One Hundred Shots Through the Remington Model 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader. . . “By Accident”

Yesterday was unseasonably cool in Illinois, and the way things ended up was putting over one hundred shots through the Remington Ultimate . . . by accident. At least by accident, kinda-sorta. We were hoping a few doves had moved in, as only opening day was good shooting. Though cool for “summer,” it was also bright, sunny, and calm. Apparently calm and soothing enough for the Canadian geese and teal not to bother to move much.

So, what was intended to be a scope change and sight-in, turned into an all day affair, and now (aside from a tender shoulder) it ended up depleting my supply of Barnes Originals and Parker Match Hunters to alarmingly low levels. The scope mounted and sighted in is a Sightron SII Big Sky 3-12 x 42 with the HHR reticle. Throughout all the range work with Blackhorn 209, the barrel was never swabbed, brushed, or dry-patched . . . no nothing, except load and shoot.

In this specific rifle, anyway, there is no doubt that the two most accurate bullet / sabot combinations are the .458 300 grain Barnes Original Semi-Spitzer soft point / Orange MMP .458 / 50 sabot, and the Parker Match Hunter 300 grain with the short black MMP sabot. That's with 130 – 146 grains of Blackhorn 209 by volumetric black powder measure. By actual weight, that's 91 grains to 100 grains. With either projectile, and the simple HHR reticle, it is a straightforward 300 yard rifle, as you can see here: .

As a practical matter, for whitetail hunting, I've never needed much less wanted to shoot that far. Certainly, 173 yards, 193 yards, 211 yards, 221 yards, and naturally much closer have been common. But, if your game is pronghorn or open country elk, your needs may be different. The longest shot I've personally ever taken with a muzzleloader was 287 yards on a pronghorn that now resides on my wall . . . and that was with a .458 300 grain Barnes Original. On that hunt, longer shots were anticipated, so I started with a 250 yard zero.


Despite doing all the shooting wearing just a thin shirt, felt recoil from the Remington 700 Ultimate with 130 grains of Blackhorn 209 pushing a 300 grain saboted bullet is unobtrusive; obviously there is less recoil with 250 – 275 grain class projectiles. My shoulder is a bit tenderized right now, but that is a result of the quantity of shooting rather than the load itself. 130 – 135 grains is a very manageable hunting load. At 146 grains of Blackhorn 209, while still accurate, the gun starts talking to you more than I'd like.


There is no question, after several range sessions, that the Barnes Original 300 grain in the .458 / 50 MMP orange sabot and the Parker Match Hunter 300 grain in the short black MMP sabot are the two most accurate loads, both capable of 3/4 MOA with 130 – 146 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209, or 91 – 100 grains by weight. That would be for this individual rifle, anyway.

For other bullet / sabot combinations, starting load is 90 grains by volume, where 110 grains by volume is the most accurate as a broad generalization. In this rifle, for various and sundry reasons, the MMP .50 caliber BBSB sub-base is likely to improve things, and that will be covered in detail in the near future with before / after results both in text and on video.


The factory trigger of the Remington Ultimate is externally user-adjustable; claimed to go down to approximately 3-1/2 pounds. On my rifle, such was not the case for 4 lbs. 3 oz. is it. You might as well remove the adjustment screw and file it in the circular file, which is what I have done. It is an excellent trigger, though, with a glass-rod zero take up break, but heavier than some would want. As I often hunt with semi-frozen, gloved hands, or a bit of both, it is staying as is.


I'm of the opinion that no grown man should be forced to lick cotton, spit on cotton, or pick cotton. From shot #1 to shot #101, there was no swabbing, dry-patching, bore-brushing, no nothing other than load and shoot, load and shoot with Blackhorn 209. Loading force did not change from the first shot to the last.


Even though it was a cool (for summer) day, it is easy to heat up the barrel. When using T7, for example, you naturally spit-patch or solvent patch between every shot. To the extent this automatically introduces moisture into you bore, there is naturally cooling in concert with the evaporation. You have a built-in time component when going up and down the bore, flipping over the patch and repeating the barrel swab between shots with T7 as well. If you can feel heat on the outside of the barrel, you can be sure it is hotter on the inside, so with Blackhorn 209 for best accuracy, it is good to allow for barrel cooling. Again and again, I've put two bullets in the same hole, but impatiently loaded a saboted bullet into a hot barrel . . . and the third shot a couple of inches away from the first two is the usual result . . . and completely my fault.


It takes two patches of Hoppe's No. 9 to clean your barrel. With more aggressive cleaners, like Montana Extreme Bore Solvent, it takes only one patch. But, it strips the bore leaving no protectant. So, after a patch or two of your favorite bore cleaner, a dry patch followed by a soaking patch of Breakfree CLP is a good way to go before storing your rifle.


The Remington Model 700 Ultimate is, by far, the cleanest-shooting production muzzleloader I've tested. There was no mung or carbon inside any of the fired brass. From the inside, there is no indication that they had even been fired. The same is true for the action of the gun: zero fouling, zero blowback, not even a light haze of anything. The action remained as clean after shot #101 as it was before the first shot was ever fired. There were zero misfires or hangfires with Blackhorn 209, not even the suspicion of one. The 700 Ultimate is 100% reliable thus far and the action remains 100% clean.



Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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