Best Black Powder Rifles Reviewed and Rated
We have come a long way with the muzzleloader just in the last 10 years. In fact the number of people hunting muzzleloader now is astounding to me. With that ratcheting up in demand of course comes a slew of products onto the market that are looking to fill the gap. Some are quick fixes that were thrown together to capitalize on a market that is seeking out innovation and growth. Then of course there is the opposite side of the coin and that is the very best in black powder rifle design. Those who wear the passion on their sleeves.
In this muzzleloader buying guide I will look to wade through the surprisingly diverse market for these rifles. In doing so I would like to bring some useful information to the forefront. Whether you are new to the world of black powder or simply looking for a new weapon this guide will give you some insight on what is offered. I will use my experience as well as the experience of others to break these weapons down along with the actual specifications of the weapons themselves.
Before you really dig into this buyer’s guide for muzzleloader rifles I want you to pause for a moment and consider your state. See there are several states across the union that have restrictions on owning muzzleloaders. Naturally, I would hate to see your heart set on one of these great guns only to have it broken when you realize you cannot hunt with the weapon in your state. Sure, you could take it over state lines but that all requires a ton of thought and planning. Let’s look at those states that are restricted before moving into the buying guide.
On another note, I have come to the realization that many people think muzzleloaders are not beholden to the federal gun laws of the US government. These weapons often do not fit under the same umbrella as traditional rifles, shotguns or handguns. In fact, there are parts of the federal gun law that do exclude muzzleloaders from their restrictions. That said you must again be careful of state laws as well. If you are not allowed to buy a regular gun or think it wise to buy a muzzle without following the proper procedures, you may want to think twice.
Now let’s get into our best powder rifles reviews!
10 Best Black Powder Rifles
1. CVA Wolf Muzzleloader
This gun has a such a powerful look about it. Sometimes just the design of stock and barrel like this one is enough to get a buyer excited. The best part about this rifle is that it is not all looks for the sake of looks. It features added recoil padding and a quick release breech plug.
This rifle is a built for a smaller framed individual or even a younger hunter. That said it is still a solid rifle that has an incredible lightweight design for hauling and hiking up and down terrain. This .50 caliber rifle is about the best value on the market.
This rifle has received rave reviews both about the dirt cheap price and its ability to get the job done. I must be honest and tell you that this is one of the cheapest rifles in this buying guide and has received incredible reviews on things like accuracy and durability. It also comes with the added bonus of a scope mount in place. It is prepared to take your muzzleloader experience to the next level.
- This rifle is such a great value for the money it’s hard to believe
- Customers rave about its accuracy and effectiveness
- Its lightweight design makes it perfect for those long hunts
2. Traditions Pursuit G4 Ultralight
The Pursuit really is just a beautiful specimen. There are some rifles that play the part and this is one of them. Its gorgeous chromoly flute barrels contrasts so well with the camo design on the grips and stock. I am always enamored by the names for various camo patterns and this on does not disappoint. Rugged Mossy Oak Break-Up is how they describe this pattern.
Underweight compared to the average muzzleloader this weapon tops out at 5.75lbs which is hard to believe. This is a claim that Thompson held strong to in the creation of the Pursuit and makes its namesake easier to achieve. It also comes standard with a cerakote finish that will increase durability of the weapon over time.
This weapon comes with a bonus factory installed bore sighted scope that is shockproof, multi coated features a duplex reticle. Of course, it’s not the best scope on the market but it gets you started and that is very important at the lower price point that this weapon offers.
The customer reviews for this rifle were no existent. That doesn’t mean it is a bad gun or a great one. The Pursuits is worth a look for the price. Be the first to review it!
- Super lightweight
- Beautiful design
- Scope included
3. CVA Optima V2
If you are looking for one of those weapons that could hand on your wall in the living room the Optima has that look. Its visually dynamic with its stainless steel and black matte combination. It’s one of the more beautiful black powder rifles I have seen. Not to mention it comes standard with a Konus 3-9X40 scope and a bonus gun case!
