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 Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado

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Male Number of posts : 16228
Age : 35
Location : Boncarbo,Colorado
Registration date : 2008-05-19

Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado Empty
PostSubject: Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado   Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado EmptyMay 20th 2019, 11:03 am

Coming Soon

Year after year, it seems that we have to answer the same question over and over!

What Muzzle Loader is a good choice for hunting big game in Colorado?

What powder is a good choice?

What projectile is a good to use for deer and elk?

This topic gets extremely tiring, having to answer it 20 + times a year!

First we are going to start off with the guns/brands that are known to be quality Conical ( Full Bore Projectiles ) Shooters.


Now let's get to the rules and regulations: 2019 Colorado Hunting Brochure

Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado Muzzle10
Tips: Muzzle Loading in Colorado Muzzle11

What ever muzzle loader you choose, be sure it is capable of attaching Open Sights! Some of the newer CVA Models like the Mountain Rifle & the Prairie Rifle, are not even drilled/tapped for open sights due to their high stock comb. Some of these rifles will come with optional open ( fiber optic in most cases ) sights. There are many aftermarket options for open sights as well. Hi Viz & Williams make great open sights that should be looked into.

The Muzzle Loaders

If you are looking at the CVA brand,
you have made a good choice. The CVA Accura V2 ( Thumb hole & Non thumb hole stock work with open sights on this model ) - CVA Optima ( Non thumb hole stock ) & The CVA Wolf are all excellent conical shooters.

The CVA brand will shoot a wide variety of projectiles, including TC Maxi Balls & Hornady Great plains bullets, along with Powerbelt bullets,Thor Bullets & Federal Bor Lock Bullets with excellent accuracy out to 200+ yards.

From my personal experience, I like the CVA Optima .50cal with stainless steel barrel ( or Nitride  ) best for a nice light weight & compact muzzle loader. This muzzle loader is available with both a thumb hole stock & non thumb hole stock. Since we are shooting open sights, the hunter will need to buy the NON thumb hole stock in order for open sights to line up with the shooters eye.

Again, you can not choose wrong with the CVA brand - Just make SURE it is able to attach open sights!

Also, All CVA muzzleloaders if using Blackhorn209, do require the replacement Blackhorn209 breech plug upgrade.

It is best to go to the gun store and handle as many muzzle loaders as you can and see which one feels best in your hands.

Don't be afraid of choosing a muzzle loader with a shorter barrel. I always have to listen to centerfire shooters looking at muzzleloaders and saying they want the longest barrel they can find because it picks up 100 FPS per inch!! Yeah, that's not happening with a muzzleloader. With a "standard" 27" barrel, you will gain roughly 45 FPS when stretching that barrel out to 30". Hunting in Colorado often means you will be hunting thick timber and worse, thick Oak brush that snags everything attached to you. A longer barrel in this kind of country is only going to slow you down when you have to make a quick reflex shot in the thick stuff.

Traditions -
This company makes excellent modern inline muzzleloaders & classic ( Jeremiah Johnson - Mountain Man) style classic muzzleloaders! I will offer a few variety of Tradtions Muzzleloaders that I personally have shot over the years and offer my advice of which I liked best and why.

The Traditions Strikerfire - Traditions Ultralite LDR - Traditions Hawken Woodsman.

#1 I am a traditional hunter. You may find me hiking the thick stuff in soft soled moccasins and my buckskin pants while you are decked out in your modern camo, thinking you are blending in with the surroundings. ( 500 sq inches of blaze orange is also required! Solid blaze orange vest & hat are required )

With my traditional hunter persona in mind, the Traditions Hawken Woodsman is a very gorgeous rifle to shoulder and take into the mountains and fill your tag. Yes, these sidelocks do require a little more care when cleaning and loading, but if you are hunting with a muzzleloader in the first place, you should have a pretty good idea by now whats required for proper loading and cleaning care.

The Hawken Woodsman
.50cal comes with metal ( no fiber optics ) adjustable open sights, double set triggers ( Hair trigger ) a 28" barrel with a 1:48 twist made for both patched round balls & conical bullets. A ton of modern style conical bullets shoot well in this rifle. I also do my own casting and when it comes to hunting elk ( since the current patched round ball rule range ) I now have to use a conical bullet in order to be legal. I prefer the Lee R.E.A.L bullet mold with 90 grains pyrodex P. This is a hand cast bullet that I make in the shop and if you are willing to put in the effort, you can cast your own ammo as well. If not, look toward the Powerbelt Bullet brand or the 385 Hornady Great Plains bullets for your deer/elk load.

Once again, Traditions offers a huge variety of muzzleloaders and their traditional line up offering is outstanding! Their Mountain Rifle, Prairie hawken, St.Louis Hawen, Kentucky, these are all great looking and shooting rifles.

My personal hunting rifle that I use every year is a Traditions St.Louis Hawken kit gun that I put together a few years ago. Awesome 100 yard accuracy, has dropped many hog, deer and elk over the years. You can really personalize these traditional muzzle loaders!

