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.