The CVA Optima V2 Muzzleloading Rifle

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

CVA Optima V2 Muzzleloader
Illustration courtesy of BPI, Inc.

The CVA Optima V2 rifle was introduced at the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Although it has the same name as previous Optima muzzleloaders and the stock and barrel are essentially the same, the new Optima V2 borrows its action and trigger designs from the top-of-the-line Accura V2 series.

The Optima V2 uses the same trigger-guard actuation breeching lever, which is an improvement over the old Optima’s breeching lever located in front of the trigger guard that looked like the safety on the Ruger Mini 14. The rest of the internal action components are also of the Accura design, with the exception that the trigger weight is not adjustable. In fact, at first glance, this rifle looks like an Accura with a one-inch shorter barrel and without the deluxe finish and grip features of the Accura V2 stocks.

The major difference that we could find was that the Accura V2 models feature a Bergara-branded barrel, while the Optima V2 has a "regular" CVA barrel. For those folks not familiar with the Bergara Barrels, this company supplies high quality center-fire barrels to many of the most respected rifle manufacturers in Europe and the USA. CVA uses these premium quality Bergara Barrels in its top-of-the-line Apex and Accura models. All of the Bergara-branded barrels used in these CVA guns are drilled from 416 stainless steel bar stock and button rifled.

All Bergara Barrels, be they for CVA or other manufacturers, are made in the same manufacturing facility as the standard CVA barrel. The parent company of CVA owns the Bergara Barrels plant. The major difference between a Bergara-branded barrel and a regular CVA barrel is that the Bergara-branded barrel is put through a special three step honing process that simulates hand lapping, except that it is more precise. This process removes any deviation in bore diameter. That being said, do not get the idea that the CVA branded barrels are cheap. In fact, in our tests, we noticed hardly any difference in accuracy at 100 yards between the two barrels (Accura V2 vs. Optima V2). Having been F-Class target shooters, we will speculate that maybe, just maybe, the Bergara-branded barrel would give a competitive shooter an edge, but for the average hunter, we do not believe that you could tell the difference.

CVA Optima V2 features and specifications

    ·        416 Stainless Steel, Fluted, 26" Barrel - .50 caliber with 1:28" Twist Rifling

    ·        Bullet Guiding Muzzle

    ·        100% Ambidextrous stock

    ·        Solid Aluminum Palmsaver ramrod (a neat cap that makes field loading easy)

    ·        DuraSight® Integral Scope Mount or DuraSight® Fiber Optic Sights

    ·        QRBP -Quick Release Breech Pug

    ·        Reversible Hammer Spur

    ·        CrushZone® Recoil Pad

    ·        41" Overall length

    ·        6.65 lbs.Total Weight

    ·        14" Length of Pull

    ·        Lifetime Warranty

The manual of the Optima refers to the trigger as a "neutral center of gravity" design to provide a light and smooth trigger pull with no creep. I will confess that the term "neutral center of gravity” doesn't mean much to me, but I will say that this gun had a two pound trigger pull out of the box with absolutely no creep. It was absolutely as crisp as any target trigger we have ever used. In this day and age, when so many companies are installing "lawyer-triggers" that make it virtually impossible to squeeze off a good shot, CVA should get well deserved credit for this one. In fact, when shooting on the range, one old chap named John asked if he could shoot the Optima. Of course, Jim let him. After the first shot, he asked if he could shoot it again, then a third time. After ten rounds, he proclaimed that he could shoot in matches with that rifle.

Jim thought he was exaggerating, until he pulled out his customized Anschutz 22LR; he was still shooting competitively at age 78. That pretty much says it all in regards to the trigger. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that once John got the hang of it, he put four rounds into the bull at 100 yards for a group measuring 3/4". Jim can only dream of shooting that well and I can only beat that if I use my 6mmBR. Old John is a shooter!

However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We mounted a Hi-Lux TB-ML 3-9X40 muzzleloader scope on the Optima. This scope was designed by Toby Bridges specifically for muzzleloaders. It is unique in that it comes with range crossbars below the primary crosshair to provide an accurate point-of-impact for ranges out to 250 yards. Unlike conventional scopes with similar crossbars or mil dots, Toby and the folks at Hi-Lux fired more than 1,000 rounds, using different loads and bullets, to compile the four ballistic charts included with the scope.

