Best of the Best Awards: The Best New Blackpowder Rifles of 2008

Our testers included blackpowder hunter Jerry Ewasiuk; avid bench shooter Bob McDonald; Al Voth, a hunter and reloader; and author Brad Fenson, who has hunted with muzzleloaders from the Arctic to Florida.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Winner:
Traditions Pursuit II XLT
Traditions has done an incredible job of refining the quality and features of its break-action muzzleloaders. This model, with the new Accelerator Breech Plug, is easier and faster to clean thatn any other blackpowder gun we know of; three revolutions of the breech allow you to remove the plug and start cleaning. A Soft-Touch rubberized stock helps you grip the firearm under any conditions. With a 28-inch ported and fluted nickel barrel, and a quality recoil pad, the gun handled and shot extremely well. It achieved the tightest groups and was clearly the winner.
860-388-4656. traditionsfirearms.com

Weight: 7.5 pounds
Barrel length: 28 inches with 1:28 inch twist rifling
Barrel: Blued
Overall length: 44 inches
Stock: Soft-Touch camouflage
Action: Break open
Ignition: 209 shotgun primer

OTHER TESTER PICKS

CVA Accura 209 Magnum $380
The 209 Magnum is lightweight (7.3 pounds) and pleasing to handle and shoot, with a crisp 1-pound 12-ounce trigger. Its .50-caliber, 27-inch fluted, stainless barrel carries the Bergara name and was accurate as expected. The action worked smoothly and was simple to break open. • cva.com

Weight: 7.3 pounds
Barrel length: 27 inches with 1:28 inch twist rifling
Barrel: Fluted Bergara Barrel, in either blued or stainless with Bullet Guiding Muzzle
Overall length: 14.5-inch length of pull
Stock: Ambidextrous, solid composite stock available in standard or thumbhole
Action: Break open
Maximum load: 150 grains
Ignition: 209 shotgun primer

Knight Shadow $250
With excellent balance, which helps keep recoil manageable, the Shadow is a great entry-level gun. It features a Green Mountain barrel, with guaranteed accuracy at 100 yards. A magnet on the breech plug holds the primer in place, making it no trouble to drop in a cap without a priming tool. • knightrifles.com

Weight: 7.0 pounds
Barrel length: 26 inches with 1:28 inch twist rifling
Barrel: Green Mountain barrel in blued or stainless steel
Overall length: 42-inches, length of pull 14-inches
Stock: black composite
Action: Break open
Maximum load: 150 grains
Ignition: 209 shotgun primer
Special feature: magnetic breech plug

Traditions Pursuit LT Northwestern $308
Although it only shoots No. 11 percussion caps, this rifle printed groups as good as the 209 guns. The Northwestern can take magnum loads with up to 150 grains of powder, and loading and cleaning don't require a lot of effort. • traditionsfirearms.com

Weight: 6 ¾ pounds
Barrel length: 26 inches with 1:28 inch twist rifling
Barrel: nickel
Overall length: 42 inches
Stock: synthetic
Action: Break open
Maximum load: 150 grains
Ignition: No. 11 or Musket cap
Special feature: exposed breech for hunting in several Northwest states