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Montana Heritage Muzzleloader Season | Everything You Need To Know
Black powder hunting has been a staple in all 50 states for over one-hundred years and last year, the state of Montana established a heritage muzzleloader season aimed at preserving traditional black powder hunting. During the Montana muzzleloader season, ignition systems are limited to percussion, flintlock, matchlock, and wheel-lock with the use of plain lead projectiles and loose powder required. This means that modern innovations such as the 209 primer ignition, plastic sabots, copper bullets and pelletized powder are strictly prohibited. This new Montana Muzzleloader season provides a primitive hunting experience that harnesses the original traditions established by our forefathers. Today, there are still many manufacturers who specialize in traditional-style rifles. Our goal for this article is to provide you with all of the necessary information before hunting the Montana Heritage Muzzleloader Season.
***NOTE*** For your convenience, we will include all of the exact rules, regulations, and 2022 season details at the end of this article for you to review.
Your first decision should be to find an ignition system that complements your hunting application. The two most modern ignition systems are Percussion and Flintlock. Percussion ignition rifles are easiest to find and use, as they only require loose powder and a small percussion cap. Flintlock ignition rifles will require two types of powder (true FFFFG (4F) black powder for the pan and FFG (2F) for the propellent) as well as a rock flint to ignite the powder charge.
While Matchlock and Wheel-lock muzzleloader rifles are legal during the Montana Muzzleloader Season, they are more niche products, making them difficult to acquire and outfit. We recommend that you use either a percussion or flintlock ignition muzzleloader as these rifles offer the highest level of performance and ease of use. For those who are new to muzzleloading, we recommend starting with a Percussion style muzzleloader, however, if you are looking for an additional challenge then a Flintlock model would be an excellent option.
The next decision is to determine what projectile you want to use. The Montana Muzzleloader Regulations state that the projectile must be comprised exclusively of lead, but can be either a round ball or a conical. Just like its name suggests, round balls are completely spherical and are more accurately guided by a slower twist rate, such as 1:48”, 1:60”, or 1:66” barrel twist. It is also necessary to load a round ball with a shooting patch to ensure a proper gas seal.
Conical bullets will engage the rifling of a faster twist rate, making them more accurate with a 1:48”, 1:32”, or 1:24” barrel twist. Typically, conical bullets are heavier than round balls which produces greater knockdown power and rather than use a patch, they utilize a thick lubrication in order to achieve the desired gas seal.
Now, we want to explain the difference between true black powder (Swiss, Schuetzen, & GOEX) and black powder substitute (Triple Seven & Pyrodex). True black powder has been used in firearms since the beginning of muzzleloading in the late 13th century. It ignites very easily causing a consistent ignition and excellent shot-to-shot consistency, however, it is also very corrosive and susceptible to moisture corruption. Another potential downside is that true black powder is classified as a Division 1.1 explosive which can make it difficult to acquire and store.
Black powder substitutes are a modern variation of true black powder. Black powder substitutes are classified as Division 4.1 Flammable Solids which means that they are reasonably easy to acquire, however, because they are less easily ignited, you may experience more inconsistency in ignition when compared to true black powder. These substitutes are typically much easier to clean and mildly less susceptible to moisture corruption. We recommend using black powder substitutes like Triple Seven and Pyrodex during the Montana muzzleloader season because of their simplicity and availability, however, if you prefer true black powder, we recommend Schuetzen, GOEX, and Swiss.
Investarm Bridger Hawken
The Investarm Bridger Hawken is an excellent muzzleloader for hunting in Montana and has many features that distinguish it from other muzzleloaders in its class. The Investarm Bridger Hawken is modeled after the familiar and effective Hawken design of the 1800s. The barrel is 28” in length and has a 1:48” twist rate. The 28” barrel length increases weight, but will also help stabilize shots and reduce felt recoil.
The Bridger Hawken also features a double set trigger system which is designed so that the rear trigger can be set, engaging the first and transforming it into a hair-trigger. Depending on your caliber preference, the Bridger Hawken can be purchased in .45, .50, and .54 caliber and is available in either percussion or flintlock configurations. The added diversity of the 1:48” twist rate, caliber options, and overall fit and finish lead us to recommend this muzzleoader to anyone who is interested in the Montana heritage season.
Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken
The Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken is the pinnacle of traditional muzzleloading. The Missouri River Hawken is a muzzleloader distinguished by high-end features and the meticulous, hand-crafted quality that Pedersoli is known for. The 30” barrel has a twist rate of 1:24”, which is significantly faster than most traditional style muzzleloaders. This faster twist rate allows the Missouri River Hawken to shoot conical bullets exceptionally well. While the Missouri River Hawken is only offered in percussion style ignition, it is available with either a maple or walnut stock as well as your choice of .45 or .50 caliber. Similarly to the Investarm Bridger Hawken, the Missouri River features a double set trigger for additional precision and it also boasts six-groove rifling for increased projectile stabilization. The 1:24” twist rate, six-groove rifling, and double set trigger make this the ultimate muzzleoader for hunting in Montana.
Lyman Great Plains Hunter Signature
The Lyman Great Plains Hunter Signature finds its niche between the Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken and the Investarm Bridger Hawken. The Great Plains Hunter Signature carries forward the standard design of the original Lyman Great Plains Hunter and is now produced in coordination with Pedersoli. The faster 1:24” twist rate barrel will perform extremely well with conical bullets and is also drilled and tapped to accept the Lyman 57 GPR peep sight. The Great Plains Hunter Signature barrel has also been shortened to 30”, which makes it slightly more lightweight and compact than the original Great Plains Hunter. All of these features combine to produce an excellent muzzleloader that will have no trouble stabilizing conical projectiles out to 150 yards.
Muzzleloading can be an expensive hobby but that does not mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars to be successful. The Traditions Deerhunter is available for a price that most people can afford and it provides all of the features needed for a successful muzzleloader hunt. The Deerhunter has a compact 24” barrel, making it an excellent lightweight option, and has a 1:48” twist rate, allowing it to use either round balls or conical bullets effectively. Traditions offers the Deerhunter in either wood or composite stock options and depending on your ignition preference, you can purchase this muzzleloader with either percussion or flintlock ignition. This muzzleloader is perfect for anyone looking to hunt the Montana heritage season without breaking the bank.
Muzzleloader Build-it-Yourself Kits
A build-it-yourself muzzleloader kit is also an option if you would like to spend time building and customizing your own muzzleloader. Most muzzleloader kits will include everything that you need to assemble the rifle, however, stain, bluing, and wood working tools will need to be purchased separately. Keep in mind that most stocks are rough cut to provide the true experience of building a rifle.
Building your own muzzleloader kit is one of the best ways to experience muzzleloading and develop a better understanding of muzzleloader functionality. If you are looking for an enjoyable project to occupy your time until the Montana muzzleloader season kicks off then I would recommend picking up a build-it-youself-kit.
There are several excellent options when looking at Traditional Rifles that are legal for Montana’s new Muzzleloader Heritage Season, and we hope that this article helps you develop a better understanding of this hunt. Whether you are looking for a budget conscious Traditions Deerhunter rifle or a top of the line Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken, there are many accurate and high-performing rifles to choose from. Please feel free to contact our knowledgeable customer service team at 1-855-236-5000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
2022 Season Details
According to the Montana Hunting Regulations, in 2022 the Montana Heritage Muzzleloader Season will begin on December 10th and run through December 18th. This will provide an excellent opportunity for those of you that enjoy late season hunting.
Muzzleloader Heritage Hunting Season Lawful Weapons 87-1-304(9):
Plain lead projectiles and a muzzleloading rifle that is charged with loose black powder, loose pyrodex, or an equivalent loose black powder substitute, and ignited by a flintlock, wheel lock, matchlock, or percussion mechanism using a percussion or musket cap. The muzzleloading rifle must be a minimum of .45 caliber and may not have more than two barrels. Additionally, 87-6-401(1), a hunter may not use a muzzleloading rifle that requires insertion of a cap or primer into the open breech of the barrel, is capable of being loaded from the breech, or is mounted with an optical magnification device. Use of prepared paper or metallic cartridges, sabots, gas checks, or other similar power and range-enhancing manufactured loads that enclose the projectile from the rifling or bore of the firearm is also prohibited.