Tips for Muzzleloader Magic | Great Days Outdoors

There’s a little more to muzzleloader hunting than just keeping your powder dry.

Magicians sometimes use a puff of smoke to obscure their hands during certain tricks. The smoke distracts the audience enough for the trick to be completed. Several events must occur to make the trick work flawlessly.

Hunting with a muzzleloader is somewhat similar to a magic trick. Certain key events must happen in proper sequence to get the bullet on target. And, yes, there’s lots of smoke. However, when the smoke clears and a buck is on the ground, it’s a magical time.

Even with the new modern inline black-powder rifles, every shot is not a 100 percent guarantee. Slight changes in one of the key events during the shot can cause a misfire.

Muzzleloader hunters can take precautions to help prevent misfires and increase their odds of tagging a buck this season.

tips for muzzleloaders are to ensure there is no moisture in the barrel of your muzzleloader or in the black power.

Modern muzzleloader rifles are accurate to 100 yards and beyond. This photo was taken by Charles Johnson.


Clean, Dry Powder

Tips for muzzleloader magic is to use black powder since it has an affinity for moisture. Moisture in the powder is the biggest factor in causing a misfire in a muzzleloader.

A primary key for hunters using a black-powder rifle is to keep your powder dry. This is true for even the new modern black powders and pellets.

“Store your powder in a military style ammo can,” advises Alan Mange of B & B Pawn in Coldwater, Ala. “The rubber seals on the can will help keep moisture out.”

Hunters need to keep the powder sealed in the original container until they are ready to use it. Mange says that major temperature changes can cause moisture to enter the powder. He recommends keeping your black powder in an area that is somewhat climate controlled.

“Store your powder in a military style ammo can,” advises Alan Mange of B & B Pawn in Coldwater, Ala. “The rubber seals on the can will help keep moisture out.”

Everyone living in the South knows about humidity. On some days it seems so humid you can cut the air with a knife. At night the temperature cools down. These constant hot-to-cold-to-hot temperatures can wreak havoc on black powder if not stored properly.

When packing powder for a hunt, it will need some attention. Plastic tubes or zip-seal type bags can help keep out moisture from the black powder until the hunter is ready to load.


“Speed tubes are great for storing powder for a hunt,” Mange comments. “These can be pre-loaded with a bullet and powder for a quick charge or re-load.”

The black powder pellets come pre-measured in 50- or 30-grain sizes for a particular caliber. Also, the pellets come from the powder manufacturer in a plastic tube with a snap-on cap to help keep out moisture. Hunters can charge their muzzleloader with powder and a bullet without their fingers touching the powder.


During The Hunt

Some muzzleloader hunters wait until they are in the stand before loading a charge in the barrel. Moving a black-powder rifle from a warm house into a cold truck can cause condensation to form in the chamber and barrel. It is wise to keep the rifle in a case and allow it to acclimate to the surrounding outside temperature.

More tips for muzzleloader magic are many hunters in the colder climates of the West and Midwest will leave their rifles outside at night. This is to prevent any condensation from entering the barrel if the rifle is brought into a warm cabin. Black-powder hunters may leave their rifles charged with powder and bullet for a week or more, depending on the weather conditions.

“Keep the muzzle pointed down to keep water out of the barrel,” Mange mentions.

Dewdrops or rain can enter the barrel and seep into the powder. The newer in-line and breach-open style muzzleloaders are not as susceptible to moisture as the old flintlock style rifles. But it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution. Some old black-powder hunters will place a piece of electrical tape over the end of the barrel to help keep water out.


Some tips for muzzleloaders include using a scope specifically designed for both black-powder rifles or shotguns.

Use a scope specifically designed for black-powder rifles or shotguns. The photo was taken by Charles Johnson.


Keep It Clean

One thing about muzzleloading rifles is that black powder is dirty. The modern type black powder is not as bad as the old styles of powder, but there is still plenty of residues.

Proper cleaning and care is another tip for muzzleloaders that will keep providing the magic. Make certain the breech plug, nipple, and barrel are clean before each shot.

“When first starting to shoot and sight in your rifle, it is shoot, clean, shoot and clean,” Mange comments. “Do this in three or four cycles. The dirtier the barrel gets, it will throw off the bullet.”

“On new muzzleloaders, it’s a good idea to shoot and clean through several cycles before attempting to sight in.”

In some cases, it may be as simple as running a lubed patch down the barrel. On new muzzleloaders, it’s a good idea to shoot and clean through several cycles before attempting to sight in. Also, always load the powder/bullet charge the same each time. Some hunters place a mark on their ramrod to indicate how deep they need to push the rod.

Some black-powder hunters may top off their rifles with a scope. A regular file scope is not recommended for muzzleloader rifles. Special muzzleloader or shotgun scopes are a practical choice for rifles.

“A quality muzzleloader or shotgun style scope will have the proper eye relief for the shooter,” Mange advises. ‘Some models have special reticles for black-powder type bullets.”

Another consideration in the accuracy of shooting muzzleloaders is bullet weight. The heavier the bullet or sabot, the faster the projectile will stabilize in flight. Bullet weights in the 290- to the 350-grain range can provide deer killing accuracy out to 200 yards.

Most muzzleloader hunters around the Cotton State can feel confident with a 100-yard shot. Black-powder rifles are built to shoot and shoot accurately. Add a top quality scope, sabot bullets and powder-pellets and today’s muzzleloader can almost equal the accuracy of a centerfire.

Black-powder hunting is a different challenge in deer hunting. Knowing you have only one shot makes the hunter take a little extra care before pulling the trigger. Keep your powder dry, your barrel clean, and with a little magic, you can fill a blank on that buck tag.

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