Friday, November 15, 2013


It's been busy here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING since we published our Winter-Spring issue of this newsletter back in March. We've had a lot of shooting to do this year, which got a little tough here in Western Montana as we had one of the hottest summers on record, with a record number of days into the mid to high 90's.  Still, we managed to get it done, doing all of our shooting early in the morning, when temperatures were right at 50 degrees.  Generally, we would get in about two hours of shooting before the temperature topped 65 - and that's when we would load up and head back to the office.

We had two new rifles to wring out, the .50 Traditions VORTEK StrikerFire and the .50 Redemption from LHR Sporting Arms - and through summer and early fall we managed to put about 500 rounds through each. Our early report on the Redemption can be found at .  And our first report on the VORTEK StrikerFire can be found at .  That's the VORTEK StrikerFire in the photo above right.

Deer and elk hunting seasons have been underway here in Montana for about three weeks, and I've gotten in 9 days of hunting - passing on three whitetail bucks.  Two were small 4x4's, and one was an equally small 5x5.  All had, at most, 14 inch spreads.  So far, I've seen just one bull elk...headed up a ridge almost two miles away in the last 15 minutes of daylight.  I put in two more days on that ridge and never saw him again. Early next week, a hunting partner and I are headed over to the Missouri Breaks to spend 7 or 8 days hunting big mule deer and river-bottom whitetails.  Hopefully I'll be able to share the details of a successful hunt on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website before the end of the year. In addition to hunting deer, I also plan to do some fall turkey hunting...and busting a few pheasants with a muzzleloading shotgun.

The website has grown...a lot...since last year.  In fact, as this is written, this year we've added 61 new pages...and intend to add 4 more to the 2013 Article-Report menu before the end of the year.  Between now and the first of the year, we're also working to upscale the look of the site a bit as well.  To help the nearly 150 or so pages currently found at to download quicker, we're also making the navigation of the site less cluttered by publishing a series of navigation pages, eliminating the huge drop down link menu that often took 20 or 30 seconds to download. Here's a look at how we've simplified the 2013 Article-Report page -


The 2012 Article-Report menu has already been re-constructed in the same manner, and before January 1, 2014 the 2011 article and report menu will receive the same treatment.

If you've spent much time on the website over the past couple of months, then you've surely noticed that we are providing more coverage for the older style traditional muzzleloaders.  Our goal is to ALWAYS keep on providing the same great coverage of modern muzzleloading as we have in the past, and to expand our coverage of the traditional side of our sport.  Muzzleloading at all levels has gotten way too fragmented. There is still way to much bickering between modern minded muzzleloading hunters and purist traditional muzzleloading hunters.  Here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING...muzzleloading is muzzleloading - and we will represent both sides of the sport.

Our industry also needs to do some serious organizing.  As a rule, most muzzleloader oriented companies are now doing little to nothing to promote and build muzzleloader hunting opportunities.  Here's a look at that problem...and how the muzzleloading industry needs to model itself after the archery industry...or we just might begin losing way too many muzzleloader hunting opportunities -


If you are successful in your hunts this fall and winter, send us a few photos and details of your hunts so we can share them with others.  Traffic on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website has gone through the roof.  For the 12 month period from November 1, 2012 to October 31, 2013, the website was called upon 3,057,315 times by the muzzleloading hunters of North America - 419,766 times in October alone.

Thank you for helping make the site Today's No. 1 Source For Muzzleloader Hunting Information.  - Toby Bridges, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING

                                                LEGISLATIVE ALERT!

A Petition has been filed to legalize Blackhorn 209 in Nevada.  The State of Nevada is the ONLY state to ban the use of this modern top-performing muzzleloader hunting propellant by name. Take a few minutes to send the Nevada Wildlife Commission a message - that muzzleloading hunters need to make those decisions...not a board made up of affluent residents appointed by the Governor who do not hunt with a muzzleloader...or who, very likely, have never even shot a muzzleloader. 

Legalization of the powder will be a topic of discussion at the December 6th commission meeting.  If you have not already, send an e-mail in support of this black powder substitute.  For more details and a link and an e-mail address where you can comment - Click Here.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Legislative Alert! Petition Filed With Nevada Board Of Wildlife Commissioners To Repeal Or Amend A Ban On Blackhorn 209!

The State of Nevada is the ONLY state to ban the use of this modern top-performing muzzleloader hunting propellant by name. Take a few minutes to send the Nevada Wildlife Commission a message - that muzzleloading hunters need to make those decisions...not a board made up of affluent residents who do not hunt with a muzzleloader...or who, very likely, have never even shot a muzzleloader. For more details and where to send your e-mail, go to the following link...


                                        Get Involved...Send An E-Mail!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Publishing More Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting Articles

Through the remainder of 2013, and all of 2014, it is the goal of NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING to publish at least one traditionally oriented muzzleloader hunting article each and every month.  A September feature on hunting small game with small bore rifles is a good look at how the website will present the traditional side of this old shooting sport.  That article can be found found at the following link -

Another traditional muzzleloader hunting feature will also lead the menu of October articles and reports.  That article shares the challenges of shooting and hunting with flintlock smoothbore muskets and Indian Trade Guns.  It shares a deer hunt with a bit of muzzleloading history - the very first of the North Star Trade Guns  ever produced - plus takes a look at the tremendous variety of smooth-bored long arms produced through the ages...and the modern reproductions of quite a few of those models.
To read that article, go to -

Every NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING traditional muzzleloading article will be a combination of muzzleloading history and personal "hands on" experience.

