Muzzleloader is a kind of firearm from the past and was used in times of war. There has been a resurgence of muzzleloaders in the past few decades and they have regained popularity.
Though some people prefer them as historical items, they can also be used for hunting. In this article, we will help you choose your first muzzleloader and list out the best muzzleloaders currently available in the market.
Advantages of Muzzleloaders
The first thing to know for beginners like you is defining what a muzzleloader is. It is a type of firearm wherein you load the ammunition at the open end part of the gun which is the muzzle or the barrel.
Muzzleloaders today are not just like their previous counterparts as improving technology has also innovated them. Nowadays, they can reach greater than 200 yards, and if you have a more decent budget, you can acquire a muzzleloader that can beat 500 yards.
Muzzleloaders aren’t the type to be belittled as they have a great punch too, not just in firepower but also in accuracy. They are used not just for big games hunting but also in small games.
Comparing a muzzleloader to a rifle, some hunters like using it as there’s more challenge in getting close to the prey. Also, there are separate hunting events just for muzzleloaders annually and are usually scheduled between rut seasons or less crowded seasons.
It’s a good reason for hunters to take a break from using their hunting rifles and pick up their old-fashioned muzzleloaders.
Best Muzzleloader Comparison Table
26" stainless steel
28" carbon steel
27" 416 gr. Stainless steel
Rifle Twist Rate
Cell 7 / 6
Fiber Optic Sights
Best Muzzleloader Reviews on The Market
The following are the best muzzleloaders to date, and they are recognized for their numerous advantages.
This muzzleloader is a product by renowned manufacturer CVA. This .50-caliber muzzleloader is fit for hunters that are small to medium frames.
Just like Accura V2, Wolf is also a break-action in-line muzzleloader that makes cleaning easier and opens quickly at the push of a button.
At a length of 24 inches for its barrel, the blued steel can handle harsh weather conditions while retaining its durability and reliability.
It’s also equipped with Quick-Release Breech Plug (or QRBP) which makes the exposure of breech quicker as you need no tools.
There's so much to like about this muzzleloader. The only thing I could find in this muzzleloader to critic is its ramrod. Though it’s extendable, the quality is not that impressive. You would do better with other ramrods because CVA Wolf’s ramrod is susceptible to breaking or bending.
Another thing is the powder used. It’s not advisable to use an alternative that is not recommended by the manufacturer.
Wolf also has that DuraSight one-piece scope to help you improve your vision and accuracy.
- Fit for small to medium hunters
- Easy to clean
- Durable and reliable
- Good for all weather conditions
- Ambidextrous stock
- With recoil pad
- No tool needed to expose the breech
- Cheaper compared to other models
- Lifetime warranty
- Not for larger hunters
- Ramrod vulnerable to breaking and bending due to material
Muzzleloaders by CVA are one of the best, particularly their Accura V2. It is said that this model is one of the best models that they have ever made. With the Bergara barrel made of 416 stainless steel at a length of 27 inches, you can expect durability and accuracy with this muzzleloader.
Accura V2 has no pick on it shooters because of its overall rifle length of 42 inches. This length is also optimal for balance, maneuverability, and powder-burning efficiency.
Accura V2 is a break-action in-line muzzleloader that offers easy disassemble at the removal of one screw. This makes cleaning easier for this .50-caliber muzzleloader.
This muzzleloader also has a feature exclusive for CVA called Quick-Release Breech Plug (or QRBP) wherein you don't need for a special tool to open the breech.
Nothing major is wrong about this muzzleloader, just a few draw backs that doesn’t seem to apply to everyone. But as a break action muzzleloader, this is quite heavy that could be a downside to some small-framed hunters. Recoil is also to be expected because of the weight.
The overall design of this model can withstand harsh environmental conditions while making it ergonomically comfortable. You can enjoy using this muzzleloader with its DuraSight one-piece scope.
