MOA accuracy with a muzzleloader is achievable, but requires attention to the smallest details.
Thoughts on how to achieve accuracy with a muzzleloader:
- Consistency is the key to accuracy with muzzleloaders.
- Every step of loading should remain the same, so the next shot performs like the previous.
- Saboted bullets add a level of forgiveness to this process.
The Holy Grail of muzzleloading is to shoot 1-inch groups at 100 yards. To achieve MOA with a muzzleloader you must be consistent with everything you do.
When you pour powder into your measurer, do you tap on the sides to make it settle? If so, how many taps? Do you scrape the excess powder off of the measurer so it’s precisely full every time? When you swab out the barrel between shots, do you use one side of the damp patch or both sides? Do you follow the damp patch with a dry patch? If you vary your technique you’ll never obtain great accuracy.
I start with a completely clean and dry bore. I run a dry patch down the barrel to remove oil from storage, then I put rubbing alcohol on a patch and swab the bore using both sides of the patch. Then I fire three Winchester W209 primers through the gun to foul the bore with non-corrosive residue.
I always use saboted bullets because they are forgiving, and because every barrel is slightly different. A plastic sabot will compress and take up the difference between a .500-inch bore or a .502-inch bore.
I went out the other day to test a rifle. I started with ffg Triple Seven powder and 250-grain Hornady Monoflex bullets that have shot great for me in other rifles. I shot groups with 110 to 150 grains of powder and the best group measured 2 inches at 100 yards. I then switched to a 300-grain Bloodline Bullet. I started with 110 grains of ffg Triple Seven and worked my way up. Every increase in powder reduced my group size, which is contradictory to what normally happens. Regardless, at 150 grains of ffg Triple Seven, I shot a 1-inch group at 100 yards.
Why that bullet and that powder charge? Because it’s a muzzleloader.
Editor's Note: The article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.