The host of this website, Toby Bridges, has often been accused of being "Anti Traditional Muzzleloading", due to the great amount of coverage given to today's modern in-line rifles and top performing loads. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Bridges has written hundreds of magazine articles on traditional rifles, and has thoroughly covered those guns in 10 books he's written on muzzleloading - including the book shown at left - "Custom Muzzleloading Rifles", published by Stackpole Books in 1986...which was also the first year he shot and hunted with a Knight MK-85 in-line ignition rifle.

He is as experienced and knowledgeable about the older style front-loaded rifles as anyone in the World - and is also considered the top authority on loading...shooting...and hunting with today's modern in-line muzzleloading rifles.  He enjoys playing both sides of the muzzleloader hunting game.

Bridges himself has built several dozen traditionally styled "custom" muzzleloading rifles - including the two fine rifles shown on the cover of this book. One was a big .54 caliber Hawken rifle built to handle massive 120-grain powder charges behind a patched round ball, the other a short and slender lightweight full-stocked .45 caliber Kentucky rifle for his 9-year-old daughter.

Two articles already slated are "Loading & Shooting The Traditional Muzzle-Loaded Shotgun", which will primarily cover older style "non-choked" scatterguns, and another article that's a look at "The Old Masters", which will share the gunmakers of the past...and the early history of muzzleloading in America.

Through 2014, the website will also work in a few reviews of several traditional reproduction rifles that are currently being offered, perhaps spotlight a present day custom riflemaker or two, report on accessories for the older style muzzle-loaded guns, and we'll share some loading tips for achieving best accuracy and game taking performance. On this website, it is the ability of any muzzleloader and load to take game that is given priority.

The website started life as "High Performance Muzzleloading" back in 2003. By 2006, it became very evident that many out dated and backward hunting regulations were hampering the continued growth of muzzleloader hunting in the U.S. - so that year the name of the website was changed to NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING. Since then, the site's efforts have been very influential in getting many of those non-serving regulations changed.

It has been the modern side of the muzzleloading industry which has supported the fight to liberalize muzzleloader hunting regulations - so all can enjoy and participate in the muzzleloader hunting seasons. The fact is, close to 90-percent of all muzzleloading hunters today hunt with the modern in-line rifles and loads. That's why the coverage of muzzleloading on the website has swung so heavily in that direction. What the website hopes to accomplish through stepped up coverage of traditional muzzleloading guns and hunting with them is to share the enjoyment and challenge of that side of our sport - to encourage more of the 3- to 3 1/2-million muzzleloading hunters in this country to use traditional muzzleloading equipment for at least some of their muzzleloader hunting. - NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING 

If you manufacture or market products specifically for today's traditional muzzleloading hunter, these pages on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website are more than likely the absolute best place to advertise or promote those products. Currently, traffic on this site over the past 12 months has topped 2.7-million. This month (September 2013) alone, muzzleloading hunters  referenced the website more than 300,000 times. We are right now very much on track to top 3-million site users for all of 2013.

You cannot reach that many muzzleloading hunters anywhere else. Our sponsorships are extremely reasonable, providing links to your website and inserting your banners or logos where appropriate. Or, we can custom fit a page around your magazine style advertisements. For more details, or to inquire about getting a traditional muzzleloading product review on this website, drop us an e-mail at the following e-mail address.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting The Most Out Of A Multi-Reticle Muzzleloader Hunting Scope

There are several different riflescopes now on the market which feature a reticle having multiple cross-bars, cross-plexes, cross-hairs or circles, offering built-in holdover for shooting at longer ranges...well, long range for a muzzleloader anyway.  Do they work?  Most certainly, but to fully benefit from using such a scope, today's muzzleloading hunter needs to know a thing or two about setting up a rifle and load in order to tap the full benefit of such optics for today's top performing muzzleloading big game rifles.

Here, we will be using the TB-ML muzzleloader scope from Hi-Lux Optics to provide pointers which will allow the muzzleloading hunter to sight in the primary crosshair at 100 yards with an accurate combination of powder...charge...sabot...bullet...and primer...then rely on three lower cross-bar plexes for placing shots at 200...225...and 250 yards.  The reason why we've chosen this scope is that the TB-ML model was developed out of all the shooting conducted for all of the information packed muzzleloader performance articles and reports that are published on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website.  We know that the locations of the longer range plexes were not determined through calculation...but rather through placing thousands of rounds downrange... because we did that shooting.

Take a look at the TB-ML reticle in the drawing at right.  Note the three shorter cross-bars below the center crosshair.  The locations of these "aiming points" were determined more by velocity and bullet ballistic coefficient than any other factors.  The reticle was developed using  a .50 caliber rifle loaded to get a saboted 250- to 300-grain bullet with a .210 to .250 b.c. bullet out of the muzzle at between 1,925 f.p.s. and 2,000 f.p.s.  If you are saying to yourself that such a wide range of bullets and velocities cannot all print "on" exactly the same at all these are absolutely right.  But, for hunting, they don't have to.

The rifle shown in the photo at the top of this post actually belongs to a very good friend, and this summer (2013) I tweaked his load and scope to make it a deadly 250-yard big game rifle.  However, it is exactly like one of the rifles I now tend to shoot more often than any other - the .50 caliber Traditions VORTEK model.  And like all four of my VORTEK test rifles, this one is also topped with one of the Hi-Lux Optics 3-9x40mm multi-reticle TB-ML muzzleloader hunting scopes.  The load it tends to like more than any other is 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 behind the saboted 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullet and black Crush Rib Sabot, both produced by Harvester Muzzleloading.  At the muzzle of this 28-inch barreled No. 209 primer ignition in-line  rifle, the load is good for 1,952 f.p.s., generating 2,535 foot-pounds of energy.  On a really good day, when conditions are ideal, and the shooter is up to it, the rifle and load will often punch a great sub 1/2-inch cluster at 100 yards, such as that shown here.

