Hunting with a muzzleloader

Posted: August 13, 2014 by gamegetterII in firearms, hunting, preparedness, shooting, survival, Uncategorized
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In this post,I’m going to focus on sidelocks,and modern inlines,the poor man’s inlines,not the high dollar Thompson Centers etc.

In many states,as long as it’s a muzzleloader,it’s legal to hunt deer with in muzzleloader or “primitive weapons” seasons.

Some states,such as Pa,restrict hunters to using only flintlocks during muzzleloader/primitive weapons season.

I do not currently own a flintlock,and have only limited experience with them,so I will not be writing about them.

I currently use two muzzleloaders for hunting,and old-(mid 80’s or so)- CVA Woodsman,and a new-(last year)- Traditions Buckstalker.

Neither of these perform well with any of the high velocity bullet/sabot loads.

You can’t load 150 grain charges in them,so the bullets do not stabilize properly in flight,and end up hitting far to the left. 10″ at 100 yards for my Buckstalker,using the black sabots,and the 240 grain round nose lead bullets that I bought a box of 200 of to use for target practice. They are accurate out to 50 yards or so,and have almost the same point of impact as my hunting load at ranges up to the 50 yards,at which point they start hitting to the left-3-4″ at 75 yds,10″ or so at 100 yds.

I can use either pellets or powder in my Traditions Buckstalker,but only powder in my CVA Woodsman-so I use powder in both.

I prefer Triple7 over Pyrodex,as you get higher velocity with the same amount of powder.

You use FFG equivalent powder in muzzleloading rifles,you can also use FFFG as long as you are using .50 caliber and under.

There is a big difference in velocity with the FFFG,I use it for my hunting load,95 grains of Triple7,with a 240 grain  .44 caliber Hornady XTP bullet,with the Hornady green sabots.

I buy the bullets in boxes of 100 from Midway USA,or any of the plethora of online sellers of bullets.

I use the .44 caliber bullets with the green sabots because I can use them in my old CVA,and my new traditions.

Another reason I use powder, not pellets is because I can use a lighter powder charge for target shooting-I don’t have to use a 100 grain charge-(2  50 gr  pellets),or an 80 grain charge-( one 50 gr and one 30 gr pellet).

I use 70 grains to target shoot,except for the month before hunting season,then I use the 95 grain charge,and the XTP bullets.

I target shoot with the 230 gr round-nosed lead bullets,because the have almost the same point of impact as the 240gr XTP’s, and a box of 200 and the sabots to go with them only cost about 50 bucks including postage.

Beats the hell out of paying $15.00 or so for a package of 20 bullets with sabots.

100 240 gr .44 caliber Hornady XTP’s plus sabots only costs about 50 bucks including postage-again-beats the hell out of $15.00 for 20 bullets+sabots.

With the newer inlines that use the 209 shotshell primer,you get more accuracy,and can make longer shots. Using my Buckstalker,I can put 3 shots into a 3″ group at 100 yds,and a 4-5″ group at 150 yards,more than accurate enough for a kill shot on a deer,elk,or a feral hog at those ranges.

I’ve tried a lot of different bullet and sabot combos,patched round balls,and conical bullets that are sorta like an improved minie ball. The best load I’ve found is the Hornady XTP and XTP magnum. The load I found to be the best for what I hunt is the .44 caliber 240 gr jacketed hollow point XTP with the Hornady green sabots.

Using 100 grains of Triple 7 FFG I get 1820 fps,using FFFG Triple 7, I get 1970fps.

The 95 grain charge gives me almost the same velocity,and seems to be the best charge to use,I get the same accuracy,about the same velocity, a little bit less of a smoke cloud after the shot.

Any charge between 80 and 120 grains works in the Buckstalker,in the old CVA,I never use more than 100 grains.

You have to try different powder charges,and different bullet/sabot combos to see what works best for you.

Most older muzzleloaders are more accurate after a few shots have been fired.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with the newer inlines,as my Buckstalker has the same point of impact for 3-4 shots,then begins to lose accuracy until I run a patch or two down the barrel.

I choose which muzzeloader to use based on where I’ll be hunting,if it’s going to be mainly close range shots-under 50 yds,I use the CVA sidelock,if most shots are going to be beyond 50 yds,I use the Traditions.

