• Part 2 of 2
• CVA Video – About Blackpowder Bullets
• New Sabots vs. Old Ball Bullets, Details
By Forrest Fisher
While there are many other blackpowder firearm models that cost much more, the Optima™ Pro 209 Magnum Break-Action represented the state-of-the-art blackpowder gun building technology when I got started about a decade ago. They make the same model today with even more improvements.
To simplify blackpowder firearm use, watch this video on how to load and shoot a blackpowder rifle, it’s about 4-minutes in length, from CVA:
The Optima Pro 209 barrel is an impressive 29″ inches in length and is fully fluted at 1:28. This provides plenty of barrel to burn “magnum” charges. At the same time, the overall rifle length and weight remain comfortable and easy to handle. The firearm is furnished in the box with Dura-Bright™ fiber optic sights that are all metal, with fully protected fibers, just in case you choose not to add a scope. The fiber optics are guaranteed for life. The neat thing about the Optima family of rifles is that they offer the option of barrel length (26 – 29 inches) for special game and shooting considerations. The barrel options also include nickel or matte blue color.
Based on the volume of “blackpowder jargon” everywhere we travel, it seems the new blackpowder hunting boom took off for good and it is now accepted as another great way to hunt big game. Local stores can’t keep some popular models in stock during hunting season, which is why I’m sharing this now. Experts at local stores say, “The new break-action designs bring the bore cleaning activity into a more reasonable scheme that a larger population of hunters are now willing to accept. Before models like this, cleaning a blackpowder barrel could take an hour, now it’s only a few minutes. Big difference.”
I checked with local stores where I live in Western New York to learn more about the blackpowder grain and blackpowder pellet options. One counter gentleman was a chemist in a previous life and said, “Blackpowder is really a formula combination of many elements including salt peter, charcoal and Sulphur. It is very dirty when burned and must be cleaned from the barrel the same day it is shot or serious oxidation (rusting) will occur.” That’s why, today, the two new blackpowder substitutes, Pyrodex and Triple Seven, have become the most popular blackpowder fuels. Both made by the Hodgdon Powder Company, the Pyrodex is also available in an easy to use “Pyrodex Pellet”, with 30, 50 and 60 grain pre-formed pellets available.
With two 50 grain pre-formed Triple Seven pellets stacked in series, a 225 grain Powerbelt sabot bullet will deliver about 2000 feet per second from the Optima™ Pro 209. That’s what I use. The end of the pre-formed pellets is coated with an ignition compound for easy start once the primer is ignited by a trigger pull.
Bottom line? Muzzleloading is fun and affordable. The new in-lines will allow older black powder traditionally styled rifles to be recognized in modern focus too, thereby allowing growth of the sport. In my travels to learn as much as possible in the shortest time on this subject, I discovered a very helpful book “SUCCESSFUL MUZZLELOADER HUNTING” written by Pete Schoonmaker. The author covers all the various styles of muzzleloader guns, the different muzzleloader hunting projectiles, various powders, plus safety and proper loading techniques, including older style ignition system and the hot 209 primer ignition in-line system. The book is a 144-page paperback book with 150 color photographs through 20 chapters to include hunting strategy, planning, and identification of the most common muzzleloading problems and issues. Amazon carries the book in used versions for under a dollar. Yep, true.
Even though blackpowder shooting is over 300 years old, it is still growing! Not only is it a thrilling sport, it is fascinating too. According to field representatives at Connecticut Valley Arms, “For some hunters and shooters, blackpowder hunting opens a whole new way of life. “ I can believe that, after watching how these new firearms perform at the target range.
The use of a modern muzzleloader combines a respect for traditional American hunting standards with the technology of today. A good blend for developing and nurturing newcomers to the blackpowder world, and for an appreciation of our pioneering past.
Share the outdoors with someone that would like to know more about the outdoors, but is afraid to ask.