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February 2018
Author: Austin Atkinson

Even though I enjoy hunting with a bow and arrow and consider the more primitive methods of hunting to be very rewarding, I also consider myself an opportunist and jump at the chance to take advantage of new products that will help me have the best chance at success. Many states have recently adopted regulations allowing the use of magnifying scopes mounted atop muzzleloaders during muzzleloader seasons. Coupled with the technology behind the new black powder substitutes and projectiles, the long-range craze is reaching the muzzleloader market and it’s worth taking a closer look at.

Knowing that New Mexico has very few restrictions on muzzleloader specifications, I applied for and drew a late season muzzleloader-only elk permit last year. I knew the rugged, steep terrain would warrant the use of a long-range firearm that would be capable of a cross-canyon shot. While there are many choices for muzzleloaders in today’s market, I was intrigued by the new .45 caliber muzzleloader produced by Best of the West in Cody, Wyoming and decided that would be my setup for my New Mexico hunt.

This muzzleloader uses a custom ballistic-tipped bullet with a high BC and does not use a sabot to eliminate the inaccuracies associated with conventional plastic sabots. The priming system is one of the most convenient and easy-to-use setups I’ve ever seen. Large rifle primers are held by the patent-pending Express Priming System using brass cartridge holders. You can carry up to five primers in the magazine, much like you would with a centerfire rifle. The side discharge muzzle brake helps reduce most of the recoil from the the heavy load of Blackhorn 209 powder, and it weighs in at under 10.5 lbs., scope included.

After battling unusually warm temps and turning up very few mature bulls, I glassed up a small group of bulls on the last day of my New Mexico hunt and tried to close the distance and get on the same hillside as the 6-point in the group. It became next to impossible to pick out his body in the brush once I got within shooting distance. I knew my only clear shot I would have on him would be from behind me and across the first draw. I dropped down the hill and picked my way through the brush to get a clear view of the bull and watched him bed down in the shade. The angle-compensated range read 603 yards on my rangefinder and there was no crosswind to speak of, so I knew this was my opportunity. I dialed the scope up 19.6 MOA to the printed yardage on the turret and took a few practice squeezes, holding level on the bedded bull. After working the bolt and letting the primer and powder do their job, I was overjoyed to see my first New Mexico bull topple over down the hill. The 327 grain bullet had passed through the bull’s chest completely, and my hunt was over.

The standard system includes the muzzleloader, 4-16x42 Huskemaw Optics scope, short starter, custom turret, 24 bullets, priming inserts, powder tubes, reprimer tool, hard case, and more.

MSRP: $5,495 (Standard System)

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