Looking into Muzzleloader seasons

aeverett152

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Oct 4, 2020
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Archery and rifle hunter here. Just started to look into Muzzleloaders to provide more hunting opportunity and wow is there a lot of options out there. I have looked at the regs of where I hunt (CA and AZ). I pretty much need an open sighted Muzzleloader to be able to hunt with it in CA while as AZ seems pretty lax about regulations with Muzzleloaders. I dont even know where to begin to narrow down the search. I would like to get one than can potentially shoot out to 200-300 yards. I am VERY new to Muzzleloaders so please bear with me. Any one have experience with open sighted/long distance muzzleloaders?

And I thought I read somewhere that black powder guns such as muzzleloaders do not require a FLL dealer for purchase?
 

White Smoke

Black powder rules!
May 2, 2011
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"Open sights" and "Long range" don't really go well together. First of all, start with where you want to hunt. Are in-lines allowed? If not, that cuts you down to a traditional percussion style, which isn't bad. For info, I have both. My in-line is a Thompson Center Omega and has a Williams peep sight for use in Kali during MZ season. It also has a scope for use during the general season or when allowed out-of-state. My Hawken has two barrels, a 28" 45 caliber with a 1:48 twist and a longer 50 caliber 1:66 Green Mountain ball-shooter. It has a Williams FP-Hawken tang peep sight with target knobs on it. All three barrels will shoot well under a 3" group at 50 yards. Actually, if I don't drink too much coffee in the morning, they will all do three-shots-touching at 50. With a scope, the Omega consistently prints three-shots-touching at 100 with a Barnes 245-grain Spitfire bullet in a black HPH-24 sabot.
Figure out where you are going to hunt first to see what's legal to shoot, then buy a good rifle that fits what you want it to do. I really like Thompson Center products, but there are others out there that are just as good. Most "hunting" muzzleloaders with come with a 1:28 twist barrel which will shoot both patched round balls (PRB's) and full-bore or saboted bullets. For Kali, you need to go lead-free. Look at the Barnes selections, such as the aforementioned Spitfire that uses a sabot. MMP makes the best sabots and most bullet companies use their products. When you finally settle on a muzzleloader, I think you can get a trial pack of various sabots to see which fits your barrel the best. Start with the smallest one and work out to the larger sizes until you find the one that fits your barrel. They should be tight, but not to the point where you have to hammer them down the barrel. If you call MMP, they will be glad to help you. Just as an FYI, where do you live? If you're in the San Diego area, I can meet with you and take you to a private range up in Escondido and go over everything with you. My hunting buddy is Blkpowderhunter and he will probably chime in here later on.
There is a really good site on the Internet, http://chuckhawks.com/index2h.muzzleloader.htm that has a LOT of good information on it.
As to your second question, black powder rifles do not need an FFL and can be sent right to your door by UPS or FedEx. If you have any other questions, fire away. I'll be glad to help you and I know others on this forum will too.
 
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Blkpowder Hunter

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Jan 3, 2020
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Jerry has covered this really well. I shoot a traditional BP, it's a Hawken style .50 cal. I prefer using black powder but that's been a bit hard to come by lately so I moved over to a substitute, Hodgon Select. Only open sights during MZ season in CA so anything over 100 yds is probably not happening but your experience as a bowhunter will stand you in good stead. Jerry is correct about not needing an FFL to purchase a muzzleloader and the traditional ones will cost you for a new one approximately $600 and up depending on what you want. Fine Firearms in La Mesa has a used Cabela's .54 Hawken for sale if you are interested in going that route. MZ is a different animal, every shot is a hand load and it's cheaper to shoot than centerfire, but a bit more fun in my opinion. Good luck like Jerry if you need any help, just let us know.
 

