Best Black Powder Rifles Reviewed and Rated
We have come a long way with the muzzleloader just in the last 10 years. Demand for these single shot specialty weapons is increasing in demand and that means there are plenty of new products on the market. But just because these guns seem anachronist and are single shot, and take time to reload, they are still considered dangerous firearms and are prohibited completely in some states, and highly restricted in others. So before you run out and get one, make sure you're okay to own one in your state.
But once you've cleared all those hurdles, check out this list of high-quality muzzleloaders.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
Accurate and effective
Bets Black Powder Rifles
1. CVA Wolf Muzzleloader
Accurate and effective
Breech doesn’t close tightly
This gun has 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.Read more
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 incredibly lightweight design for hauling and hiking up and down terrain. This .50 caliber rifle is about the best value on the market.
Crushzone Recoil Pad
This add on promises to reduce the recoil by as much as 40 percent. That'll come in handy if you're doing a lot of shooting.
Cost and Value
This rifle has received rave reviews for the low price and ability to get the job done. It has also 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 muzzle loader experience to the next level.
2. Traditions Pursuit G4 Ultralight
Breech doesn’t close properly
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.Read more
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 in the creation of the Pursuit and makes its namesake easier to achieve. It also comes standard with a cerakote finish that will increase the durability of the weapon over time.
Bore Sighted Scope
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.
Cost and Value
This is a solid gun for a good price. Plus all the extras make this a wonderful gun and its low weight makes it a good starter gun for a young enthusiast.
3. CVA Optima V2
Unrivaled customer reviews
Emphasis on comfort
Bonus scope and case
A bit heavy
If you are looking for one of those weapons that could hand on your wall in the living room the Optima has that look. It’s 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!Read more
This weapon has put an emphasis on comfort and usability with many of its features. Which includes the fact that it can be used for left or right-handed shooters. 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.
Cost and Value
This gun wins out prize as the best value. Even though it comes in at about the middle of the road when it comes to price. But it has a lot to recommend it to a black powder shooter. The out of box accuracy and the little details like the ambidextrous stock and hammer spur mean you're paying less for a lot of extras that will raise the price on similar guns.
4. Thompson Center Impact
Ability to modify size on a muzzle
Hard to Clean
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 makes this gun a great option for left and right-hand shooters. The QLA muzzle speeds reloading time as well.Read more
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.
Easy Primer Access
This gun comes with a break open hood that allows easy access for cleaning. The goal here is to make what could be a difficult process a little easier.
Cost and Value
This is a middle of the road cost gun. It gets some heat for being difficult to clean but overall
its a great gun for the price.
5. Remington Model 700 Ultimate
Stopping power and accuracy
Sizably a larger rifle
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.Read more
Big Stopping Power
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 a 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.
This gun comes with an advertised 300-yard range. That's huge for a muzzleloader. And that's part of what makes this gun pricey when it comes to our next review topic.
Cost and Value
For a muzzleloader, 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
6. Traditions Buckstalker
Doesn't Sight Well
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.Read more
Speed Load System
The speed load 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.
This lightweight alloy puts the gun right at 6lbs and is a wonderful weight to be slung over your shoulder all day.
Cost and Value
This comes in on the cheaper side when it comes to muzzleloaders. With its lightweight design and low price, this makes it a great gun for anyone who wants to give muzzleloaders a try.
7. Thompson/Center Pro Hunter FX
Issues with sighting this rifle
The Pro Hunter a sleek weapon it may be the wrong word but it’s what comes to mind when we look at 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.Read more
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 start for me.
Cost and Value
Another expensive entry in our list. But this is a really high-quality gun for people who've been doing this for some time. And there's a lot to recommend this weapon, its high accuracy and high durability make this gun more of a long term investment.
8. CVA Accura V2 Long Range
Accuracy at a distance
CVA quality and affordability
Unique stock design
The heaviest gun reviewed
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.Read more
Stainless Steel Barrel
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.
Durasight Scope Mount
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 great rifles for their prices and this particular one is no different.
Cost and Value
CVA is one of those gun companies where some would argue that you're paying for the name. Maybe so as this is a pricey expensive gun. But that being said whether or not the name has anything to do with it you're also getting an incredibly high quality, well manufactured gun.
9. Traditions Deer Hunter Flintlock
Traditional flintlock design
24" octagonal barrel
Shoots full-bore-sized bullets and patched round balls
Hard to Clean
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.
