What Everyone Needs to Know
About Smokeless Muzzleloading

By Randy Wakeman


There has been an unprecedented amount of supposition and speculation surrounding smokeless muzzleloading, though it has been a well-proven system for nearly a decade by now, far more time-tested and game-tested than the use of sulfurless synthetic propellants such as Triple 7 that remain corrosive and obscure visibility. It is time to put these rumors to rest, based on empirical evidence alone, not preexisting attitudes or lack of understanding. In this brief article, I believe I'll do just that.

I. SMOKELESS MEANS HIGH VELOCITY

No. This is easily disproved. Smokeless no more means "high velocity" than a 12 gauge shotgun means high velocity, or a .22 rimfire. In fact, those who think still that muzzle velocity alone is the component that defines smokeless can take a look at Knight Rifles and Thompson Center Arms catalogues and owners manuals. Both have published factory loads that well exceed those published by Savage Arms.

II. SMOKELESS MEANS HIGH PRESSURE

This again is clearly wrong. Today's 2000 fps shotshell whitetail loads do not exceed 12,000 PSI MAP: that is the SAAMI limit. They do use smokeless powder, of course. Three pellet loads with a 250 gr. bullet have been proved to exceed 25,000 PSI by Lyman Ballistic Labs and other independent sources. 50 grains of Vihtavouri N120 gets a 250 gr. Barnes MZ-Expander out the muzzle of a Savage 10ML-II at around 1960 fps. MAP= Approx. 18,832 PSI.

III. SMOKELESS MEANS SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER RANGE

No, this is hardly the case. No .45 caliber bullet can fly very flat. We are shooting the same saboted bullets, at similar velocities to any other inline muzzleloader. None compare with the flight characteristics of a 7mm class cartridge, or a .30 caliber projectile. They never will due to the "load from the muzzle" sabot limitations.

IV. SMOKELESS MEANS LESS RECOIL

True! Powder weight is a component of recoil, and we can get similar performance by using half as much powder. Less abuse to your scope, your shoulder, and it is every bit as lethal. That makes the Savage 10ML-II the top choice for recoil sensitive, older, or smaller. There is no glory in self-abuse. A dedicated article on this website discusses this in detail.

V. SMOKELESS MEANS LESS OPERATING COST

It sure does, astonishing so. This is also defined in detail in a dedicated article. You are using expensive, "fake blackpowder" propellants that can cost $25 a pound, and you are using a lot MORE of it by weight.

VI.SMOKELESS IS A SAFER WAY TO MUZZLELOAD

It certainly is: the U.S. Military and Department of Transportation have long proved that smokeless powder is safer to handle, use, and store than blackpowder and easily ignitable so-called substitutes. The 100% barrel proofing of the Savage 10ML-II proves it is manufactured to a higher standard, see the dedicated article on proofing on this site for further information. Additionally, the Accu-Trigger is obviously the safest trigger ever to be placed on a muzzleloader.

VII. SMOKELESS MUZZLELOADERS LAST LONGER THAN OTHER MUZZLELOADERS

There is no disputing that. With the removal of caustic, corrosive propellants, your gun simply is not being constantly attacked by them. A Savage 10ML-II is a lifetime gun and will not rot itself to pieces.

VIII. SMOKELESS MUZZLELOADERS ARE MORE ACCURATE THAN REGULAR MUZZLELOADERS

Generally, they clearly are. The lack of heavy fouling and caking residue from shot-to-shot means a more a consistent bore condition from shot to shot, and consistency and accuracy are one and the same.

IX. SMOKELESS MUZZLELOADING IS A QUICKER, MORE HUMANE WAY TO HARVEST GAME

It sure is, by design. The Savage has a 1:24 twist barrel that can stabilize and accurately shoot 300 grain projectiles where other muzzleloaders cannot-it was designed around a 300 grain bullet. That means more terminal energy, greater wounding, more shock-down power, more striking energy, and a more humane harvest. The lack of noxious smoke obscuring the hunter's vision means more quickly recovered game, and less lost game.




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Copyright 2005, 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.


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