Traditions Ultralite LDR AND the Strikerfire:

Both of these rifles are quality muzzle loaders that will put game on the ground in a hurry! Both are light weight, but in my opinion, the Strikerfire is the winner simply due to the stock construction & the beautiful trigger on the Stikerfire. My Strikerfire came with a 2.5lb trigger that was as smooth as butter and the trigger shape also was the most comfortable. Both are capable of shooting Blackhorn209 without any breech plug change needed. Accuracy from both rifles was pretty much identical with Powerbelts, Maxi Balls and Thor bullets. The Strikerfire does not have a recessed muzzle, which makes for better accuracy when shooting lead conical bullets. Both are available with fiber optic sights & come with Steel sling studs. No stainless steel barrels are currently offered by Traditions.

Because most of my experience is based mostly on CVA & Traditions rifles, I will not comment on Knight Or Lyman.

Lyman makes a great number of traditional muzzleloaders, but due to lack of quality control lately, I will skip over this brand.
Full Bore / Conicals ONLY during Colorados Muzzle loader season! Sabots are NOT allowed!

Rather than go into detail, I will simply make a list of projectiles I have used in the rifles above with great accuracy and success in the field. I will also provide maximum powder charge for BEST results in the field. This will basically be for Powerbelt bullet shooters as they are pure lead and have an over sized hollow point which means... If you drive them to fast, and the distance is short, you often will find that the bullet explodes, limiting bullet penetration, which could mean a lost animal or very very long tracking job.

Pure lead projectiles + a large hollow pointy cavity + high velocity + a close distance shot DO NOT MIX well together!

Deer - Antelope - Bear size game: 
250gr Powerbelt Aerolite ( 80-110gr 2fg Max)
270gr Powerbelt Platinum ( 80-90gr 2fg Max )
295gr Powerbelt Aerotip ( 80-90gr 2fg Max )
300gr Powerbelt Platinum ( 80-100gr 2fg Max )
300gr Powerbelt Aerolite ( 80-110gr 2fg Max )
338gr Powerbelt Platinum ( 80-120gr 2fg Max )
250gr Lee REAL Bullet ( Best used in a 1:32 twist or slower )
320gr Lee REAL Bullet ( Best used in a 1:32 twist or slower )
250gr Thor Bullet ( 90gr 2fg MINIMUM - Solid Copper - Needs Velocity in order to expand )
300gr Thor Bullet ( See Above )
370gr Thompson Center Maxi Ball
460gr No Excuse Conicals
270gr Federal BOR Lock Bullets ( 90gr 2fg MINIMUM )
Elk - Moose & BIG BEAR: ( .50cal Minimum Rule ) Patched Round Ball Shooters MUST use a .54cal for elk and moose.
250gr Thor Bullet ( 90gr 2fg MINIMUM - Solid Copper - Needs Velocity in order to expand )
270gr federal BOR Lock
300gr Thor Bullet ( See Above )
338gr Powerbelt Platinum
348gr Powerbelt Aerotip ( 80 to 90gr 2fg Max )
405gr Powerbelt Aerotip or Flat Point ( 80 to 100gr 2fg Max )
444gr Powerbelt Aerotip or Flat Point. ( If you need more than 100gr 2fg - Seek professional help )
370gr Thompson Center Maxi Ball
460gr No Excuse Conicals
250gr Lee REAL Bullet ( Best used in a 1:32 twist or slower ) Even though this bullet is small, it is a strong bullet design that is accurate and devastating on big game.
320gr Lee REAL Bullet ( Best used in a 1:32 twist or slower )
Loose powder Only!! Pellets are NOT legal!

If you are shooting a modern muzzleloader, the best powder to use without a doubt, is Blackhorn209. Nothing compares to its performance, ease of clean up and  the fact that it does not build up a crud ring like all of the other powders. You can remove 90% of the fouling just by running a couple dry patches down the bore. Cleans up with your favorite centerfire cleaner to! No soapy water needed. It does require a HOT 209 primer! CCI 209 Magnum, Federal 209A & Winchester W209 primers are the top 3 performing 209 primers for Blackhorn209 shooters. Do NOT use the muzzleloader branded primers as they are cooler and often will leave you with a misfire or hang fire when shooting Blackhorn209.

Blackhorn209 is expensive for target shooting, its a steal if you are hunting!

All of the other powders such as Triple 7, American Pioneer, Alliant Black MZ, Pyrodex Select - RS - P, Goex, Swiss, Olde Eynsford, all quality powders that will get the job done as well.

If you are shooting a traditional muzzle loader, I always try to stay with real black powder ( Goex, Swiss, Olde Eynsford ) as the powder sets off very reliably with the #11 percussion caps.

Optics: Sorry folks! Open/iron sights ONLY! Fiber Optic sights are ok. If you are handicapped with your eye sight and a scope is the only way to hunt, CPW does have a permit available for you, but you will need your eye doctor to help you out with proof that you can not see open sights.
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