Long Range Muzzleloader



How many of you guys hunt/shoot with a muzzleloader? I am trying to push the range of my muzzleloader and am having a hard time finding info/help on this topic. Some of the newer inline's can toss a chunk of lead very accuratly and quickly so target distences are getting longer. I would like to know what others are doing to get some ideas on how to extend my range. Thanks.
So happens I was down in Texas a while back doing just that - testing muzzleloader bullets at long range. There is a new bullet coming out from Hornady and T/C that is intended to extend the range of a good shooting in-line. How far depends on the shooter, how much he has practiced to become confident with his rifle and load. We made kills on wild hogs at 250 and 300 yards during the tests.
We were shooting T/C Encores with 6-24 Swarovski scopes loaded with three of the new Triple Seven pellets (150 grains) and the new 250 grain bullet. The rifle is a very good one, but the Swarovski scopes made the difference as they had TDS reticles which gave us nice holdover reference points.
With practice the in-line can be accurate and lethal out past 300 but there are an awful lot of variables. I have made kills well past that distance, but only because I was prepared, plus that was the only shot available.
In reality the in-line action is not what makes such accuracy possible. In-lines are designed for scope sights. The scope is the bottom line, put a 6-24 Swarovski on a new T/C sidehammer, load it with the same powder charge and bullet and it will do the same provided the Hawkins happened to have a 28 twist barrel. Maybe even better because the Hawkens usually has a long barrel and might give slightly better velocity. The type of action and ignition system does not have the impact on base accuracy and velocity that most people assume.
Having said that, getting in close is the best way to place a lethal shot with a muzzleloader. You only get one shot, closer you are the more accurate it hits. That is true for all hunting, but long distance presents another challenge that we are interested in.
Not sure how into muzzleloading you are. One good tip is to always swab after every shot. Naturally this is impossible in most hunting situations but it is very important for best accuracy on the range.
Hello fellas, I'm just getting into the muzzleloader hunting. My hunting buddy hunts groundhogs with his Encore & will go out to at least 250yds. Ian M you said it doesn't matter about the action but is their one that is usually more accurate. I'm trying to decide between the Knight Disc Extreme & that new Optima Pro. but can't find out accuracy info on either one. Any suggestions? Thanx, later, Ceejack2
I've been told there is a group of avid Muzzle loader shooters that have 1000 yard matches. They hold them out west somewhere.

I believe that Hank Williams Jr. (singer on Monday Night Football) is one of them. He has a ranch and does a lot of Longrange shooting with the ML. I was told he holds matches on his ranch for his friends?

An Attorney in Williamsport is a Longrange ML shooter also. He has mentioned shooting 1000 yards.

A northern General was killed by a southern sniper at 1000 yards.
I held the rifle 25 years ago that did this feat. All paperwork was with the rifle and docmented by the US Government.
A movie was done about it also.

I met a fellow who lives down the road a few miles from me a couple of years ago who shoots 1000 yard matches with Muzzle loaders.

He builds a lot of his own stuff and has some really beautiful rifles.

I think there is a group that meets somewhere over around Tombstone for their matches.
Good to see there are some other ML hunters here. I got my ML 3 years ago. It is a Traditions inline .50 cal 1:32 twist 22 inch barrel. Bushnell 3-9 (off my 270 when I upgraded). 209 shotgun primers. Have shot many different sabot bullets over a few different powders (clear shot, clean shot, pyrodex, 777) pellets and powder. Always looking for tighter groups. Have had the odd group under 1 inch at 100 yards. Usually keep them under 1.5 inch. I want to try the new Hornady SST with 100-150g of 777. Was this the bullet you were testing Ian? What weight of bullet works best at 200-300 yards? My longest kill was just under 200 yards. 240g Hornady XTP bullet on 2-50g pyrodex pellets. Hit a rib on the way in, both lungs, and stopped against the hide on the way out. The bullet was almost good enough to shoot again. Looking for something that opens up a bit better.
If there is enough interest in Long Range Muzzleloading mabe Len could open a forum for this topic.
I usually end up hunting elk with muzzle loader.
I am not sure about long range hunting with muzzle guns. The idea would really take some getting used to for me. I am kind of an old school, Hawken style black powder hunter. These new souped up in-lines are far from the "primitive weapon" I prefer in September.
On the other hand if it is about pushing some boundaries, killing some varmints in a more challenging way and learning more about accuracy, then I guess I am all for that.
I shoot or have shot all of the current brands and can tell you that the American made barrels are superior to the off-shore barrels. And a muzzleloader is mostly a barrel with a few gadgets attached to it.
Action designs basically are of two styles, the in-line and the sidehammer. Lots of variation in the designs of the newer in-line actions, some are very complicated and therefore should be avoided. With all the residue and crud associated with igniting the propellant the simpler actions are much easier to clean and more reliable.