More typically, the groups I shoot are more like 1 1/4- to 1 1/2 inches, measured center-to-center.  While little things like 20 to 30 degree warmer or colder temperatures...shooting at 2,000 to 3,000 feet different elevation...or say a change of the humidity by 30- or 40-percent can cause the exact point of impact to shift a 1/4 to 1/2 inch from day to day, the fact remains that such accuracy will still take any big game animal with a center chest cavity hold at 100 yards.

Through the course of a year's worth of test shooting, I punch a lot of standard paper targets...and often get a little bored.  One enjoyable way to get in some beneficial shooting, especially when shooting with a multi-reticle scope, is to play around with cardboard cut outs that simulate somewhat life size shooting at game.  The above piece of cardboard is roughly 18 to 19 inches from top of what would be the back to bottom of the chest cavity.  It also measures right at 40 inches in length - relatively closely simulating the body size of a whitetail buck.

That 10" diameter paper plate also roughly simulates the so-called "kill zone" of a whitetail.  In other words, any reliable bullet design that can be put into this area with AT LEAST 800 F.P.E., and which is capable of transferring that energy to the target, will cleanly bring down a mature whitetail or mule deer buck.  Keeping hits in that "zone" is the key...and this is where the multi-reticle muzzleloader scopes can be key to being successful.
The 9 shots inside the kill zone shown on the cardboard silhouette at right include 3 shots at 200 yards (3.1 inch spread)...3 shots at 225 yards (3.6 inch spread)...and 3 shots at 250 yards (4.7 inch spread).  The proper hold-over cross-bar reticle of the Hi-Lux TB-ML scope was used at each range...and the three overlapping groups have an extreme spread of 6 inches (center-to-center). 

All 9 of these shots would have effectively put down a 200+ pound buck.  At 250 yards, a 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullet (.250 b.c.), that left the muzzle at 1,952 f.p.s., would still be flying at around 1,300 f.p.s. at that distance, and would hit with 1,125 foot-pounds of retained energy.

The 260- and 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullets were the bullets shot most during the development and refinement of the TB-ML scope, shooting 110 grains of FFFg Triple Seven.  The charge got the 260-grain .220 b.c. bullet out of the muzzle of a 27-inch barreled Knight Long Range Hunter model at 2,018 f.p.s., and with the rifle sighted 1-inch high at 100 yards, then using the 200-yard cross-bar would print right at 2 inches high at that distance.  The same rifle, loaded with 110-grains of FFFg Triple Seven and the .250 b.c. 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold was good for 1,909 f.p.s. at the muzzle.  Again, sighted 1-inch high at 100 yards, then using the 200-yard cross-bar reticle, at 200 yards the heavier and slower bullet would print on the average 1 inch below point of aim. 

Due to the lower b.c. of the lighter 260-grain bullet, somewhere between 150 and 200 yards, it begins to slow faster than the higher b.c. 300-grain polymer-tipped spire-point.   Using the 225 yard cross-bar at 225 yards, the 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold will print pretty much "on", while the 300-grain version of the same bullet prints about an inch high.  Out at 250 yards, the 260-grain bullet hits the target around 2 1/2 inches below point of aim - the 300-grain bullet averages nearly 2 inches above point of aim.  Still, when it comes to maintaining "minute-of-whitetail", all of this is a moot point.  On more than one occasion I have conducted similar tests, shooting three shots at each range (using the proper cross-bar) with each bullet (with rifles sighted to print 1 inch high at 100 yards), and the extreme spread of all 18 shots rarely opens to more than 6 inches.

With a center chest cavity hold on deer sized game every one of these shots printed inside the "kill zone", and would have taken game.  Since developing the TB-ML scope with Hi-Lux Optics, I've only had to rely on the longer range cross-bar reticles a half dozen times to take game for the table.  However, I have used the scope on several different rifles to bust some 200 to 250+ yard coyotes, groundhogs, and other predators or vermin.  My longest shot was on a coyote that I had lasered at 256 yards.  I held just above center, and squeezed off the shot.  That yodel dog never knew what hit him.

The 110-grain charges of Blackhorn 209 I'm now shooting out of the .50 caliber 28-inch barreled VORTEK and the 30-inch barreled VORTEK Ultra Light LDR are just a bit faster than the charges of FFFg Triple Seven used when determining just where the longer range cross-bars of the TB-ML would be located.  Even so, that really has not changed the points of impact much once out at 200...225...250 yards.  The overlapping three 200, 225, 250 yard groups (9-shots) punched with my friend's Traditions VORTEK were shot with a muzzle velocity of 1,952 f.p.s., not 1,909 f.p.s. - and all 9 stayed in the kill zone.

The multi-reticle muzzleloader scopes do indeed work...and work very well.  However, no one should ever shoot at game at a range they have never shot at - no matter what some scope makers may lead you to believe.  The best advice anyone could give the muzzleloading hunter that's either new to a multi-reticle muzzleloader scope, or who is anticipating the purchase of one is to get out and shoot often at those longer ranges.

Another tip is to make absolutely sure that the reticle of the scope is perfectly squared with the bore.  If the crosshairs have even the slightest tilt (not square with the bore) to one side or the other, it will result in the shot being off to the side.  Sure, the crosshair itself is centered in the scope, and can still be sighted to print dead on at 100 yards.  But if the crosshairs are not level with a perfectly leveled rifle, then the 200...225...or 250 yard reticles will be off to one side or the other of the primary crosshair - which should be directly above the cross-bar being used. 

