Each year, Muzzle-Loaders.com evaluates the muzzleloading market and determines what we believe are the best guns in the industry. Many of the manufacturers build exceptional muzzleloaders, so many of the differences come down to personal opinion or small features. It’s truly a great problem to have when we are splitting hairs to come up with the best muzzleloaders on the market.
Best Long Range Muzzleloader
For 2017, there were several different muzzleloaders to consider for the ultimate gun for the long-range hunter. The top choices that we looked at were the CVA Accura V2 LR, Remington 700 UML, CVA Accura PR, and Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR. All of these muzzleloaders have premium barrels of at least 28”, to provide better velocity and accuracy at 300 yards.
CVA Accura V2 LR
The top long-range muzzleloader for 2017 is the CVA Accura V2 Long Range. This muzzleloader narrowly beat out the others because of the combination of accuracy, ease of cleaning, and overall value. The CVA Accura LR features a 30” Nitride-treated Bergara barrel, the CVA QRBP breech system, and comes with a Realtree Max 1 thumbhole stock. This gun has been a proven performer over the past two seasons and has set the bar incredibly high in both accuracy and dependability.
Best Mountain Hunting Muzzleloader
Mountain hunters are aware of the need for lightweight, portability, and ease of cleaning. When you’re hiking up and down hills all day, weight is the number one factor to consider for your equipment. For this class, we considered the CVA Accura MR, Thompson Center Triumph Bone Collector, Traditions Vortek StrikerFire BackCountry, and the CVA Accura PR. All of these muzzleloaders feature weather protection, lightweight designs, and are proven to be accurate to at least 200 yards.
Traditions Vortek StrikerFire BackCountry
With all things considered, the Vortek StrikerFire BackCountry comes out with a narrow lead over the CVA Accura MR. The BackCountry muzzleloader offers a lighter weight than any other muzzleloader in this class, which is a great asset while climbing and hiking in the mountains. The Nitride-treated barrel provides excellent weather protection, and we really like the camo options of Kryptek Highlander and Realtree Xtra. The StrikerFire hammer system is also easy to use and is a more natural motion than pulling back a standard hammer.
Most Versatile Muzzleloader
Many hunters don’t have the luxury of hunting in one specific situation repeatedly, so they need a muzzleloader that can adapt to any situation they find themselves in. These muzzleloaders must be moderately lightweight, have great accuracy, and be proven to beat the elements. The muzzleloaders that we considered in this category were the Thompson Center Pro Hunter FX, CVA Accura V2, CVA Accura PR, Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR, and CVA Optima V2 LR (a Muzzle-Loaders.com exclusive).
CVA Accura PR (Plains Rifle)
The CVA Accura Plains rifle was an easy choice in this category. With the QRBP breech system, 28” Bergara barrel with Nitride, and the Realtree Max 1 camo pattern, this muzzleloader has all the features that any hunter would want. This muzzleloader is essentially a CVA Accura MR, but with a longer barrel. This gives many customers the stock combination, with the longer barrel, that they have been asking for. The Plains Rifle is accurate enough to take shots over 250 yards, but still light enough to carry around all day.
Best Mid-Range Muzzleloader
This category is made up of some excellent muzzleloaders, which are built for shorter distances, and lack a few of the high-end features that keep the price at a more economical level. The guns that excel in this category are the Traditions Pursuit G4, CVA Optima V2, and Thompson Center Triumph (non-Bone Collector). These muzzleloaders are built for shots up to 200 yards and are excellent options for a versatile hunter. The muzzleloaders in this category are all more affordable than their high-end counterparts, but they still provide excellent value and quality.
CVA Optima V2 Nitride
The CVA Optima V2 Nitride is our pick for the best Mid-Range muzzleloader. In the end, it was a tough call between the Pursuit G4 and the Optima Nitride, however, there were a few features that set the Optima apart from the pack. The Nitride-treated barrel provides excellent corrosion resistance, and the ambidextrous stock is comfortable and lightweight. The two reasons that the Optima V2 Nitride was our choice in this category are because of the CVA QRBP breech system, and the ability to disassemble and clean the gun by removing two screws. The 26” barrel provides good accuracy, and this is a dependable and affordable rifle that will last for years.
Best Economy Muzzleloader
There are times when budgets are restricted, or you simply need a muzzleloader for a quick hunt. Whatever the reason may be, there are some great options to choose from in the economy muzzleloader market. This year, we chose between the CVA Wolf Nitride, CVA Wolf with blued barrel, Thompson Center Impact, and the Traditions Buckstalker. All of these muzzleloaders are accurate up to 150 yards and provide shorter barrels for a lightweight feel and reduced price.
CVA Wolf Nitride
The winner in this category was tough to decide. When budget is taken into consideration, the CVA Wolf PR2110 with a blued barrel is clearly the leader, however, we really enjoy the fact that CVA added a Wolf Nitride for 2017. The Buckstalker was also a close contender in this class, with its Cerakote option, with the Speed-Breech design. In the end, we thought that the CVA Wolf Nitride was really the best bang for the buck. This muzzleloader is priced as an affordable entry-level gun, with many of the features of the Optima.
Best Youth Muzzleloader
Youth muzzleloaders have become harder to come by in recent years. For 2016, CVA discontinued the Wolf compact, which left a hole in the market. With this in mind, it really came down to either the Traditions Buckstalker compact and the Thompson Center Impact. These muzzleloaders have trigger pulls which are short enough for youth hunters and have had some crossover with fitting women hunters as well.
Traditions Buckstalker Compact
The Traditions Buckstalker Compact ended up being the clear leader in this category. The breaching system of the Buckstalker features SpeedBreech technology, which is removed in only three revolutions. The Buckstalker Compact is more than accurate enough for shots out to 150 yards but is built for the youth hunter in mind. The standard version comes with open sights, however, this muzzleloader is drilled and tapped for a scope mount.
2017 New Muzzleloaders
Overall, it is hard not to be impressed with the technology displayed in the muzzleloading market. No matter the budget or hunting situation, there is now a muzzleloader to suit every hunter. For information on what muzzleloaders are new for 2017, CLICK HERE.