What’s the Best Muzzleloader for Hunting?

inside of a gun

Hunting is a favorite pastime for many outdoorsy people. Most of those people enjoy hunting with firearms, and you can find as many different hunting rifles as there are animals to hunt. Some people prefer hunting with muzzleloaders, which are the original firearms. They're low-tech, but they require more skill than modern rifles for several reasons. That begs two questions: The first is, why on Earth would anyone want to use a muzzleloader for hunting? And second, what is the best muzzleloader for hunting?

The appeal of muzzleloaders comes from the fact that they're traditional. Those who use them for hunting not only enjoy the sport in a more conventional manner than today's guns allow, but they also like the challenge. Muzzleloaders require a higher degree of proficiency to hunt effectively. If you're interested in learning to hunt with a muzzleloader, we have all the information you need, including which one is the best muzzleloader for hunting.

What Is a Muzzleloader?

Muzzleloaders are the oldest type of gun there is. The muskets used in the Revolution and the Civil War were all muzzleloaders. However, just because you load these guns differently than every other gun out there doesn’t mean that they aren’t sophisticated weapons. There are several types of muzzleloaders out there. To figure out which is the best muzzleloader for hunting, you should be aware of what these are.

Types of muzzleloaders

There are three primary types of muzzleloaders: Inline, flintlock, and caplock.

Inline muzzleloader

With an inline muzzleloader, the firing cap is right behind the charge. These types of muzzleloaders let more of the original flame into the barrel to ignite. They also better protect the caps, which makes them more reliable than flintlocks and caplocks.

These guns also use bullets that look more like modern ammunition, and the powder is more like pellets than powder. You can put scopes on inline muzzleloaders as well. This makes it so inline muzzleloaders go against tradition, in a way.

Flintlocks

These are the guns you recognize from 19th-century folklore, but they've been around since the 17th century. You might hear flintlocks referred to as black powder guns, too, because they use black powder to fire their ammunition (which is patched balls). In a flintlock, pulling the trigger causes flint to strike metal, which produces sparks that fall into a pan of priming powder. That, in turn, ignites the black powder, which fires the round.

Flintlocks take more practice than other types of muzzleloaders. That practice is especially necessary if you want to hunt with a flintlock. You can do it, though, as long as you take the time required to learn to do so correctly.

Caplocks (percussion locks)

In a caplock gun, a little nipple holds the cap on the side of the gun’s barrel. When you pull the trigger, the hammer strikes the cap, causing a flame to travel from the nipple into the barrel, firing the round. Caplocks can give you problems with hunting because the cap is exposed, and therefore can get wet. They don’t work very well when they’re wet.

How to use a muzzleloader

First, you need to know how to load it. Remember your safety and keep the muzzle pointed away from you at all times.

  1. 1
    ​Point the muzzle away from yourself
  2. 2
    ​Pour your powder down the barrel (this is usually a pre-measured powder charge, but if you don’t have that, then measure your powder and pour it down the barrel)
  3. 3
    ​Put your ammunition over the muzzle, and push it down the barrel with a short starter as gently as possible
  4. 4
    ​Use your ramrod to ram the round down the barrel until it’s firmly against the powder charge
  5. 5
    ​(Inline only): Open the breechblock and install your cap or primer
  6. 6
    ​(Flintlock only): Pour your primer powder into the pan and close
  7. 7
    ​(Caplock only): Place your cap on its nipple

If you’re using an inline muzzleloader, your first four steps will be the following:

  1. 1
    ​Check for a load and then swab the bore dry
  2. 2
    ​Open the breechblock to install your primer or cap
  3. 3
    ​Point the muzzle in a safe direction and close the block
  4. 4
    ​Pull the trigger to fire the cap, which clears the channel
  5. 5
    ​(Inline only): Open the breechblock and install your cap or primer
  6. 6
    ​(Flintlock only): Pour your primer powder into the pan and close
  7. 7
    ​(Caplock only): Place your cap on its nipple

Then proceed with the loading steps above. Because muzzleloaders are so dirty to fire, you really want to clean the barrel between shots. It gets rid of powder and other debris that will harm your accuracy.