Cost and Value
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
Flintlock design for a dependable spark
Traditional or synthetic pellets
The stock is synthetic
I thought we should round out this buyer's 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.Read more
Fires different kinds of pellets
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.
Cost and Value
A bit pricier than a lot of the other guns on this list but about half of the really high end guns we've compiled here. But its ability to shoot a number of different kinds of pellets makes this a really interesting gun to round out our list.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Ease of Use
This seems like a misnomer because the whole point of a muzzleloader is that it's a process. That being said, you do want to make the process as simple as possible. There are different loading mechanisms for instance, and caplock rifles seem to be the ones generally regarded as easiest to use. Then there's the kind of powder to buy and the kinds of bullets you're going to use. So if you're new to the game, we would recommend a caplock and all the accouterments.
We really don't have to say this do we, because if you're in the market for a flintlock, likely you know how to shoot. But flintlock rifles add an entirely new element to shooting because not only are you dealing with deadly projectiles, you're also dealing with gunpowder, out in the open and sparking mechanism. We're looking for the least dangerous options because as smart as we know our patrons are around guns, we're still going to make sure we help keep you safe.
A muzzleloader will just never be as versatile as a more conventional rifle or shotgun. And it's not just because it takes so long to load. A muzzleloader will have a shorter effective range, because the bullet will be traveling slower. Not only that but muzzleloaders have a greatly reduced trajectory making aiming more difficult. And then finally there's loading. So patience is a virtue when it comes to hunting with a muzzleloader.
They may not be as video gamey as some of the rifles, or shotguns you'll find these days but we're big fans of the smooth sleek lines of a muzzleloader. Not to mention the long thin barrel, and the ultra-satisfying pop, flash and cloud of smoke that accompanies the ignition of your muzzleloader. Also, it's hard to miss a muzzleloader and we think that's always a good thing.
There's not going to be a whole lot to talk about here, because when it comes to muzzleloaders simplicity is the name of the game. But there are some addons that are going to make the entire hunting process much easier so we're always on the lookout for these little extras and we point them out in our reviews.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Maybe you do. Maybe you want to be able to push your one-shot and done skills to the next level and force yourself to actually hunt or stalk your prey. Well is so a muzzleloader is the gun for you. Their shortened range and time between shots makes them the tool for the dedicated hunter and goes a bit of a way towards leveling the playing field in the dance between hunter and prey. But, it's a lot and there can be a huge frustration factor involved: there's more to carry, more to do, there are some weather issues (gotta keep that powder dry) so please take the time to make sure these single shot rifles are the gun for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are the big differences between muzzle loaders and more modern rifles?
Well beyond the obvious single-shot element there are a number of other issues any hunter is going to have to deal with. Lower trajectory, longer loading time and slower bullet speed. All this means getting up close and personal with your prey.
q: Why Do People Hunt with Muzzleloaders?
For the challenge of course, and perhaps because they want their experience to be authentic. We're not sure how things get more authentic than being out in nature hunting dinner, but some folks want to take the experience up a notch and do their hunting Revolutionary and Civil War style. They also appreciate the patience required and the 'you only get one shot at this' element.
q: What are the different types of Muzzleloaders?
There are a few different types of muzzleloaders. There is the flintlock which is the really old style rifles used by Daniel Boone during the 19th Century. Then there are caplock rifles which use a metal cap to light the powder that will propel the projectile the caplocks sit on the side of the gun and the spark shoots into the barrel to ignite the gunpowder and propel the shot. Finally, there are Inline rifles have the cap directly behind the powder.
q: What is the Best Muzzleloader for Beginners?
For beginners, an Inline muzzleloader is likely the best way to go. Inline rifles are more reliable, they are safer and they also allow the inclusion of some features like scopes and other elements that while not a traditional part of the muzzleloading hunt, can be quite useful.
q: What type of powder should I use?
Good question and the answer is it depends on preference and the gun type you have. There are generally four different kinds of gunpowder: 1f, 2f, 3f, and 4f. 2f is by far the most common type of powder used for muzzleloaders, but make sure and double check it will work with the gun you purchase.
q: How Often Should I Clean my Muzzleloader?
You should clean your gun every time you shoot it. Of course, this adds to the patience factor, but it will make a big difference.