Traditions Muzzleloaders—Two Gun Review, Pursuit G4 and Buckstalker

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Pursuit on top of the Buckstalker.

A Traditions Pursuit G4 is on top and a Traditions Buckstalker is below it.

To learn more, visit https://traditionsfirearms.com/.

To purchase a Traditions muzzleloader on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=traditions%20muzzleloader

It might be mid-July and it is for sure hotter than a 2 dollar pistol here in The South, but it is not too early to start thinking about the fall hunts. In most states archery is the first deer season, followed by a muzzleloader one. Here in Arkansas, we have a week before modern gun season and another long weekend in December that is only for guns that load from the muzzle. These are usually great hunting times with nowhere near as many other hunters in the woods. But finding the right muzzleloader, and getting it sighted in, takes a bit more effort and time than a cartridge gun. Traditions has a couple of great scope and rifle combo packages that can take some of the work out of it and add a little fun.

A Bit of Work

After you drop the pellets down you hand seat the bullet. One of the many steps in loading a muzzleloader.

After you drop the pellets down, you hand seat the bullet. This is just one of the many steps in loading a muzzleloader.

Most of us have sighted in our fair share of rifles. Most of the time it just takes a few clicks or screw turns to get everything lined up. Sure, you are going to fire a good number of rounds walking it all in, but when you are just opening the chamber or filling a magazine, it really isn’t that much work.

Those of us that shoot black powder have a little bit of a different story to tell. There are a lot of steps just to throw one bullet down range and then you also have to clean the barrel after every couple of shots to deal with all of the fouling black powder and the modern equivalents leave behind. You also really have to be mindful that you do each step the same way. If using loose powder, make double sure you are using the exact same amount. As little as a couple of grains difference can change your point of impact.

Yes, it is work. But if you are going to be using this rifle to hunt you owe it to yourself, and to the animal, to do your work. One of the ways you can help take out a bit of the work is to use a rifle and scope combo. You at the least don’t have to mess with mounts and bases.

Traditions

Old School.

Old School muzzleloaders.

Traditions has some historically styled black powder firearms in their portfolio, they even have miniature cannons, but they are mostly known for their in-line muzzle loaders. I have been black powder shooting and hunting since I was a teen. I was almost always using and shooting something historic or a reproduction of something historic. There’s no telling how many miles I walked, lugging around either a flintlock Kentucky long rifle or a percussion-capped Hawken. There is something to be said about the nostalgia of hunting with these antiquated designs.

It was about five years ago that I decided to try out some “new” technology in the muzzleloader segment. Although there is nothing wrong with those old style rifles, there is a lot more right about these new ones.

In-Line

New School.

New school muzzleloaders from Traditions.

In case you are not familiar with how these new fangled muzzleloaders work, let me go over the basics. On a historically styled rifle, the lock is off to the side of the barrel. The spark used to ignite the powder charge in the barrel has a long way to travel in these old rifles. If you are shooting a flintlock it is as primitive as it sounds. A rock (flint) hits a piece of steel to make a spark. That spark touches off a small charge of very fine powder that in turn sends fire through a small hole drilled in the barrel. The fire then ignites the main charge and the gun fires. There is a perceivable lag between when you pull the trigger and the gun goes bang.

The percussion cap was a huge update to the flintlock, but the vast majority of rifles made with this still had the lock to the side still. The spark for the cap still had to bounce around and make about a 90 degree turn to reach the charge.

Now, the in-line design fixes a lot of these issues. As you can guess from the name, the source of ignition is “in-line” with the charge. Most of these guns use shotgun-sized primers, too, so you get a nice big and strong spark.

Shooting

Ram it home. You want to make sure the bullet seats against the powder tightly. Try to use the same amount of force each time for accuracy.

Ram it home. You want to make sure the bullet seats against the powder tightly. Try to use the same amount of force each time for accuracy.

Traditions sent me two different rifle and scope combos to test out, a Pursuit and a Buckstalker. They are both fairly similar but do have some unique differences, as you will see below. All of the rounds were fired on a portable bench and from a sled. The distance was 100 yards. I used two Triple 7 50 grain pellets and Traditions 300-grain Smackdown sabot projectiles. For ignition, I used Winchester shotgun primers. I ran a patch down the barrel after every round and a brush and patches after every three rounds.

I only chronographed a couple of rounds on these guns.  Getting reliable results when shooting black powder and the equivalents is not easy. The muzzle blast on these guns is huge and will give false readings if you are too close.  That said, with the loads I was using I was getting about 1,900 feet per second from both rifles.

A quick word about the scopes on these rifles. They are branded Traditions and I am not sure who is making them. They are fairly basic but very usable. The glass is nice and clear for its price point and they held up just fine to the recoil. Better glass is always going to be nicer, but these are very serviceable and I would not hesitate to take them into the field as equipped.

Buckstalker .50 Cal Black/CeraKote With 3-9×40 Scope

The Buckstalker rifles from Traditions are in their more budget friendly line. They start at just over $200 bucks for the base model with iron sights. But stepping up to the rifle/scope combo like the review gun doesn’t add that much to the ticket. Here are some specs that cover most of the Buckstalker line:

The buck stops here?

