Thompson's Omega Z-5 Rifle
I've always believed in owning the best muzzleloader you can afford, especially if it is your first muzzleloader. The reason is simple; starting with a quality muzzleloader will make your muzzleloading experiences easier, more pleasurable, and more satisfying than fighting a piece of peculiar pot-metal.
Thompson Center Arms has made the decision to aggressively go after the lower end market with their recently announced "Omega Z-5." This rifle has a street price of about $275. It is not a really "new" model at all. Rather, it is essentially a renamed blue/synthetic Omega. Like the Ford Model T, you can get the Omega Z-5 in any color you want . . . as long it has a blued barrel and a black plastic stock.
It has the same action as other Omegas, the same barrel as other blued Omega models, and the same hollow plastic stock as the other composite stocked Omegas. The Z-5 also features the same Thompson Lifetime user-transferable warranty as all other Thompson rifles.
From its introduction in 2002, the T/C Omega has been a runaway sales smash, breaking all initial forecasts, and taking Thompson over two years to catch up with the backorders. I bought and tested a new Omega (a stainless / laminated .50 caliber model), and it did well. (You can find that review on the Muzzleloader and Black Powder Page.) I've called it the most influential muzzleloader of the decade. Its resounding success has left an indelible mark on the marketplace.
I've whined a bit about the Thompson synthetic stocks being among the industry's worst--they are not for me. However, any other Omega aftermarket stock can be added to this rifle at your discretion and there are plenty to choose from.
For the money, you can't go wrong with the Omega Z-5. At this price, there is no reason to bother with a lesser muzzleloading rifle, or waste your time with dubiously tested (or untested?) Spanish imported rubbish.
The Z-5 is a reliable, serviceable frontloader with an unequalled warranty, from a solid American company. It's not just a deal; it is really more of a steal.
Note: Full length reviews of the T/C Omega Z5 and other Omega models can be found on the Product Review Page.
Copyright 2005, 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.