- Easy to clean
- Durable and reliable
- With recoil pad
- Ambidextrous stock
- Won’t fail under any extreme weather conditions
- Good powder-burning efficiency
- Lifetime warranty
One product by Thompson Center is the Triumph Bone Collector. Like its manufacturer’s reputation, this muzzleloader is guaranteed for its durability and maximum performance in every shot. Like Pro Hunter FX, Triumph Bone Collector also has many trademarks under its name.
First, the QLA muzzle system enhances not only the accuracy but also the fast-loading convenience the gun can offer. The Speed Breech XT allows removal of the plug with just the hand for easy cleaning. This feature also eliminates 95% fouling and prevents seizing with its locking lugs.
The stock by FlexTech has four Energy Burners in it that lessens the recoil made by 43 percent. There’s also the patented Power Rod for the aluminum ramrod that has a pivoting handle for quick loading and easy identification if the muzzleloader is loaded or not.
The performance of this muzzleloader could be affected by the trigger guard that is made from lightweight cast aluminum. From repeated use, the metal could garner stress and may break off from the gun.
Another thing is the rifle’s stock made of plastic. Note: It is hollow on the inside so you may need to be careful with handling the gun.
This muzzleloader can't get along well with peep sights. If you want to use a peep sight, you may need to trim off the rifle’s comb.
The muzzleloader uses Truglo fiber optic scope for more vision. The barrel has a drilled scope mount for this. Like Pro Hunter FX, Triumph Bone Collector also has a Weather Shield Finishing that protects the gun from weathering and corrosion.
- Easy and safe to handle
- Speedily remove the breech plug
- Corrosion resistant
- Easy to clean
- Accurate shooting
- Inherent recoil technology
- Manually installation of peep sights
- Lightweight cast aluminum
Thompson Center is a manufacturer known for its durability and excellent performance in the hunting field. Pro Hunter FX specializes in both of these areas and includes on that list, its overwhelming accuracy. This muzzleloader only supports the .50-caliber capacity though for its 26-inch fluted barrel.
Pro Hunter FX has many advanced features, and most of them have accompanying trademarks. Let’s start off with the patented Quick Load Accurizer (or QLA) that enhances accuracy with every shot. Its FlexTech stock makes the handling more stable, and recoil reduces by 42 percent.
The four Energy Burners inside the stock make this feat possible as the stock compresses slightly when you the trigger is released. Next is the Speed Breech 3 which means that breech plug can be removed by hand at a speed faster because there are fewer turns than the conventional plugs.
The Speed Breech 3 allows more area that prevents the plug from getting the corrosion due to the fouling residue of the black powder. With this feature, you can easily clean the breech.
This muzzleloader has an overall good performance and quality. One thing that could be a downside is its weight which can be a disadvantage to small-framed hunters.
Pro Hunter FX also has Williams fiber optic sights that enhance the hunter’s vision from afar. The Swing Hammer can be positioned at either side of the frame, so access to it even with scopes is easier.
The Weather Shield finishing of the muzzleloader protects it from harsh weather conditions and also against corrosion.
- Durable and reliable
- Reduces recoil by 42%
- Breech plug is easy to remove
- Easy to clean
- Rust and corrosion resistant
The Remington brand only has one muzzleloader, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the best muzzleloader that you can buy. Its power and accuracy can compete against those centerfire rifles in the market.
Remington 700 is equipped with bolt action ignition system that is a highly magnificent that can even reach more than 300 yards with pinpoint accuracy!
Instead of musket caps and shotgun primers, this muzzleloader uses a specialized centerfire magnum rifle casing for a perfect combination with the bolt.
There is more in-line ignition power with this one so you can efficiently use 200 grains of powder in one sitting. In fact, only Remington sells these casings in bags containing 24 just for this muzzleloader.
From the specs such as overall length and weight, this muzzleloader is designed for the big hunters. When a smaller person uses Remington 700, the weight can be a disadvantage because the person won’t be feeling comfortable.
For the powder used in this muzzleloader, it can be a benefit or a drawback. The powder used is sold exclusively for the sole muzzleloader of Remington, and there’s no way you can use other powders without sacrificing some good points.