This weapon has put an emphasis on comfort and usability with many of its features. It boasts an ambidextrous stock and hammer spur. The comfort also extends to the palm saver ramrod. CVA has taken award winning parts from its other weapons and built around them to create the Optima V2. This winning combination makes this a great rifle for the price.
From a customer’s point of view this rifle has incredible out of box accuracy. Most reviewers claimed this gun was nearly ready to go from its first couple shots. The accuracy made buyers very comfortable shooting this gun even at some very long distances. There was also a number of CVA shooters who were merely replacing their old models and still impressed with the quality.
- Unrivaled customer reviews
- Emphasis on comfort
- Beautiful look
- Bonus scope and case
4. Thompson Center Impact
This is a reasonably priced rifle from a great brand that is full of value added features. This Thompson offers the ability to remove sections of the stock to size it appropriately to any shooter. The break open hood also make this gun a great option for left and right hand shooters. The QLA muzzle speeds reloading time as well.
At just 6.5 lbs. this weapon carries well and one review put it out in the field chasing antelope for two days. Once the time was right this customer took his goat with a very accurate shot. In the field, you will not have issues with this weapon when it comes time to shoot.
There were some serious complaints about cleaning this rifle. I read more than one review about having to remove the entire actions from this rifle to clean it. For someone who shoots black powder a lot and is prepared to do some disassembly this may not be an issue but for many this could be a lot of work in a market that makes rifles much easier to clean.
- This gun comes packed with great features for the price
- The ability to modify size on a muzzle is a great option
- Its durability and accuracy are echoed in reviews
- Not as easy as other models to clean
5. Remington Model 700 Ultimate
This black powder rifle was particularly noted for its size. If you are a big guy and looking for a muzzleloader that looks and feels less like a toy in your hands the model 700 is the option, you have been looking for.
This weapon is built on the legendary model 700 receiver and claims to have stopping power and accuracy that will rival a centerfire rifle. This is an incredible set of benefits coming from black powder rifle. It boasts a U.M.I ignition system that has owners shooting 300 yards with accuracy. This guns accuracy is backed up by customer reviews as well
For a muzzle loader, this weapon is expensive. There is no getting around the cost that is at least double your average muzzleloader. Still, if you are looking for a serious weapon that can shoot nearly as far as your hunting rifle with a great reputation to back it up the Model 700 is the gun for you
- Legendary design
- Stopping power and accuracy
- Sizably a larger rifle
- Priced nearly twice as high as your average muzzleloader.
6. Traditions Buckstalker
That great muzzleloader look is built into this rifle. It has the look of something you would bring out on the Serengeti in the late 1950s to take down an elephant. I find this all black and powerful look appealing especially when shooting black powder. This gun comes with much of the standard features one would come to expect from a 21st century muzzleloader.
This lightweight alloy from puts the gun right at 6lbs and is a wonderful weight to be slung over your shoulder all day. The speedload system makes this rifle easier and quicker to reload. The Buckstalker also comes standard with an accelerator breech plug to comes off easily without the use of excess tools. The extended hammer offers ambidextrous use.
The sole review on this rifle did mention some trouble with the sights. They didn’t seem to stay in place as sighted the rifle in. I would chalk that up to possibly that rifle but there was more in that review as well. The customer also complained about the ramrod and how it slowed your ability to reload. This is an issue in that the speedload system is supposed to make it faster and easier to reload. The customer actually purchased a new ramrod to fix this problem.
- Lightweight design
- Some quality issues in regards to mentioned features
7. Thompson/Center Pro Hunter FX
When I calls the Pro Hunter a sleek weapon it may be the wrong word but it’s what comes to mind when I look over its design. This weapon carries a steep price tag in comparison to some of the other great weapons in this guide. That said it also has performance and customer reviews to back that price up. At the very least give the Pro Hunter a look if you are in the market. I will articulate why below.
The durability of this weapon is even further increased by the weather shield finish over its beautiful fluted barrel. The Flex Tech recoil reducing technology makes this rifle a little easier on the shoulder as well. Like many muzzles this weapon claims easy open breech and faster reloading potential as one of its many features.
