Is My Muzzleloader Safe? Here is "THE QUESTION."

As scrutiny of the muzzleloading market quickly reveals, there are no muzzleloading standards. There are no standards for metal, bore-size, testing, or much of anything. Where SAAMI and the CIP have clear standards for cheap rimfires, pistols, shotguns, as well as rifles-it is a brave new world when you look at muzzleloaders. It is quite a mess, and has been for a long time. The term "Magnum Muzzleloader" means nothing specific at all . . . just another cheap marketing label.

So, how do we know what a muzzleloader of reasonable build quality should do? Good question, as the manufacturers have still failed to set minimum standards or otherwise control themselves. Companies that are, in my opinion, sleazy and smarmy like "CVA" and "Traditions" can make muzzleloading a lousy to place to be.

Public pressure information has long been available, as evidenced in the LYMAN Black Powder Handbook & Loading Manual written by Sam Fadala. Lyman Ballistic Laboratories data has been above reproach for decades. If you check pages 172-177 of the second edition of the Lyman book, you will quickly obtain a grasp of what muzzleloading pressures may be. You'll see that 120 grains by volume of Pyrodex RS pushing a 240 grain Hornady sabot can develop 29,900 PSI. You'll find many, many loads developing well over 25,000 PSI peak pressure. A three pellet load can develop 29,000 PSI peak pressure, as shown by Lyman. That still isn't the top pressure loads that are published; some are well above 30,000 PSI with 120 grains of Pyrodex. Loose powder loads heavier than 120 grains by volume of Pyrodex are not touched upon, though heavier loads and hotter propellants than Pyrodex are in common, popular use.

Based on all this, the question becomes obvious. If an inline muzzleloading manufacturer refuses to tell you in writing that their rifles have not been tested to withstand a constant diet of 30,000 PSI peak pressure loads safely, their guns should not be so much as sold, much less used by today's consumer.

This is such a simple, basic, common-sense thing to ask that no reputable inline muzzleloading manufacturer should have any problem answering it in writing without hesitation. If they can't, there are richly deserving of all the scorn and contempt we can possibly lavish on them. It is bad metallurgy and lack of testing that keeps 911 busy for some tragic victims year after year. Shooting a breechplug into your skull or a barrel relieving you of the use of your hand is something I've personally seen far too much of. Sadly, most of it is both unnecessary and avoidable. It all starts with proper design, good metallurgy, and then testing to confirm. That muzzleloaders are sold by those who just don't know should shock and appall all of us.



Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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