The Primitive Edge

The latest advances in compound bows and in-line muzzleloaders.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Blackpowder and archery season hunters have a tough enough challenge getting sufficiently close for a shot. When it comes to sealing the deal, many of us welcome a technological edge. Here are the latest advances in modern bows and muzzleloaders:

Weatherproof In-Lines Wet weather can render conventional muzzleloaders inoperable, but today's in-lines virtually eliminate that problem. To make ignition even faster and more reliable, several models now employ a standard 209 shotgun primer. What's more, many are available in .45 caliber and can be loaded with up to 150 grains of black powder or Pyrodex and a modern sabot-encased conical bullet, producing tremendous muzzle velocities and downrange energy. Topped with a quality scope, the best of them are accurate to 150 yards or more. Here's a trio with all three advantages: (1) Thompson/Center Omega The "swinging block" lever-action design allows easy access to the 209 primer pocket and seals the breech, protecting it from the weather. Several stock and barrel combinations are available. $524; 603-332-2333; www.tcarms.com

(2) Knight Master Hunter DISC Extreme The Full Plastic Jacket completely encases a 209 primer for surefire ignition. With a composite stock and a fluted stainless-steel barrel, this rifle shoots like a house afire. $1,100; 641-856-2626; www.knightrifles.com

(3) CVA FireBolt 209 UltraMag For the budget-conscious hunter who wants top-level performance in an in-line muzzleloader, Connecticut Valley Arm's FireBolt features a solid composite stock, a magnum barrel with precision fluting, and a patented 209 primer ignition system. It's a great value. $240; 770-449-4687; www.cva.com

**Speedy and Silent Compounds **Today's top bows are easy to hold, draw as smooth as silk, and are inherently accurate. Many employ built-in vibration-damping systems for silent shooting and will launch a hunting shaft at 300 fps without the need for a Herculean draw weight. If you haven't shot a state-of-the-art compound bow at your local pro shop yet, you don't know what you're missing. These three put it all together:

**(1) Mathews LX **The LX is built around a new high-performance single cam, the fastest the company has ever tested. The list of additional bells and whistles goes on and on, including the tightest limb cup system of its kind, harmonic dampers, string suppressors, a lightweight riser, and much more. Bottom line: It is sweeter than honey. $719; 608-269-2728; www.mathewsinc.com

(2) Hoyt's Cam & 1/2 Available on all Hoyt's 2003 bows, the Cam & 1/2 Performance System is neither a single-cam nor a two-cam system, but splits the difference. You have to shoot one to appreciate it. $333 and up; 801-363-2990; www.hoytusa.com

(3) BowTech Extreme VFT Designed to virtually eliminate hand shock, BowTech's Vertical Force Technology disperses energy away from the riser at the shot. Add the vibration-damping technology and one of the most comfortable risers out there, and you get a whale of a hunting bow. $629; 888-689-1289; www.bowtecharchery.com