White Smoke

Black powder rules!
May 2, 2011
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Encinitas, CA
I knew He's chime in. I thought of a few more things. If you are wanting a "hunting rifle", probably the best bet would be to go for a Hawken with a 1:28" twist. The longer Kentucky or Pennsylvania types are usually a 1:60 or 1:66 twist, which only shoot PRB's. You can use PRB's here in Kali, but they have to be non-lead, and I don't have any experience with non-lead PRB's.
Most hunters use either full-bore conicals, like the Thompson Center Maxi-Hunters or Maxi-balls (NOT legal in Kali because they are lead bullets) or the Thor bullets which are full-bore non-lead Barnes X-bullets, but there are others. Thor has a trial pack that you can buy that has four "sizing" bullets in it, ranging from .500 to .503" in diameter to find out the best size for YOUR muzzleloader. You will soon find out that all 50-calibers and NOT the same bore diameter. Some states, Idaho for example, do not allow sabots.
I would seriously advise you to go for a 50-caliber muzzleloader, only because EVERYONE makes "stuff" for the 50-cal. I once had a 54 like Dan mentioned above, but no one makes a sabot for a 54 (that I know of). I was relegated to a PRB, and finding 54 caliber PRB's is sometimes a challenge.
Once you get your muzzleloader, the fun begins. Dan and I have been playing now for quite a while trying to find the best load for my 50 caliber ball-shooter. At his suggestion, I started out with 65 grains of Pyrodex Select. That's ANOTHER story...powder. Dan shoots black powder only, NOT a black powder substitute like I do. Black powder substitutes are many. Pyrodex RS, Triple 7, Select, etc. I use Select because IMHO it's the cleanest, most uniform, and most accurate...FOR MY RIFLE. Now...patches. I started out with a .015 patch and a .490 round ball, but wasn't getting the groups I wanted. I dropped the powder to 64 grains and the groups improved. Then I went to a .018 patch because the .015's seemed a little "loose" and then went to a .495 round ball. The groups really improved with the .018's and the .495, but I will be trying a .020 the next time at the range. See how much fun this is getting to be? Muzzleloading is a lot of trial and error to see what shoots best in YOUR rifle, whether it be a PRB, a saboted bullet, a full-bore conical or something else. Pick the rifle you want, then pick the powder, bullet and so forth. The rifle may be 50 caliber, but what does it like? Maybe a .490 ball, maybe a .495? What patch? All fun!
 

aeverett152

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Oct 4, 2020
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Sounds like a great time. This is definitely some great information. I am located in Murrieta which is not far from Escondido. What range are you speaking of? I know of a private one in Rainbow, and a public one at Pala Reservation. I will for sure accept your invitation and meet up with you to show me the ropes once I get one.

I have been eyeballing this one for the last week. I would appreciate your input on this one:

I will most definitely look into the Hawken. I was just surprised about how much information and technicality is involved with Muzzleloaders. It definitely sounds like a fun hunt with opportunity. I figured once I have a legal CA set up and can use that in AZ as well.
 

White Smoke

Black powder rules!
May 2, 2011
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Encinitas, CA
It's the Escondido Fish & Game Association range up by Lake Wohlford. They are working on the road right now and it's a PITA to get to. I will get back to you in a week or two once the road work has cleared up. What days are best for you to meet? The weekends are pretty busy, but we can do that if that's all you have.
The CVA you reference is an in-line. Just be aware that some states do NOT allow in-lines. California and Arizona both allow in-lines. Just looking at the reviews, this model has some plusses and minuses. It does not have a fixed ramrod, BUT you rarely use the attached ramrod anyway. For 99% of your shooting, you will use a range rod. The other 1% would be on a hunt and generally speaking, you have plenty of time to reload, and the fold-up rod they give you should do just fine. Muzzleloaders are pretty much one-shot weapons.
Don't be in a hurry to buy one. Look around. Talk to people that know muzzleloaders. Get the right one for you the first time. Another in-line you might consider is the Thompson Center Bone Collector model.
 
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aeverett152

New Member
Oct 4, 2020
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I prefer weekdays. My only hold up is my wife and I are pretty much working opposite schedules over summer for child care reasons. So the days that I do have off I have my 8 year old. My availability to meet you probably wont realistically happen until he starts back in school which would be August. Aug/Sep would be a good time plus this will give me time to potentially get one by then and get all the supplies prior to a range meet up.

I went on Thompson website but couldn't seem to find that specific muzzleloader. I did see this one after looking around:

 

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