Thompson/Center Standard and Deluxe Bullet Starters
By Chuck Hawks
A bullet starter is a simple device that, as the name implies, is used to start a bullet into the barrel a muzzleloading rifle. Bullet starters usually come with a short stud (about 1/4" long) used to initially force the bullet into the muzzle of the rifle, and a longer shaft (about 4" long), used to shove the bullet far enough down the barrel so that it can be conveniently handled with a regular ramrod.
Some muzzleloading rifles come with a plastic bullet starter of the type commonly supplied in "starter kits" to get the purchaser off and shooting (mine did). But, as I quickly found out, like the "field ramrod" supplied with most rifles, these accessories are best replaced by a quality implement, and the sooner the better.
The T/C Standard Bullet Starter (#7057) is a traditional hardwood ball with brass tipped short and long starters protruding at 90 degree angles. It is designed for use with all .45-.58 caliber muzzleloading rifles. It is comfortable to use and far more substantial than cheap plastic bullet starters. The Standard Bullet Starter works well and is reasonably priced.
Illustration courtesy of Thompson/Center
There are fancier bullet starters. T/C also offers a Deluxe Bullet Starter (#7054). This starter looks and works pretty much like the Standard Model, but offers a "palm saver" feature.
This is a hole drilled into the Deluxe Starter's knob handle. When using a field ramrod, the plain end of the ramrod is fitted into the hole. This allows the loader to exert far more pressure, comfortably, when ramming a tight fitting bullet, especially if the barrel is fouled. I can attest to the fact that it really does save the palm of the hand. Of course, when using a T/C Range Ramrod, or X-S Sight Systems PowerRod, this feature is unnecessary.
The bottom line is that T/C's bullet starters, both Standard and Deluxe, are well made, fully functional accessories that most muzzleloading rifle shooters will find useful, even necessary. There are other, very similar, bullet starters on the market, since the basic design is traditional. T/C's biggest advantage is probably that their high quality muzzleloading accessories are widely distributed and can be purchased in many sporting goods stores and the gun departments of department stores, as well as black powder specialty shops.
Copyright 2004 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.