2009 Update: CVA Muzzleloading Injuries

By Randy Wakeman

By now, there have been far too many injuries due to the catastrophic failure of CVA brand muzzleloaders. The exact number is hard to say; I�m out of fingers and toes trying to add them up. All too often, CVA victims are out some fingers all too literally.

Anyone can have muzzleloaders made off-shore, throw them into a box and sell them in the United States. There are no enforceable industry standards, no mandatory standards in the U.S. to set minimums for barrel quality, reasonable quality control, or proof-testing of muzzleloading arms.

What everyone finds uniquely disturbing about CVA branded product is that proof marks were applied to CVA guns and the guns then sold, even though the guns have never been test-fired prior to sale, much less proof-fired in accordance with C.I.P. standards. Dikar / BPI / CVA has admitted to this in open court. If these were not fraudulently marked, marketed and sold products, then I don�t know what is. (Dudley McGarity, the CEO of CVA, claims that this practice was, "Just never noticed. A gross oversight, perhaps, but not fraud." -Editor.)

http://cvaguncases.com/ is a web site run by the Wise Investigations, Inc., an Oklahoma corporation specializing in services for attorneys since 1993. It is not affiliated with any manufacturer and certainly not affiliated with Guns and Shooting Online. At present, they have the details (some quite graphic) about 60 incidents involving the CVA muzzleloaders are a matter of public record. About 25 of these cases are recently produced models, not as yet covered by any recall.

It cannot account for all the incidents that are filed in state and local jurisdictions without easily locatable records, it cannot account for cases that are quickly settled and, of course, it cannot account for catastrophic failures that cause no major injuries, or injuries that are not substantial enough to be litigated. In one case, the legal fees and court costs exceeded $300,000 on the victim�s side alone, with no guarantee of any compensation. If you lose part of your hand or an eye, where are you going to come up that much money?

These recalled rifles have been responsible for an avalanche of problems, unprecedented in the muzzleloading world. It�s also a shame, as people were led to believe though ad-copy that these were high-performance muzzleloaders. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. There�s no law against selling dangerous junk when it happens to be a muzzleloader.

Bad peanut butter, toxic paint, toys that can choke your kids, sure, there are safeguards. With muzzleloaders, however, you are on your own. The informed consumer will protect himself or herself and their families from unnecessary risk. Friends don�t let friends play with dangerous imported junk. I don�t blame them.

The issues are well-known by now; having been reported by H.P. White, Dr. Steve Tipton, Dr. William Bruchey and other well-regarded experts in various fields. The C.I.P. has condemned the practice of fraudulently marked barrels and muzzleloading experts including Dr. Gary "Doc" White, Henry Ball and Tony Knight have all expressed their concern.

CVA has been contacted directly and asked to provide evidence that their policies, materials, or general build quality has in any way improved, or that adequate testing has gone into a CVA branded firearm before the consumer pulls the trigger and takes their chances. They have, not surprisingly, failed to do so. (Editors Note: CVA responded to this by stating, "We don't provide such information. However, with the transition to Bergara Barrels for our barrel supply, we do indeed now have direct control over all barrel manufacturing.)

The Bergara barrel is not a new development, nor is the idea of Dikar making their own barrels. Dikar made the barrels that have been problematic since 2003. In-house total control of the barrels has been under the Dikar umbrella for close to seven years now. The mis-machined, malformed rolled threads present on several CVA branded guns of recent manufacture (and one Kodiak that shot its breechplug into the skull of one quite unfortunate victim) was an acknowledged and known issue to Dikar.

Despite the mal-formed thread issue no recall has ever been issued on these guns and no attempt to recover any of them has been made. Consumers are still unaware that some recent CVA branded guns have almost no threads in the breech end of the rifles. Breech micrographs made at the time disclose what a dramatic problem it is. The public has never been alerted to the malformed thread issue.

With that, we feel that we have done our job as best we can to inform potential buyers and shooters. We don't have the time or the resources to continually track the omnipresent problems and incidents. Thus, we are leaving this matter to the judgement of the individual. Make up your own mind on the matter. Be safe and have a good hunt.


In August 1997 CVA implemented a Voluntary Recall of In-Line rifle models with serial numbers ending in -95 and -96. If you have a CVA In-Line model with such a serial number, DO NOT USE OR ALLOW ANYONE ELSE TO USE THE GUN. If you have one of these rifles, please call CVA immediately at 770-449-4687 for complete details and a free replacement gun. Example serial numbers: 61-13-XXXXXX-95 or 61-13-XXXXXX-96.

In May 1999 Blackpowder Products, Inc. purchased the assets of Connecticut Valley Arms, Inc. and now operates under the trade name of Connecticut Valley Arms and/or CVA. Any claims relating to the above described Voluntary Recall should be addressed to Connecticut Valley Arms, Inc., not Blackpowder Products, Inc. Blackpowder Products, Inc. assumes no liability for any products manufactured prior to January 1, 1998.

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Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.