If it's not, then the scope is not squared with the bore.  If you already have a multi-reticle scope on your rifle, next time you are aiming with one of the longer range cross-bars, plexes or circles of your scope...note where the crosshair is on the target.  If it is slightly off to the right...your shot will go off to the right.  If it is off to the left...guess where your shot is going. 

Also, keep in mind that these scopes are still very, very useful when shooting considerably slower loads or much lower ballistic coefficient bullets.  While the so-called "200 yard" reticle...or the "225 yard" reticle...or the "250 yard" reticles may not be on AT THESE DISTANCES...they will still allow you to hold on at some longer range...and that would be up to you to do plenty of shooting to determine exactly where each prints the load you are hunting with.

Toby Bridges

NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Special Offer For The Hi-Lux Optics TB-ML Muzzleloader Scope...

Here is a great way to save $50 on the Hi-Lux TB-ML Muzzleloader Hunting Scope...and to support the website's efforts to keep on bringing you the best muzzleloader hunting coverage on the internet today.  Just go to the following link for all the details...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Muzzleloading Continues To Evolve!

Have any of you NOT yet shot and hunted with Blackhorn 209?
While a few other so-called "black powder substitutes" have claimed to be the powder that revolutionizes muzzleloading - this is the only black powder substitute that truly lives up to the claim. This report takes a look back at the accelerated evolution of muzzleloading from the late 1830's and on into the 1860's - then shares how this modern formulated powder has done more today for modern in-line ignition rifles than any other product during the past 25 years of in-line muzzleloading.

The article/report published at this link takes a look at the 25 to 30 year period prior to the Civil War...and how muzzleloading went through a very stepped up evolution as rifle makers and shooters refined the elongated conical twist bore bullet rifles...and telescopic rifle sights (a.k.a. "rifle scopes"). Muzzleloading has gone through a similar stage of evolution during the past 25 to 30 years - with the popularity of the modern in-line ignition rifles...introduction of the saboted muzzleloader bullets...and the development of several black powder substitutes.
This article/report features the exceptionally accurate Dixie Gun Works reproduction of the hexagonal bore Whitworth long range rifle...the well made Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics copy of a circa 1855 Wm. Malcolm rifle scope...the superb accuracy of the .50 caliber Traditions VORTEK Ultra Light LDR in-line ignition rifle...and of course Blackhorn 209. Check out all of the qualities and benefits this powder brings to today's muzzleloading hunter.
If any of you are attending the NRA Show in Houston, TX this coming weekend, be sure to drop by the Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics booth and say hello. I'll be working the show with them. Also, the good folks from Blackhorn 209 will be at the show as well...look them up if you have any questions about the powder.
Toby Bridges
America's No. 1 Source For Muzzleloader Hunting Information!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Here is something new for NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING followers, a twice yearly Newsletter.  On or about April 15th each year, we will now distribute and publish our Winter-Spring Newsletter.  Then on or about October 15th, we'll distribute and publish our Summer-Fall Newsletter.

            The NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website has now become America's No. 1 Source For Muzzleloader Hunting Information.
            By the end of 2012, traffic on the website topped 1.5 million, and the audience it reaches just keeps on growing.  Over the past 12 months (April 14, 2012 to April 15, 2013) more than 2,000,000 muzzleloading shooters and hunters have referenced the website.  All indications are that by year's end, muzzleloading hunters in the U.S. and Canada will call upon 2.5 million times.
            Why the phenomenal growth in the number of muzzleloading hunters turning to the site?  The answer is pretty easy, they cannot find anywhere else a wider range of muzzleloader performance information and "how to" muzzleloading accuracy tips, load data, technical information, history, or updated details on the latest muzzleloader hunting legislation, which can and will dictate what you can or cannot hunt with during the Muzzleloader Seasons, than what is now published on this one website.
            Currently, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING is fighting an extremely non-serving muzzleloader hunting regulation in the State of Nevada, which makes it illegal for the modern day muzzleloading hunter to use one of the most popular muzzleloader hunting powders available today - Blackhorn 209.  For more on this, copy and paste this link -    
            Since being first published on the internet in 2003, NORTH AMERICAN  MUZZLELOADER HUNTING has done more than the NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION and the NATIONAL MUZZLE LOADING RIFLE ASSOCIATION combined to get such non-serving and often extremely discriminatory muzzleloader hunting regulations changed in order to allow ALL muzzleloading hunters to enjoy our sport.  Since 2006, that includes the legalization of riflescopes during the muzzleloader hunting seasons in Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska and Wisconsin...for ALL muzzleloading hunters.  In 11 other states which still proclaim it is illegal to use a "riflescope" during such seasons, the federal government has since also mandated that these states MUST make special provisions for sight impaired muzzleloading hunters to use a scope - thanks to the efforts of NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING.
            There are still a few other non-serving muzzleloader hunting regulations on the books in several other states, which we fully intend to keep on tackling.
            In late summer 2011, the website went through a complete overhaul.  Beginning in late July of that year, we eliminated all older articles and reports...and started out with a clean slate.  Since then, we've built and published more than  100 information packed and well illustrated pages.  This newsletter is being put together and distributed in mid April.  So far this year, we've added 18 Feature Articles/Reports, plus added to the menu links to shorter articles, reports or news we've published on the four affiliated muzzleloader hunting blogs we also host.  NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING also has its own Facebook page. 
            The four more recent (April) articles and reports include a new page that looks at how Blackhorn 209 actually produces its best accuracy when the bore is NOT wiped between shots at...

( ) ...

