Best Muzzleloader Rifles 2018: The Ultimate Review Guide

a muzzleloaderA muzzleloader also called a black powder gun is a firearm where the projectile is loaded from the muzzle of a gun. Muzzleloader shooting or muzzleloading (the sport) originated from the United States in the 1930s but, the muzzleloader gun has been around since the start of the 17th century. Driven by demand, muzzleloader guns have seen tremendous growth in the market. Today I will be reviewing the best muzzleloader guns you can buy.

Before going further let me give you a brief history of the muzzleloader gun.

The flintlock gun is one of the oldest muzzleloader guns and used a spring-loaded mechanism that caused a flint to strike a steel surface causing a spark that would ignite the gunpowder and propel the bullet. Other older muzzleloaders were the sidelock percussion and eponymous long guns. Modern muzzleloader guns have been inspired from the flintlock, sidelock, percussion or the eponymous long guns.

Others such as the Knight MK-85 were popularized and commercially available in the 1980’s as the sport of muzzleloading became popular. Other modern inventions of the muzzleloader gun include:

  • The Omega in 2002 by Thompson/Center. This gun had a longer barrel but shorter overall length. This was a drop action trigger riffle and had a superior bullet velocity. Other drop action guns include CVA’s Optima, Apex, and Accura.
  • In 2007, Electra was unveiled by CVA. It is an electronic-ignition muzzleloader gun. The spark is created by a spark created by a 9-volt battery.

With the modern muzzleloader, shooting is a joy. They are more accurate, easy to use and clean. Some decades back this would not have been the case.

Here are our best Muzzleloaders for the money 2018

Muzzleloader Name WeightLength
Remington 700 Ultimate8.5 pounds47-inches
Knight DISC Extreme Western Rifle 8.5 pounds45-inches
CVA Optima V26.65 pounds41-inches
Traditions™ Deerhunter™ Flintlock6 pounds40-inches

A Review of the Top Muzzleloader You can Buy

best muzzleloader

1. Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader – Our Best Muzzleloader Option

First on our list is the Remington 700 Ultimate muzzleloader. The Remington Ultimate was available in the market in 2014.

The Remington 700 Ultimate comes in two versions, a synthetic Bell & Carlson version with no iron sights and a grey laminated edition that has a peep rear sight and a front ramp sight installed. For the states that do not allow scopes, you can choose the laminated /iron sight edition. Most other states that scopes are permitted can go with the synthetic version.

For the Western States where legal hunting requirement commissions an ignition system “open to the elements,” the Remington 700 Ultimate will not qualify. Furthermore, you will not be able to buy this rifle by mail-order directly as it is a Form 4473 rifle that must be shipped to a Federal Firearms License dealer (FFL).

For this review, I will be looking at the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader Laminate.

Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader

Specifications

  • Model: Remington 0Remington 0 Ultimate Laminate Muzzleloader
  • Caliber: .50
  • Barrel Length: 26-inches
  • Overall Length: 47-inches
  • Length of Pull: 13.375- inches
  • Barrel Material: Stainless steel
  • Twist Rate: 1:26
  • Weight (lb): 8.5 pounds

Out of the box, my first impression on the Remington 700 Ultimate is it is a big gun and an extremely good-looking rifle. It totals up to 8 pounds, 14 ounces when the scope is removed and 10 pounds, 2 ounces with my Bushnell Bone Collector scope and mounts.

Now, let’s look at the shooting results.

Using Blackhorn 209 of 100 grains by weight, the Remington 700 Ultimate did very well, creating two extremely same sub-MOA loads with minimum hassle and little load development. The recoil from a bench rest with the 300-grain was substantial but manageable. The recoil with 250-grain saboted projectiles was considerably low.

Overall, this is a great shooter, with no impression of hang-fires or anything less than an instant ignition with the Blackhorn 209. The breeching system is easy to handle, use and it is one of the cleanest breeching array of any affordable muzzleloader on the market today.

Also relevant to not is the 700 Ultimate eliminates the dirtiness that is associated with 209 primers, drilling carbon out of the breech plugs, poor ignition and regular breech plug removal due to long interrupted thread breech plugs.

The only maintenance you will need after shooting with Blackhorn 209 is a couple of No. 9 Hoppe’s soaked patches. Run them up and down the barrel and The Remington Ultimate will fire like a real rifle.

2. Knight Freedom Series DISC Extreme

Knight rifles have always been a proud and one of the industries leading in firearm components. It has been over 30-years since the first muzzleloader made by Knight Rifles came into the market.

The Knight Freedom Series is a new line from the Knight rifles. It comes with most qualities like most Knight Rifles and an affordable price. Every part of this rifle is American-made, from the bolt, trigger, screws, barrel, and stock, all sourced within the USA.

Knight Freedom Series DISC Extreme

Specifications

  • Model: Knight Freedom Series Disc Extreme
  • Caliber: .50
  • Barrel Length: 26-inches
  • Overall Length: 45-inches
  • Length of Pull: 14.25-inches LOP
  • Barrel Material: Green Mountain Barrel
  • Twist Rate: 1:28
  • Weight (lb): 8.5 pounds

It comes in with a black synthetic stock and a stainless barrel. It is more of a practical rifle in its looks than its predecessor, the Regular disk Extreme rifle. Overall, the rifle is sturdy. No complaints on its make. All components are in place and tight-fitting.

Toppling the scale at just 8.5 pounds, without attaching the scope, its weight is quite significant in managing and helping to absorb the recoil. The rifle also comes equipped with a one-inch thick, soft pad that helps absorb the recoil. Shooting with 100 grains of Pyrodex had little effect on the recoil, but with 150-grain magnum powder, you can feel the recoil and the muzzle jump.

