Kyle Carroll's Outdoor Journal
We left off last week talking about the big change Tony Knight brought to the muzzle loading industry in 1985 with the first of the “inline” Muzzleloader. “In-line” meaning the ignition system was moved to the very bottom of the barrel and in line with the barrel as opposed to the nipple and cap being located on the side if the barrel like historical cap lock guns.
Thompson center and others followed with 209 primer guns that used 209 shotgun primers that burnt hotter than the traditional muzzleloader cap. Other innovations followed including break over stocks and breaches that were removable so that cleaning could be done from one end of the barrel to the other. This new breed of muzzle loading rifle began to resemble modern rifles with modern looking synthetic stocks and scopes mounted to the barrels.
Sabots came along in 1990 enabling muzzleloaders to use modern jacketed or lead pistol bullets in their guns.
That's pretty much where we have stayed for the last thirty years until the latest evolution was introduced by Federal Premium Ammunition this year. The latest upgrade is called FIRESTICK. Federal's new innovation is a fully encapsulated propellant charge that uses Triple Eight powder. It has to be used in a Traditions NitroFire muzzleloader. The FIRESTICK looks like a plastic .410 shotgun shell. The hunter only has to place a cap in the bottom of the FIRESTICK and place it in the breach of the gun. It's impervious to weather and the gun can be unloaded without discharging or pulling a ball. The only thing still similar to the muzzleloader of old is the loading of the projectile down the muzzle to sit atop the FIRESTICK. Remington makes something similar called the Ultimate Muzzleloader. Check out Muzzleloader Evolution in the latest Outdoor Life (volume 227) for the complete story. We can't push the envelope much further or the guns won't qualify as muzzleloaders. To each, his own. FIRESTICK looks like a pretty nice system. In the meantime, I'm taking my powder horn, a few round balls, and my Flintlock and heading to the woods.