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 - http://www.namlhunt.com/blackhorn209-2.html .)