Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hot New Loads for The .50 VORTEK Rifle

Okay, I'll admit it...this winter is getting to me.  Now, please don't think I'm crazy when I's been too warm.  Through January and most all of this month, afternoon temperatures have been in the upper 30's and low 40's...with a couple of really freaky days pushing 50 degrees.  While such balmy weather is great for my daily walks with my dogs, it has also kept me from getting in to my range...which entails traversing several hills and valleys...on a two-track dirt field road.  And while I might be able to get in during the first hour of daylight...with the mud frozen by the 20 to 25 degree nights, an hour or two after daylight that muck turns into a greasy surface that means getting out is impossible.

Fortunately, I have a good friend with some property about 35 miles south of where I live in Missoula, MT, and he has a nice and solid gravel lane going into his home in the Sapphire Mountains, with a nice high bank backstop that still allows me to shoot 100 yards...with my old Suburban parked on the lane...and a portable shooting bench set up right behind it.  And that's where I head at least once a week this time of the year...and often my hunting buddy will pull out his .50 Traditions Pursuit and join me.  He says he loves shooting someone else's powder and bullets.  I figure it's pretty cheap rent.

Since Montana's general deer and elk seasons closed the weekend after Thanksgiving, I've been spending some time trying to get a wolf within muzzleloader range.  While several times this winter I've gotten wolves to come within 325 to 350 yards of where I've been calling, nothing has crossed the 200 yard line - the maximum range I'll take a shot.

Several mornings, I've hunted within five or six miles of where I shoot off my buddy's lane, and after a half-day of hard hunting, I've dropped by to get in a few hours of shooting as well.  I like the cool temperatures in the 30's for shooting, since the barrel cools quickly.  When I can get out to shoot, this is the time of the year I generally do a lot of experimenting.

The rifle I've hunted with all fall and winter is one of the .50 VORTEK Ultra Light LDR models offered by Traditions.  Personally, I like the 30-inch barrel (28 1/2 inch working bore), and especially the way this rifle shoots.  For all of my earlier hunts, I stuck with a 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 and the saboted .451" diameter 300-grain polymer-tipped Scorpion PT Gold from Harvester Muzzleloading.  The rifle is topped with one of the 3-9x40mm TB-ML scopes from Hi-Lux Optics, and this combination punched dozens of sub 1-inch hundred yard groups during last summer and fall shooting sessions - plus the rifle accounted for several deer for the freezer last fall.  (Shown in the photo above left is the Scorpion PT Gold bullet, from left to right, 240-, 260- and 300-grain.)

The load gets out of the muzzle at 2,009 f.p.s., with 2,688 f.p.e.  At 200 yards, the load is still good for 1,451 f.p.s. and 1,401 foot pounds of energy - and is still more than plenty for taking one of the huge Northern Rockies wolves, which can top 140 pounds.

One morning, I had a good supply of the lighter 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullets in my shooting box, and just felt like seeing how fast I could push them with charges of Blackhorn 209.  With a 110-grain charge, I had already gotten an average of 2,054 f.p.s. with the 260-grain polymer-tipped spire points, which equates to 2,431 f.p.e.  At 200 yards, the load is good for 1,336 f.p.s. and 1,027 f.p.e.

With a 120-grain charge, velocity jumped to 2,147 f.p.s., generating 2,665 f.p.e.  The hundred yard group punched with the load went 1.228" center-to-center - and was right there with the average group size shot with the 10-grain lighter charge of Blackhorn 209.  So....I moved up another 10 grains, to 130-grains of Blackhorn 209, which pushed the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold out of the muzzle at an average of 2,188 f.p.s. (3 shot avg.), developing 2,764 f.p.e. at the muzzle.  Downrange at 200 yards, the load would still be flying at just over 1,500 f.p.s. and hit with 1,300 f.p.e.

Recoil was very tolerable with the 130-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 behind the light 260-grain bullet - and accuracy was exceptional.  Before heading for home, I took my time and punched two 100-yard groups.  The first is the .853" center-to-center group shown here.  The other went 1.174" center-to-center. 

The rifle printed the load in practically the same spot as it did the 110-grain charge behind the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold.  Using the CLD-3 Bog Pod collapsible tripod rest I use when hunting, I managed to put 5 hits with 5 shots on a 6-inch steel swinging target, at 200 yards, my friend has set up in a valley that runs down to his back yard.  (That rest can be seen in the photo at the top of this post - available from Bog Gear - go to for more information.)

As this is written, there are just eight more days of wolf season, so I've decided to finish out the season with the 130-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 and the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold. In early March, I'll post a report on how my wolf hunting season went over on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website at .  -  Toby Bridges


For a look at more Blackhorn 209 loads for the 28-inch barreled Traditions VORTEK and 30-inch barreled VORTEK Ultra Light LDR...go to the following link -

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