The Traditions .50 caliber VORTEK Ultra Light LDR rifle shown here, with accompanying .50 caliber VORTEK pistol, is currently one of the leading State-of-the-Art modern in-line muzzleloading rifles on the market. This is truly a "long range" hunting muzzleloader, built with a 30-inch barrel that can squeeze 2,009 f.p.s. out of a 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 loaded behind a saboted 300-grain bullet. At the muzzle, the load generates right at 2,690 foot-pounds of energy, and from 100 to 200 yards, the load has right at 10 inches of drop. The scope on this rifle is one of the excellent Hi-Lux Optics multi-reticle TB-ML muzzleloader hunting scopes, and using the 200-yard reticle with a dead-on hold at that distance...this rig and load will put a modern saboted polymer tipped 300-grain spire-point right through the chest cavity of a deer with more than 1,400 ft. lbs. of retained knockdown power.
So, where can muzzleloader hunting performance go from here? This new NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING report takes a look at what likely lies ahead...
Our sister website, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING, is easily the fastest growing site to cater to today's muzzleloading hunter. The site went through a complete rebuild last August (2011), and since September 1, 2011 the site has now had nearly 500,000 users.
In addition to nearly 60 published NEW pages, the website also links to several dozen other superb muzzleloader hunting/shooting related internet articles and video clips.
It's been about 10 years now since Knight Rifles introduced their "new" .52 caliber in-line rifle models. While the company offers several different bullet designs and weights for the bore size, the rifles have actually been truly built around one of those bullets - the big all-copper 375-grain .475" diameter "Red Hot" spitzer hollow point. From the get go, the goal was to make the .52 caliber DISC Extreme the most powerful convenional in-line rifle on the market - to make it the elk hunter's dream muzzleloader.
With that bullet, the .52 is indeed the "Powerhouse of Muzzleloading" today. But, did it really take the introduction of a modern .52 caliber rifle to accomplish that? Many muzzleloading hunters are now wishing the other in-line rifle makers would revamp the old .54 caliber in-line rifles...and give it a facelift to give Knight's .52 a run for the money.
So...what would it take?
First of all, to shoot long all-copper bullets like the Knight 375-grain "Red Hot" bullet, which is produced by Barnes Bullets, it would very likely first entail breaking from the old turn-in-28 inch rifling twist that the vast majorioty of early .54 in-lines featured. Knight rifles found that the older twist, which was standard for both .50 and .54 caliber models, was not snappy enough to stabilize the 1.2" long .475" diameter bullet. So, for the .52 caliber models, the company went with a faster turn-in-26 inches. (I actually have one prototype .52 turn-in-24 inches twist barrel and receiver that shoots the long 375-grain bullet better than the turn-in-26 inches barrel/receiver that came on the rifle.)
And to shoot the .475" diameter bullets would also mean tooling up for an appropriate .54x.475 sabot, and while at it, maybe even a .54x.458 bullet for bullets like the 325 grain Hornady .458 FTX and the Barnes .458 300-grain SOCOM bullet. Another bullet with a lot of promise for a revamped ".54 Express" would be the Barnes 400-grain .458 "Original" spitzer. This bullet has a .389 b.c. - meaning once it gets rolling along it isn't stopping for quite a while. Determinng if the turn-in-26 or 24 rifling twist performed best with the widest range of bullets should be a primary concern. One advantage of the .54 over the .52 is that saboted .50 caliber bullets can be shot out of the .54 - possibly making the old "magnum" of in-line muzzleloading a bit more versatile.
What plagued the .54 caliber 20 years ago was that we really did not have the muzzleloader powders available to produce the speed needed to force heavy petaled .54x.45 sabots to open up, form an air-foil, and pull away from the bullet fast enough to keep from affecting bullet flight - a.k.a. accuracy. Today we do, and with 120- and 130-grain charges of Blackhorn 209 behind big bullets like the 375-grain "Red Hot" bullet just could give the old .54 a new lease on life. Think about the potential knock-down power of of getting a big 400-grain spitzer like the .458 Barnes "Original" out of the muzzle at around 1,900 f.p.s. That's 3,200 foot pounds of muzzle energy. And with that .389 b.c., the bullet would still be flying at around 1,550 f.p.s. at 200 yards, plowing home with 2,132 f.p.e. at that distance. Out at 300 yards, the big bullet would retain close to 1,400 f.p.s. - along with 1,740 f.p.e.!!!
What an elk load! Move over Knight .52...you may have some strong compeition coming your way. - Toby Bridges
We have changed the name of this blog due to the high number of complaints we've received about the overall disentigrating quality of the current production Knight muzzleloaders. At one time, Knight Rifles customer service was the best in the muzzleloading industry. We have heard from dozens of new rifle buyers, who have purchased their muzzleloaders since new owners put the line back into production in April 2011, and who are extremely frustrated with trying to deal with the "New" customer service for that company.
The vast majority of our modern in-line rifle shooting and testing for this blog will now be conducted with the fine rifles being produced by Traditions Performance Firearms. We will leave some of the posts that are related to Knight Rifles, since all of the shooting was done with Pre 2009 rifles...back when the company was still producing some quality rifles of excellent design.
This is a whole new start for this blog...and we will do our best to make it grow quickly.
Top Photo Above - Those of you who shot with saboted .44 (.429-.430" dia.) bullets during the late 1980s and early 1990s probably realized quickly that the .50x.44 sabots and bullets of that diameter did not produce the best groups. Three-shot groups of that period with that sabot-bullet combination, on a good day, rarely stayed inside of 4 inches.
Center Photo Above - Shown at the left side of this line up is the Harvester Muzzleloading green .50x.44 Crush Rib Sabot and the 300-grain Hornady .430" diameter XTP jacketed hollow-point bullet. Note the different degrees of sabot opening exhibited by the recovered sabots. More powder and higher velocity continues to more completely open sabot sleeves.
Bottom Photo Above - At 2130 f.p.s., the 300-grain .44 XTP, paired up with
the green .50x.44 Crush Rib Sabot, produced excellent 100-yard accuracy with a Knight Rifles .50 caliber Long Range Hunter - like this sub 1-inch three-shot cluster.
For a look at the most common problems associated with loading and shooting saboted .44 caliber bullets out of a .50 caliber rifle, and how to overcome those problems - go to the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING report at the following link -