Thanks to Triple 7 powder, Remington can burn the powder with maximum efficiency, and compared to other black powder alternatives, it burns cleaner while still having high energy.
Cleaning Remington 700 is not that difficult; you don’t even need to remove the breech plug. Rotating the ramrod to clean the 26-inch stainless steel barrel and the breech plug does the trick.
- Protected against moisture
- Easy to handle
- No need to remove the breech plug
- Good powder-burning efficiency
How to Choose a Muzzleloader?
Beginners like you may have confusion on how to pick the right muzzleloader. There are some differences in choosing hunting rifles as opposed to muzzleloaders. We will give you factors to consider in the best muzzleloader, but at the end of the day, personal preferences and budget will always matter.
1. Ignition System
A muzzleloader can be categorized by the different methods on how the gun ignites the black powder that is inside the barrel or known as the ignition system. There are a few types of muzzleloaders, and you can distinguish them as either traditional muzzleloaders or the modern muzzleloaders.
Traditional muzzleloaders are divided into two groups: flintlock and caplock ignition systems. On the other hand, modern muzzleloaders are also known as in-line ignition systems.
This ignition system has been available since the 1600s; it is the oldest muzzleloader ignition system. Flintlocks are also called black powder guns. It uses a flint clamped on top of the hammer.
The flint strikes to the frizzen (or the hinged cover of the pan) when the trigger is pulled, causing the frizzen to produce sparks that ignite the powder inside.
The small charge of powder is ignited and then the main charge will follow through a vent hole, and the muzzleloader’s ammo is fired away.
Considerations in using flintlock ignition system are to have the flint the proper size for the frizzen, and the frizzen to be sturdy enough to cause ignition in the pan.
Flintlocks are complicated because of the firing mechanism and usually take time and effort to use than the modern muzzleloaders.
You can use a flintlock skillfully with practice but can be bothersome in wet weather because its reliability would decrease.
This is also known as sidelock ignition system and has been available since the 1800s. There is no need for flint and priming powder.
Instead, you use a percussion cap that is on top of the nipple. As you pull the trigger, the hammer will strike the cap causing the sparks to travel down the main charge and ignites.
Caplock muzzleloaders are more closed than flintlocks, so they are water resistant.
With this ignition system, it is easier and more reliable because the nipple is directly behind the powder charge. The sparks coming from the cap follows a direct line (or in-line) that allow more access to ignite the firepower.
This kind of mechanism is said to be discovered in the 1800s but took more than a hundred years later to be applied on the modern-day muzzleloaders.
Like rifles, you can now use scopes that improve vision which is not an option before for traditional muzzleloaders.
The in-line muzzleloaders of today can be further categorized into four actions: bolt action, break action, drop action, and plunger.
The term is also similar to hunting rifles. The striker of the bolt has a faster lock-time than plunger in-lines.
The bolt can be easily slipped out from the rifle without needing disassembling so that you can clean and fix the fouling of the muzzleloader. This bolt can be quickly closed over the nipple that can provide protection against moisture.
Bolt action in-lines are known for their stability and great user experience. Anyone who uses them can easily get going as they are ergonomically designed.
The disadvantage, however, is its weight which can be awkward if the barrel measures more than 24 inches.
The mechanism is like a shotgun because when you flick the lever, the barrel drops down exposing the breech for easy reloading and loading.
The powder and projectile still go through the muzzle, and the purpose of breaking the barrel is for priming the exposed breech.
Because break action in-lines can be quite heavy, expect some recoil but also the positive effects such as the improved durability and easy cleaning.
This action is also known as sliding block or falling block. The action mechanism is where the metal breechblock slides or rotates vertically into the breech.
As the breech is exposed, priming after loading and also cleaning are done quicker.
Drop action in-lines are usually of shorter length which makes the muzzleloader balanced and faster. As they are made of aluminum and polymers, they are lighter in weight.
This one is the simplest action mechanism and used in cheaper models. The percussion cap on top of the nipple is seated inside the breech.