Another bullet to try is the newer conicals,you will need a felt patch between the bullet and the powder charge for optimum accuracy and velocity.

Most of the conicals bullets are heavier than the 200-300 gr range of the most popular bullet/sabot combos.

The conicals have the “knockdown power” of the jacketed hollow points,but don’t have the velocity. They will take all North American big game animals.

After you have tried a variety of bullets,and bullet/sabot combos,pick which type works best for you,then pick the exact bullet,or bullet sabot combo that works best for you,in your muzzleloader.

I picked my load after a few years of shooting a whole lot of different bullets,it’s what works best for me,it may work for you-it may not.

Some other bullets work good,but I have not found anything that beats the performance of the Hornady XTP in my muzzleloaders-if you have a top of the line,newer inline,there are 150 grain powder charges/bullet combos that will work better for you.

If you are like me,and can not afford to buy the top of the line muzzleloaders-you can’t go wrong using the Hornady .44 caliber 240 grain JHP XTP bullet with the green Hornady sabot.

Some other great bullets to use are- Sierra Sports Master 240gr JHP,Nosler Sporting Handgun .44 caliber 240 gr JHP-(handgun bullets work just fine in muzzleloading rifles)-Swift A-Frame Bullets 44 Caliber 240 Grain bonded hollow point, Speer deep curl,Barnes XPB, Winchester Silvertips,

Then there’s these…Hunters Supply hard cast Bullets,Goex Black Dawge Bullets,Montana Precision Swaging Cast Bullets 44 Caliber (440 Diameter) 380 Grain Lead Straight Sided Paper Patch.

As you can see-there’s a lot of choices out there,including patched round balls-which were killing deer,elk,bison,feral hogs,bears,cougars,wolves,and any other game animal long before any of us were born.

When hunting,you want to be able to reload as fast as possible. There are “speedloaders” available from many companies,they are just an plastic tube with removeable caps on the ends,the diameter matches the caliber you are using,and you can put your pellets or powder,along with your bullet and sabot,or bullet and paper patch,or felt patch in the tube.

Since I use powder,not pellets,I put the measured powder charge and bullet already in the sabot in the tube. Then,all I have to do to reload is dump the powder down the barrel,start the bullet in the barrel with the plastic bullet starter I carry on a string around my neck,then use the ramrod that’s attached to the muzzleloader to seat the bullet on top of the powder charge. If I’m using my CVA sidelock,I put a percussion cap on,if I’m using the inline,I break it open-(like a single or double barreled shotgun)-and place a 209 shotshell primer in the breech plug,and I’m ready to shoot again. There are plastic “dogbones” for sale to hole 209 primers-get one-beats the hell out of trying to pick a primer out of the box with half frozen fingers !

I know the above description sounds like a lot to go through to reload-but it takes 30 seconds or less with practice.

Hunting big and medium sized game with a muzzleloader is not much different than hunting with a rifle or a shotgun using slugs. You still have to do your scouting,find the food and water sources,along with the bedding areas,and trails to and from theses areas. The newer inlines are more like rifle hunting,it’s just a lot more important to make your first shot count,because it takes so much longer to reload.

You do have more range than a shotgun with slugs for the most part-unless you have a rifled barrel for you shotgun,then it’s about the same range.

With the muzzleloader using loose powder,you have as much control over the load you use as you do if you are reloading your rifle ammo.

I use my inline during Ohio’s shotgun season,because I can make a longer shot,since I don’t have a rifled barrel.

Plus I get strange looks when using my Mossberg 590 for deer hunting-must be the heat shield…

You can get a new inline like the traditions Buckstalker I have for under $200.00,add another $50-75.00 for all the accessories you will need,and for under $300.00 you have a rifle that’s fun to shoot,is accurate,and can take any big game animal in the USA-even a Kodiak brown bear.

You can also find used muzzleloaders for under $150.00 at most gun shops-just be sure to inspect the barrel to make sure it’s not corroded due to poor cleaning practices.

Another benefit is you get more time to hunt with a gun,as most states have a season for muzzleloaders only.

If you don’t have a muzzleloader-try shooting one-it’s fun,less expensive than shooting most rifles,and it’s a great back-up weapon to have in case you run out of ammo during a SHTF situation…



Do more PT.

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