In my case I went with the Remington 700 Ultimate. Four 50gr Triple 7 pellets and the 250gr. Barnes Premier bullet (supplied w/rifle) made for a one hole four shot group at 100 yards. With a 100 yard zero I held right on at 200 yards to check the drop, which turned out to be six inches. The 200 yard group was 4". I have some Blackhorn 209 powder that I'm going to try.
Agreed with previous statements about needing to step up to smokeless to ensure kills at 350 yds. You can shoot any cva, TC pro hunter and hit with decent consistency at that range, but bullet expansion is the issue. Blackhorn is the only powder to use. For years i have shot 275 gr parker match grade hunters out of my CVA, and killed a lot of deer and a bear with them. However multiple times demonstrated no expansion past 200 yds. (To be fair to Bob, he did tell me that it would be an issue as they were designed for smokeless). Have shot them to 400 yds easily with deer killing accuracy, but not the terminal performance. There is another option pittman bullets out of tennessee. Very similar design, but thinner jacket. Have yet to put them through a deer, so cant comment, but they are accurate. My latest project is 300 xtp 44 cal. for another option at those longer ranges. At normal muzzleloader velocities 1800-2000fps they carry enough velocity to ensure good terminal performance. Have shot a couple of deer with the bullet out of a pistol and have been very impressed with how fast it kills them. Problem here is a lot of drop/wind drift. For what its worth i had a smokeless savage 110, but got rid of it because of the recoil. You can get a braked smokeless, but then you go way over your proposed budget. No free lunch anywhere, but fun to try and optimize for extended capabilities.
From the research I have done and a group of local guys here who shoot match grade smokeless MZ rifles, the cost for a custom MZ is about the same for a custom rifle...maybe a little less if you use a factory action without any work. Just thought I would pass that along for the folks wondering what a Custom would cost.
Gun1: Thompson Encore Pro Hunter FX with aftermarket Bellm trigger kit. 50 cal 26" barrel Stainless Camo
Features: Easy hand/finger screw off breach plug for unloading unfired charges and cleaning. (T-handle ram rod separate purchase)
Performance: Shoot 290gr Barnes T-EZ bullets in Barnes sabot. 120gr Vol/84gr by weight charge of Blackhorn 209, Remington 209 primer. 1900fps ish. This bullet is absolute freight train murder on deer. Bang flop performance. I've seen every deer I've shot up to 110yds die in sight. (18-20 deer) I know dead is dead, but this makes it quick. ***For further shots and deer down within 30yds, the bullet of choice for me is the 300gr Hornady XTP .429 in a green crush rib Harvester sabot. Longer, sleeker bullet has high sectional density, higher BC and flatter trajectory. I've hit deer out to 180yds. Quarter size pass throughs.
Gun 2: Thompson Center Triumph 50 Cal 28" barrel (Bone Collector)
Features: Even faster 1/4 turn hand/finger breech plug, T-handle ram rod included, gel recoil pad, lower profile receiver to stock height
Performance: Same as above. 75fps faster
Even though you can't replace the factory trigger on the Triumph I think it is the better buy with slightly more desirable features.
You say 350yds, but I implore you to stay 250 and closer for calm, clean kills.
The best advice given has been to go smokeless. 350+ is no issue with a SML. It will definitely be over your budget....but there's no sense in wasting money on something that doesn't really do the job.
Look at Hankins custom builds. His are more reasonable than some of the others.
A break action and plug conversion will get you your desired results.
OP, you're getting lots of good responses.
I believe it has already been mentioned in this thread, but check the hunting regs for whatever area to be certain there's no 'gotchas' as to what muzzle loader equipment is legal there.
Another point I'll make since it was pointed out that some states/areas do not allow the use of smokeless powder in a muzzle loader hunt, which is true. One can use something like Blackhorn 209 in a smokeless muzzle loader for if and when they hunt where smokeless is not allowed. Just to reiterate, one should never attempt the opposite, that is use smokeless powder in a black powder muzzle loader.