            A feature written by our new Associate Editor Dr. Jim Clary, which takes a look at the benefits of the Harvester Muzzleloading "Crush Rib Sabot" and Scorpion PT Gold bullet at...

( ) ...

            A look back at one of the most widely used saboted bullets of the 1990's - the 300-grain Hornady .452" diameter XTP hollow-point at...

( )...

            And how today's muzzleloading hunter can best determine his or her maximum effective range at...

( ).
            Our goal for 2013 has been to add another 50 pages to the website by the time 2014 rolls around, and we're right on target to do just that.   In May, we plan to add several more great feature articles or reports. 
            One of the big arguments against the use of a riflescope on a muzzleloader has been that such optics were not used on "original" muzzleloaders - which is far from the truth.  Muzzleloading target shooter and hunter James R. Chapman is often credited for "inventing" and "perfecting" such telescopic sights, about 1840.  He wrote about such sights in his book, "The Improved American Rifle" - written in 1844 and published in 1848.  Those early "riflescopes" were made much like a pair of eyeglasses - for the individual shooters' eye sight.  Quite a few of the finest rifle makers of the 1840's and 1850's  also built these early telescopic rifle sights - with the help of a local optometrist. 
            A May feature to be published on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website will take a good look at how the riflescope was developed hand-in-hand with the long range bullet rifles of the 1840's...leading to the establishment of the first ever riflescope manufacturing facility in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1855 by William Malcolm.  The accompanying photo shows a modern made copy of a circa 1855 Malcolm scope, mounted on a circa 1855 styled hexagonal bore .451 Whitworth long-range rifle.  The scope has been reproduced by Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics.
            The other feature scheduled for May will compare the long range trajectories of a dozen or so currently popular saboted muzzleloading bullets for the .50 caliber in-line rifles.  Check back to see if we include the saboted bullet you currently hunt with, or at least a bullet with a very similar ballistic coefficient.  Several new product test reports will also be featured through the month.
            Likewise, we plan to publish from 3 to 5 information packed Feature Articles/Reports each and every month.  While the majority of the materials presented on the website will continue to cater to the 90+ percent of today's muzzleloading hunters who have turned to the modern in-line rifles, we will also include a number of pages devoted to the muzzle-loaded hunting rifles and loads of the past.
            NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING will continue to be the leading source for everything that is Muzzleloader Hunting.  Go to the site at and save it as a favorite.  -  Toby Bridges, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING 

Watch For The Summer-Fall 2013 NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Newsletter About October 15th. 

NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING is a free site for visitors, no matter whose rifle, scope, powder, sabot or bullet they may load...shoot ...and hunt with.  Right now, a small handful of sponsors help keep this site on the internet.  For continued growth and to insure the site stays on the internet, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING needs a few more members of the muzzleloading industry or the hunting industry in general to pitch in and help cover the cost of building and maintaining this website.  Muzzleloader hunting is hunting, and more muzzleloading hunters keep up with their sport right here than anywhere else.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

World's Best Deer Camp Chili!

The following link will take you to what it takes to turn out a first rate gourmet chili. It's been a hit in every deer camp I've brewed a batch...and a favorite of family and friends.  If there's a special large get together in your's a meal that will make it just that much more special.

If you have some special ingredients that make your chili special as well, please take a minute or two and share with us in a comment.

Toby Bridges,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Modern In-Line Muzzleloading Pioneer William "Tony" Knight Dies

                                   December 21, 1945 - March 18, 2013

William "Tony" Knight passed away on March 18, 2013. The world of muzzleloading has lost one of its greatest contributors, and he will be sadly missed by all who truly knew him. He was one of the greatest people I've known in my lifetime, and at one time my dearest and closest friend. My hope is that in spirit he's up there still running the hills and hollers of northern Missouri, chasing those big whitetails and long bearded gobblers...with his favorite dog Ginger at his side. Let us never forget him. - Toby Bridges, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING 

NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING has published a tribute to Tony Knight,,,
Go To

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hunting With The .451 Caliber Hexagonal Bore Whitworth Rifle

                                                             Click On Photos To Enlarge

     One of my favorite rifles to take to the range five or six times a year is the big .451 caliber reproduction of the hexagonal bore Whitworth rifle shown in the photo above.  When summer temperatures soar into the upper 80's and 90's in Western Montana, and it gets just too hot to do a lot of shooting with plastic saboted bullets, that's when I pull out the Whitworth rifle.  But, first I have to make up a batch of bullets.  And while it does take a while, it's not difficult.

     The bullet starts out as a standard round sided cylindrical 500-grain cast bullet - produced with the Lee Precision 459-500-3R bullet mold.  The bullet, as cast, is right at .459" in diameter (for loading into the big .45 caliber black powder cartridges, i.e. .45-70, .45-90, etc.). 

     Next, I thread a custom built swaging die into my cartridge reloading press...feed the long spitzer shaped nose of the soft pure lead bullet into the die from the bottom...bring up the ram of the press and align an extension with the bottom of the bullet...and push the bullet through the swaging die.  What pops out the top is a "somewhat" hexagonal bullet that measures .448" across from hexagonal flat to hexagonal flat.  The die was formed with the same turn-in-21 inches pitch found in the hexagonal bore of the rifle.  (No "rifling"...instead, the bore is formed hexagonal and turns with a 1-in-21 inches rate of twist.)

Shown Above - The 500 grain cast Lee bullet as from the mold, right.  The same bullet swaged, center.  The 580-grain Whitworth bullet offered by Dixie Gun Works, left.

