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Muzzleloader Review: Traditions Vortek LDR

Traditions Performance Firearms was the first company to improve the velocity, downrange energy, and effective range of a muzzleloader by going to a 30-inch barrel on its Vortek Ultralight LDR (Long Distance Rifle). The extra barrel length allows a magnum powder charge to burn completely in the barrel, which helps maximize propellant’s performance. When you look at all the features of this gun, it’s easy to tell the company strives to be innovative and bring shooters advantages in every aspect of muzzleloading.

The Vortek Ultralight LDR is easy to load, clean, disassemble and maintain, which makes it effortless to own and use. One of the first things you will notice when picking up this rifle is how lightweight and balanced it is, even with the longer barrel.

When Traditions introduced the award-winning Vortek Ultralight — the first rifle in the Vortek line — it was the lightest on the market at 6 ¼ pounds. To top things off, these guns were packed with user-friendly features, including an easy-to-remove Accelerator Breech Plug, 28-inch chromoly barrel, premium Cerakote finish, and a dual safety system, just to name just a few. The biggest difference with the new LDR model is the barrel itself. Testing the rifle on the range with a chronograph proved beyond a doubt that two inches of extra barrel added up to superior performance.

The biggest selling feature of the 30-inch chromoly barrel on the Traditions Vortek Ultralight LDR is its downrange energy and improved accuracy. This rifle consistently shot the highest velocities, measured with a chronograph, with a number of different powders and bullets, offering up to 300 feet per second (fps) more than other modern inline muzzleloading rifles with shorter barrels, all the while maintaining accuracy. Velocities with 90 grains of Alliant MZ powder under a 300-grainSmackdownbullet averaged over 1811 fps.Tests showed increased velocity with Pyrodex and Triple Seven pellets as well. Even with the longer barrel, the LDR weighs just 6.8 pounds and is easy and comfortable to shoot. The recoil is well managed for a lightweight gun and the rifle’ balance helps minimize barrel lift. Being light, with improved velocities, this muzzleloader is perfect for any hunting situation, especially when a longer shot may be required, or you are packing a gun long distance — often the case when hunting out West.

The Vortek Ultralight LDR is a contemporary break-action muzzleloading rifle with sleek lines and a sporting appearance. The straight lines of the stock and receiver complement the light weight to allow the shooter to manage recoil extremely well, considering the rifle weighs only about 7 pounds with a scope. Even with magnum loads, this gun doesn’t punish shooters with extreme recoil or barrel lift. A proprietary recoil pad further reduces felt recoil, making it comfortable to shoot the maximum, magnum loads. The Hogue over-molded grip makes for a relaxed fit on the range or in the field, even when wearing heavy gloves.

The LDR has a soft-touch molded stock with grip panels that make it easy to hold under any condition. It is available in black, Reaper Buck or Realtree Xtra camouflage. A thumbhole stock is also available.  

The Vortek Ultralight LDR is named for the 30-inch barrel made of chromoly steel, recognized in the firearm industry as the best barrel material for strength and accuracy. Fluted for reduced barrel weight, it prevents the gun from being heavy and unbalanced on the front end. The barrel helps to give it a modern look with overall appeal for a multitude of shooters. The end of the barrel is recessed for quick bullet starts, known as Traditions’ projectile alignment system. There is no need for a bullet starter, with the shooter being able to seat the sabot and bullet with a finger or thumb.

The Vortek line loads easily for both pellet and loose-powder shooters and performs well with different charges. I found that while trying several different powder and bullet combinations, the accuracy of the rifle was maintained, making it very versatile and adaptable. The barrel tolerances are balanced to provide a consistent gas seal with a sabot, yet make it easy to use the ramrod to push the bullet the entire length of the barrel and seat it firmly on the powder charge. Reasonable pressure is required to seat the bullet in place, but it is never a struggle to put enough pressure on the ramrod to keep it moving. The ramrod is solid aluminum, making it durable and useable under different conditions and temperatures.

When it comes to hitting your target, you’ll like the accuracy of the Vortek Ultralight LDR. It has been developed with features that maximize accuracy out to 250 yard, and these claims were confirmed at the range, shooting groups consistent for hunting right to 300 yards. The Vortek LDR rifle has a 1:28-inch twist rifling to maximize bullet stability. The barrel and components are made in Spain. It is extremely well machined and finished, explaining the consistent and accurate results. The single-action trigger is factory set at 4 pounds or less, making it easy to shoot and stay consistent. The trigger is crisp and breaks clean, without creep, for reliable and repeatable results.

Traditions is the only muzzleloader company to offer a dual safety system, making this gun one of the safest on the market. It is ideal for hunters and shooters with little experience, never having to uncock a gun without having it safe. Besides having to engage the cocking spur, the rifle also has a trigger-block safety. This allows you to hunt ready, with rifle cocked, and safety on. When a big buck shows up you can quietly disengage the safety, making the gun ready to fire. The break-action rifle’s breech can also be opened with the safety engaged, making it easy to remove the primer when unloading. The rebounding hammer ensures the gun won’t fire unless the trigger is pulled.

The barrel release is situated on the front of the trigger guard and is easy to activate to open the gun. It closes tight when ready to shoot. If you haven’t put the breech plug into the end of the threads it will not fire. This is another safety feature to make sure the rifle is never fired until the breech is fully secured.

The Accelerator Breech Plug, LT-1 alloy frame, stainless steel barrel, and Cerakote finish make this gun simple to clean and maintain. Cerakote is a proprietary coating added to external parts of the gun to prevent rust, and it is proven to be more effective than just stainless steel. The breech plug can be removed with your fingers, without the aid of a tool, and is quickly cleaned in a solvent bath. Simply cover the screw threads with breach plug grease before reinserting and it will always be easy to remove, even after multiple shots. The barrel swabs clean without extra work, and with the special finish you don’t have to worry about rust during storage. The trigger has a single screw and drops out easily for complete cleaning. Being able to completely clean the trigger assembly at the end of the season will ensure that there is no rust or fouling the next time you take the gun out to shoot. The molded stock is durable and helps fend off nasty weather when in the field.

The rifle is ambidextrous and can used by left- and right-handed shooters by screwing the hammer spur into either side of the cocking lever. Some models come equipped with a Williams metal fiber-optic sight, and all models are drilled and tapped for scope mounting. Some models come with scope and don’t have metal sights. All models of the Vortek Ultralight LDR come equipped with sling swivel studs ready to quickly attach a strap.

The Vortek Ultralight LDR was designed with inline ignition and uses a 209 shotgun primer for consistent powder burn. Primers can be loaded into the breech without a caper and can be removed with a finger and thumb after the shot. There are models for hunters in the northwestern United States required by law to have exposed breech. In order to meet state-specific regulations, the Vortek Ultralight LDR Northwest Magnum is equipped with Williams metal fiber optic sights, has an exposed nipple and fires musket caps. Available in .50 caliber, it is a great option for states with restrictions to muzzleloading.

As Traditions improves and expands the Vortek line of rifles, the suggested retail has stayed pretty consistent, with the current model LDR ranging in price from $470 to $629, depending on stock and camouflage patterns.

If you are looking for a long-range muzzle loader that is easy to take care of, the Vortek Ultralight LDR should be on your list of guns to check out.


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