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Best Traditional Muzzleloaders for 2023 Best Traditional Muzzleloaders for 2023 > Best Traditional Muzzleloaders for 2023

Top Traditional Muzzleloaders for 2023

Traditional muzzleloading is a discipline that we are passionate about and has really increased in popularity over the last 10 years. With states such as Montana and Pennsylvania offering strictly traditional style muzzleloader seasons we have received loads of questions about which traditional muzzleloaders are the best. Not only have we received requests about the guns but also what is needed to get started with traditional muzzleloader shooting & hunting.

In this article we are going to endeavor to give you a break down of what we think will be the best traditional muzzleloaders for the 2023 season. Along with that we have also included recommendations for loads and supplies for traditional hunters. You will notice we did not specify loads for the rendezvous or reenactment categories. We suggest checking in with your rendezvous or reenactment leaders for rules regarding loads for each event.

Traditional muzzleloader sports can be broken down into 3 main categories. Hunting, rendezvous/competition, and reenacting. Below we have provided our top three selections for each category.

Category Details

Hunting Muzzleloaders

These muzzleloaders are designed with take down efficiency in mind. You will noticed that some of these muzzleloaders have a few modernized features such as faster rifle twist rates and fiber optic sights.

Traditional Muzzle Loader Hunting Rifles

Rendezvous/Competition Muzzleloaders

These muzzleloaders are perfect for just about any application at the range, in competitions or for rendezvous. Most muzzleloaders for rendezvous and some competitions are required to be historically consistent with muzzleloaders from the early and mid-1800s. This is important because some muzzleloaders will have an original design but with slight modern upgrades, which may render them ineligible for some rendezvous and competitions.

Traditional Muzzleloaders for Rendezvous

Reenacting Muzzleloaders

Reenacting muzzleloaders are designed to be historically consistent with the muzzleloaders of the specified battle reenactment. Most reenactments are from either the Revolutionary War or the Civil War eras in the United States.

Civil War Reenactment Muzzleloaders


Top Traditional Muzzleloaders

Hunting Muzzleloaders


Traditions PA Pellet - Top Flintlock

Traditions .50 Caliber PA Pellet

The Traditions PA Pellet is a revolutionary muzzleloader that allows a flintlock ignition system to utilize modern pelletized powder. Specifically designed for the Pennsylvania flintlock seasons, the PA Pellet has a removable breech plug for easy cleaning and is the only flintlock able to use pelletized powder. It has a 1:28 twist rate to accommodate modern conical bullets and the Chromoly steel barrel makes it the lightest weight flintlock on the market. The additional Cerakote finish on the outside of the barrel protects against rust and pitting. While the PA Pellet is ideal for hunting in a flintlock season, you probably won’t see this at a rendezvous or reenactment.


Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken - Top Percussion

Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken

The Pedersoli Missouri River Hawken is based on the original plains rifle manufactured in the mid-1800s and is now precision-rifled with a quick 1:24” twist barrel. The 30” octagonal barrel is designed for superior accuracy and is able to shoot sabot and conical bullets, which is very uncommon in the traditional rifle scene. This model is only available with a #11 percussion ignition, however, it is available in .45, .50, and .54 caliber. It is also available with a maple stock for added quality and elegance. 


Traditions Shedhorn - Honorable Mention

Traditions ShedHorn muzzleloader

The Traditions ShedHorn gets our honorable mention for the hunting category. Newly released in 2023 the Shedhorn combines traditional muzzzleloader technology with some more modern features. This gun features fiber optic hunting sights, Cerakote treated barrel and your choice of two different sythentic stock options or a hardwood stock. Perhaps one of the best features of this rifle is the removable breech plug. Unlike many traditional style rifles the ShedHorn features a completely removable breech plug that allows for easy cleaning and clearing of othe barrel out in the field or at the range. Additonally Traditions has equipped the Shedhorn with a nice double set trigger system allowing for greater accuracy with every shot. The ShedHorn features a .50 caliber 24” barrel with a 1:28 rate of twist making it ideally suited for shooting modern belted, saboted or full bore conical style muzzleloading bullets.

Recommended Supplies for Hunting Muzzleloaders

Shooting Components

Below are suggested shooting components that we have found to work well out of the hunting muzzleloaders listed above. For the PA Pellet you will need to locate some 4f black powder for the flash pan. We hope to have it available through our store in the near future, however, until then you will have to source it elsewhere.

Percussion Caps (Percussion Ignitions Only)  Flints (Flintlocks Only) Bullets Powder
#11 Percussion Caps muzzleloader flints Traditions Smackdown MZX Bullets Hodgdon Triple 7 Loose Powder



 Pan Primer (Flintlocks Only) Powder Flask Powder Measure Bullet Starter
Muzzle-Loaders Brass Pan Primer - MZ1402 Muzzle-Loaders Brass Powder Measure - MZ1410 Muzzle-Loaders Brass Powder Flask - MZ1400 Muzzle-Loaders Bullet Starter - MZ1500


 Brass Nipple Pick Speed Loader Possibles Bag
Muzzle-Loaders Brass Nipple Pick Muzzle-Loaders 4-in-1 T-Loader MZ1509 Muzzle-Loaders possibles bag MZ1100


Rendezvous/Competition Muzzleloaders


Investarm Gemmer Hawken - Top Flintlock

 Investarm Gemmer Hawken Flintlock

The Investarm Gemmer Hawken is the younger brother to the Bridger Hawken. The Gemmer Hawken features a more traditional solid wood stock with black furnishings and features a 32” blued barrel with a 1:60” twist rate. The slower twist rate of the Gemmer Hawken allows it to perform extremely well with round balls. The Gemmer Hawken is available in both percussion and flintlock ignitions with build-it-yourself kit options for each. It also is available in .45, .50, and .54 caliber options for additional diversity. Similar to the Bridger Hawken, the Investarm Gemmer Hawken is available with a left-handed configuration in both the pre-assembled and kit versions. 


