Your Ideal Hunting Muzzleloader?

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Urban Coyote

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Maybe you own or dream of it, perhaps you've got it all spec'd out in your head as what you'd build or have built. Probably dependent on where you live or what game you hunt, but if you had to sit down at "the drawing board" what would you come up with? Full stock, half stock, barrel caliber, size, length, make, lock style make, double or single set trigger, single trigger, sights, hardware and so on. Or maybe there's a commercially produced guns that fits your ideal.
 
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It's gotta be a do-all. For me that means a 54. It has been my go-to caliber for big game for 40 years with occasional use of a 50. I've had three but down to two now. I thought a 58 would be better but it never won me over. When I saw Kibler's Woodsrunner I KNEW it would be perfection 🥰 However, there's that waiting list. 🤣
 

Ninering62

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I like the hawken too, but wish I could have one with a flatter butt plate. Not a fan of the deep curve.
Then either get something like a Rigby Sporter stock or the White Mountain Hunter stock & put your barrel & everything in that or have a stock maker cut that curve off the butt and have a spacer with a recoil pad added to it. I don’t like those style stocks at all. I love the Gibbs stock & TC makes a High Plains Sporter ( I have one ) and that stock is just awesome & super comfy to shoot. I’m getting a .40 fast twist barrel made for mine & a .410 shotgun barrel as well. I can’t wait to get that project done. That may very well be my “ go to “ muzzleloader.
 

Ninering62

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The 45 cal Virginia Rifle I built for hunting.
OR it would have been a 40.
I absolutely love both calibers. As a matter of fact, all the muzzleloaders I had were .40 or .45 until a few months ago when I got this beautiful .50 with a GM LRH 1:24 twist in a Rigby Sporter stock. I could sleep with that gun honestly. So now its .50 cal time & some heavy cast conicals for me.
 

Rock Home Isle

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Maybe you own or dream of it, perhaps you've got it all spec'd out in your head as what you'd build or have built. Probably dependent on where you live or what game you hunt, but if you had to sit down at "the drawing board" what would you come up with? Full stock, half stock, barrel caliber, size, length, make, lock style make, double or single set trigger, single trigger, sights, hardware and so on. Or maybe there's a commercially produced guns that fits your ideal.
What an incredible thread topic. I’m glad you started this…

060692D5-F812-4FAE-A5D1-907DA6010416.jpeg

These are my big game Muzzleloading Hunting Rifles. Most of my Muzzleloader hunting, in my life, was done with a .50 calibre percussion of some sort. In fact, a .50 calibre was the only calibre that I shot for several decades. It didn’t much matter which gun I used…I knew exactly where that .50 calibre ball was at every foot of its trajectory.

I started shooting blackpowder at 13, with a CVA .50 calibre Mountain Rifle. I used that gun heavily and successfully for around 8 years hunting big game. The CVA was a good gun, but not what I thought of as an ideal gun. I had started hunting elk at the age of 17, and for the rugged country that I hunted, I wanted a gun that was a bit lighter, and with a bit more sight picture that my 32” barrel offered, on the CVA. I’m also very partial to a fullstock rifle…I just love a fullstock muzzleloader.

Then I got the top rifle in the above picture.

The top rifle is a Pedersoli .50 calibre Alamo Rifle. I replaced the stock fixed rear sight with a CVA Adjustable Rear Sight ( I had hunted with a CVA for 12 years, big game for 8 years. Very familiar with the sight picture) and the front sight was switched to a German Silver Sight. Having an adjustable rear sight has become a “Must Have” feature on my hunting rifle. I’ve had guns without that option, and I much prefer a hunting rifle with that feature. I love the Alamo Rifle. It is lightweight and maneuverable in thick dark woods, while stalking elk in blow-downs. The barrel offers a much longer sight plain than my CVA, and the sight picture was setup to be the same as my CVA. After load development, the Alamo Rifle, with 95 grains of ffg, put a patched RB 2” high at 100 yrds; while 100 grains of ffg put a Maxi-Ball 1” low. I used an 1/8th drill bit to hollow-point the Maxi-Balls, and wrapped them in Teflon tape. The hollow pointed Maxi-Ball has proven to be deadly on elk, no matter what the presentation for the shot. A solid Maxi-Ball, without a hollow-point, gave too many shoot throughs, with little to no expansion. I actually started taking shots that put the Maxi-Ball into major bones, to force expansion. This always brought down the elk, but it also sent lots of sharp bone shards through the body cavity, making it tricky to field dress without getting cut up. The .50 calibre patched round ball is very effective on elk; but I had to be selective on my shot placement. Compared to the Maxi-Ball, with the .50 calibre PBR, I had to be much more carefull on the presentation before I dared to pull the trigger. Tracking a wounded elk just sucks, they can cover so much ground before they even start to get tired, and slow down. My Pedersoli Alamo Rifle is one of the most accurate rifles I have ever owned, very happy with this firearm.