     The undersized bullet still makes some contact with bore...offering just a little resistance.  I have shot them as they are formed, but have easily gotten far superior accuracy when the bullet is wrapped with two layers of Alox lubed cotton-based paper.  The fit is a little tight, but the paper wrapped base of the bullet can still be worked into the bore, then using a short starter that's been shaped to fit down over the nose of the bullet, a healthy whack gets the paper wrapped bullet into the bore.  It's then easily pushed down the bore with the Whitworth's steel ramrod to seat on the powder charge.

     My particular Whitworth copy came from Dixie Gun Works, back in 2005.  The rifle is still offered, and sells for $1,300.  For more on the rifle, go to -

     Dixie Gun Works recommends loading 60-grains of FFFg behind the big 580-grain hex-shaped lead round nosed bullet they offer.  My first shooting was done with these bullets, and the rifle shot okay with the 1.340" long projectiles...but they loaded extremely tight.  That's when I had a friend, who is one heck of a machinist, produce the hex swaging die for me.  (Before anyone writes and inquires, he let me know in no uncertain terms that the die I have was the first...and last such die he would ever produce.)

     At first, I swaged the Dixie bullets, and found I could print 3 to 4 inch 200 yard groups.  Anyway, I could after I installed one of the superb Hi-Lux Optics recreation of a circa 1855 Wm. Malcolm 6x long telescopic rifle sights (as they were known back then).  My rifle came into it's own when I started casting the lighter, but slightly longer 1.360" long Lee 500-grain bullet, then running it through the swaging die and wrapping the bullets with lubed paper.  My favored charge has been 80 grains of GOEX FFFg black powder.  The rifle and load have printed a few very impressive 2- to 2 1/2-inch 200 yard groups.  At the muzzle, the big 500-grain bullet exits at 1,326 f.p.s. - generating 1,945 foot pounds of energy.  Out at 200 yards, it is still good for 1,053 f.p.s. and 1,231 f.p.e..

Photo At Right - Best 200 yard Whitworth group shot, so far, with swaged Lee bullet.

     Back when I first got the rifle, still shooting with the open sights, I took a couple of does with the Dixie bullet, both at about 50 yards.  Last year, I made up my mind that I was going to put something down with the Whitworth out at about 200 yards.  One area I planned to hunt in Montana (out on the plains) allowed the purchase of up to 7 doe tags, so I purchased several just to put some meat in the freezer...and to take one at longer range (200 yards) with the .451 Whitworth.

     The second evening in camp, I carried two rifles out to a small portable camouflaged blind I had set up at the edge of a river-bottom alfalfa field.  I packed my .50 Traditions VORTEK Ultra Light LDR just in case nothing walked to within 200 yards of the blind...and I took the Whitworth in order to take a doe that did get within 200 yards of the big and heavy bullet shooting rifle.

     About an hour and a half before sunset, close to 40 whitetails worked out into the field, including a small 4x4 buck, but I had already filled my buck tag on the first morning of the hunt.  I had forgotten my laser range finder in the pack I had worn all morning while looking for deer in the hills behind camp.  I rested the Whitworth on one of the Bog Pod CLD-3 collapsible tripod rests, and sighted through the Hi-Lux Malcolm scope.  The sun had already dropped behind a high ridge to the West, but I could still see the multiple targets in front of me very clearly.

     I had the scope set for 200 yards, and several does looked to be right about that distance.  I thumbed the hammer back, held for a center chest cavity shot on the larger doe, which was standing perfectly broadside.  The trigger slowly came back, and the hammer fell.  The rifle roared, and a huge cloud of black powder smoke blocked everything from sight.  Then, as it cleared, the only thing still in that field was the doe I had gone for...and the deer was laying exactly where it had been standing.  It was easy to realize why the Whitworth was so feared on Civil War battlefields.

Photo Above Left - The adjustable rear mount of the Hi-Lux Optics 6x Malcolm scope can be quickly moved from one yardage setting to another - once those settings are known.

     When I walked out to the deer, I saw why it had gone down so quickly.  The big 500-grain cast & swaged Lee bullet had caught the deer only about two inches down from the top of the back.  That big chunk of lead had blown out about four inches of backbone...and unfortunately ruined about six inches of backstrap.

     Mid day the following day, I walked out to where I had field dressed the deer, and took a laser reading on the front of the blind - 172 yards.  Back at camp, I set up a portable target board I had brought 172 yards...and took a shot from the Bog Pod rest.  The hole was right at six inches above point of aim.  Then, I moved back 26 more yards, and took a shot from exactly 200 yards, for which the scope was set, and the hole in the target was right at one inch above point of aim - pretty much how it had been sighted.  It was clear that with the doe standing just 28 yards closer, the trajectory of that big bullet was close to six inches higher.

     This coming summer, I'll do a good deal of shooting to determine the 300-yard setting for the Malcolm scope...and will likewise do some shooting with the .451 Whitworth at 225...250...and 275 yards.  My goal for this fall is to fill one of those doe tags with the Whitworth at 300 yards.  Rest assured, I'll never forget my range finder again. - Toby Bridges, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING    

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Iowa Hunter Attributes 242-Yard Shot On A Whitetail Buck To Lot's Practice On The Range And Precision Placement Of Long Range Reticles Of His Scope!

"As the smoke rolled out over the field the deer ran at top speed for cover. He made it about 40 yards before crashing in the open field. The Barnes bullet had found its way to within 2 inches of my aim. The extra hold offs in the scope are precise and unbelievable."

Iowa resident Mike Ross, hunting the late muzzleloader season this past January, pulled off a great 242-yard off-hand shot with his Knight .50 caliber Long Range Hunter, taking a nice buck with a single bullet centered through the chest cavity. He attributed the success of that shot to spending a lot of time on the range with the rifle and the Hi-Lux Optics multi-reticle TB-ML scope - and to the precise placement of those reticles in the scope.