The trigger controls the spring mechanism with the plunger riding on it. When you pull the trigger, the plunger slides forward and strikes the percussion cap, and the gun is fired.
Despite having an underlying mechanism, plunger action inlines aren’t to be underestimated. They are known for their accuracy and stability.
However, they can be hard to clean because you will need to remove individual parts and for that, you will need special tools.
When you talk about the caliber, you mean about the diameter of the bullet that is going to be used. For modern muzzleloaders, they are normally of .50 caliber.
Older models range from .32, .40, .45, and even .58. Before you decide on the size of the caliber, check first what calibers are legal and appropriate in your state.
In the past, the powder used for muzzleloaders is the black powder. It’s still available today but is frowned upon because it can be messy and leaves residue behind.
Fouling can degrade the quality of the barrel, and you need to clean it each time so that you can put another projectile that flies off at top speed. Fouling can reduce the bullet’s accuracy and speed, so it’s best to avoid it when you can.
Black powder is divided into four types: FFFFg, FFFg, FFg, Fg. They are ranked from finest to the coarsest. The coarse black powder is usually for higher calibers.
Nowadays, there are alternatives to the traditional black powder, and they are either black powder substitute or Pyrodex. They require less cleaning after every shot and reduce the corrosion and fouling inside the barrel.
Despite the efficiency, they are known to attract moisture so make sure they don’t sit inside the barrel for too long. Otherwise, inconsistencies and misses are to be expected.
There are three types of projectiles that you can use with your muzzleloader: ball, conical, and sabot. Deciding on what type of bullet you will use is important because it’s that something that hits the target.
This type is the most basic and is commonly made of lead. Cloth patch is traditionally used when you load the ball into the muzzle. If you plan to go hunting, more accurate bullets are to be preferred than this one.
This type is shaped like a bullet and is more popular than the lead ball. They are widely preferred because they are heavier in weight, and also more accurate.
It is said that heavier projectiles are packed with a massive punch that can break bones in an instant.
This is an expanding bullet covered in a plastic sheath that is shed when the projectile is fired. Sabot is common in in-line muzzleloaders and is recommended when you go hunting. It is the smallest in size among the three types, so it’s light and travels faster.
When you choose what type of projectile is best for you, consider the twist rate of the muzzleloader. Twist rate is the distance in inches where the projectile can make one full revolution. This can be found out through the information label of the muzzleloader.
6. Local Regulations
Before buying your projected muzzleloader, consider the local regulations on the hunting equipment in your area. Traditional muzzleloaders are regularly more restricted to use than the in-line muzzleloaders.
What to be checked aside from the type is the caliber, because some calibers can be too huge for the game that is usually hunted in the area.
Of course, the price is the last deciding factor when we plan to buy something. Muzzleloaders vary in the price range, and it’s up to you with your budget and preference on what you think is best.
There options available on the medium budget but retain their quality that can be comparable to the top brands advertised.
Safety Rules on Muzzleloaders
The main rule to follow is to know how to fire a gun. This includes the safe firearm handling and wearing safety gear as guns can be very noisy and so with the muzzle igniting near your face.
In loading the muzzleloader, make sure that the muzzle is never direction at your face or body, but facing away. You should only use approved black powder and have it pre-measured before pouring. It’s not a good idea to directly pour it from the container because the black powder will spill.
Insert a projectile slowly into the muzzle, and using a ramrod, push it down the barrel until you know that the projectile is settled firmly. As a safety rule, you should mark the ramrod with either unloaded or loaded so you can tell which is which.
It’s the best idea to keep the muzzleloader clean at every shot to prevent the reduction in accuracy and bad results due to fouling. The residue can also deteriorate the state of the barrel.
This concludes the article about best muzzleloaders. Indeed, using muzzleloaders is a breath of fresh air from the modern day hunting rifles most hunters today.
The advantage of hunting with muzzleloaders on a special hunting season makes owning one worthwhile and something to look forward when you go to your next hunting trip.