Black-powder hunters used to be burdened with carrying all types of gear into the field for the inevitable misfire and cleaning. While many hunters still enjoy the challenge of traditional side-lock and flintlock weapons, the modern in-line rifle made popular by Tony Knight in the mid-1980s, as well as the adaptation of “shotgun” 209 primers and pelletized powder, has turned muzzleloaders from primitive to high-tech weapons.
Jim Frazier, manager of Greenville’s Trader’s Gun Shop, provides a rundown of modern day black-powder rifle guns and accessories. A pared-down selection of gear allows in-line hunters to reduce what they have to carry in the woods.
“In-lines now dominate the market when it comes to muzzle loaders,” Frazier said. “There are still a lot of combinations of gear that many hunters may select to complement their weapon or the way they’ve gotten used to muzzle loading.”
Here are a few of the necessities for modern in-line muzzle loading:
• Ball starter. This small rod initiates the muzzle-loading process. The hunter drops a couple of powder pellets in the barrel, then starts a sabot or belted bullet with this piece before sealing the load with the gun’s ramrod.
• Quick loader. This plastic container holds the correct loads of powder and bullets in the correct order for quick field-loading. There is also a space to store additional primer caps.
• Sabot. This plastic cup takes the place of the cloth patch in sidelock guns and acts as wadding by seating the bullet while it’s fired through the gun.
• Belted bullet. Similar to a sabot, this plastic cap is molded to the bullet, serves as wadding and helps impart twist as the bullet is shot through the rifling.
• Black powder substitutes. Manufacturers have gotten away from true black powder, which is unstable to store. Manufacturers such as Pyrodex, Triple 7 and American Pioneer market brands that perform the same as black powder in much-safer compositions. The powders come preformed into measured sticks or pellets.
• 209 primers. Similar to primer caps used in shotguns, these popular charges initiate the firing sequence without the need for flint and steel and have revolutionized muzzle-loading dependability.
• Powder substitute. The same formulas as the pelletized charges but in powder form for hunters who want to exact measure powder charges. It is measured in a cylindrical powder measure.