Buying a New Muzzleloader?
The American firearms industry is an industry to be proud of. It is our heritage, our birthright, inextricably intertwined with American history, and what it means to be an American.
Shooting sports have never been safer. In fact, a new report from the National Safety Council shows that accidental firearm-related fatalities remained at record lows in 2004 (the latest year on record). Statistics in the council's "Injury Facts 2005-2006" show a 48 percent decrease over a 10-year period ending in 2004. Firearms-related sports are just as safe as we allow them to be, and varies in concert with the respect with which we treat them. Thanks to modern metallurgy, quality control, and manufacturing methods we have shooting equipment available to us at a combination of quality and affordability never before available.
Modern muzzleloading began here, prospers here, and leads the world in both quality and innovation. America is the largest muzzleloading enthusiast market in the word. It was the "Michigan Wolverine" that adapted the 209 shotshell primer to muzzleloading use; it was our own Tony Knight and Doc White that elevated muzzleloading to its current level of popularity, effectiveness, and safety. It has been Del Ramsey that showed up we can take game cleaner and faster with MMP sabots, and it has been Hodgdon powder that gave us propellants with consistency, convenience, and availability. Buffalo Bullets and Barnes Bullets have presented us with projectiles that shoot more accurately, and take game more humanely than ever before. Henry Ball and Savage Arms have given us new, extremely high standards in accuracy, strength, trigger quality, and safety. It is a great time for muzzleloading.
By far, the cheapest part of shooting sports is the initial cost of the firearm itself. A quality firearm holds its value, and has an indefinite life. America offers the best-built, best tested muzzleloaders in the world, and I mean Knight, NEF/H & R, Savage, Thompson/Center. We have affordable, effective, well-mannered firearms worth treasuring, enjoying, and passing on to the next generation.
Unfortunately, marketing hyperbole sometimes works. And, although quality muzzleloaders are available at the fraction of a cost of any well-outfitted hunt, less than one shoulder mount, and even less than a quality scope, base, and ring set, we sometimes purchase muzzleloaders that are built to dubious standards.
By subsidizing poor quality imports, we denigrate the continuing innovation and excellence of our own uniquely American experience. Uninformed shop clerks sell CVA/Winchester Muzzleloading, Traditions, and now the pot-metal abomination sold under the once proud Remington name--the Genesis--like fishing lures. Sadly, all too often, we bite. Their true value, of course, is reflected in their abysmal resale value.
Whether new to firearms, new to muzzleloading, or just looking for better equipment with which to hunt, the reasons to own a muzzleloader of good quality, materials, design, and testing are huge. It is not just resale value; it is field performance year after year. It is pride of ownership, it is safety, and it is reliability. Anything less is tortured, false economy.
When entering a new sport, or taking a rejuvenated interest in a sport, the quality of your equipment directly affects the quality of our experience and, inevitably, the quality of our hunting and shooting. The purpose of muzzleloading is simple: enjoyment.
With the current, reasonable cost of quality rifles with decent triggers, strong actions, quality barrels, and reliable customer service from reputable companies behind them, the pay off in performance and enjoyment is both immediate and long lasting. The deep satisfaction of ownership and operation of a quality rifle endures, while the momentary "satisfaction" of low price and brightly shrink-wrapped pot-metal guns with barrels that won't close and 14 pound triggers is false, fleeting, and transient.
As my father, a man of conservative tastes, has taught me, any tool that you need to buy twice is no bargain at all. The ticket to ride is not the overall cost of ownership. We all seem to learn that sooner or later, if we have enough birthdays. The savvy consumer already knows it.
The American muzzleloading industry produces the best in the world, and deserves our respect and support. In return, we can enjoy standards of quality and performance that were impossible to achieve, at any price, only a decade ago. It is a great time to enjoy muzzleloading; more now than ever before.
Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.