The trigger of the Knight Freedom Series Disk Extreme is fully adjustable, but you would need a gunsmith for this work. You should also note that the trigger pull should not be set below 3 pounds to avoid warranty revocation. The measured trigger pull of the rifle was 31/2 pounds.

Barrels of the rifle is 26 inches in length. This provides enough area for magnum loads to burn out completely. The barrels are Knight Freedom Series DISC Extreme provided by the American-made Green Mountain barrel. With a standard 1:28 twist, this .50 caliber rifle is ideal for sabot and the modern bullet because of its accuracy and consistency. The barrel is stainless steel, and this is easier to maintain than a more expensive blued barrel.

For powder ignition, this Knight Freedom Series uses a full plastic jacket. This will accommodate and fit tight a 209 primer when loading into the jacket, making it watertight. The primer units are placed into the machined bolt; the bolt then aligns the primer to fire into the nipple directly for consistent results. The ignition system of the Knight Freedom Series is quite versatile; this allows you to use #11 percussion caps or Musket caps, where the law requires.

For cleaning and maintenance, the rifle comes with a breech removing extension tool. Cleaning the Knight Freedom is quick and easy plus the ceramic coating in the barrel eases up the process.

Well, there you have it. If you are looking for a smokepole that’s equipped with a 26-inch Green Mountain Barrel, stainless steel barrel and bolt, fully adjustable trigger, metallic sights and weather coating DYNA-TEK, then you cannot overlook this rifle.

3. CVA Optima V2 – Best Muzzleloader under 300 Dollars

CVA has been one of the top muzzleloader gun producers ever since I can remember. Their top of the line muzzleloader the APEX is one of the best. Other guns on their belt include the ACCURA V2 and MR versions that are said to be among the most accurate muzzleloader rifles in the market.

Enough with the history, Today we are going to check out the CVA Optima V2 muzzleloader. Being fairly priced the Optima V2 makes it into our list of the best muzzleloader under $300.

The original version of the Optima V2 made was introduced back in 2002 and 11-years later at the 2013 SHOT Show, CVA introduced the Optima V2. The Optima V2 incorporates the trigger guard breeching system, internal parts and trigger design of the ACCURA muzzleloader.

CVA Optima V2

Specifications

  • Model: CVA optima V2
  • Caliber: .50
  • Barrel Length: 26-inches
  • Overall Length: 41-inches
  • Length of Pull: 14-inches
  • Barrel Material: Stainless steel
  • Twist Rate: 1:28
  • Weight (lb): 6.65 pounds

Here is how the Optima performed at 200 & 300 yards. Fired five shots at each distance. Here is a list of the item used.

  • Bushnell DOA 250 3x9x40
  • Harvester smooth black sabots
  • Harvester PT Gold 260g
  • BH 209 powder @ 77g  by weight
  • Federal 209A primers

NB:55 degrees, 65% humidity, clear and no wind to speak of.

200-and-300-yards-shooting

Personally, I think the Optima V2 is a great rifle. How far you can shoot accurately…depends on shooter skills, bullet used, load development and willingness to practice.

4. Traditions Buckstalker Flintlock Muzzleloader

Next on our list is the Traditions Buckstalker muzzleloader.

For starters, it is a budget-friendly muzzleloader option for anyone looking to start muzzleloading as a sport or for anyone looking for a hunting rifle for small to medium game.

Traditions Buckstalker Flintlock Muzzleloader

Specifications

  • Model: Traditions Buckstalker Flintlock
  • Caliber: .50
  • Barrel Length: 24-inches
  • Overall Length: 40-inches
  • Length of Pull: 14-inches
  • Barrel Material: Blued finish
  • Twist Rate: 1:28
  • Weight (lb): 6 pounds

Now let’s get started at why this muzzleloader got to make into this list of the best muzzleloaders.

With a careful cleaning between each shot and better quality bullets, the Buckstalker is capable of substantial accuracy. Out of the box, the trigger weight is ready to shoot, and the pull was light enough for better accuracy.

For maintenance, I would recommend cleaning this muzzleloader regularly. This will make it more functional and will last quite well. The rifle’s barrel is thick and has a great finish. The barrel rifling is also visually aesthetic and can be easily examined by removing the breech plug.

For a 50-caliber bullet, the Buckstalker has quite a good knock down power. I would say it can knock down a deer than most of the muzzleloader rifles and not run more than a few yards.

With the Buckstalker, I experimented using 100 grains of Pyrodex. You can adjust the amount of the powder you are using to optimize the accuracy and reduce recoil. Using 265-grain power belt slugs is acceptable. The Buckstalker is designed to take a sabot, power belt, or other hybrid types of bullet. This rifle has a barrel rifling rate of twist of 1:28.

Shooting with the Traditions Buckstalker is quite an experience. The bullets are large, and at close ranges, you can expect a bullet to go through meat or other tissues. For a normal rifle you would rely on proper penetration, wounding channels and the fragmentation and expansion of a bullet to achieve a fatal tissue damage. With this .50 caliber Buckstalker muzzleloader, you will rely mostly on the wounding channel that the bullet makes as it goes through the meat to put down a game.

However, with a modern muzzleloader such as the Buckstalker, a bullet can fragment or expand any way. This makes muzzleloaders better performing at modest ranges.

What I did not appreciate about the traditions Buckstalker is the factory iron sights with are made of plastic. Through both stay well aligned, the rear sight can get jammed even when it is tightened. Steel iron sights would have been a much better option for me. But, for the price you get on this muzzleloader I think goes hand in hand with its quality.

For me, the Traditions Buckstalker is quite a good rifle tactically. Overall, performance in the field and accuracy, I would recommend this muzzleloader rifle.

About Author:

Nathan Dean here, a student at Texas A&M University. I love outdoors and I will be keeping you updated with everything I come across that needs to be shared.

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