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Getting Started Muzzleloader Hunting On A Budget - The Beginners Guide To Muzzleloading Series - Part 1
If you are reading this article there is a good chance you are entering into the exciting world of muzzleloader hunting and shooting for the first time. If that is the case we offer a sincere welcome from our community and we look forward to having you be a part of the Muzzle-Loader family! If you are not new to the sport but are just looking for some good tips this is a great article for you as well and we are glad you are here! In this article we will cover how to get setup for muzzleloader season without breaking the bank and also without sacrificing on performance.
To start with we will have to answer the biggest burning question which is what muzzleloader should you go with? You may be surprised to find that there are actually a variety of excellent budget friendly muzzleloaders and supplies on the market in both inline and traditional styles. In most states you will be able to utilize an inline muzzleloader and there are many excellent reasons why we recommend going with one of those rather than a traditional muzzleloader if you are just getting started. First, inlines tend to be less expensive than their traditional counterparts. Second, inlines generally shoot farther and more accurately. Third, inline muzzleloaders are significantly easier to clean and maintain than traditional style muzzleloaders.
Of the inline muzzleloader offerings on the market we recommend you checkout The CVA Wolf V2 and the Traditions Buckstalker XT. Both of these guns are offered in a few different options and provide very good performance out to 150-200 yards. Additionally both the CVA Wolf V2 and the Traditions Buckstalker XT can be equipped with either a scope or open sights making them adaptable for almost every state's muzzleloader hunting requirements. If you need further information regarding your states muzzleloader hunting season regulations you can click the link below to our regulations by state page.
You can checkout the CVA Wolf V2 line up as well as the Traditions Buckstalker XT line up by clicking on the respective images below. Further down in the article you will also find a link to our All-In-One Beginners Muzzleloader Setup if you are wanting to get absolutely everything you need in one go at a great price.
CVA Wolf V2 Muzzleloaders
Traditions Buckstalker XT Muzzleloaders
The next thing we will need to cover will be bullets, powder and primer selection. This is a crucial part of the process that can make or break your muzzleloading experience. Every muzzleloader has its own unique character and will require a little bit of time at the range to get a proper load developed. We will be going over that in depth in a later installment of this article series. For now we will focus more on getting the right components selected and how to make those determinations.
We have done extensive range and field testing on a large variety of projectiles, powders and primers and for the guns we are recommending in this article we have found the following to work the best.
For bullets we suggest either the Hornady Bore Driver or the Powerbelt ELR bullets, we have had good success with both projectiles, however, if we had to pick one we tend to favor the Hornady Bore Driver FTX.
|Hornady Bore Driver FTX - 290 Grain Bullet
|.50 Caliber Powerbelt ELR - 330 Grain Bullet
On the powders side we are suggesting two different styles of powder. Hodgdon Triple 7 FFG is a great loose black powder substitute that we have had excellent consistency with. There are other great powders on the market as well, the reason we went with Triple 7 for this application is that it is both cost effective and reliable. This combo will save you time and money and make it that much easier to get started shooting without unneeded frustration.
Alternatively, you can use the IMR White Hots pelletized black powder substitute. The advantage of pellets is two fold. First, you don't need as much equipment to load the muzzleloader and second, reloading is considerably faster than using loose powder. The only draw back is that you are locked into set charges since they are made in pre-measured pellets. This is not usually an issue, however, some guns may perform better at 90 grains of powder as an example and the closest you could get to that with pellets would be 100 grains. Again we will cover some of the nuance in greater detail in our next installment.
|Hodgdon Triple 7 FFG Loose Black Powder Substitute
|IMR White Hots Pelletized Black Powder Substitute
With good choices for bullets and powder now covered it is important to give some time and attention to the primers. This is one of those components that may not seem like it would make a big difference in the performance of your gun, however, you may be surprised to know that a rotten primer can cause your muzzleloader to be way off target. Some primers work better with certain powders than others, and there are others that work pretty well with everything. We are going to look at the more universally applicable primers as they are typically better all the way around.
We have selected our top two primers as pictured below, however, a good third option not show below would be the Federal 209A primers. The reason the Federal primers have been left off of this list is that they have been very hard to find in stores over the last few years. It has nothing to do with their performance, and if you can find them they work great.
The two primers below are both magnum 209 shotshell primers, this simply means they are going to have a higher ignition temperature which allows them to provide more consistent ignitions. Magnum primers also have the added benefit of working with nearly every black powder on the market including Blackhorn 209 which has a very high ignition temperature threshold. We will get into why that is important on the next article.
|Cheddite Clerinox CX2000 Magnum 209 Primers
|CCI 209M Magnum 209 primers
Now that you have an idea of which muzzleloader you want and what to shoot out of it, we need to address how to get you setup for success in the field. Many people overlook the need to have a follow up shot ready and it has cost not a few hunters to miss out on sealing the deal. Unless you plan to pack around a second rifle (which some people do) the next best thing is to have pre-made loads on hand and quickly available. To successfully speed reload in the field you will need a speed loader, bullet starter and your ramrod. Thankfully the ramrod is already on your gun so you already have that part taken care of. Below we have linked some recommendations for good speed loaders and bullet starters that we have tested in the field.
|Flex Loading Speed Clip
The last aspect of muzzleloading that needs to be addressed is cleaning. While certainly not the most glamorous part of muzzleloading it is incredibly important. Unlike the centerfire and rimfire guns you are probably used to, shooting black power muzzleloaders is extremely dirty and black powder (even the newer substitutes) is hard on the rifle if left in the barrel. It is important to know that you are going to have to spend a bit more time and effort in cleaning a muzzleloader than you will a regular cartridge rifle.