The Buckstalker has an extended ambidextrous hammer extension.

  • Accelerator Breech Plug
  • 24″ CeraKote Barrel
  • LT-1 Alloy Frame
  • Speed Load System – easy loading and more consistent groups
  • Dual Safety System – internal hammer block safety and trigger block safety
  • Quick-T Ramrod Handle
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Accurate up to 200 yards
  • Fast action release button
  • 1:28-inch twist rifling
  • Extended ambidextrous hammer extension
  • Drilled and tapped for a scope
  • Sling swivel studs
  • 209 shotgun primer ignition
  • Solid aluminum ramrod
First 3 rounds from the Buckstalker.

First three rounds from the Buckstalker.

The included scope on the review rifle was all mounted up out of the box. The tension on all the screws and mounts was good to go. They say that the rifle is bore-sighted at the factory. That is a nice little extra that helps the rifle to be at least in the ballpark for shooting point of aim. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the delivery driver didn’t drop it five times and knock something out of alignment.

I fired two groups of three rounds with the Buckstalker. One group was exactly how the rifle was set up out of the box. The first three were a bit high and to the left. I made a few adjustments and fired three more rounds. I over adjusted a bit on the elevation, but the windage was right on.

Pursuit G4 Ultralight .50 cal Reaper Buck Camo/CeraKote with Scope

The Pursuit line from Traditions makes up some of the lightest muzzleloaders on the market. Those old-style rifles I use to lug around are anything but light. The base model Pursuit without a scope only weighs 5.75 pounds. The lighter weight does add to the felt recoil, but this is not a rifle that you shoot 100 times in a day. And it really isn’t that bad, anyways. The base rifle starts at around $340 with the review gun running about $460. Here are some numbers on the Pursuit Series:

The Traditions Pursuit.

The Traditions Pursuit.

  • Weighs only 5.75 pounds!
  • Wider forend for better grip and hand position
  • Accelerator Breech Plug
  • 26″ Ultralight chromoly tapered, fluted barrel with premium CeraKote finish
  • LT-1 alloy frame
  • Dual Safety System – internal hammer block safety and trigger block safety
  • Speed Load System – for easy loading and more consistent groups
  • Quick-T ramrod handle
  • Quick Relief Recoil Pad
  • Williams Fiber Optic Metal Sights
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Fast action release button
  • 1:28-inch twist rifling
  • Extended ambidextrous hammer extension
  • Drilled and tapped for a scope
  • Sling swivel studs
  • 209 shotgun primer ignition
  • Solid aluminum ramrod
Final target. First 3 from the Buckstalker are high and to the left. Second 3 after a little adjustment to scope are good on windage but a bit low. The 4 toughing and the one floater at the bottom are from the Pursuit right out of the box. These were from 100 yards.

Final target. First three from the Buckstalker are high and to the left. The second three after a little adjustment to scope are good on windage but a bit low. The four touching and the one floater at the bottom are from the Pursuit right out of the box. These were from 100 yards.

I used the same load and setup for the Pursuit as I did the Buckstalker. Take a look at the picture of the target. See the line of holes towards the bottom of the board? There was a dot pasted there. I lined up the first shot and knocked it off when the Smackdown, well, laid the smackdown on the dot. I then used that hole as my point of aim and fired a five-round group. As you can see, four of the five are touching and I threw one floater. I am 99% sure that was my fault on the floater; I was getting cocky and jerked the trigger. That is some pretty serious out of the box performance right there.

Final Thoughts

I was pretty impressed with the performance out of the box on both of these rifles. Of course, the Pursuit was dialed in right from the start but that is rarely the case, especially in this price point. If you are in the market for a new rifle or wanting to get into muzzleloaders, be sure to give Traditions a nice hard look. They are worth it and worthy of a purchase.

One last thought about muzzleloader hunting. Like I said up top, it is a great little hobby and usually gets you in the field before the modern gun begins so you can get a jumpstart on the masses. Also, these don’t have to go through an FFL.

Traditional safety. The hammer acts as a second safety. Rifle will not go bang unless the hammer is cocked.

Note the crossbolt safety behind the trigger. The hammer acts as a second safety.

The Buckstalker on the sled ready to go.

The Buckstalker on the sled ready to go.

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Nice tough with the extended hammer spur for getting around the optic.

Nice touch with the extended hammer spur for getting around the optic.

The muzzle end is tapped for adding Iron sights if you want. Or some states do not allow optics during muzzleloading season.

The muzzle end is tapped for adding iron sights if you want. Some states do not allow optics during muzzleloading season.

The ramrod fits nice and snug to the barrel.

The ramrod fits nice and snug to the barrel.

Breech open and ready for a primer. Not the fouling on the face after a couple of rounds.

Breech open and ready for a primer. Note the fouling on the face after a couple of rounds.

Shotgun primer installed.

Shotgun primer installed.

 

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