A Web Magazine Specifically For The Traditional Muzzleloading Hunter!
Why A New Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting Website?
Back in 2003, I launched a new website known as HIGH PERFORMANCE MUZZLELOADING. That site was totally devoted to modern in-line ignition muzzleloaders and loads. In 2006, I changed the name of the site to NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING ... because I was seriously missing the traditional side of our sport.
I have always been a "performance minded" muzzleloading hunter - whether I'm hunting with a very traditionally styled frontloader ... or an extremely advanced and honest "high performance" ultra modern primer ignition in-line rifle. I've always believed in hunting with the hardest hitting load for a given rifle that would still shoot with accuracy. The game being hunted deserves the quickest and cleanest harvest we can deliver.
The two rifles pictured in the above photos are currently my two favorite traditional muzzle-loaded big game rifles. Both are of fairly true late percussion Hawken styling - and both are produced by Davide Pedersoli & Co. of Brescia, Italy. (Available in the U.S. from Dixie Gun Works and the Italian Firearms Group). The barrel from one will fit right into the hooked breech tang and stock of the other. But as much as these two rifles are alike ... they are also as different as night and day.
That rifle in the top photo is the .54 caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken ... the rifle pictured in the bottom photo is the .50 caliber Missouri River Hawken. The .54 caliber rifle is built with a 34 11/16" long 1-inch diameter barrel that's rifled with a slow 1-turn-in-65 inches rate of rifling twist. This is my patched round ball rifle. The .50 caliber model sports a slightly shorter 30-inch barrel that's rifled with a much faster 1-in-24 inches rate of twist. This is my traditional 1840's-1850's bullet rifle. Both versions of the rifle are period correct for 1840 thru the 1860's. And, yes, that long "telescopic rifle sight" mounted on the .50 caliber Missouri River Hawken is just as traditional as the rifle to which it is attached. The earliest rifle scopes were developed on the muzzleloading rifles of that time period. The reproduction Wm. Malcolm 6x Model 1855 rifle optic shown in this photo is from Hi-Lux Optics.
I've shot the Pedersoli .54 Rocky Mountain Hawken with charges of GOEX FFg black powder ranging from 90 to 120-grains ... behind a .015" lubed cotton patched 230-grain Hornady swaged .535" lead ball ... and no matter which charge I shoot ... the rifle tends to keep hits inside a 2" group at 50 yards. That shooting is, of course, done from a solid shooting bench and rest. For deer, I go with a 110-grain charge ... which gives me an effective range of 75- to 80-yards. If I were to go after elk with this rifle, I'd likely move up to a 120-grain charge ... and try to keep my shots inside of 60-yards. That big ol' doe in the above left photo was taken with my 110-grain charge ... and at about 60 yards the rifle and load pretty much dropped the deer where it stood.
The Malcolm scoped 30-inch Missouri River Hawken barrel very often ends up on that gorgeous curly maple stock for photos. So, if you see a Pedersoli Hawken on this website topped with one of these scopes ... and a curly maple stock ... I'm just playing my stock options. No matter which stock the scoped barrel is on ... I'll likely be shooting the rifle with 100-grains of GOEX FFg black powder behind a paper-patched cast 480-grain conical bullet. The rifle with that load is effective on deer sized game to just over 200 yards. I've gotten great accuracy with the rifle shooting the copper-clad Hornady 300-grain hollow-based FPB bullet as well ... also shooting 100-grains of GOEX FFg black powder. The buck in the above right photo was dropped at 171 yards with that load.
Later this spring or summer, Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting will bring you a more detailed test report on these two Hawken half-stock rifles. Right now, I'm awaiting the arrival of a rifle just like that shown directly above - one of the Pedersoli fast 1-in-24 twist percussion Jaeger Hunter rifles. My plans are to hunt black bear with the rifle this spring ... shooting 90 or 100 grains of black powder behind the Lee Precision 380-grain REAL bullet. We'll also see how light a powder charge we can take the rifle ... and still get target quality accuracy with a patched round ball. Keep an eye open for our report on this rifle.
Use the comment section to share what you consider your favorite traditional muzzle-loaded hunting rifle ... and the load that performs best for you. - Toby Bridges, Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting
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Many of our blog posts will be reasonably short Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting features, news from our industry, new product announcements, hunting regulation changes, maybe even a biography of an individual within the sport of muzzleloader hunting. In short ... if it pertains to shooting and hunting with an old style muzzleloader ... it could show up here!