The Three Best Muzzleloaders You Can Buy Today
They all have lifetime warranties, they are all made in the United States, and they are all .50 caliber inlines. These are not made-to-order or obscure muzzleloading rifles, but all current production and readily available.
The T/C Strike sells for as low as $450 or even a bit less; there is a fifty dollar mail-in rebate beyond that, going on through the end of 2017. This is a very cleverly designed muzzleloader that was formerly the LHR Redemption that Thompson has wisely picked up. Not as heavy on the wallet or to carry as some, it is about a 7-1/4 to 7-1/2 pound rifle. It is easy to use, easy to clean, has an excellent trigger, and is all the muzzleloader many will ever need inside 200 yards.
A Thompson/Center Encore Pro Hunter sells for about $700, there is a $75 rebate going on right now as well. The Pro Hunter FX has a non-interchangeable barrel and so is a dedicated non-form 4473 muzzleloader. It has a carbon steel barrel with T/C's “Weathershield” coating on it. It sells in the $550 area. My Pro Hunter weighs 8-1/4 pounds, a lot heavier than advertised. It is the iconic break-action muzzleloader, so widely copied that I called it the “Most Influential Rifle of the Year,” back in 2004. It was the muzzleloader that started the “everything is toast out to 200 yards” craze and the three-pellet craze as well, in large measure. It is build like a real rifle, for that's what it was originally.
My friend Eric Brooker, now retired from T/C, recalled that when the idea of making a muzzleloading barrel for the Encore was first hatched, they were making bets around the water cooler as to if they would ever sell fifty of them. It turned out to be a runaway hit, and right now the Encore is the only muzzleloader from the “Golden Age of Inlines” to still be in mass production.
Remington 700 Ultimate
The Remington Ultimate sells for $750 or so, has an excellent trigger, and the cleanest action around. It looks, feels, and operates like modern bolt-action rifle. You can burn 200 grains of Triple Se7en pellets in it or you can use up to 150 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209.
With a 1:26 barrel, it will shoot the ultra-flat shooting Parker Match Hunter 300 grain bullets extremely well, where 1:28 barrels normally cannot. It is a heavy gun, at 8-3/4 lbs., but with the loads it is capable of firing you might wish it weighed 14 pounds. I'm personally hoping Remington comes out with a bit lighter “Mountain Rifle” version for those that do a significant amount of walking and climbing. It is the high-performance champ, however. With 150 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209 it throws a 300 grain Barnes MZ-Expander at 2371 fps or a 250 grain Barnes Spitfire TMZ Flat Base at 2471 fps. Yes, these loads are brutal at the bench after a short while. 130 – 135 grains, by volume, of Blackhorn 209 with a 300 grain Parker Match Hunter is a far more manageable load: it kills on only one end, the correct one.
For bargain hunters, the most for the least in a modern muzzleloader today is the T/C Strike: excellent trigger, the excellent “Armornite” non-corrosive finish, with no internal barrel threads to stick a breechplug with, and excellent ignition with Blackhorn 209. It was a great muzzleloader when Mark Laney designed it, well worth the $599 - $799 when it was released as the LHR Redemption in 2013. Now, as the T/C Strike, it is presently a screamingly good deal in a quality muzzleloader.
Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.