In our next article in this series we will go into detail about cleaning procedures and what we have found to work the best. For this article we are going to focus on the supplies you will need to clean your muzzleloader.
We recommend that you get a good solid range rod for cleaning purposes, a black powder friendly solvent, parts soaker, breech plug grease, rust preventative and cleaning patches. Below is a link to our All-In-One Beginners outfit offerings. The All-In-One kits come with everything you need to get started shooting including powder, primers, bullets and all cleaning supplies and accessories you will need.
We have found that the Thor line of solvents and cleaning products has performed very well and cleans our muzzleloaders faster than other solvents we have tried. For this reason we recommend checking out that product line. Please note that other brands of solvents are also great options and will do a good job for you provided you ensure they are water based. Unless you are going to shoot Blackhorn 209 powder you will want to avoid all oil based cleaning solvents in your black powder muzzleloader.
To help you along we have linked our pages for various cleaning products below. You can simply click on the images to go to the associated product collection on our website.
|Solvents/Rust Prevent & Parts Soakers
|Brushes & Ramrod Attachments
Some additional accessories you will want to consider will be a bullet starter and a durable range rod. Bullet starters are a great tool that make loading your muzzleloader much more enjoyable and they serve a practical purpose in extending the life of your muzzleloader's ramrod. Trying to start a bullet with the ramrod that comes with your muzzleloader can very easily end up causing you to snap or bend the ramrod.
A good range rod is also a smart idea to avoid frustration. Range rods are designed to load and clean your muzzleloader out at the range. These rods are designed to take a beating and last almost indefinitely, unlike the ramrod that comes with most muzzleloaders.
Following the advice in this article will get you outfitted with everything you need to get started on your next muzzleloading adventure at a reasonable cost for most states. This is not an exhaustive guide to all of the different products in the muzzleloading world by any means so be sure to stayed tuned for more information coming in the near future!
Of course if you have any questions our customer service team is always here to help you out. Everyone you talk to on the phones is highly knowledgable on all things black powder and we are here to ensure you have all of the resources you need to succeed. Please feel free to reach out to our customer service team at any time via phone (855) 236-5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunting in Oregon, Idaho or Montana?
Read on for more info regarding the more specialized equipment required in your states.
We didn't want to leave out our northwest regulation state and Montana hunters as the requirements in each of the aforementioned states will change the equipment that can be used in each state significantly from what we have already covered. The good news is that the principles remain the same and you can even use the same rifles mentioned above just with the Northwest conversion installed for Oregon & Idaho. If you are hunting in Montana hang tight we will get to your gear next.
For Idaho and Oregon the rifles can be setup the exact same, the main difference will be the bullets that can be used in each respective state. We have listed the CVA Wolf V2 and Traditions Buckstalker XT Northwest models below. These rifles are legal for the muzzleloader season in Oregon and Idaho.
CVA Wolf V2 Northwest Legal
Traditions Buckstalker XT Northwest Legal
The next thing you will need is bullets and musket caps. For powder you will need to use a loose powder (the Triple 7 FFG from earlier in the article is a good choice) during muzzleloader season in Oregon and Idaho.
In Oregon you can use a variety of projectiles, however, we have found that the Thor bullets offered the best terminal performance and accuracy in our range and field experience. Thor offers a couple styles of bullets, in Oregon you must use the hollow pointed version as the polymer ballistic tips are not allowed during Oregon's muzzleloader season. You can check out the Thor bullet line up by clicking on the picture below.
For our Idaho hunters, the muzzleloader season requirements dictate that an all lead bullet must be used. This greatly reduces the bullet options, unfortunately. We have found that the best bullet for use in Idaho with an inline style muzzleloader are the Powerbelt Pure Lead bullets which have been linked below.
The last component to cover is the musket caps. While we do recommend using RWS musket caps, they have been very difficult to find for the last few years. In light of that information we offer our second pick which would be the Schuetzen musket caps. Please be advised that Traditions only recommends using RWS caps in their guns. We have had mixed results using Schuetzen musket caps in Traditions Northwest muzzleloaders.
One thing that you will want to keep in mind if you are getting started in muzzleloading with a Northwest muzzleloader is that they are going to have more hang fires and misfires than their 209 ignition counter parts. Don't get discouraged if you run into that issue more than expected, there are ways to minimize hang fires and misfires and we will cover that in a future installment of this article series.
Below is a link to the Schuetzen musket caps for your review and convenience.