The Spanish/Italian rifles shoot OK, but their barrels typically have tight and loose spots in them. Don't get that with Knight and T/C.

Best shooting ML. That rifle your buddy shoots is very difficult to beat. T/C OMEGA is the hottest selling in-line, for a very good reason as it is simple and extremely accurate. Knight Wolverine or Disc Elite are very accurate rifles, more complex but have Green Mtn barrels which are excellent.
Not saying that Traditions/CVA rifles don't shoot well and function reliably, they are just a notch down from the U.S. made rifles, and their price reflects that.
Our long range bullet tests were with Encores. The bullet is indeed the new Hornady mentioned, will be called Shockwave when sold by T/C.
Let's see if I understand this. 3 x pellets for a 150 gr charge in a 50 cal. ML, and you're wondering what range? What load was/is used on the .50-140-3 1/4? Hint hint, look at middle number. Look up Billy Dixon/Sharps/dead indian/1 mile+/-. Or perhaps "Whitworth Rifle".

There is little difference in performance potential between ML or any BP cartridge gun given equivalent charge and BC. HEAVY bullets are your friend for long range, forget the sabots and giz-widgets. Any half decent profile bullet at 450+ grains, .40+ caliber is capable of kills beyond 1000 yards IF you and the rifle are up to it. This is JMO but for ML's, paper patch is a good way to go. That and a good vernier sight. and use BLACK powder not yuppie substitutes. And swab between shots. And really know your trajectory numbers, and drift, and, and, and, and,
I just talked to a some one about a Knight Disc Extreme who said the 45cal had a rate of twist of 1 in 30, what would be the best rate of twist for the 45cal. Also has anyone tried the new CVA Optima?
Ian, did you recover any of the new Hornady bullets and how did they look? What kind of accuracy did they give you? Are there any other bullets you have tryed that you could comment about? Thanks
I am not into blackpowder cartridge guns but my impression of them is that they are far more accurate at longer range than front-stuffers. There are a hell of a bunch of variables involved in front-stuffing, whether the rifle is a sidehammer, underhammer or in-line. Granted some guys can eliminate a lot of them but most guys just want it simple.

Some of the stuff you mention was the reason that muzzleloading seasons were introduced, but I believe that those days are fast fading and the blister-packed in-line rules the scene now. I remember casting balls, cutting patches, making my own shortstarters and ball holders, "baby-****" for lube, fringed possible bag etc. and hoping that I could get a real close shot because my rifle was only accurate to 50 yards. That made for a lot of really good fun. Now I am shooting in-lines with 24x scopes. What the hell, it is all hunting and gets a person out there.

I did a survey of where several top industry folks think muzzleloader hunting is going. Every guy expressed real concern about how long blackpowder will be available because of obvious reasons. Bottom line is we better enjoy all this while we can.
Quite a while back I watched a TV program on benchrest muzzleloading competition. The guy was shooting a HUGE stainless gun on a bench rest.The big .50 hardly moved when the gun went off. The guy was talking about his bore diameter and his bullet diameter and the combined diameter of his bullet and patch before and after firing.
The big stainless barrel and all the technical stuff seemed awfully similar to the things I have seen around the 1000 yd b.r. matches.
I still think that gun and some long slender bullets would make a great long range hunter for black powder season.
Unfortunately I have no idea who the guy was or where he is now.
Ian, I pass no judgement on "blister pack" life styles other than it won't get you to long range success. Regardless of one's passion or methodology for the sport, there is no easy path. You are no doubt correct that cartridge guns are easier to work with in this venue but that does not obviate the capability or potential for ML's to reach out a long ways with success. This was demonstrated a multitude of times in the past, both in the field and in competition. It matters not whether a Sharps or a ML launches the projectile, the BC's of suitable projectiles are too similar to differentiate and the muzzle velocities are likely within 25-50 fps of each other, advantage not necessarily to the cartridge gun. There was a time when "production" ML's were works of art and highly sophisticated; set trigger, vernier sights, false muzzles, and in some paper patch was routine. They shot extremely well. I recall a few years back when Coors was doing the Schutzenfest thing in Golden, Co. that this style of gun would group in the sub 2" range at 200 yards OFFHAND and not necessarily win the competition. These were cartridge guns as I recall, but many Schutzen guns of old were ML's. We like to think we're more sophisticated these days...I wonder about that now and then.

A cartridge case is nothing more than a convenient gasket.
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