by Rick Kindig
Reprinted from The Blackpowder Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, April 1996
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY FOR A MUZZLELOADING RIFLE ?
Depending on what job you want the rifle to do, you may expect to pay between $100 and $1500, with most models falling between $250 and $500. A hand made fullstock Kentucky style rifle may run $800-$1500, while factory made fullstock rifles run $500-$800. Most in-line rifles are priced in the $250-$500 range. Sometimes you may find conventional style imported rifles for as little as $100-$150 that will still be safe, accurate hunting guns, though they lack some of the extra features such as adjustable sights.
WHAT BRAND NAMES SHOULD I LOOK FOR ?
There are many quality brands of muzzleloading rifles on the market today. Connecticut Valley Arms, usually designated C.V.A., and Traditions are two companies who import all their firearms from Spain. They are both known for low to moderately priced firearms that are good, safe, accurate shooters, but sometimes not as sophisticated in details.
Lyman Co. imports a series of rifles made by Invest Arms of Italy. Their Great Plains Rifle series is a traditional, authentic model that is popular with re-enactors, target shooters and hunters. They sell in the $300 range, but Lyman also offers less expensive models. This year, Lyman is adding an in-line rifle to their regular line of muzzleloaders.
Thompson Center Arms, often referred to as T/C, offers an extensive line of in-lines and traditional models, all fully American made, with prices ranging from $250-$350. All T/C guns are backed by a lifetime warranty (to the original owner) and can be serviced at field stations such as the Log Cabin Shop.
The Modern Muzzleloading Co. is another all American company, famous for their in-line Knight rifles. They offer an extensive array of options based on a standard action. The price range here is $225-$650.
Remington has announced an in-line black powder rifle coming in '96 which will be based on their famous Model 700 bolt-action cartridge rifle. Several variations will be available in the $350-$400 range.
TIPS ON BUYING USED BLACK POWDER FIREARMS
Since the modern muzzleloading era started some 35 years ago, there have been several million muzzleloading firearms sold in this country. This makes buying a used one a real possibility. First, try to find a company that is still in business so that parts and service will be more readily available. Even with a company such as C.V.A. that is still in business, it may be difficult to find parts for their early models.
As always when buying a used item, "let the buyer beware." A detailed examination of the external surface is easy. Look for signs of neglect or abuse, rusted or pitted steel surfaces, cracked stock, missing parts, etc. Check the function of the lock (one of the parts most likely to fail in any muzzleloading rifle) and the trigger.
The factor most difficult to check, and the most likely to be a problem, is the condition of the bore. A very great number of shooters fail to do proper maintenance on their rifles, so the bores become rusted. While a moderately rusted bore may still be safe to fire, it will be more difficult to load and clean, and will usually be less accurate. The resale value of a rifle with a heavily rusted bore is nearly zero, a little pitting in a bore can quickly cut resale value in half. Several companies make "bore lights," small battery operated lights that will slide down a muzzleloading barrel, allowing a fairly effective examination of the bore. A clean bore in good condition will show a bright, almost polished surface. Rust may show as anything from a smudge to dark pits.