The only drawback of the Pedersoli Alamo Rifle is the narrow stock profile…recoil from hunting loads is brutal, with that thin little cherry wood stock. To this day, I do not do well when shooting a heavy recoiling firearm from the bench…and I attribute that development to this gun. Consequently, Hunting Load Development has become a slow tedious process, cuz after 6 or 7 shots…I flinch. Hunting…I never feel or even notice recoil, but from the bench…this gun hurts, and I feel every ounce. I guess there’s a reason it’s called “Felt Recoil”.

After hunting with a .50 calibre CVA, & a .50 calibre Pedersoli, for around 17 years; I started hunting with a .54 calibre…everything changed. The gun that I initially used was a CVA Big Bore Mountain Rifle, with a 1” barrel. Very noticeably heavier than either my .50 calibre CVA, and much heavier than the Alamo Rifle. But that .54 calibre proved to be solidly effective on antelope and deer. Absolutely the equivalent of my .50 calibre Pedersoli. Hunting elk is where the .54 calibre really shines. My favorite shot with a .54 calibre PBR became the standing broadside. If an elk gave me that profile, it dropped every time to a .54 PBR through both shoulders and lungs…that’s a big “no no shot” with a RBR .50 calibre. With most shots from a .54 calibre, the ball is completely flattened out to somewhere between .620 and .680, and was found just under the hide on the far side. I love the .54 calibre as a big game gun.

The bottom 2 rifles are my .54 calibre flintlocks.

The middle gun is a Dixie Tennessee Mountain Rifle that has been re-stocked to a 38” Colerain 15/16ths barrel with Round bottom Rifling. The gun has a traditional fixed rear sight, not my 1st choice for a rear sight…but I’m still looking for a good alternative. The front sight has been filed down to a tiny nub after load development. This unfortunately makes this gun more of a backup gun for hunting. Even with the fluorescent paint on the front sight…it’s still going to be a challenge on game animals in heavy cover or low light conditions. The gun weighs in at 8 lbs, which would make it a stout carry when hunting elk. This gun shoots a .54 calibre RB into a single ragged hole with 95 grains ffg at 50 yrds. This is a good solid big game gun; but not an ideal big game gun. This Tennessee Mountain Rifle can be improved with slight changes: shorten the barrel by at least 2” for weight reduction, adjustable rear sight, larger profile front-sight.

The bottom gun is my newly acquired Early Plains Rifle, I had this gun custom made as a hunting rifle. The gun is a .54 calibre with a 15/16ths Colerain barrel, cut off at 33”. The rear sight is adjustable, the front sight is a thick heavy blade sight. I’ve painted the trailing edge of the front sight fluorescent orange, which just glows in dark woods or against tan backgrounds. The gun weighs in at 7 1/4 lbs, again a bit on the heavy side when stalking elk in rugged country…but very doable. This gun shoots a patched RB into a single ragged hole at 50 yrds, with 90 grains of ffg. Right now…this gun is my ideal hunting rifle, a gun that I have wanted to own and use for about 25 years…

I’m pretty sure my better elk hunting days are behind me. But hunting is not over. I’ll be taking both my Early Plains Rifle, and my Tennessee Mountain Rifle, to Texas in January to hunt hogs with my son, and my dad. Huge “Bucket List” hunt.

So yeah, very excited to do this…
 
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