2011 – 2012 Recommended Inline Muzzleloaders


Some folks might rightly ask, “What happened to muzzleloading?” As Tony Knight has long lamented, it is the sport itself that is no longer being actively promoted. With the focus on who could sell the most boxes, it was the nurturing of the sport itself that has been lost. With more accuracy and twice the range of most slug guns, and a far lower cost per shot you might think that the “one shot and make it a good one” way would endure. It can, of course, but it will take renewed focus on promoting the sport and challenge of muzzleloading. Many of the well-known brands of muzzleloaders have vanished, or have all but vanished. I'm referring to Gonic, White, Austin & Halleck, Knight, NEF-H&R, Remington, Ruger, and so forth. Thompson has had a rough time, after being gobbled up by Smith & Wesson. Just completing the production move from New Hampshire to Springfield, Massachusetts this summer (2011), I'm advised that they are still playing catch up.

Projectiles, propellants, and sabots have never been better represented, though, and there are several muzzleloaders that available and desirable. I'm listing the ones that I've had good luck with and that are currently available.


Clearly a value-priced, entry level offering, it is exactly that: a very good value in an American-made inline, without any frills.


In production for eleven years, the Accu-Trigger 10ML-II remains available in 4140 Chrome-Moly blued configuration, and has the distinction of being the only mass-produced muzzleloader ever made to use specific economical, non-corrosive smokeless propellants (Accurate 5744, Hodgdon / IMR 4759, Vihtavuori N110). It is built like a real rifle, with a fast lock-time bolt action, a silent three-position safety, and 100% proof-tested barreled actions. Just like a real rifle, you have a recoil lug, dual pillar bedding, and a one-piece stock. No wonder it shoots like one as well. Get them while you can. Savage is twenty weeks behind on all of their production and when their muzzleloader is no longer viable to produce, it won't be. It is all up to the consumer. Eleven years of continuous production puts the track record of most other inlines to shame.


Introduced in 2002, the Thompson Omega was a run-away sales smash from the beginning. It is simple, it has two action screws, it has a one-piece stock, and it still ranks as one of the most desirable inlines available. It is far better, in my opinion, the comparatively clumsy “Triumph” and has never had the ignition problems with some propellants that plague other inlines.


The Thompson-Center Encore has been the most-copied inline, by far, over the last decade. Introduced in 1999, it predates and has a far better track record than any other break-action muzzleloader. As far as I'm concerned, it is a better muzzleloader than it is a center-fire rifle. While the Encore has never been a bargain-basement, “Cheap Charlie” type of gun . . . the Pro-Hunter and Endeavor models did hit a level that, last in my opinion, made them a bit over-priced with no great advantage in field performance over the standard, “209 x 50 Magnum” blued and walnut Encore. There is another distribution issue with the Encore: it is a Form 4473 firearm, as are all “switch-barrel” gun, so it cannot be sold through the standard muzzleloading distribution channels as can the Savage 10ML-II and the T/C Omega.

That's finally changed, just this year, with the introduction of the 2011 Encore “Pro Hunter FX” fixed barrel Encore. The lack of being able to change it into a centerfire rifle means that the Pro Hunter FX can be sold through traditional muzzleloading channels, and along with this new model comes an attractive price as well. At a street price of about $550, the new Pro Hunter FX makes the Encore muzzleloader more affordable than it has been in many years. It is a good idea and you can expect a review of this new model in the near future.


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