By John McAdams
Muzzleloaders have come a long way in the last few years. While you can still buy a flintlock or percussion cap muzzleloader that looks and performs very similar to those used by famous hunters like Daniel Boone and Jim Bridger, there have been some tremendous improvements in muzzleloader technology.
Far from being only limited to 50-75 yards, the best muzzleloaders on the market today can ethically take game at much longer ranges.
The tastes of individual black-powder hunters vary. Some hunters want the latest and greatest technological advances on whatever weapon they are hunting with.
Others are purists and just want to use an old school style muzzleloader. Still others just want a reasonably priced and reliable muzzleloader to take advantage of a special muzzleloader hunting season in his or her state.
Regardless of which camp you may fall into, there is something for everyone on this list that can be qualified as the best hunting muzzleloader. Continue reading to see our choices for the best muzzleloaders; you won’t regret it.
Knight muzzleloaders have a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and reliability. The Knight Bighorn has measured up to expectations and has been successfully used by hunters in the United States for many years.
Available both with a standard or a thumbhole stock, all Knight muzzleloaders are 100 percent made in the United States.
The Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is one of the most advanced muzzleloaders currently in existence. Built on a standard Model 700 action, it’s designed with long-range accuracy in mind.
It uses a new, innovative ignition system, which may be one of the most cutting-edge developments ever for the muzzleloading industry.
Instead of using a standard musket cap or primer, the Ultimate Muzzleloader uses a primed centerfire magnum rifle casing. This results in a hotter and more direct spark, which allows the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader to safely and efficiently use up to 200 grains of powder. For comparison, most other modern muzzleloaders are only rated to use up to 150 grains of powder.
Because of this, the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader is advertised as being capable of accurate performance out to, and potentially exceeding 300 yards.
This is far more than any other comparable muzzleloader. Without a doubt, it’s certainly one of the best muzzleloaders currently on the market.
However, it’s such an advanced design and is capable of such outstanding performance that it’s not legal to use during muzzleloading season in many states. Be sure you check the hunting regulations for your state before you buy one.
The Lyman Great Plains rifle is the exact opposite of the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader. Available in either a flintlock or percussion cap configuration, this is the perfect muzzleloader for a hunter who wants to channel his or her inner Davy Crockett.
It’s also ideally suited for use in states like Pennsylvania that have very strict regulations on what muzzleloaders may and may not be used during their primitive weapon season.
No list of the best muzzleloaders is complete without an entry from Thompson/Center. The Encore Pro Hunter is the muzzleloader used by Jim Shockey on all his adventures.
Thompson/Center has long been a leader in the muzzleloader industry and the Pro Hunter lives up to the company’s reputation. It’s accurate, user-friendly, ambidextrous, can mount a scope and has a “weather shield” coating to help fight corrosion. If you’re looking for a high-quality muzzleloader, the Thompson/Center Encore Hunter is a great choice.
Just like the Thompson/Center Encore, no discussion about the best muzzleloaders on the market today is complete without the inclusion of the CVA Optima. There is a good reason why the Optima has been America’s best-selling muzzleloader for the past few years: it’s awesome.
Though CVA got a bad reputation for a couple muzzleloader models that were defective and had to be recalled back in the mid-1990s, their current production muzzleloaders are all of excellent quality.
The Optima is CVA’s mid-level muzzleloader, above the Wolf and below the Accura. Not only is it a very well designed and user-friendly gun, but it is also very reliable, accurate, and reasonably priced.
CVA also makes a special version of the Optima that is legal to use in the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. All in all, the CVA Optima is an outstanding piece of workmanship and is one of the best muzzleloaders currently in production.
What do you think of our choices for the best muzzleloaders? Did we miss any?