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Best Muzzleloaders for 2018
Each year, Muzzle-Loaders.com compares the muzzleloaders from each of the big manufacturers and compiles a list of what we consider to be the top muzzleloaders for that year. Our goal is to offer an impartial opinion of the muzzleloaders on the market, broken down into categories of muzzleloading hunters. Many times, the options are so close that we end up splitting hairs to decide the winner in a particular category. If you would like more information on the muzzleloaders on this list or any other muzzleloader on our website, please feel free to call or email and one of our experienced customer service members will be happy to assist you.
Best Long Range Muzzleloader
Each year, we like to lead off with the long-range category. Over the past several years, this has grown to become the most popular category due to better, longer barrels, which are capable of ranges up to and beyond 300 yards. The main features that we are looking for in this category are accuracy, velocity, value, and overall fit and finish of the muzzleloader. The guns that we considered for this category were the Knight Mountaineer, Remington 700 UML, CVA Accura LR, and Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR. When the accuracy was truly broken down, we were able to find that by tuning the correct powder load, each of these guns was able to shoot a 1” or better group at 100 yards. While the Mountaineer was the most accurate of the group, the shorter barrel compared to the Vortek and Accura LR resulted in lower velocities. At the end of the day, the true winner was the CVA Accura LR. This gun offered the best combination of value, accuracy, velocity, and overall ease of use for the shooter.
Best Mountain Hunting Muzzleloader
Western hunting is downright brutal and demanding. One of the biggest attributes that these hunters are looking for in a muzzleloader is a lightweight design, as every pound truly does matter. Because of this, the metrics we were using to determine the best mountain gun were heavily dependent on weight, followed by ease of cleaning and disassembly, as well as accuracy. When considering hunting in the western mountains, we compared the CVA Accura MR, Traditions Vortek StrikerFire BackCountry, Knight Ultra-Lite, and Thompson Center Triumph. While all of these guns were built on lightweight platforms, the Knight was by far the lightest gun in the group, while the Triumph ended up being the heaviest. While the CVA and Traditions are easier to clean, we still felt that the Knight Ultra-Lite was the clear winner in this category. This gun is designed with every lightweight component and feature that you could ask for, while still offering incredible accuracy and build quality.
Most Versatile Muzzleloader
There is a large sector of muzzleloader hunters that hunt in multiple states and different types of terrain. For hunting in multiple states and terrains, you need a muzzleloader that offers the best compromise of long-range, packability and weather protection. The muzzleloaders that we considered for the ‘Most Versatile Muzzleloader’ category are the CVA Accura Plains Rifle, Knight Bighorn, Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR, and Thompson/Center Triumph Bone Collector. When considering the features needed for a versatile muzzleloader, we chose the Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR. This muzzleloader features a lightweight design for hunting in the mountains, long-range accuracy for the fields, ease of cleaning with the Nitride barrel and Accelerator Breech Plug, as well as a convenient StrikerFire hammer system to allow for easy cocking, with or without a scope on your muzzleloader.
Best Mid-Range Muzzleloader
Perhaps one of the most popular categories, the mid-range muzzleloaders in this category are the perfect blend of affordability and features. While most of them feature Nitride barrels and other options borrowed from their higher-end counterparts, the price tags are much more affordable for the average hunter. When considering the best mid-range muzzleloaders, we considered accuracy and range, ease of cleaning, value, and overall features and fit and finish. We considered the CVA Optima V2 Nitride, Traditions Pursuit G4 Hardwoods, Knight Bighorn, Thompson Center Triumph, and Lyman Mustang. Out of these muzzleloaders, we believe that the Traditions Pursuit G4 Hardwoods is the best in this class. As one of the very few modern inline muzzleloaders sporting an authentic wood stock, this gun looks sharp and performs great in the field. The Pursuit series has always been known for being the lightest in their class, as well as adding an ease of cleaning with a Nitride barrel and an Accelerator breech plug. This muzzleloader is a great option for anyone not wanting to break the bank, but still looking for accuracy and velocity out to 200 yards.
Best Economy Muzzleloader
When just getting into muzzleloading, many hunters don’t want to break the bank on their first rifle. The economy muzzleloaders on the market today are great guns and are probably better than most of the muzzleloaders on the market 20 years ago. For this class, we compared the CVA Wolf Nitride, Traditions Buckstalker, Knight Wolverine, and Thompson/Center Impact. Overall, we believe that the CVA Wolf Nitride offers the best mix of value and features in this class. The CVA Wolf has been a dependable platform for many years and is the perfect starter gun or muzzleloader for someone on a budget. This gun is easily capable of shooting past 150 yards and features CVA’s patented QRBP technology for tools-free breech plug removal.
Best Youth Muzzleloader
Unfortunately, the youth muzzleloader offerings have decreased over the past several years, however, there are still several great options for getting kids into the sport. The Traditions Buckstalker Youth, Knight Littlehorn, and Thompson/Center Impact are three great options for youth muzzleloader hunters. When comparing these three, it was difficult to determine which of the three would be the best youth muzzleloader. Overall, it is hard to deny that the Knight Littlehorn is the best youth muzzleloader on the market; however, we also feel that the Traditions Buckstalker Youth needs to be mentioned, because of the exceptional value that it presents. With either option, these muzzleloaders will be a great option for young hunters.
Best Muzzleloaders 2018
When looking at all of the muzzleloaders on the market today, it is very hard to find the gun that is best suited for your application. The modern inline muzzleloaders have turned into great rifles, capable of long shooting and come feature-packed from the factory. We hope this article helps you narrow down the choices for your next muzzleloader, but if you have any questions, be sure to reach out to our customer service team at 1-855-236-5000 or email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
For more information regarding the best muzzleloaders, check out The Big Game Hunting Blog.