The Knight Vision Rifle
Few "new" models have appeared on the scene in 2006. After a couple of false starts, the Knight Vision break-action muzzleloader is finally out. This marks Knight Rifles' first attempt entering the "break-action" muzzleloader segment. The tested rifle is the stainless steel barrel / black composite stock version, and weighs in right at eight pounds. The other configurations feature camouflage treatments over carbon steel barrels mated to stainless steel receivers.
The prototype Knight Vision samples I took a look at had excessively heavy triggers. The production version has improved, breaking at a bit over four pounds. It is non-adjustable; it does not compare favorably with the Knight bolt-action triggers that are universally excellent. This Knight retains the use of the "Red Plastic Jacket," and has an "over-molded buttstock" that is reminiscent of the Benelli "Nova" shotgun. Exactly what the purpose or benefit of blowing plastic over the receiver might be, I really can't say.
This Knight, like the Revolution, has a "quick release" trigger assembly. That moniker is true enough, except that again I really don't understand the "why." Being in a hurry to remove a trigger group is of no regular benefit, though all it takes is the removal of one screw located on the right side of the receiver to do so. Certainly anyone aware of common gas operated shotgun designs understands that little more than knocking out a pin is rarely required to remove a complete trigger guard assembly. With a high volume gas shotgun that is shot heavily on the clays fields, it makes sense to be able to get at the trigger as there is a direct migration path from propellant residue to it. There is no such direct path to any "trigger fouling" on the Vision, which makes the benefit of a quick release trigger group seem dubious at best.
As mentioned, the Knight Full Red Plastic Jacket has been retained on this model. On Knight bolt action guns, I actually do appreciate red plastic jackets in the field. It makes 209 primers easy to handle and the Knight Disc Extremes seat the primer for you and extract it, much like a little cartridge. In fact, Knight pioneered this approach long ago with their "Magnum Elite" back in 1996 or so. The Knight Magnum Elite's "Posi-Fire" ignition system used a large rifle primer in a Speer plastic cartridge case. It just goes to show what often is presented as "new" these days is anything but.
In the Vision, the red plastic jacket makes little sense. It must be manually inserted; after firing the spent jacket is not ejected or even pulled back. The fold-down flap extractor must be pulled back by hand; then the "fired' jacket falls clear. It felt clumsy and slow to me-and is unlikely to improve with gloved fingers. The red plastic jacket that I feel is a very good idea in Knight bolt-actions is just an unnecessary complication in a break action. I don't see how anyone with even a small amount of muzzleloading experience could have gone this route. Rather than just pulling up on the trigger guard as with a Contender G2 or an Encore and letting the action fall open, the Vision forces you to push down on the lever and push the action open. For field use, the entire re-priming sequence is painfully slow compared to a variety of other muzzleloaders, the Savage 10ML-II, T/C Omega, the NEF / H&R Sidekick, and Knight's own bolt actions.
The Vision I tested turned sub 2 in. 100 yard groups with 90 gr. of Triple Se7en FFg pushing a 245 grain Barnes Spitfire, certainly good big game hunting accuracy, better than you might expect from a shoddily built CVA or Traditions muzzleloader, but less than inspiring for a Knight. Corners were cut along the way of producing this rifle; it is less than satisfying in many ways: aesthetics, a noisy safety, even a less than perfectly fitted recoil pad. The forearm is held on by a single slotted screw. Behind that forearm is a stamped flange, threaded for that screw. The flange holds the ramrod keeper spring in place. Removal of that screw will send the flange and spring flying if you remove the forearm. A cheap keeper screw inside the forearm or even a drop of glue from a hot-stick glue gun would have addressed that. Like most break actions, the ramrod is not long enough, and even the metal ramrod thimble found on many Knights is now synthetic, made of highly polished polymer by old world craftsmen, hanging from a stainless Green Mountain barrel looking a bit like a bruise on a banana.
I've long admired Knight Rifles in general. Their customer service has been excellent. The Wolverine pull-cock rifle is still a robust design with its roots dating back to the original Tony Knight classic MK-85. The now-discontinued Knight Disc Elite was a stunningly good shooter, with the qualities I expect in a Knight: excellent stock, excellent trigger, excellent build quality.
Sadly, the Knight Vision badly misses the mark of what I look for in a quality muzzleloader. If you think a break-action rifle is what you need, Knight has now at long last joined that pack. It is with a melancholy mood that I pen a review like this; I just can't help feeling that Knight Rifles has lost their way.
Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.