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Traditions Pursuit II XLT Guide Gun

By Randy D. Smith

Traditions Guide Gun
Illustration courtesy of Traditions Performance Firearms.

The Traditions Pursuit II XLT Guide gun is a compact inline with some innovative features that are representative of the best muzzleloader the company has ever produced. Iíve always had good luck with Traditions muzzleloaders and I have been around the company since its beginnings. I have been privileged to be able to test every new inline model that has come out. Generally, I believe that certain traits have always been present in Traditions inline rifles. They are competitively priced, solid performers. Traditions inline designs usually followed other company innovations by a year or so and have markedly improved over the decades. If some new feature were performing well, Traditions would add it to their designs, usually at a competitive price. This keeps costs down and is less risky for the company.

Traditions rifles are generally imported from Spain and that gave the company a pricing advantage for several years. Spanish engineers are quite innovative at taking a concept and adapting it into competitive and often improved designs. The upshot has been that a buyer could expect a reasonably good product at a reasonably competitive price.

Some of the best shots I have ever made were with Traditions inline rifles. I took a nice Pronghorn buck at slightly over two hundred yards with an open sight Pursuit Pro. I made another two hundred yard shot on a nice eight point trotting whitetail buck with my scope mounted Pursuit Pro later that same year. I made a couple of impressive coyote shots in Wyoming with a scope equipped Traditions Yukon. One of them was over 150 yards from the base of a deep canyon to the rim above me. All four shots were made with 100-grain Pyrodex pellet loads and Traditions APB 300 and 250-grain projectiles. Frankly, I was able to make these shots because I had confidence in the rifles resulting from a lot of range practice with each. Traditions rifle performance has always been uniform in my experience.

As I write this, I am looking at a new Traditions inline that is the culmination of years of inline muzzleloader advancement and represents the best model the company has ever produced. There is nothing groundbreaking about the rifle and yet, when all of the features are combined into one unit, the end product is very impressive.

The Pursuit II XLT Guide Gun is a compact, handsome, .50 caliber, break action inline. It sports a 24Ē fluted and ported nickel barrel, alloy frame and traditional hardwood stock. It weighs a well-balanced 7.5 pounds. It is set up for shooting sabots and pellets with a 1:28Ē twist rate and 209 shotgun ignition primer system. It has rugged, fully adjustable, fiber optic sights. The ramrod is solid aluminum with Traditionsí proven reversible loading and cleaning jag. It has a projectile alignment system to aid in keeping projectile placement uniform for easy loading and consistent accuracy. It has a dual safety system, sling swivel studs and is drilled and tapped for scope mounting.

The Monte Carlo style stock is not only handsome, but one of the best configurations in the industry. The rifle comes to the shoulder quickly and sight alignment is natural. It has a good recoil pad. A new Accelerator Breech Plug can be removed with finger pressure using only three full rotations. I can clean this muzzleloader more quickly than any inline I have ever used. The Pursuit II XLT has seventeen specific features engineered into its design. At least ten of these features were not generally available on inlines ten years ago.

Although the company ads do not mention it, the Pursuit II XLT has the best trigger Iíve ever experienced on a Traditions muzzle-loading rifle. Traditions needed to upgrade their inline trigger configuration. That was the number one complaint that Iíve heard about the brand. There was virtually no break in period on this new trigger and the pull is light with virtually no creep or over-travel. Using 250-grain APB 200 sabots and two fifty-grain Triple 7 Magnum pellets, this rifle easily shoots cloverleaf groups at fifty yards. Recoil was minimal, quite similar to that of a .30-30 carbine.

The Pursuit II Guide Gun is priced at $65 more than the base synthetic stock/blue steel version and the barrel is four inches shorter. While I have never found my original Pursuit Pro to be awkward or difficult to manage, the Guide Gun handles like a .30-30 carbine. I was testing a new Mossberg Model 464 .30-30 lever action rifle at the same time as the Guide Gun and I immediately noticed that the Pursuit II Guide Gun is exactly the same overall length and weight as the .30-30. This is an advantage for those hunters who prefer the handling qualities and dimensions of a .30-30 carbine. I expect the Guide Gun to be a great heavy cover whitetail rifle for our September muzzleloader season.

If you are a fan of wood stocks, as I am, the price difference for the stock and the nickel finish will not be an impediment. All inline muzzleloaders are getting more expensive. The Pursuit II Guide Gun is more than competitive. If you hunt the thick whitetail woods in a state that mandates open sights only, I doubt that you can find more features in a comparably priced inline muzzleloader.

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Copyright 2008 by Randy D. Smith. All rights reserved.