The Best Muzzleloaders
From traditional designs to modern innovations, we cover the best muzzleloader rifles available today to suit all budgets and hunting pursuits.
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The CVA Paramount is the best muzzleloader for most people. Muzzleloaders are all CVA does — and all they have done (along with build-it-yourself rifle kits) since their founding in 1971.
Their Paramount line allows you to load higher-velocity “super-magnum” propellant charges that extend its effective range well beyond the 300-yard mark, a tough task for even more expensive muzzleloaders to surpass.
In This Article
The traditional muzzleloader was once the dominant firearm of human civilization. They were the primary tools of countless wars and muzzleloader hunters’ most trusted tool, allowing them to reliably bring home food to their families.
These days, rifles are a lot easier to use and much more user-friendly. But there are some who still use modern muzzleloaders to reconnect with the earliest form of hunting and who enjoy the extra care and attention these rifles need to perform.
Today, let’s take a deep look at the best muzzleloaders on the market. You might just find a muzzleloader you want to try on your next hunting expedition.
Below is my list of the best muzzleloaders. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of muzzleloaders.
Best for Beginners
Best Long Range Muzzleloader
How We Picked
We limited our picks to in-line muzzleloaders, as flintlocks & percussion caps are more geared toward specialty hunters & historical reenactments.
As with any type of rifle, you’ll find a variety of available calibers, so we included logical calibers.
Our recommendations all include optics support, which we found to be a critical feature for most people.
While not as expensive as centerfire rifles can get, we covered the gamut of typical price ranges in our picks.
More on our selection process
The Best Muzzleloaders
1. Best Overall: CVA Paramount
First up is the CVA Paramount, which is a classic weapon chambered for .45 caliber ammunition. But the weapon can be loaded with so-called “super magnum” powder to increase its stopping power and accuracy at a distance. Muzzle velocities upwards of 2200 ft./s are not uncommon, making it a perfect weapon for hunting game that you need to take down in a single shot.
The rest of the weapon is similarly well-built. A nitride treated and stainless steel barrel ensures that the weapon will last for a long time to come. The barrel is also free-floating to improve user accuracy: a big deal when it comes to muzzleloading rifles.
The rifle also comes with an internal aluminum chassis that keeps the overall weight relatively low while ensuring excellent durability over the long-term. Even better, the chassis can be adjusted for length of pull and comb height, so both larger and smaller hunters should both be able to enjoy this weapon to great extent. A self-deploying, compact ramrod rounds out the accessories included in the kit and provides excellent value.
- Made with phenomenal materials
- Can be used with high-powered powder
- Free-floated barrel increases accuracy
- Comes with self-deploying compact ramrod
- A bit pricy for most
2. Best for Beginners: Remington 700
The Remington Model 700 is one of the most iconic rifles of all time, so it’s no surprise that there’s a muzzleloader version already on the market.
This particular rifle is a bolt-action and in-line model that can use pre-primed cases to fire loads of up to 200 grains. In practical terms, you should be able to accurately hit your targets out to about 300 yards or so, so it’s a great long-range weapon even if it doesn’t come with a scope out of the box.
Its benefits don’t end there. If you’ve ever used a Remington 700, you’ll probably feel comfortable handling this muzzleloader rifle. The safety and adjustment controls are almost identical, so this is easily the best muzzleloader rifle for beginners who haven’t used one of these weapons before.
An adjustable trigger and a two-position safety are included, plus a hinged floorplate. This can hold extra cases if you want to reload the weapon more quickly. The rifle is chambered for .50 caliber by default, and every model comes with a stainless steel chassis and a satin finish.
It looks fantastic, and the only minor downside is that the barrel is 26 inches long: not quite as long as other muzzleloader rifles on the market or on this list. The black composite stock and sling studs make up for this quite a bit, however.
- Excellent for long-range use
- Great aesthetic
- Works similarly to regular Remington 700
- Has fluted, stainless steel barrel
- Quite expensive
- Barrel could be a little longer
3. Best Long Range Muzzleloader: Traditions Buckstalker
This muzzleloading rifle comes with a scope, so there’s a little extra value included in the purchase right off the bat. It’s also chambered for .50 caliber ammunition, so it has plenty of stopping power when combined with a great magnum powder load.
Big game at distances of 250 yards or more can be capably conquered with the Traditions Buckstalker.
The rifle can be purchased at several different barrel lengths, ranging from 25 inches to 30 inches depending on your preferences and how far you want to shoot. Regardless of barrel length, each rifle type comes with a fluted chrome barrel that has a corrosion-resistant nitrite finish for added durability and even better accuracy.
A special and comfortable grip, plus a Tac-2 trigger system, ensures that holding and using the rifle feels comfortable and beginning to end. It also makes it more difficult for the rifle to misfire.
- Multiple barrel length
- Comfortable grip
- Comes with scope
- The included scope could be a bit better
3. Best Budget Muzzleloader: CVA Wolf
The CVA Wolf is a .50 caliber muzzleloader that we think will be a perfect fit for those who are smaller than the average hunter. Teenagers and women looking to get into the sport will find that this weapon is easy to handle and doesn’t kick them back as much thanks to its excellent design and similarly small size.
It’s a break-action, in-line muzzleloader that’s phenomenally easy to clean. You can open the barrel super quickly by pushing a button near the grip. It also features a 24-inch barrel – this does limit your accuracy a little bit, but the extra comfort for those with small frames is a worthy trade-off in our eyes.
It’s also made with blued steel that can resist inclement weather without it degrading over time. A quick-release breech plug makes exposing the breech fast and easy without the use of tools. We also like that a one-piece scope is included with the purchase for even more value.
