Lately, I have discovered that I spend WAY too much money on guns and ammunition just so I can go and shoot on the weekends. To make it even worse, I find that most of the time I supply all the equipment to include guns and ammunition in addition to being the only one to clean up afterwards. The entire thing become a huge chore and hit to my bank account. To cut overall investment without cutting the fun I decided that I needed to start taking the muzzleloader. This created a whole new set of problems because cleaning my Knight is anything but fun.
In yet another attempt to spend money to save money I went on a search. It became clear that the only solution that I could live with was to go and find a traditional muzzleloader rifle that was easy to clean, would be fun, and other people would find fun enough to ignore the lack of modern rifles I was taking out. The first thing I realized was that muzzleloaders are not the cheap rifles I was used to seeing when I was younger. Lyman and TC Hawken models ran between $450 and $700 on average. Now, I began to kick myself for not grabbing a $100 kit that I remember back in high school.
Whenever price becomes an issue I find that doing some serious online research will help to find me a cheaper solution. In this case I was not let down. I discovered that there were only a few companies that manufactured production muzzleloader rifles and they were resold under other names. This is no different than the American Arms .44 mag pistol I purchased some years ago. The .44 mag is actually manufactured by Uberti. Muzzleloaders are really no different. Lyman and Cabela’s rifles are actually made by Investarm out of Italy. TC makes their own. The third big manufacturer is Traditions. CVA does make some as well. Some other brands seem to be a bit murky as to who really makes them, so I took some literary license and just ignored those.
After I was armed with this information, I stepped up my search and went looking for used rifles that I might find at a bargain. Lo and behold I came across reference to an unused, never shot Hawken style rifle earmarked as a KBI/Kassnar brand. It had been advertised for almost a month without anyone even asking about it. I did some research on KBI/Kassnar and discovered that this company imported firearms until they closed up shop in 1989. They did business with gun manufacturers in England, Spain and Italy. Considering that Investarm is out of Italy, it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out who probably made this rifle. Not only that, but the wood grain was incredible and it had brass accents to include a patch box in the stock.
Sure enough, when I met up with the guy, the rifle was actually an Investarm model 120b, had never been shot, and was in 100% perfect condition (except the brass is a bit tarnished from sitting in a box). There were other “goodies” as well that were also still in their unopened and brand new state. Interestingly enough, the guy I met with was selling the items for a 75 year old man who bought everything in 1987 for a trip that got cancelled.
Now if you are in the market for a muzzleloader or have ever thought about getting into “smoke sticks” it isn’t nearly as expensive as you would think, if you are patient and look around. The majority of shooters and gun buyers completely ignore muzzleloaders and have no idea about them. This will allow you the opportunity to pick up an almost new or completely new rifle at 10-20 year ago prices. Another selling point is that the design of most muzzleloaders is not that different from the originals of yesteryear. Even better is that you don’t necessarily have to stay with the same manufacturer when looking for replacement parts. I have seen TC barrels on Traditions stocks with old, unknown manufacturer trigger assemblies. That is a great selling point as well.
If you are more into the modern muzzleloading products like the inline models, a lot of this information goes RIGHT out the window. My Knight Wolverine 209 for instance is deadly accurate and I can hit pie plates with open sights out to 200 yards. The problem is that most of the parts I might need for replacements would have to be purchased directly from Knight. It is also a royal pain in the gluteal section to clean. The barrel doesn’t just come off with the removal of a single pin. It requires disassembly of the rifle, pulling the breech plug and nipple, scrubbing and a good portion of your evening. For those of you who were wondering why I would want a traditional muzzleloader when I already had an incredible inline model, there you go. Cleaning it sucks out loud…….
Some of my best memories as a kid or with my kids have involved the outdoors and shooting. Being able to increase my options, cut the cost of shooting, and decrease the time spent cleaning really makes buying a new toy worth it. Now I need to get into casting my own bullets.