen it. It seems to me that those who shoot muzzleloaders fall into one of two camps.

1) They only are interested in the extra hunting season, and the only shooting they do at the range is to make sure they're good to go for muzzleloading season. If that's your interest, in-lines are probably the way to go. Like has been said before, they can be more weather-proof, easier to clean, clear mis-fires, etc.

Using in-lines, you can get saboted bullets, pre-measured pellets of synthetic blackpowder, and the loading process can be very quick that way.

2) The second camp is those who like the nostalgia of real black powder smoke, wood stocks, and playing with all the goodies. Most of these folks hunt and target shoot. This is the group I relate to more. There is something very enjoyable about the process of measuring a charge of loose powder from my horn, greasing patches, casting lead round balls, and even cleaning my rifle that is more satisfying to me.

I would like to say one thing in response to an earlier post about the accuracy of in-lines vs. traditional rifles. It is certainly the case that traditional side-locks can be finicky, unreliable, and inaccurate. But that's the truth about any rifle.

One thing that is very true about traditional rifles is that cheap ones are not good, and good ones are not cheap. A truly well made and well maintained flintlock or caplock will be just as accurate, if not more so than most in-lines. I believe this is the case that most of the well made traditional rifles are custom or semi-custom rifles that have a lot of care and attention put into building them. The quality control is generally very high and you get really good barrels if you go that route. You can definitely get great accuracy from a factory production rifle (Lyman and Thompson Center are great examples), but if you want top notch accuracy, a semi-custom may be your way to go. As far as reliable goes, there are some tricks to weather-proofing and again, well made rifles rarely misfire if maintained correctly. But there is a learning curve and there is more you have to do to keep them fully functional. It's just part of the deal.

Also consider this. If you use pre-measured pellets of synthetic powder, you only get something like 50 grain increments, but if you pre-measure each charge, you can really test different loads - sort of like reloading for cartridges. Yes, you can get loose synthetic black powder as well. Perhaps this is why I've seen more in-lines than I can count have trouble getting on paper at 50 yards while most of the flintlocks I've seen print clover leaves.

Ultimately, it's about what you want your rifle to do, how much time you want to spend on it, and how much money you want to spend. If you're willing to spend some time and money, traditional blackpowder shooting will make you a much better marksman because it forces you to practice the fundamentals to a level you may never use with cartridge guns. Perhaps this is also true of in-lines, but I don't own one so I'm not sure.

If you're interested in traditional muzzleloading, here are a few websites to check out. They'll give you lots of information and many options as far as guns.

www.muzzleloadingforum.com (a traditional-only muzzleloading site)
www.trackofthewolf.com (one stop shopping for all your traditional needs)

Track of the Wolf, Flintlocks, Sitting Fox, and Longrifles all have "kits" available if you are very handy and want to consider building your own. Be warned - these are not like the old CVA kits you slap together. They're more like a box of parts. But they're a blast to make and when you're done you'll have an heirloom quality rifle.

Give 'em a look and see what you think! Good luck!

November 17, 2009, 08:19 PM
Another reason to go traditional is that most muzzle loading gun clubs are traditional rifle oriented and shoot matches that mandate patched round balls, iron sights, and traditional style rifles.

November 17, 2009, 09:11 PM
If you decide to go with an inline ML, I'd highly recommend the NEF Huntsman / Sidekick models. Mine was reasonably priced and is a solid, well built gun, made in the USA. Came with a stainless steel barrel and fire-sights. It shoots 2-3 inches at 100 yards with a $30 BSA / WalMart 4X scope, 100 grains of T7 and a 348 gr. Powerbelt bullet. No messing around just sight it in and go hunting, from what I've read those groups can probably be be cut in half. These guys are nuts about thier NEF's:

November 17, 2009, 10:11 PM
No one but you can decide what is best to start off with. But also being in CT, I can recommend that you take a look at all of the models & bargain bin deals at:

They're located in Old Saybrook, CT and have a small company store attached to their warehouse with many of their models on display. Some of their specials state that they are available online only, but you'll be able to see every gun they offer plus discontinued models if you visit them there. And they may even give you the same special web prices if you visit them.
I recommend one of their many Pursuit models for a break action rifle. The Pursuit has been around a long time and has undergone many improvements over the years, and they're very ergonomic and reliable. It was named gun of the year just a couple of years ago for all of their continued improvements and features at a reasonable price.
I recently shouldered one of their thumbhole stock Pursuits and it was very ergonomic and fit like a glove.
If you're most interested in a muzzle loader for hunting, then an inline is a good way to start and to develop your interest in muzzle loading. Having a removable breech plug is a real benefit when it comes cleaning them.
If you think that you'd like to shoot patched round balls, then Traditions has many side lock models to choose from too. But they can be a little more difficult to learn all about, and the accuracy and power won't usually be as certain for deer hunting beyond modest distances.
Inlines are better if you prefer to use a scope, although the Traditions Deer Hunter sidelock is drilled and tapped for scope mounting. The inlines do handle more like a modern rifle and many models also have a safety lever.
Plan on visiting Traditions and their website, it's one of the few benefits of living in CT.
I live only 10 miles away from you up Route 9 so I'll send you a PM. I belong to a gun club that's located between both of us right in Berlin. :)

November 17, 2009, 10:36 PM
If you want something simple but quality, go with a TC Omega. They are a breach lock, inline design. They shoot incredibly accurate and are alot of fun. They are a little more pricey than some other inlines that are nice also. For deer hunting, I recommend a TC omega. They may be a little easier to sell if you decide you are not into muzzle loading also. A new Omega will run between $300 and $500. You can get them with the starter kit from cabellas. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you let us all know what you decide to go with.

November 22, 2009, 06:08 AM
Thanks again for all the info

When I get the money together will be going for the modern style, break open. leaning towards Traditions.