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 - www.traditionsfirearms.com
IS THE T/C OMEGA ON THE WAY OUT?
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 rifle...it 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 - www.lhrsportingarms.com
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