Here's a link to his story of the hunt.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hot New Loads For The 260- And 300-Grain Scorpion PT Gold Out Of The Traditions VORTEK Ultra Light LDR

Here's a look at a hot new load for the Traditions .50 VORTEK Ultra Light LDR that's knocking right on the 2,200 f.p.s. door, shooting 130 grains of Blackhorn 209 and the Harvester Muzzleloading saboted 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold polymer-tipped spire-point.  The recoil of the load is very tolerable...and the accuracy is outstanding!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nevada Department of Wildlife Ban Of Popular Muzzleloader Hunting Powder Is Discriminatory - And Likely Illegal!

           During the summer of 2011, the Nevada Department of Wildlife took away the right for muzzleloading hunters in the state to use a modern formulated propellant that not only makes loading and shooting a rifle of muzzle-loaded design less tedious and more reliable, but safer as well.  That new powder is being marketed under the brand name Blackhorn 209, by Western Powders of Miles City, MT.

            In July of 2011, NDOW sent a notice to all hunters who had drawn a  "muzzleloader only" Nevada big game tag, announcing, "The department has recently received numerous questions regarding the use of Blackhorn 209 during the muzzle-loading only season. Per NAC 503.142 (1) only blackpowder or a blackpowder substitute such as Pyrodex or Triple Seven may be used as a propellant. The use of smokeless powder is prohibited."

            This warning went on to distinguish that what separated Blackhorn 209 from the other two powders mentioned, Pyrodex and Triple Seven, was the fact that the newer powder relied on a nitrocellulose base rather than the carbon base used to produce the other two black powder substitutes.  NDOW published this warning in its August issue of OUTDOOR EDUCATOR as well.

            At the September 2011 Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners Meeting, under the topic issue "Muzzleloader Black Powder Legal Issues", Chief Game Warden Robert Buonamici told the nine-member board that prior to the hunting seasons his Division (Law Enforcement) had received quite a few calls as to whether or not if Blackhorn 209 powder was legal to use during the state's muzzleloader seasons.  He admitted that his staff did not know, so researched the issue - first referring back to the adopted regulation code which prohibited the use of smokeless powder during the muzzleloading hunts.  He pointed out to the commissioners that the U.S. Department of Transportation has designated Blackhorn 209 as a smokeless powder.

            The call to outlaw the use of this powder was made entirely by Chief Buonamici and the NDOW Division of Law Enforcement.  What Buonamici failed to share with the Board of Wildlife Commissioners was that also sharing the very same North American and United Nations hazardous materials classification codes (NA3178 and UN0499) which he used to deem Blackhorn 209 "illegal" are all other "black powder substitutes", including the two "legal" powders mentioned by name in Nevada's muzzleloader hunting regulations - Pyrodex and Triple Seven.

            All are classified as either "smokeless powder for small arms" or as "propellant solid - smokeless".

            Through correspondence with members of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Association has been told that the regulation, as it stands, can be attributed to bad information and bureaucratic status quo within the Nevada Department of Wildlife.  That bad information came from NDOW's administration, and many of the originators of the regulation are now gone - including Director Ken Mayer, who has been fired, for the second time.

            "Nevada's ban of Blackhorn 209 should make sportsmen question many other non-serving hunting regulations on the books around the country.  We were told that to change the regulation in Nevada is a slow process, and that process would require that a petition first be filed - even though those serving on the Board of Wildlife Commissioners are now aware that the regulation was railroaded right through by a biased and agenda driven  high ranking individual or a division of NDOW.  Strangely, it was done so without any opposition from the Commission.  The legality of how this exceptionally poor and bogus regulation has been allowed to stand needs to be investigated...and perhaps have its day in court ," states Toby Bridges, founder of the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Association.

            Nevada is the only state to ban the use of Blackhorn 209 powder.  A couple of other states, namely New Mexico and Utah, had considered a similar ban, but realized that since the powder shared the very same federal and international regulations governing other black powder substitutes, such a ban would run into tremendous opposition from muzzleloading hunters.  Collectively, the modern "non black powder" muzzleloader propellants are now used by more than 90-percent of all muzzleloading hunters.

            What has made Blackhorn 209 so popular among the fastest growing segment of muzzleloader hunting, those who have switched to equally modern in-line primer ignition rifle models, is the cleanliness of the powder.  Other modern muzzleloader powders leave a great deal of fouling in the bore, and for best accuracy that fouling has to be wiped from the bore after each and every shot.  The light fouling left behind by charges of Blackhorn 209 does not affect the accuracy of the load.  In fact, many shooters have shot all morning or afternoon, firing upwards of 50 shots or more, and still maintain great accuracy without cleaning the bore once.  That cleanliness also means that there is a lot less chance of not getting the projectile properly seated directly in contact with the power charge.  Firing a muzzleloader with the projectile setting an inch or two off the powder charge creates an extremely dangerous situation.

            The new powder is also far less corrosive than the powders named "legal" in the Nevada regulations, and due to its nitrocellulose base, Blackhorn 209 granules are far more uniform and result in extremely consistent volume measured charges.  This in turn produces the most consistent accuracy.  Perhaps NDOW's fear of the powder is that it is too good, allowing the state's muzzleloading hunters to more easily make a clean and effective harvest of the game being hunted.
(On Friday, February 8, 2013 - this NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELODER HUNTING release was sent to the major media providers in the State of Nevada, as well as to many within the shooting & hunting industry, plus to a large number of those working within the outdoor media.  For more on this issue, plus more on the qualities that make Blackhorn 209 extremely popular, and a look at all the uses of nitrocellulose, go to - .)


