Muzzleloders all about 'tradition'

| Friday, Dec. 30, 2005

The primitive weapons (late) season is well under way, and perhaps, a number of Armstrong County hunters have been successful in bagging a whitetail with a flintlock muzzleloader.

It's not too late to begin thinking about next year's upcoming muzzleloader seasons. If you're in the market for a new smokepole, it might pay to visit the Traditions Web site:

A Traditions firearm that caught my eye was the company's Hawken-style .50-caliber left-hand model. Although this rifle is offered in percussion only, it would make an ideal arm for all the “lefties” who hunt the early fall season. Of course, the left-hand percussion Hawken cannot be used during the late, primitive weapons season, only “flinters” may be used then. Perhaps Traditions will bring out a left-hand flintlock. The Left-hand Hawken Woodsman's suggested retail price is $309.

If you're not overly concerned about traditional looks or styles and looking to save a few bucks, Traditions offers a line of “Buckskinner” carbines. Traditions' Buckskinner .50 caliber flintlock features a short, handy 21-inch barrel with a 1-48 twist rate, TruGlo adjustable sights, a hooked breech barrel and a synthetic ramrod. Retail prices start at $270.

If “tradition” is important, you might be interested in the firm's .50 caliber “Kentucky” rifle, offered in either flintlock or percussion. With its 1-66 rate of twist the Kentucky model rifle is strictly a roundball shooter and should offer superb accuracy with roundball fodder. The rifle is 49-inches overall, features a single trigger, wood ram rod and brass hardware and tips the scale at an even 7-pounds.

Traditions has one rather unique offering, its “Crockett” .32-caliber percussion rifle. This arm features a double-set trigger (important for making accurate shots), a 32-inch, 1-48-twist barrel, a windage adjustable rear sight and hardwood stock. This should make a great rifle for introducing youngsters to muzzleloading rifles. It would also make a serious firearm for small-game or fall turkey. Should be a lot of fun to shoot when just plinking, offering more bang for the buck than a .22 rim-fire rifle. The Crockett retails for $325.

In the “long-rifle” category Tradition's features it's line of “Shenadoah Classic” rifles. For target or small-game hunting there is a .36-caliber offering with a 331?2-inch barrel, 1-48 twist and double-set triggers, a bit on the pricey side, but no doubt worth the $469 retail. For deer hunters, the gun is also available in flint or percussion in .50 caliber around $300 or a “Kentucky” style long barrel flint at $295.

Hawken-style fans will appreciate Traditions' Hawken Woodsman, a flintlock with a 28-inch 1-48 barrel and a double-set trigger, also with a hooked breech barrel and adjustable sights. This gun retails for about $309.

Once the late season is over, you might want to consider passing the long remaining months of winter by building your own muzzlestuffer from a kit. Traditions offers percussion rifle kits from $169 to $219. Although the kits are all percussion rifles, they would be great for the 2006 fall muzzleloader season. Perhaps, Traditions will consider offering a flintlock kit for those of us who are serious about flintlock, patched roundball shooting.

On a final note, all shooters may be interested in downloading their own free targets from: Free targets include 25 to 400-yard bull's-eye targets, a sight-in target and several animal silhouette targets.

Muzzleloading rifle hunters have an excellent safety record in Pennsylvania. Shooting black powder muzzleoaders is something that can be enjoyed the year round by the entire family and offers a shooting sport that is unique, different, challenging and a lot of fun.

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