Finally, when you’re finished using your gun, you need to clean the whole thing before storing it. Muzzleloaders are dirty, and if you don’t thoroughly clean them before you store them, you run a high risk of causing long-term damage to your gun.

Why You Should Consider Hunting with a Muzzleloader

Given the fact that you have to swab the bore between shots, and you can only fire one shot at a time, why would anyone want to go hunting with a muzzleloader? One primary reason is that, with a muzzleloader, you have the advantage of earlier hunting seasons in many places. People who hunt with muzzleloaders can get permits for special hunting seasons, so fewer hunters are going after more game in more space.

There’s also the sheer challenge of it. Muzzleloaders are difficult to handle in the field because you have to reload after each shot, and reloading requires more than merely pushing a new round down the barrel. Therefore, you have to hone your skills with the weapon in a way that people who use other kinds of hunting rifles don’t. You need to be able to bring down your game in one shot as often as possible.

How Much Do Muzzleloaders Cost?

wallet on the table

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay 

We all know that guns aren’t cheap. Muzzleloaders are no different. While some places, like Sportsman’s Guide and Muzzle-Loaders.com, sell muzzleloaders for as little as $200 to $500, more often they run from $500 to over $1,000.

How We Reviewed

We went to several different hunting websites to gather information about muzzleloaders, including why people choose to hunt with them. For pricing information, we went to the websites of gun dealers and sporting goods stores to see what they had.

To determine the best muzzleloader for hunting, we used customer reviews on these same websites. We also used hunting websites that listed their favorite muzzleloaders such as The Survival Life, Hunting Mark, OutdoorLife, Range365.com, and Field & Stream. Finally, we used manufacturers’ websites to compile general information and specs.

Best Muzzleloader for Hunting

Now that you have all of the ins and outs of muzzleloaders, what is the best muzzleloader for hunting? We've created a list of the eight muzzleloaders that we believe will serve you well out in the field.

The CV​​A Accura V2 .45 caliber muzzleloader is unique in that its nitride coating brings it as close to corrosion-proof as you can get. It's an inline muzzleloader intended to fit a wide range of hunters with its combination of balance and maneuverability. This is a breech-action rifle. However, its breech is built into the trigger guard. That makes it one of the easiest breech-action guns on the market, in part because you can remove the breech with just your fingers. There's no need for special tools.


Customers love this gun's accuracy and ease of use. Those who have shot it at a range for practice have had little trouble refining their skills, and they like how easy it is to clean when they're finished shooting. If you're looking for the best muzzleloader you can find, this one fits that definition. You can find it for between $500 and $600.

​Remington is probably one of the best-known names in firearms. As such, if you're looking for the best muzzleloader for hunting, you should definitely consider Remington's 700 Ultimate Muzzleloader (UML). This .50-caliber gun is Remington's best muzzleloader. It uses primers that are hotter than standard, meaning they can burn slightly larger loads of powder. It's also easier to clean and maintain than many other muzzleloaders, which is something the best muzzleloader on the market should definitely have. The only significant problem that people have noticed with this gun is that, if you put a scope on it, you need to protect it from the flash. Otherwise, they love it. You can purchase it for between $800 to $1,100.

No article helping you find the best muzzleloader for hunting would be complete without something from Thompson/Center. The FX .50 caliber muzzleloader is a true muzzleloader, unlike many of Thompson/Center's other guns. It has a stainless steel receiver that is, unfortunately, difficult to access when cleaning. However, its weather shielding helps protect the receiver, making cleaning just a little easier. This weapon also has a recoil-reducing stock. That's a nice feature since these guns tend to have a stronger recoil than your average hunting rifle. It also has break-open action, allowing you easy access to the breech.


The Thompson/Center Pro-Hunter FX has some mixed reviews. Those who like it, though, enjoy the way it feels and its accuracy. Some even call it an improvement over other muzzleloaders. It sells for between $650 and $700.

