How to Improve Your Muzzleloader’s Accuracy

Four tips for turning your smokepole into a tack driver.

muzzleloader
muzzleloader
A muzzleloader hunter touches off a shot.Tim Christie

Follow these tips to eke out optimum ­accuracy from your in-line muzzleloader.

1. Fire It Smooth

The barrel is the most important component of a tack-driving smokepole. Any imperfections in the bore will hurt accuracy. So get a fire-lapping kit for muzzleloaders ($50; ­bear tooth ­bullets.com) and shoot 15 to 20 of the provided soft-lead bullets as directed. These have various grit compounds that will polish smooth any defects.

2. Mount It Right

Once you’ve perfected the barrel, do the same with your scope rings, using a kit like the Wheeler Engineering Scope Ring Alignment and Lapping Kit ($45–$62; midwayusa.com). This will take off any residual manufacturing marks that could allow the scope to shift after a shot. Most kits provide leveling bars that will ensure the scope runs perfectly parallel to the bore.

3. Get Loose

Granulated powders can be measured and fine-tuned more precisely than preformed pellets, yielding better shot-to-shot consistency. “Like a hand­loader developing recipes, a muzzle­loader shooter can adjust a loose-powder charge to perfectly match a specific bullet-and-gun combination,” says Chris Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powders (hodgdon.com).

4. Find Your Bullet

Pick a few bullets from the top manufacturers, like Barnes, Hornady, Power­Belt, and Thompson/Center, in a variety of weights for the game you’re after. For whitetails, stay in the 250- to 300-grain zone. Shoot each combination of brand, weight, and powder until you hit your smallest groups. Be systematic and clean the barrel after each shot. You may just squeeze MOA accuracy out of that smokepole yet.