Muzzleloader Review: LHR Sporting Arms 20-Inch Redemption Rifle

Can a muzzleloader with a short 20-inch barrel give big-rifle performance? This one does!

Muzzleloader Review: LHR Sporting Arms 20-Inch Redemption Rifle

LHR Sporting Arms LLC introduced its first rifle, Redemption, in January 2013, bringing a new look and muzzleloader to market. This year the company has revised its initial offering, a 20-inch carbine model, which is unique to the market.

The 20-inch muzzleloader looks more like an old coach gun than a modern-day muzzleloader with new technology and features. Hunters that find themselves in tight quarters, whether it be in a blind, dense brush or even an elevated blind, will appreciate the maneuverability of this short-barreled rifle.

The 20-inch Redemption was developed by a team of engineers that wanted to offer the market a rifle that is simple to operate, safe, reliable and accurate. The high-quality barrel, trigger and the unique ignition system make this gun dependable and easy to maintain.

Muzzleloaders tend to be front heavy, but the 20-inch Redemption feels extremely well-balanced with the reduced weight and short barrel. It shoulders easily, making target acquisition fast. It is practical and adaptable to a hunter’s wants and needs, providing the versatility that once was only achievable through the purchase of several firearms. It can shoot a variety of powders from standard to magnum loads, and the recoil is anything but overwhelming.

This break-action, .50-caliber muzzleloader opens by pushing a thumb-activated release situated on the top of the buttstock, right behind the receiver. It works the same as most break-action shotguns. When you push the release to the right, the hinge is released and the barrel drops away naturally, exposing the breech for quick access to the ignition. Simply lift the forearm and barrel to snap the hinged action closed. The gun closes tight and provides complete protection from the elements. Overall, I found this rifle to be well constructed, with a tight close and narrow tolerances.

LHR was the first to come out with an external threaded breech to help reduce seized threads at the ignition source. The unique design keeps residue and powder blowback inside the barrel to eliminate seizing breech threads. The design also makes cleanup easier, as the retaining collar over the primer adapter can be removed. A primer adapter takes the place of the breech plug and is held in place with the retaining collar, which when screwed in place puts enough pressure on the adapter to ensure it stays in place. It is known as an “Adapt” breech system, which allows you to choose different primers. Simply select the best primer adapter for your preferred propellant, loose or pellets, and lock it in place with the retaining collar. The adaptor for loose powder ensures better ignition and is easy to change out to the one for powder in pellet form. A 209 primer is used as the ignition source for both adapters. The retaining collar is easy to remove with a tool included with the gun. It takes about 36 turns to remove it completely for cleaning. The elongated threads ensure blowback is never going to be an issue. The adapter only needs to be finger-tight in order for the gun to be functional and ready to shoot.   

It might take a few extra seconds to remove the retaining collar, but with external threads it is much quicker and easier to clean. Without blowback directly in the threads, it is easy to disassemble and clean. Simply remove the retaining collar and your primer adapter is exposed for easy removal. If you use thread lubricant on the adapter and don’t over-tighten it when you put it back on the gun, you likely won’t need to use the tool to remove it after use. Simply use your fingers to unscrew and remove.

When using any blackpowder or substitute, there are concerns with rust and corrosion. LHR treats the metal parts of its guns with Armornite, a nitride protector, covering the barrel inside and out, as well as other external parts. The Armornite coating is a Mil-Spec coating that is infused under the metal’s surface at a high temperature and creates no surface area when applied. It doesn’t change the bore size, as it isn’t an additive on top of the metal. It makes the rifle practically rustproof, and the hardened coat also helps prevent scratching and denting. The most important part of the coating is that it goes inside the barrel, where the corrosion protection allows the rifle to be used in any weather conditions — and even if your cleaning skills aren’t exact, rust won’t eat away your investment. The rifle still needs to be cleaned properly, but the coating helps provide longer barrel life even after years of continuous shooting.

