2013 Muzzleloaders: Technology rules the day

June 26, 2013

The muzzleloader industry continues to pursue perfection with rifles that are lighter and easier to use and clean. They shoot farther and more consistently, often with the look and feel of a modern sporting rifle. Components have been lightened and strengthened, offering durability and products that will last a lifetime. They are safer and more reliable than ever, and with new technologies and innovations, are easier to use and shoot. There are several new muzzleloaders hitting the market in 2013 and all are exceptional options.

Anyone in the market for a new muzzleloader will have to look long and hard at the selection before making a purchase. All new rifles offer great quality and value, and consumers will have to compare features offering the best advantages for the type of hunting they like to do. Whether you pack into the mountains, sit in a blind or tree stand, or like to spot and stalk game the old-fashioned way, there is a new muzzleloader to make you more successful in the field.

Make your list of wants and features before you go shopping, and look at all the options available. It will help you key in on a muzzleloader that offers the most value for the dollars you’ve budgeted. All of them shoot with exceptional accuracy, but each offers a variety of unique features.

Traditions StrikeFire

Traditions continues to bring innovation to its Vortek line of muzzleloaders. The new Vortek StrikeFire features the industry’s first internal hammerless ignition system that’s controlled with an easy-to-use button behind the receiver, allowing the shooter to cock and uncock the striker mechanism.

The simple and silent thumb control lets you slide the striker button forward until it locks, allowing you to shoot immediately. To uncock the rifle you slide the button down or simply open the rifle’s action, and it will automatically uncock the mechanism. With no external hammer, hunters benefit from a faster lock time and a smoother trigger pull, further enhanced by the StrikeFire’s two-stage trigger. In short, it is quick, easy and reliable.

There are several benefits to not having an external hammer, including the ability to mount scopes closer to the barrel, which makes for faster, smoother alignment when mounting the StrikeFire for quick shots. The rifle is truly ambidextrous, with quick operation for left- and right-handed shooters. The StrikeFire also features a dual-safety system, which includes a manual trigger-block and internal striker block. With an option to use a magnum musket ignition system, the rifle is legal for use in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The StrikeFire’s removable butt pad and hollow buttstock provide convenient storage for patches, easy-loaders and other small, lightweight items. The rifle also features a fluted barrel with CeraKote finish. Anyone familiar with the Vortek line will enjoy the easily removable breech plug, and the rifle weighs in at just 6 pounds. MSRP: $489 for the matte black stock and $569 for the camouflage stock. www.traditionsfirearms.com

LHR Sporting Arms Redemption Rifle

Founded in May 2012, LHR Sporting Arms LLC is the newest muzzleloader manufacturer on the market, unveiling the company’s first product, the Redemption Muzzleloading Rifle. The Redemption brings innovation and a new look to muzzleloading, and is designed for hunters and shooters wanting a durable and versatile rifle.

The Redemption features the Adapt breech system for fast, simple, easy cleaning. It also features the first optimized propellant-specific ignition system, which allows you to choose different primers. Simply select the best primer adapter for your preferred propellant and lock it in place with the retaining collar. The new and adaptable breech needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The Adapt system has external threads, so your rifling goes from muzzle to breech, making cleaning easy and effective, and it can be disassembled by hand. Just remove the retaining collar and your primer adapter can be removed.

Corrosion is no longer a major issue, as Armornite, a nitride protectant, covers and protects the barrel inside and out, as well as other critical components. Cloverleaf barrels are used on all Redemption rifles for accuracy and durability. The innovative Stealth Striker system is quiet and easy to use, and it gives more clearance for scopes. The Striker slides forward until it locks, making the rifle ready to shoot. A decocking button lets you quickly put the rifle back in the safe position.

Hunters will enjoy the FT2 match trigger’s light pull and zero over-travel with crisp and consistent results. A wrench, palm saver and range rod handle all built into one easy-to-carry tool is included with the gun.

The Redemption will be offered in camouflage, walnut and composite finishes. MSRP: Starts at $599. www.lhrsportingarms.com

CVA Optima V2

CVA sells more muzzleloaders than any other company and with the OPTIMA V2 they have another winner. This is a quality rifle with a very affordable price tag, offering consumers the best of both worlds.

The Version 2 OPTIMA has been modeled after CVA’s ACCURA V2 featuring the same trigger-guard-actuated breeching lever, internal parts, a balanced trigger and Quick Release Breech Plug. This breech plug is the easiest of all muzzleloader breech plugs to take out and clean without a tool, so if maintenance is a purchase factor, this rifle will stand out. In short, the Optima V2 is easy to load and clean, and it’s accurate. The rifle has a completely ambidextrous stock, reversible cocking spur and CrushZone recoil pad, and it is equipped with a 26-inch 416 grade stainless-steel barrel, machined with a bullet gliding system for easy loading.

The OPTIMA V2 is lightweight at 6.65 pounds, and with a 26-inch barrel, it is easy to maneuver in a blind or tree stand and comfortable enough to pack if you like rugged terrain. The rifle comes standard with a DuraSight DEAD-ON one-piece scope mount and CVA’s solid aluminum PalmSaver ramrod. It has all the bells and whistles of a more expensive gun but is economically priced.

The biggest selling feature of this version 2 rifle is its affordability, starting at just MSRP: $318 to $426. www.cva.com

Knight Ultra-Lite

Knight Rifles were the pioneer company for modern inline muzzleloaders and continue to produce safe, accurate, easy-to-use black powder rifles. The company has expanded its line with a new Ultra-Lite, weighing in at a total of 6 pounds.

All Knight rifles are 100-percent American made and feature quality components with accurate results. Knight goes the extra mile with aluminum bedding in the stock and a 24-inch contoured Green Mountain barrel with guaranteed accuracy.

The company continues to use its Full Plastic Jacket primer with a bolt action to keep the ignition source sealed from the elements and to ensure positive results each time you pull the trigger. The bolt works smoothly and locks into place with an external safety that screws out on the back of the bolt. Don’t overlook the bolt-action rifle for consistent ignition and protection against the elements.

This rifle will stand out on the shelf with ornate, individually machined bolts, carbon core ramrods, and a selection of lightweight Kevlar stocks, bringing this full-feature rifle to a very manageable weight. This is the perfect muzzleloader for a hardcore hunter wanting a lightweight rifle with optimal performance and looks. Spot-and-stalk or backpack hunters will enjoy the lightweight design and consistent performance. The Ultra-Lite has great shelf appeal with a modern look. MSRP is $900 to $1150. www.knightrifles.com

Nikon INLINE SR Muzzleloader Scope

For 2013, Nikon is introducing its INLINE XR series of muzzleloading riflescopes, designed to give an edge to hunters and shooters wanting to stay on target at ranges up to 300 yards.

The new ultra-compact scope features the BDC 300 reticle and is available in 3-9x40 in matte, silver or Realtree APG finish. The scope provides 5 inches of eye relief throughout the magnification range, so even magnum loads can be shot safely. The trajectory-compensating reticle integrates unique, easy-to-see circles for calibrated distance that provide instant aiming points. The scope has ¼-MOA adjustments, quick-focus eyepiece and great light transmission. The INLINE XR’s BDC 300 reticle can be fully optimized to match the bullet drop of any sabot load. Nikon’s Spot On program provides users with exact aiming points on the BDC reticle for any load or ammunition at a specified range. Spot On can be purchased for iPhone and Android or tried out for free at nikonhunting.com/spoton.

MSRP is $229.95 for the matte, $239.95 for the silver and $249.95 for the Realtree APG finishes. More information is available at www.nikonhunting.com.