The Hawken​​ Woodsman is a beautiful muzzleloader that comes in both caplock and flintlock models. If you're serious about getting back to basics and tradition, this may be the best muzzleloader for you. It's a .50 caliber weapon trimmed in wood and brass, much like the guns of old. Both the flintlock and caplock versions have double-set triggers, and the hooked breeches make removing both the breech and barrel easy. It also has an adjustable sight. You can dial in your sighting even without a scope.


Shooters love this gun's ease of use and ability to clean up quickly. Some say they found themselves surprised at the Hawken Woodsman's accuracy, while others say it works well right out of the box. You can purchase the gun for between $450 and $525. If you really want the best muzzleloader, consider this one.

This is another flintlock that you should consider if you're looking for the best muzzleloader out there. Kentucky flintlocks are about as basic and traditional as you can get. Like the Hawken Woodsman, the Pedersoli Kentucky flintlock is made with wood and brass, giving it that old-time, classic feel. Unlike many other muzzleloaders, this gun comes in three different calibers: .32, .45, and .50. The larger the caliber, the heavier the gun, but that doesn't seem to matter.


People have given this muzzleloader great reviews. While some people have issues with the sights and with flinching when they fire it, most rave about its feel and its accuracy. It sells for between $650 and $800.

Lyman ma​​nufactures some excellent muzzleloaders. Their best muzzleloader is the Great Plains muzzleloader. This gun is a replica of certain rifles used in mountain movies like "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Revenant." It's made of wood and metal and has an antique look, even if you buy a kit and build it yourself. It also comes in several different calibers and in right or left-hand configurations.


Customers feel this is the best muzzleloader for hunting in part because it's easy to maintain, accurate, and just plain fun to shoot. One person says that the butt can cut into your shoulder, but otherwise, loves their gun. You can buy it for between $700 and $800.

It's difficult to argue that Traditions is worth your consideration if you're looking for the best muzzleloader for hunting. The Buckstalker is an unusually lightweight gun. It weighs just six pounds compared to the seven to eight pounds of other muzzleloaders. It has a breech you can unscrew with just three turns of the hand, making it easy to load both loose and pelletized powder. It's also smaller than other muzzleloaders, so it's more maneuverable in the tight settings you may encounter while hunting.


Hunters love this gun's ease of use and accuracy. Some decided to try it out while hunting instead of at the range and were surprised by how well it worked. They also like its reliability. Where other muzzleloaders have failed to fire or misfired, the Buckstalker hasn't let them down. It's also cheap compared to the other muzzleloaders on this list. Cabela's has it listed for between $200 and $300, and Academy Sports + Outdoors lists it for between $170 and $200.

LHR's best muzzleloader, the Redemption, features both a breech and barrel that don't require tools for removal. It's a 0.50 caliber weapon that's advertised as quieter than other muzzleloaders. It will also take a scope, whereas some of the other guns on this list won't. Like the CV Accura V2, this gun has a nitride coating to protect against corrosion. It's a simple, easy-to-use gun that many people love.


Some people think even the best muzzleloader is a primitive weapon. Customers who have this one, though, say the truth is that despite its simplicity, this gun is not primitive in the least. Its construction not only makes it accurate, but it also helps the threads of the breech remain clean after firing. The gun sells for between $450 and $600.

Our Choice is Clear: The Best Muzzleloader for Hunting

Choosing the best muzzleloader for hunting is difficult, even with all of this information. However, we believe that the Traditions Hawken Woodsman Muzzleloader is the best muzzleloader on this list. In addition to its sheer accuracy, beautiful design and ease of use, it's durable. If you take proper care of this gun, then even though it's a flintlock, it will serve you well for years. Possibly even decades.

Furthermore, you can't beat the price if you're looking for the best muzzleloader out there. It's not so cheap that you have to worry about quality, but not so expensive that it's out of reach for most hunters. Any of the guns on this list can be the best muzzleloader for you, but you really can't beat Traditions' Hawken Woodsman.

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