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Muzzleloader Review: Traditions Vortek UltraLight

In recent years, Traditions has taken the lead on producing front-stuffers that are lighter and easier for hunters to use. When the Vortek UltraLight was introduced, it was the lightest muzzleloader available on the market at just 6.25 pounds. It was the starting point for the introduction of many models and options in the Ultralight design that continues to revolutionize what hunters want and demand.

The Vortek UltraLight is a modern-looking, break-action, blackpowder rifle with sleek lines and an appealing appearance. The straight lines of the stock and receiver allow the shooter to manage recoil extremely well considering the weight of the rifle. Even with magnum loads, this gun doesn’t punish shooters with extreme recoil or barrel lift. The Vortex UltraLight is produced with a proprietary recoil pad that further reduces felt recoil, making it useable by any size or frame of shooter. The Hogue over-molded grip makes the gun comfortable to handle on the range or in the field with heavier gloves.

The UltraLight sports a molded stock with grip panels that make it easy to hold under any condition. It is available in black or Mossy Oak Treestand camouflage. A thumbhole stock is also available. The stainless steel barrel helps give the gun a modern look with overall appeal for a multitude of shooters. The 28-inch barrel is tapered and fluted to help reduce weight, and gives the rifle a high-tech appearance. The barrel is made of chromoly steel, which is well recognized in the firearm industry as the best barrel material for strength and accuracy. With a reduced barrel weight, the rifle isn’t “muzzle-heavy” like many other more traditional muzzleloaders on the market. It’s built more like a centerfire rifle that offers a 50/50 balance over the length of the gun.

The Vortek line is extremely easy to load for pellet or loose powder shooters and performs well with different powder charges. I tried several different powder and bullet combinations and the accuracy of the rifle was maintained, making it very versatile and adaptable. The projectile alignment system allows a bullet to be placed into the recessed barrel, avoiding the need to use a bullet starter. The bullet can be dropped into the end of the barrel and started with a single finger. Starting the bullet straight each and every time when loading provides consistent results that can be seen downrange in the bullet groupings. 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 firmly seat it on the powder charge. Moderate 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. The simplicity of loading makes this rifle ideal for young shooters that might not have the strength to load rifles that have tighter tolerances. Also, the ease of loading is noticeable under cold conditions when reloading can be more challenging.

When it comes to hitting your target, you’ll like the accuracy of the Vortek UltraLight. It has been developed with features that maximize accuracy beyond 200 yards and, tested on the range, it consistently shot groups under two inches at 200 yards. Like most inline rifles, the Vortek has a 1:28-inch twist rifling to maximize bullet stability. The barrel and components are made in Spain. The gun is extremely well machined and finished, helping to explain the consistent and accurate results. The trigger is part of the success equation and comes factory set at four pounds or less. It is crisp and breaks clean, without creep, for dependable and repeatable results.

Most muzzleloaders do not have a safety besides the cocking lever. Traditions offers a dual safety system, making this gun one of the safest on the market. Besides having to engage the cocking spur, the rifle also has a trigger-block safety like you see on many centerfire rifles. The break-action rifle can be opened with the safety engaged, making it easy to remove the primer when making it safe. There is no fear of accidental discharge when trying to release the cocking spur. The extra attention to safety makes this an ideal gun for novice blackpowder shooters and hunters. The barrel release is situated on the front of the trigger guard and is easy to activate to open the gun. It closes tight, and if you haven’t put the breech plug in fully to a safe shooting standard, the rifle won’t close.

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 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 it 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. Completely cleaning the trigger assembly at the end of the season will ensure 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 in the field.

The rifle can be used by left- and right-handed shooters with an extended ambidextrous hammer spur. It comes equipped with a Williams metal fiber-optic sight set and is drilled and tapped for scope mounting. Some models come with a scope and don’t have metal sights. Sling swivel studs are in the stock and ready to attach your favorite strap.

The Vortek UltraLight is an inline muzzleloader that uses a 209 shotgun primer ignition for consistent, reliable powder burns. Primers are easy to load without a capper and can be removed with a finger and thumb after the shot. Traditions does offer a model for hunters in the Northwest who demand high-performance muzzleloaders that are legal in their area. The Vortek Northwest Magnum Edition was developed with features to make the rifle legal for hunting while continuing to maximize accuracy beyond 200 yards, and be rugged and durable when hunting in extreme conditions. In order to meet state-specific regulations, the Vortek Northwest Magnum Edition is equipped with Williams metal fiber-optic sights, has an exposed nipple and fires musket caps. Available in .50 caliber, with a 28-inch Premium CeraKote barrel and 44 inches in length, it is a great option for states with rifle restrictions.

When you read about many of the modern muzzleloaders, they often sound the same. All are easy to load, clean and shoot. What sets them apart is what you’re getting for your dollar. The Vortek is a field gun that is built to withstand the rigors of a tough hunt. Where it really shines is on price. With suggested retail prices of $449 to $589, depending on stock and camouflage patterns, this rifle screams with value. It performs on the range with extreme accuracy and simply costs less than other guns with the same capabilities. Being easy to load, shoot and clean provides the same technological advantage without the price.

If you’re a hunter that likes to climb the hills or spot and stalk game, this muzzleloader is noticeably lighter than any other front-stuffer you may have slung over your shoulder. Where weight is a consideration, the UltraLight provides an advantage. For smaller-framed shooters looking for a firearm that is easy to handle, this rifle needs to be picked up to be appreciated, and it offers maximum safety. www.traditionsfirearms.com

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