The good news is that all of the other gear that you need is identical to that which has already been mentioned above, with one exception. Since Idaho and Oregon require the use of loose powder you will want to be sure to pick up a powder measure to take with you to the range and to the field.
Montana Season Setup
Now last but certainly not least we are going to address the Montana muzzleloader season. This one was saved for last as it is completely different from all of the other states in that it strictly requires the use of traditional style muzzleloaders only. These guns present a different set of challenges and require different gear to get started.
There are many excellent traditional style muzzleloaders that can be used in the Montana hunting season and it is certainly enjoyable to look into all of the options. For the purposes of this article we are going to stick with our overall number one picks for percussion and flintlock rifles respectively. Our approach in selecting each of the guns below took into account, reliability, accuracy and affordability. There are much more expensive options out there, however, we would feel confident taking either of the rifles below hunting in the field.
Investarm Deer Stalker .50 Caliber Rifle - Percussion
Traditions PA Pellet Flintlock
There are many other excellent traditional rifles you can choose from and we encourage you to check out some of the other options on the website has well!
We will of course need to get equipment and load components sorted out for each style of rifle (percussion & flintlock). A lot of the gear can overlap, however, there are a couple of differences for priming the ignition that will require different setups for each type of gun. While you can certainly start with either the percussion or flintlock ignition style, we have found it is much easier to get started with a percussion rifle due to the more simple ignition system.
Starting with powder, we recommend using a FFFG powder variant in the barrels of the traditional style guns. The reasoning behind this is that the FFFG black powder is a finer granulation and catches a spark easier than FFG black powder. Due to the indirect nature of both traditional style ignition systems you will have fewer hang fires and misfires with FFFG powder. While we are not currently carrying true black powder, we have found it is best to use authentic black powder rather than a substitute in sidelock muzzleloaders. Authentic black powder is much more volatile and ignites easier than the newer black powder substitutes on the market. We would recommend GOEX™ or SWISS™ black powder if you decide to pursue the authentic black powder route. You may also use black powder substitutes with little issue in the percussion style rifles, however, for flintlocks you will have a noticeable delay between the pan ignition and the barrel charge ignition if you use a substitute.
If you plan to use a substitute powder you can use Hodgdon Triple 7 or Pyrodex in your traditional muzzleloader both of which can be viewed on our website at the link below.
For the ignition systems themselves you will need to use a #11 percussion cap for the percussion lock guns and you will need FFFF flash pan powder and a flint for the flintlock muzzleloaders. Any #11 percussion cap will do fine, they are, unfortunately, difficult to find at this present time so our recommendation is to use what you can find. The same goes for the FFFF flash pan powder. The good news is we do carry flints which can be viewed at the link below.
One additional item you will want for a flintlock muzzleloader specifically is a pan primer. This is a small powder dispenser that you will want to keep with you for reloading the flash pan on your flintlock muzzleloader. You can see more details about the pan primer by clicking on the image below.
To shoot these guns most of them will take a variety of lead projectiles. Depending on the twist rate of the rifle you select some styles of projectiles will work better than others. Here is a quick reference guide to help you with your decision:
Twist Rate: 1:60 or greater = Best for round ball
Twist Rate: 1:48 = Can shoot round ball or conicals
Twist Rate 1:32 or less = Best for conicals
The twist rate simply tells you how many times the projectile will rotate over a given distance. So for example our 1:60 rate as listed above tells us that the projectile will make 1 full rotation at 60 inches of travel. This is a nice slow twist rate and that is why it stabilizes round balls better. On the other side the more conical shaped bullets prefer a faster spin for optimal stabilization.
Be sure to check the twist rate on the muzzleloader you end up selecting so you can be sure to get the right bullets. Shooting the wrong bullets for the twist rate in your rifle will not cause any harm, however, it will result in poor accuracy and precision which can lead to significant frustration when sighting in.
If you go with a round ball shooting rifle we recommend the Hornady lead round balls listed below. You will also want to use a lubricated shooting patch with the round ball to get a good seal in the barrel. You can view both of these items below.
|Hornady Lead Round Balls
|Lubricated Shooting Patches
If you go with a faster twist rifle here are a few alternative bullet options that you can use in Montana. Remember that Montana requires the use of lead projectiles, so you can't use some of the newer alloyed bullets for the Montana season. For these conical style bullets you do not need to use a shooting patch.
|T/C Maxi-Hunter Bullets
|Hornady PA Conical Bullets
You should now have all of the information you need to select the proper hunting or shooting setup for your muzzleloading goals. Should you have any additional questions please feel free to reach out to our customer service team at your convenience. We also have many good Youtube videos out that are loaded with good tips, tricks and insights to help you on your journey. Also please take advantage of all of the other free articles we have available on our website, we are striving to keep this information easy to access and free of charge to ensure the continued growth and stability of the muzzleloading community.
Once again our contact information if need to get ahold of our team:
Phone: (855) 236-5000
For Part 2 of this Beginners Guide To Muzzleloading Series Click HERE
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