Although in-line muzzleloaders have been in production for just 20 years, they have come to dominate the blackpowder hunting market. Before 1985, nearly all muzzleloader hunters carried traditional sidelock guns. Today, more than 95 percent of them pack in-lines. Here’s a lineup of some of the best on the market.
THOMPSON CENTER OMEGA The Omega is one of the most innovative and functional muzzleloading designs to appear in the last several years. Its distinctive drop-away action gives quick access to the breech for fast recapping or breechplug removal. With no space lost to a conventional receiver, the Omega has a full 28-inch barrel yet is shorter overall than bolt-action muzzleloaders with 24-inch barrels. ($500; 603-332-2333; tcarms.com)
AUSTIN & HALLECK 420 LR CLASSIC For beauty and elegance, the Austin & Halleck 420 LR is in a class of its own. It comes decked out in a highly figured walnut stock that is hand-checkered and inletted with precision. It has an elegant 26-inch octagonal barrel that tapers to a conventional round shape at the muzzle. Package includes a composite stock. ($549; 877-543-3256; austinhalleck.com)
CVA KODIAK MAGNUM The Kodiak Magnum has three great things going for it: It’s reliable, it’s accurate and it’s affordable. The “pivot-block” action is similar to the Omega’s, which makes it easy to cap and clean. ($307; 770-449-4687; cva.com)
SAVAGE 10ML With the rapid advances in muzzleloader technology, it was inevitable that we’d see a smokeless powder muzzleloader. Savage has taken that step with its 10ML II. Built on Savage’s proven 110 design, it shoots all conventional blackpowder and Pyrodex loads plus a number of specific smokeless loads. With smokeless powder, the 10ML II overcomes muzzleloading’s final handicap–fouling. It’s unquestionably the strongest muzzleloader out there. ($531; 413-568-7001; savagearms.com)
H&R HUNTSMAN We’ve seen the design of the Huntsman for many years in the single-shot H&R Trapper and Handi-Rifle. Pressing a button on the tang opens the action for easy access. The 24-inch barrel sports fiber-optic sights, and its accuracy equals that of many of its higher-priced counterparts. ($207; 978-630-8220; hr1871.com)
Best Muzzleloader ACCESSORIES
REMINGTON 209 KLEANBORE PRIMERS Conventional 209 primers are reliable and powerful–perhaps too powerful. Some shooters feel they shift the powder load, which can affect accuracy and increase fouling. But Kleanbore Primers might be the perfect 209 for muzzleloading. Its compound gives it the correct power and actually removes fouling between shots. (About $5; 800-243-9700; remington.com)
CVA BARREL BLASTER CVA’s Barrel Blaster may be the simplest and fastest way to clean your muzzleloader yet. It’s an aerosol foam you spray into the bore, let stand a few minutes and swab out.
A little goes a long way, so a can should last for several seasons. ($13; 770-449-4687; cva.com)
XS SIGHT SYSTEMS POWER ROD Once you try the XS Power Rod, with its built-in, flip-open T-handle, you won’t accept any other rod on your muzzleloader. It rides flat in the rifle’s hangers, but with the T across your palm, you can quickly ram home any load, even in a fouled bore. (From $25; 888-744-4880; xssights.com)
THOMPSON CENTER OMEGA AUSTIN & HALLECK 420 LR CLASSIC CVA KODIAK MAGNUM SAVAGE 10ML H&R HUNTSMAN