The Traditions Evolution Premier Muzzleloading Rifle

By Randy Wakeman

Traditions Evolution Premier
Illustration courtesy of Traditions Firearms.

The Evolution Premier, .50 caliber, stainless steel/Laminate, with a 26" barrel weighs 7 lbs., 12 ounces on my scale. The laminated stock is very nicely finished, and the gun overall is extremely attractive. Trigger breaks at an average 5-3/4 lbs., heavy with little grit. The new "cock on opening" bolt is a significant improvement on the previous cock on closing bolt. The Williams Fire Sights are better than most.

Blowback is still quite heavy with 209 primers. The spent primers are easy to flip out. The blowback does not seem to be as spectacular as with the Traditions E-bolt, however it is still unacceptable for scope use.

No external weather shroud is supplied to combat this. Traditions claims a "build in weather shroud". This has the effect of focusing the blowback into a dense stream of fire, flying vertically straight up at any scope you dare mount. The use of loose powder and a #11 cap seems to be the best approach with this gun.

The Traditions bolt is not easy to service. The bolt channel is narrow and gums up quickly. It exhibits stickiness in as few as 6 or 7 shots. While easy to remove, reinsertion can sometimes be difficult.

The breech plug is not nearly as easy to service as one-piece designs, and not as friendly as other two-piece examples. You need both ends of the Traditions tool to get it out, first removing the 209 primer holder, then the breech plug.

The Evolution is very well balanced and handles well. The fluting on the barrel is deeper than I expected, and is functional as well as cosmetically appealing.

The ported muzzle is claimed by Traditions to reduce recoil by up to 30%, but this gun still kicks like a mule, even with moderate loads. I can't see where this porting does anything except make noise and give you 12 holes in the barrel to clean. What Traditions calls a recoil pad is a hard rubber butt plate. A quality recoil pad, like a Kick-Eez, would both add weight in the right place and attenuate recoil. Certainly some sort of decent recoil pad seems in order.

Note: A complete review of the Traditions Evolution rifle can be found on the Product Review Page.

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Copyright 2003 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.