Even with the short barrel, the gun was very accurate. LHR Sporting Arms uses only Green Mountain Barrels, the same company that designed the Cloverleaf barrel to be used on all Redemption rifles. Green Mountain has long been known for the accuracy and durability of its barrels. The barrel has a 1:28 twist, optimized for bore size and sabot-style projectiles. Firm pressure is required with a ramrod to load the barrel, but it is not overly difficult and would be easy for most hunters to do in the field, even under pressure trying to load for a follow-up shot. The tolerances are tight enough to ensure a consistent gas seal for repeatable results downrange. The Armornite coating actually helps to eliminate friction, making it easier to push your bullet down the length of the barrel. All barrels are fiber-optic bore-scoped to ensure quality.

The gun is put into the fire position by sliding a cocking mechanism up, toward the barrel. There is no actual external cocking hammer on this rifle, replaced by what LHR calls its Stealth Striker system. The striker sits right under the hinge release lever. Mounted lower on the stock, it provides plenty of clearance for scopes. There is a decocking button in the center of the slide that allows the shooter to put the rifle back in the safe position by holding the button down and sliding the striker back into the safe position. The system works for left- or right-handed shooters. The ease of operation allows you to slide the striker forward even when wearing gloves, and you can feel when it engages, as there is no longer pressure on your thumb. The striker is completely silent when cocking the gun, allowing you to ready for a shot when game catches you off guard and shows up within earshot. Ease of use and silent operation are important, as the striker mechanism also serves as the safety for the gun. The striker is either in the fire position or safe mode.

A high-quality trigger is a must for any muzzleloader, as there is a slight delay from the time you pull the trigger until the primer ignites the powder and sends a bullet downrange. The key to consistent shooting is squeezing the trigger while maintaining a steady hold on target. If a trigger is too stiff or has creep, the shooter tends to pull off target with the pressure exerted from the trigger finger. Knowing the importance of the trigger, LHR uses an FT2 Match Trigger, set with a light pull. When you pick up the gun and try the trigger, you will feel it break clean with no travel. Gun manufacturers can use the best barrels and components for accuracy, but if a trigger doesn’t complement the quality of the rest of the gun, nothing will be appreciated. The attention to detail with the FT2 trigger will help any shooter be more consistently accurate. The wide blade trigger and elongated trigger guard makes it easy to use and access, even with gloves on.

Cleaning and loading can be done quickly and efficiently in the field with a single tool. Younger and shorter shooters will embrace the short barrel, as it makes the gun easy to hold and load. There is less travel until the bullet is seated on the powder, expediting the entire process. The wrench, palm saver and range rod handle are built into one easy-to-carry tool that tops off the accessories needed and is included with the gun.

LHR puts all its guns through a 10-point inspection before they leave the production facility, looking at all critical areas of the rifle to ensure quality and performance. An important part of any rifle is accuracy, and LHR tests its products until they exceed industry accuracy standards and can provide buyers with the loading data needed to get the accuracy wanted. There is online support for Redemption owners wanting to play with loads and get the most out of their rifle.

The Redemption is USA-made and includes a Lifetime Promise, which extends with the life of the rifle regardless of the owner. The new 20-inch model might look strange when you first see it, but when you start thinking of some of the tight spots you hunt in or the times you have to get your rifle up fast, you will quickly see a use for the design. The barrel proved to be plenty long enough for consistent powder burns, and the tight groups I shot with it confirmed this. The recoil was well-managed with little barrel lift. With the wide range of load options, this gun would be ideal for any sized shooter. It does have a full-sized stock for an adult, but could be modified for a smaller shooter.

The 20-inch models come with fiber-optic sights and a Weaver scope base and will be offered in G2 camouflage, walnut and black composite finishes, with a MSRP starting at $699 to $819. The rifle is a great value for the price, being adaptable and easy to load, shoot and clean, and it provides the accuracy most hunters rely on.



Length of Pull: 13 ½ inches

Weight: 6.25 pounds for composite and 6.75 pounds for wood stock

Caliber: .50 caliber

Trigger: FT2 Match Trigger

Barrel length: 20 inches

Cocking mechanism: Stealth Striker

Stock: Walnut stock and forend in a choice of three finishes, composite stock available in black or camouflage.

Finish: Armornite corrosion-resistant hard coat (internal and external of barrel and all critical components). Some models also have CeraKote.

Sights: Williams fiber-optic metal sights and Weaver base

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