Traditions Kentucky Rifle - Top Percussion

Traditions .50 Caliber Kentucky Rifle

The Traditions Kentucky Rifle is one of the most iconic muzzleloading rifles in United States history, and Traditions Firearms has kept the legend of the long rifle alive. The Traditions Kentucky Rifle can be found in both percussion and flintlock models and for those looking for the complete black powder experience, it is available as a build-it-yourself kit. It features a slower 1:66” twist rate, allowing it to shoot patched round balls up to and beyond 100 yards. The long rifle measures 49” in overall length with a generous 33.5” barrel, which looks nice mounted on the wall or in the field. The Traditions Kentucky Rifle is the only muzzleloader on our list that meets the conditions for all three of our hunting, reenacting, and rendezvous categories. 

You can also upgrade to the new Traditions Deluxe Kentucky Rifle, which has added brass furniture in the stock and a double-set trigger.


Investarm Hawken Carbine - Honorable Mention

Investarm Hawken Carbine

If you are looking for a more compact and lightweight setup, the Investarm Hawken Carbine is one of the best options. With a shorter 24” barrel, it is significantly lighter than the Hawken rifles that you may be familiar with and it is still capable of shooting accurately out to 100 yards and beyond. The Investarm Hawken Carbine has a single, non-set trigger and a 1:48” twist rate, allowing it to accurately shoot round balls and conicals. It is available in .45, .50, and .54 caliber so that you can choose the correct option for your application. Like the two previous models from Investarm, the Hawken Carbine is available as a build-it-yourself kit in both left and right-handed models.


Reenacting Muzzleloaders


Pedersoli Brown Bess - Top Flintlock

Pedersoli Brown Bess Muzzleloader

The Brown Bess is one of the most famous muzzleloaders in history and Pedersoli has continued to replicate them to their world-class standard. The rifle itself stands right under 60” and boasts a 42” barrel. It has a large bore at .75 Cal and only shoots round balls with its smoothbore barrel. The Brown Bess musket is the perfect wall-hanger and reenactment piece. While you could potentially take it hunting, due to the lack of rifling it is less optimized for this task and we do not recommend it for anyone who is new to muzzleloading, however, it is ideal for anyone interested in revolutionary war reenactments.


Pedersoli 1861 Springfield Rifle - Top Percussion

Pedersoli 1861 Springfield Musket

The Pedersoli 1861 Springfield rifle is an exact reproduction of the original rifle and is certified for use in Civil War reenactments. The 1861 Springfield is perhaps one of the most iconic muzzleloaders in American history and saw extensive use by the Unites States Army during the Civil War. This rifle features a .58 caliber bore that is rifled to shoot a minie ball or round ball and the gun can be used for a variety of applications including hunting and competition shooting if so desired. We have placed this one on our reenactment list as that is the primary intention Pedersoli had in manufacturing this piece.


Traditions 1863 Zouave Musket - Honorable Mention

 Traditions 1863 Zouave Musket

The Traditions 1863 Zouave Musket gets our honorable mention for the reenactment category. This beautifully built muzzleloader is suitable for use in American Civil War reenactments or just for showing off to friends. The rifle is fully functional and capable of shooting live rounds for fun at the range or if you feel so inclined out in the field for hunting applications. The 1863 Zouave features a .58 caliber rifled bore capable of shooting both minie ball and round ball style projectiles.


In Summary 

The traditional side of muzzleloading has been maintained for hundreds of years and the muzzleloaders on this list allow you to be a part of the same hunting adventures that were experienced by our forefathers. At the end of the day, it is still important to pick the muzzleloader that fits your particular needs as well as what is comfortable for you. If you would like to look into some other options or have any questions regarding the rifles on this list, please give our knowledgeable and friendly customer service team a call at 1-855-236-5000 or send us an email at

Why We Are Here

We just wanted to let you how much you are loved by God. In the Bible, the gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16 tells us "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." - NASB 1995. His Son is Jesus Christ our Savior.

Wether you ever buy anything from us or not, we want to make sure we are using the platform God has provided to us to ensure the good news of salvation from sin and death goes out to all the world. Some day muzzleloading will cease, but life with God never will if you believe in Jesus Christ. If you are questioning where you are going to go when this life comes to an end you are not alone. Today is the day of salvation, if you know the Holy Spirit is prompting you to confess your sins to God and ask for His mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for you, don't wait. Ask Him today to save you from your sins and make you into a new creation and He will do it.

Romans 10:9: "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." - NASB 1995

May God bless you and keep you in His arms. We love you and are here if you have any questions.

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