I own four inline muzzloaders
One long out of production smokeless capable 10ML-II
Which can launch a 290grn T-EZ at a MV of 2450fps and a 245-250grn T-EZ at 2600-2800+fps
One first run T/C Encore 209/50
And two Knight Elite's one .50cal and one .45 cal both have the bolt and breach plug installed that eliminates the need for the red plastic primer jacket
If I HAD TO CHOOSE which of my NON SMOKELESS inline MLS to use hunting I'd without doubt grab my 50 cal Knight Elite in laminated stock stainless barrel with max charge of BH209
My first ever three shots out of both my 50 and 45 Elites at 100 yards were under .7" using BH209 and Harvester Sabots.
I can not recommend Knight Elite inlines strongly enough. You can still occasionally find one FS in ANIB condition or you can buy a new Knight inline
Of course if I could use any ML I'd use my 10-MLII using:
68 grains of RL10X
Harvester Black crushed ribbed sabot
300grn .458" Barnes Original SP
Feneral 209m primer MV of 2453fps
Of nearly the same exact load as above but with a .451" 250grn all copper Barnes flat based tipped T-EZ knurled up to 0.4535 to 0.4540"
Harvester red crushed sabot
MV of 2580-2600fps
I have over 1500 loads out of my Encore my first Inline
1k+ out of my 10-MLII
And about 300ish out of my 50 cal Elite
And 200ish out of my 45 cal Elite
And if you can find an Elite with the conversion bolt and breach plug I'd take it all day over an Encore. Haven't looked in a while but 6-7 months ago you could still find a Knight Elite conversion kit FS on line.
Don't have any experience with any newer inline's to be able to recommend any.
My Encore which is the only inline I own currently available FS and can first hand recommend is an honest moa gun with the fallowing loads
My over max recommend charge by weight of BH209
300grn Hornady .452" XTP knurled
300grn Hornady .451" SST knurled
290grn Barnes .451" T-EZ knurled
All above with Harvester smooth black sabots
325grn .458 Hornady FTX not knurled
300grn .458 Barnes Original SP not knurled
Two above I use Harvester Black Crushed ribbed sabots
I found the considerably longer bearing surfaces of 290 grain to 325 grain bullets gave me more consistent accuracy than shorter 245-250 grain projectiles, but the 250 grain .45 cal .451" XTP's. SST's and 250grn Barnes T-EZ's all shot more than accurately enough to hunt with out to 200 yards.
A great ML website you can visit is Modern Muzzleloader.com endless amounts of info there.
350+ you will need smokeless. I shoot a McWhorter XML. It is 24 for 24 thus far. My closest was Iowa this year at 97 yards. The next closest was Kansas this year at 237 and the next was 277. I have shot a dozen between 600 and 650. The gun is insane and you have to know how to shoot and get rock steady in hunting positions.
Attached is the entry wound at 287 yards. People want to claim that the bullet failed- this is the front shoulder.
I've had both the T/C Encore and CVA Accura V2 in .50 cal. Both are great, they really are. But I love my Accura V2 because it will typically shoot 3/4" groups and just fits me a little better than the T/C does. Like I said, both are great though. I was so impressed with the Accura V2, I actually bought both my sons one. Our load is a Barnes 250gr T-EZ over 100grs of Blackhorn, with a Winchester 209 primer. This load has been absolutely outstanding on deer for us. Super clean, accurate and hit with amazing authority. This is my most favorite, but also most boring gun/load combo I have, as I will probably never change a thing.
I shoot a Savage ML-10 .50 cal, 250 grain bullet with sabots, Leupold 3x9 scope. Accutrigger. Groups about an inch at 100 yards. Uses modern (smokeless) powder and a 209 primer bolt action. Allows me to extend my deer season and I've killed several deer with it, but none over 150 yards.