The Most Accurate Inline Muzzleloaders
Invariably, when frontloaders chit and chat, the subject of accuracy arises--or rears its ugly head, as the case may be. It may manifest itself to the only muzzleloader an individual happens to own, which often sinks into the hoary, tortured old "Ford vs. Chevy" debate.
Nevertheless, there are some clear trends that have appeared during the testing of the last forty rifles or so, and my results have been validated by those of fellow testers, owners, and hunters. Col. Townsend Whelen found only a certain type of rifle interesting, and I believe he would have found all of the following rifles quite intriguing. It is relevant to today's muzzleloading hunter, as precise shot placement reigns supreme, and an accurate rifle makes that a far easier task. There is nothing that can make up for a poorly placed shot, and nothing is better than an initial, well-placed shot.
Once you have a muzzleloader that throws them all into the same hole, very little can displace the confidence that is gained. No one needs to settle for less than a 1 MOA muzzleloader unless they want to. The rifle manufacturers deserve credit, but so do the propellant, sabot, and bullet manufacturers.
I've divided these "sub-MOA" guns into two categories. The first includes the consistently sub-MOA guns "out of the box." The second includes the guns that are easily tweaked to get there.
Knight Disc Elite .50 caliber
Again and again, I heard from others that were getting consistent sub 1" groups at 100 yards with hunting scopes, and most hitting the 3/4" or better mark. The Knight barrel quality has always been excellent, their triggers as well, and the forked recoil lug added to this model is the missing link that made a solid inline into a great one.
The only thing that continues to befuddle me is why Knight has done such a lackluster job promoting this rifle. Clinging to their 2-1/2 inch accuracy guarantee seems a little silly when I've yet to hear of a Knight Elite not capable of this--at 200 yards! This gun is an overlooked gem. It tends to gobble up 200 grain SST bullets in blue MMP sabots, and likes 220 grain Dead Centers as well.
A sad footnote is that the Knight Disc Elite is being discontinued for 2005. This is a shame as it remains a superb muzzleloader as well as the most accurate out-of-the-box frontloader, with a wide variety of projectiles, that I've ever tested.
Austin & Halleck 420 .50 caliber
Thompson Encore .50 caliber
Thompson Omega .50 caliber Laminate
Savage 10ML-II .50 caliber
The lack of .45 caliber representatives is no accident. I've found no .45 caliber rifles that can consistently shoot with the above models. This includes .45 cal. versions of the Encore, Omega, and Disc Elite that use the same actions, stocks, and barrel profiles, just with smaller holes.
Whatever the promises of the .45's are, they just don't seem to be able to deliver. Even the best .45's (Knight Disc Elite, again) are regularly outgunned by their larger bore brothers. Smaller diameter bores, correspondingly smaller bore volumes, and subsequently higher internal barrel pressures, inflicted on a saboted bullet of a similar weight, are clearly a consideration.
While I certainly have no delusions that an "MOA" gun is requisite to harvest deer-category game at fifty yards, new options have appeared in the accuracy department for consumers who are not easily satisfied, or have regular opportunities to experience longer range hunting scenarios. I'm quite pleased about that.
Copyright 2004 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.