When it comes to accuracy this rifle has received great reviews and many people were taking big animals with this muzzleloader. I read a review of this rifle holding true beyond 200 yards. That is an impressive stat to me.
Though the accuracy of the Pro Hunter is not in question I would say the things like the sights themselves along with some trouble with this rifle jamming did come up in customer reviews. These issues were sparse and could be attributed to a faulty firearm. That said, what if you become the owner of one such firearm?
- Recoil reduction
- Issues with sighting this rifle
- Jamming was cited in a couple customer reviews
8. CVA Accura V2 Long Range
CVA consistently impresses with their muzzleloaders and the Accura is no different. This weapon is just another example of the full package rifle. The beautiful design is something to marvel at and though many would like to discount the confidence one has in their rifle performance is important but it sure feels good to be carrying around a beautifully crafted weapon as well.
The combination of the 30 inch Nitride stainless steel barrel and bullet guiding muzzle work together to create great functionality in this gun as well as the long range potential it claims. Because of the longer barrel, however, this gun boasts a weight of over 7lbs which is by no means a crushing blow. Still, it’s not the delicate 5.75lbs of the lightweight model reviewed above.
Beyond the features of the rifle itself it also comes with a Durasight Dead On one piece scope mount for adding whatever optics you prefer to this great rifle. CVA continues to provide a great rifles for the price and this one is no different.
- Accuracy at a distance
- CVA quality and affordability
- Unique stock design
- The heaviest gun reviewed
9. Traditions Deer Hunter Flintlock
Surprisingly enough this weapon is the only woodgrain rifle that is included in this buyers guide. There is something to be said about that traditional look and feel of the woodgrain stock. It’s a beautiful thing. This rifle has been designed with the look of a traditional muzzleloader with the performance of a modern day weapon.
Perhaps one of the great highlights of this weapon is the traditional flintlock design. The flintlock offers a serious spark that is the backbone for igniting the power. Not to mention the nostalgia that goes along with such an old world technology.
Because of all these traditional specs (hardwood, trad flintlock) you will be surprised to find out that this gun is right at 6lbs in weight which is decidedly a lightweight weapon for the type. This weapon also shoots sabots, full bore sized bullets and patched round balls.
The uniqueness here is the selling point for the deer hunter. Hunting with this rifle is like taking a step back in time. This can all be achieved at a price point that is pretty average in the muzzleloader market.
10. Traditions Trade PA Pellet Flintlock
I thought we should round out this buyers guide with another great flintlock from Traditions. The PA Pellet offers some of the same nostalgia of the Deer Hunter but there are some stark differences in the guns. You will spend $50 more on this rifle than the Deer Hunter and that’s not the only difference.
This weapon has the ability to fire either traditional or synthetic pellets. It offers the same octagonal barrel as the Deer Hunter but also features Williams fiber optic sights. Not to mention the powerful flintlock offers a dependable spark for ignition.
Customers who bought the PA Pellet are very pleased with owning a flintlock for the price. The accuracy is noted in both of the reviews I read. To me the most telling feature is that this, like many others, mentioned a method for easy cleaning due to a removable breech. This claim holds true with this Traditions model.
- Flintlock design for dependable spark
- Traditional or synthetic pellets
- The stock is synthetic and I think a woodgrain would have done this rifle justice
In my opinion the muzzleloader experience should be a more intimate one than that of the .308 hunt. I often times wonder about just how efficient and powerful the muzzleloader gets before it crosses that line into just being another rifle in terms of accuracy and distance for the kill. What is the allure of shooting an animal at 200 yards with a muzzleloader? Of course that will not stop technology and the growing effectiveness of these weapons. It is, however, a question I often ask myself.
This list of best black powder rifles was compiled to help aid both the beginner and the expert in their search for a new rifle. There are very real challenges to getting your hands on a rifle that works for you! That said I can only hope this guide offers a starting point in your journey towards your next muzzle loader.