- Comes with a scope
- Perfect size for smaller shooters
- Breech opens quickly
- Made of blued steel
- Barrel length is a little small for long-range work
5. Also Great: CVA Accura
The CVA Accura is a modern rifle chambered for .45 caliber ammunition, and it’s fairly affordable compared to a few of the others on this list. It comes with nitride or satin stainless steel finishes depending on your preference, but every rifle comes with a 30-inch barrel: a perfect length for long-distance hunting.
A quick-release breech plug is included here as well, although you can remove it if you like for easier maintenance. More importantly, the rifle comes with a composite stock constructed with a special recoil pad. This design feature easily makes this rifle one of the most comfortable and easy to shoot muzzleloaders on the market.
We also really like the special sling holes and included one-piece scope mount. This makes adding any optic of your choice fast and easy. The solid aluminum ramrod is another nice inclusion, though the aluminum material is a little easier to bend and break than we’d like.
- Comes with recoil pad
- Quick-release breech plug
- Includes a ramrod
- One-piece scope mounting system
- Ramrod could be more durable
Why Use A Muzzleloader?
A muzzleloader is a type of rifle most commonly used in either of two situations these days: niche hunting and historical reenactments in the United States and abroad.
As soon as breech-loaded and centerfire rifles became ubiquitous, muzzleloading rifles fell by the wayside due to breech-loaded rifles enabling faster load times, more follow-up shots and improved accuracy.
They’re practically superior weapons in many ways, but this doesn’t mean that muzzleloaders are without value.
For starters, the muzzleloader community is alive and well, filled with passionate enthusiasts. These folks are such proponents of the rifle that many use them in the aforementioned historical reenactments. Furthermore, many modern hunters prefer using muzzleloaders because they feel more connected to the art of hunting as sportsmen than using more modern guns or a centerfire rifle, which create unparalleled advantages for the hunter – be it accuracy boosting features, fiber optic sights, or the simplicity of cartridge-based ammunition.
Muzzleloaders require you to load loose powder and a shot into the barrel of a rifle after each shot. This requires more time, patience, and care.
Muzzleloader hunters enjoy the challenge, and a successful hunt with one of these rifles can make for one of the best hunting experiences, especially when tackling big game hunting or hunting deer.
They’re not for everyone, but they can be quite effective and really connect you with the history of the sport of hunting.
What to look for in a Quality Muzzleloader
No two modern muzzleloaders are alike, which means you should pay attention to a few key factors before making a final purchasing decision.
1. Ignition System
Your rifle’s ignition system basically dictates how the gun ignites the powder inside the barrel. Flintlock ignition systems are the oldest in the world, but they require the most finesse. Flint strikes a hinged cover on the rifle’s pan as soon as you pull the trigger, which makes sparks that ignite the powder inside the barrel.
Caplock or sidelock ignition systems have been around since the 1800s. They don’t require flint or priming powder, so they’re a little easier to use. Instead, they use a percussion cap inside the rifle’s nipple. Hammers strike those caps and cause sparks to travel to the main charge to ignite the bullet.
Of course, muzzleloader technology has come a long way, and in-line ignition systems are even more reliable, essentially variations of the caplock system.
They’re also the most common types on the market these days.
A muzzleloader’s action characterizes what happens when you pull the trigger.
Bolt-action muzzleloaders are pretty similar to modern hunting rifles. They’re stable and offer a smooth user experience. However, many of these muzzleloader rifles are pretty heavy in comparison. These actions are also pretty easy to clean.
Break action muzzleloader rifles are similar to break-action shotguns. Flick the lever to break open the barrel, where you can then reload as needed. This does mean that such actions are incredibly easy to clean – the barrels are easy to maintain as well.
Drop actions have a metal breechblock that rotates vertically into the breech to expose the gap where you can load cartridges and clean the interior of the weapon.
Don’t forget to think about caliber – it’s just as important for muzzleloader rifles as it is for modern firearms. Larger calibers mean bigger bullets, which often means more stopping power. Higher calibers are best used to hunt larger game.
However, larger bullets require more powder and may produce more recoil. For muzzleloaders, this isn’t a factor you can ignore since they can really kick into your shoulder and produce quite a lot of smoke.
.45 and .50 caliber muzzleloader rifles are most common, though you can find others depending on where you look.
Keep regulations in mind
With calibers and all the specifics regarding muzzleloader rifles, research any state regulations that apply.
Your state might have certain limitations on the caliber of muzzleloader rifles you can use, how long the barrels can be, or whether you can even use muzzleloader rifles in the first place — also known as muzzleloader season.
There may be limitations because muzzleloader rifles create a lot of smoke and oil, which can eventually cause issues at firing ranges or on certain closed hunting grounds.
In most cases, traditional muzzleloaders are more restricted compared to in-line muzzleloaders, especially when it comes to muzzleloader hunting, which is why you can most often find muzzleloaders of the latter ignition type.
All in all, the CVA Paramount represents everything we like about muzzleloaders since it’s built with modern materials and technological advancements. It certainly benefits from more recent firearm innovations (like a free-floating barrel that adds accuracy) but is still a classic, muzzleloaded weapon that true sportsmen will appreciate.
Give it a try for yourself or check out one of the other options above. Good hunting!
- National Interest, Meet the M-14 Rifle: The Old Gun That Refused to Surrender, March 1, 2019
- Basspro, Muzzleloader Buyers Guide
- ChuckHawks, How to Select a New Muzzleloader
March 16, 2023 — After careful reexamination of this guide, we stand by our present muzzleloader recommendations. We’ve added and updated images and links where appropriate.
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