April 01, 2013
Tony Knight, Inventor of Knight Rifle, Dies at 67
By Scott Bestul
We’ve lost yet another man who changed the face of modern deer hunting. Tony Knight, inventor of the Knight Rifle—the first mass-produced in-line muzzleloader—died Monday, March 18, near Plano, Iowa.
Knight set the hunting world on fire in 1985 when he introduced the MK-85 (the initials were his daughter’s), a rifle he produced in Centerville, Iowa. Though the in-line design initially drew as many critics as it did adherents, Knight was a tireless champion for the inclusion of in-line rifles into blackpowder seasons that had been dominated by sidelock guns. He was wildly successful; within a handful of years, in-lines had not only gained wide acceptance, but also a huge market share.
I interviewed Tony just a couple of years after the MK-85 hit the market and found him to be a friendly, intelligent man, as well as a great interview. He was, I believe, a little surprised by the hoopla created by his first in-lines.
“The only reason I came up with the design was because I listened to my friends (who had used sidelock guns on elk hunts), and they were complaining about misfires. I thought I could come up with something better,” Knight told me during that session.
Well, he obviously did just that—and changed the face of muzzleloading forever in the process.