Traditions VORTEK StrikerFire Muzzleloader

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Traditions VORTEK StrikerFire Muzzleloader
Illustration courtesy of Traditions PerformanceFirearms.

For years, when it came to muzzleloaders, we only had the choice of bolt actions or break-actions with external hammers. We have often wondered why, with all the technology available, that most inline muzzleloaders still had external hammers. Well, wonder no more. After several years of development, starting in 2008, Traditions introduced their first break-action with an internal hammer in 2013.

To cock the StrikerFire, you simply push the slide forward until it locks and you are ready to fire. If you need to de-cock the gun, press the button and the slide quietly returns to the un-cocked position. This is a very positive safety feature, as with most hammer guns, you have to hold the hammer, depress the trigger and ease the hammer down. If you slip, you could accidentally discharge the gun.

A second advantage of the internal hammer is the ease of cocking when a scope is mounted. Most external hammer-type inlines have a spur on the hammer to facilitate cocking, but scopes overshadow the hammer and make it awkward to cock the gun for a quick shot. This problem is eliminated with the Strikerfire.

Lastly, the lock time is typically faster with an internal striker. Add that the gun automatically de-cocks itself when the action is opened and you have a very efficient and safe system.

The Strikerfire is outfitted with the TAC2 Trigger System. Most companies that install competition-style triggers have their own trade names for the triggers and the names don't mean much to us. What did impress us was this trigger was set at two pounds out of the box and was crisp, without creep. Call it whatever you want, it is a very good trigger that makes it easy to shoot tight groups.

After reviewing all of the above features, it was time to head out to the range for testing. Due to high winds, we were required to spread testing over a three month period. We don't mind shooting in 5-10 mph winds, but when you have winds of 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph, it is downright foolish to even try. More than once, after we had fired several strings, the winds came up and we were required to pack up and head home. What kept us going back was not the fact that we were testing this gun for a review, but that when we were able to shoot, it performed admirably. That being said, recognize that our results were obtained from multiple trips to the range.

A lot of folks ask us why we test with both Blackhorn 209 and pellets (either Triple7 or White Hots). Without getting involved in a discussion of which is better, the fact is that half of the muzzleloader shooters in this country shot loose powder and half shoot pellets. Our goal in testing muzzleloading firearms is to provide folks with information that they can use, regardless of their propellant. We will leave it to the experts to argue the benefits of one propellant over another. Our purpose is to test the firearm and demonstrate how it performs with both propellants.

We fired four 3-shot groups at 100 yards with each bullet, letting the barrel cool between shoots. Our first series of tests used 100 grains (by volume) of Blackhorn 209 and "blue-box" Winchester 209 primers. We used a Caldwell Tack Driver and rear bag for stability. As expected, no swabbing was required between shots with the Blackhorn 209. However, we cleaned the barrel between each 3-shot group.

  • Traditions Smackdown 300 grain: smallest group 3/4 inch, largest group 1-1/4 inches
  • Traditions Smackdown 250 grain: smallest group 5/8 inch; largest group 1-1/8 inches
  • Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 300 grain: smallest group 7/8 inch; largest group 1 inch
  • Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 260 grain: smallest group 3/4 inch; largest group 1-1/4 inches

We repeated our tests with two IMR White Hots pellets and Winchester 209 primers. The results were very similar. However, with the pellets, we swabbed the barrel with a WonderLube\'99 patch after each shot. Again, we cleaned the barrel after each 3-shot group.

  • Traditions Smackdown 300 grain: smallest group 1 inch; largest group 1-1/4 inches
  • Traditions Smackdown 250 grain: smallest group 7/8 inch; largest group 1-1/4 inches
  • Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 300 grain: smallest group 1 inch, largest group 1-3/8 inches
  • Harvester Scorpion PT Gold 260 grain: smallest group 5/8 inch; largest group 1-1/8 inches

After our initial tests for accuracy, we wanted to do a check of consistency with multiple rounds. Jim used 100 grains of Blackhorn 209 and 260 grain Scorpion PT Gold bullets, loading and firing six rounds without letting the barrel cool down or cleaning between shots. The Vortek Strikerfire delivered consistent performance; those six rounds had a spread of 1-1/8 inches, center-to-center.

Specifications and Features

  • StrikerFire System - no external hammer
  • StrikerFire Button - simply slide button forward until it locks to cock the gun
  • Recessed De-Cocking Button
  • TAC2 Trigger System - Two stage competition-style trigger set at 2.0 pounds
  • Accelerator Breech Plug
  • 28 inch Ultralight Chromoly Tapered, Fluted Barrel with Premium CeraKote Finish
  • LT-1 Alloy Frame with Premium CeraKote Finish
  • Hogue Comfort-Grip Over-molding
  • Dual Safety System
  • Soft Touch camouflage stocks
  • Stow-N-Go Removable Butt Pad
  • 1:28 inch twist rifling
  • Drilled and tapped for a scope
  • Sling swivel studs
  • 209 shotgun primer ignition
  • Solid aluminum ramrod
  • Weight: 7 pounds 4 ounces (8 pounds after we added foam and lead shot in the buttstock)
  • MSRP: $583 w/o scope, $649 with 3-9x40 Traditions riflescop

Observations and Conclusions

Regarding the Stow-N-Go Removable Butt Pad, we imagine that some folks will find it handy for keeping some extras with the gun. However, for us, it wasn't a feature that we needed, so we filled the compartment with foam rubber and added in 8 ounces of lead shot to reduce the recoil. Anything that helps save Jim's ancient shoulder is good.

The Hogue Comfort-Grip over-molding on the buttstock and forend provide a solid non-slip surface. We liked them.

There is a dual safety system. In addition to the cocking/de-cocking slide there is an additional button safety on the front of the trigger guard. That's a nice extra that is always appreciated.

The tapered, chromoly, fluted barrel reduces weigh to prevent excessive muzzle heaviness. It does have a bore that is tighter than we were used to. That is a double-edged sword. The tight bore accounts for the extreme accuracy of this rifle, but makes it more difficult to reload than we are used to with other muzzleloaders. There is no free lunch, so we will accept the snug loading in favor of the excellent accuracy.

The breeching lever in front of the trigger guard is solid. You cannot accidentally brush it and unintentionally open the action.

The Accelerator Breech can be removed with two fingers. However, just in case it gets too tight, Traditions includes a handy tool to make the job easy.

When we received the gun for testing, the folks at Traditions sent along samples of their cleaning solutions, Wonderlube patches and EZ Clean Solvent. We found that running a Wonderlube patch down the bore after each shot made loading significantly easier. We will be carrying a few of them in a plastic bag on all of our future hunting trips.

Finally, the EZ Clean solvent has to be the best on the market for cleaning a breech plug. We sprayed it into the plug vents, let it work for a few minutes and the ignition channel cleaned up quickly and easily. The EZ solvent really did a number on the primer residue that was inside the plug. If you haven't tried this stuff, you are working too hard to clean your breech plug.

The Vortek Strikerfire is a well-designed, accurate and comfortable rifle to shoot. Jim will be taking it on his deer hunt in New Mexico next fall.

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Copyright 2014 by Jim Clary and/or All rights reserved.