We confirmed the accuracy and validity of the Hi-Lux charts in a previous article when we reviewed the TB-ML scope. That article can be found on the Scopes and Sport Optics "Scope Reviews" index page.

All that remained for us to determine is the inherent accuracy of the Optima V2 at 100 yards with the most common black powder substitutes: Blackhorn 209 powder, Alliant Black MZ powder, Hodgdon Triple7 pellets and IMR White Hots pellets. Muzzle velocities are provided for performance comparisons between the propellants. We fired five 3-shot groups with each powder/bullet combination to determine the average. The results are as follows:

100 grains of Blackhorn 209 Powder

  • Powerbelt AeroLite 250 grain: Average group size = 1.00" (Mean MV 2,015 fps)
  • Harvester 260 grain Scorpion PT Gold: Average group size = 1.00" (Mean MV 1,965 fps)

100 grains of Alliant Black MZ

  • Powerbelt AeroLite 250 grain: Average group size = 1.30” (Mean MV 1,880 fps)
  • Harvester 260 grain Scorpion PT Gold: Average group size = 1.25” (Mean MV 1,845 fps)

2 IMR White Hots 50 Grain Pellets

  • Powerbelt AeroLite 250 grain: Average group size = 1.13" (Mean MV 1,800 fps)
  • Harvester 260 grain Scorpion PT Gold: Average group size = 1.18" (Mean MV 1,770 fps)

2 Hodgden Triple7 50 Grain Pellets

  • Powerbelt AeroLite 250 grain: Average group size = 1.38” (Mean MV 1,725 fps)
  • Harvester 260 grain Scorpion PT Gold: Average group size = 1.25” (Mean MV 1,700 fps)

All four propellants performed well with both the CVA Aerolite and Harvester Scorpion bullets. For the average muzzleloader hunter, the accuracy difference between them is negligible.

The redesigned Optima V2 is an excellent shooter, regardless of the propellant you use. It is more than adequate for just about any hunting situation. Although we only ran our tests with 100 grain equivalent loads, in our discussions with the director of technical support at CVA, he told me that he has shot three pellet loads with no problems, although the recoil was heavy. In talking with the folks at Western and Alliant, they have used loads up to 110 grains with good results. However, once again, the recoil increases. Our feeling is that 100 grain loads are more than adequate.

Your muzzle velocities will vary depending on the condition of your barrel, the working bore of your gun and environmental conditions. The above values were taken from our Chrony and are posted to give the reader an idea of the approximate velocities to expect. However, as with any inline muzzleloader, you are throwing a heavy projectile downrange. As long as the velocity is sufficient to produce enough energy to take down your game, your primary concern should be accuracy and bullet placement, rather than velocity.

Some shooters have reported problems using Blackhorn 209 with the regular QRBP, so CVA, in cooperation with Western Powders, designed as an aftermarket item, a Blackhorn 209 breechplug for their entire line of rifles. We fired more than 120 rounds with it and did not experience any misfires or fizzles. If you prefer to shoot with Blackhorn 209 powder, we recommend that you order the Blackhorn 209 QRBP with your gun. It has a 2013 MSRP of $20.95.

QRBP's

With an MSRP of $391 ($317 for standard blued barrel with black stock), the Optima V2 should find a comfortable niche in the muzzleloading market and, as with all guns, you are likely to find them being sold at 10% to 20% below the MSRP at your local dealer. It is well made, comfortable to shoot and handles well. It is hard to beat a lifetime guarantee. Jim is keeping this one and intends to use it on his fall mule deer hunt here in New Mexico.

Note: We would like to thank the folks at Alliant, Hodgdon and Western Powders for generously providing us with enough powder to perform these tests. We are also very appreciative of the folks at BPI and Harvester for providing us with CVA Aerolite and Harvester Scorpion PT Gold bullets. Without the generosity of these companies, it is doubtful that we would have been able to conduct the preceding tests.




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