Monday, February 4, 2013

Nevada Department of Wildlife Bans Blackhorn 209 - NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING Responds!

Following is an e-mail sent to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners in regard to the Nevada Department of Wildlife ban on the use of Blackhorn 209 during the muzzleloader only seasons and hunts in that state...

Dear Nevada Wildlife Commission;

What does the State of Nevada have against nitrocellulose...or Blackhorn 209?

The manner in which the Nevada muzzleloader hunting regulations attack this powder, by brand name, shows extreme prejudice - and likely violates interstate commerce laws. The Nevada Wildlife Commission needs to give all of this very serious thought, and truly question those responsible for such a stand against a revolutionary new muzzleloader propellant that is now taking muzzleloader hunting by storm across the country. Should there be any personal bias involved, it could end in some extremely costly legal litigation.

The manner in which the agency and the commission allows several powders, by brand name, to be used during the muzzleloader only season, then bans the use of another powder, by brand name, is extremely discriminatory - especially since the powders, including Blackhorn 209, all share the same technical classification - as determined by the U.S. Department of Transportation - and the United Nations.

Over the past 12 months, the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website has had more than 1.7 million visitors, and they are now reading about how the Nevada Wildlife Commission and the Nevada Department of Wildlife are wrongly robbing Nevada's muzzleloading hunters of the opportunity to go afield with a superior muzzleloader propellant. Here's a link to a report published Sunday, February 3, 2013.

I would be very interested in hearing from any of you in defense of such non-serving muzzleloader hunting legislation. The end of this week, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING will issue a release, addressing this issue, that goes out to much of the media there in Nevada, and to the national outdoor media and to the shooting & hunting industry.

Toby Bridges

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 SHOT Show Did Not Offer Much In The Way Of New Muzzleloader Hunting Innovations

     As far as anything excitingly new for the muzzleloading hunter, the 2013 SHOT Show was the most lackluster I've attended, and since the first of these shows in January 1979 (St. Louis, MO), I have only missed three.

     One very shining exception was a brand new rifle being introduced by Traditions Performance Firearms - the .50 caliber VORTEK StrikerFire.  This is an extremely slick new break-open design, held in this photo by company president Tom Hall.  While this new approach eliminates a hammer that protrudes up behind the firing pin of the receiver, it still offers all the convenience of an exposed hammer...but with an added element of safety and even more convenience.

     The internal firing mechanism is "cocked" by pushing the StikerFire System button forward with right or left thumb (the rifle is truly ambidextrous).  Once cocked, a trigger block safety mounted on the trigger housing allows the rifle to be safely carried until a shot is taken.  To "uncock" the rifle, one simply pushes the (silver) release button shown at right.  It's that simple.  (Opening the action also de-cocks the rifle.)  The advantages of this system are a snappier lock time and the ability to mount a scope lower and closer to the axis of the bore, which tends to equate to more consistent accuracy.

     The new 28-inch barreled design weighs in at just 6.25 pounds, and will surely be a dream to carry in the field.  We are slated to receive one of the very first test guns in May, and will run a complete report on this before the end of that month.  Starting retail price will be $489, for a black synthetic stock with a tapered, fluted and CeraKote finished Magnum Chromoly barrel.  The rifle offers other new features as well, which we will fully detail on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website when we publish the test report in May.  Don't miss it.

     For updated info on this rifle, go to -


     Thompson Center Arms' website still proclaims... "T/C’s OMEGA™ Will Revolutionize the Way Hunters Think About Muzzleloaders for Years to Come" ... However, I can't help but wonder if the company is already doing some serious downsizing.  The Omega was not even displayed at the 2013 SHOT Show.

     In fact, the only models on display were the Triumph...the Impact...and the Encore Pro Hunter.  There was nothing that "muzzle-loaded" that was truly new.  To put it nicely, T/C's huge booth was mostly void of guns, with easily 90-percent of the display devoted to center-fire rifles.  The 2013 SHOT Show was the 35th of the annual "Show of Arms", and as I pointed out earlier, I've missed just three of the shows.  One thing I've noticed in the past has been when a rifle that's loudly touted as one which "Will Revolutionize the Way Hunters Think About Muzzleloaders for Years to Come" is suddenly absent at the SHOT Show, it generally means the model is being phased out.

     Personally, I've found the solid design of the Omega to produce the most consistent accuracy of all the T/C in-line designs.  If I could shoot and hunt with only one T/C would definitely be the Omega.  I, for one, hope that the ommission of the rifle at the SHOT Show was just an ill thought out mistake.

     We were made privy to a couple of new bullet concepts, which we will be testing and reporting on later in the year.  Also, there's a new in-line rifle making operation bringing another innovative break-open inline model, known as the Redemption, to the market.  Those behind the new venture are primarily former T/C management that either chose not to move from the Rochester, NH area when T/C's Smith & Wesson owners decided to relocate the company to Springfield, MA...or who were downsized out during the move.

     While the company, known as LHR Sporting Arms, was not displaying at this year's SHOT Show, several muzzleloading writers I ran into shared that they would be doing test reports on the new rifle.  Prior to the SHOT Show, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING also corresponded with the marketing manager of the company, and hopes to bring you a report as well.

     For more on the rifle and the new company, go to -

     It hurts me to say that, with only a few exceptions, the muzzleloading industry has become extremely lame.  Right now, less than 20-percent of the companies offering muzzleloader hunting products are keeping the industry alive - the other 80-or so-percent seem to be just along for the ride.  -  Toby Bridges, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING