Walmart Muzzleloaders Rock! – The TC Omega and CVA Optima

The two guns for our tests were a Thompson Center Omega (top) and a CVA Optima. Both were bought at Walmart, and shown here, they have been fitted with a TC scope package and a Bushnell scope, respectively, also both on the shelf at Walmart.

We fired just over 50 rounds through both guns using Hodgdon Triple Se7en 50 grain pellets, TC Shockwave bullets, and Powerbelt bullets.

All of our tests were shot with 150 grains, three pellets, even though the Powerbelt Aerolites were only rated for standard 100 grain loads.

Both the TC and Powerbelt 250 grain bullets came in at just under 1800 feet per second, which is the top of the spectrum for the Powerbelts. Chronographs don’t work real well with muzzleloaders because of the muzzle blast, but we were able to measure these.

The TC Omega has something of a falling block action. The trigger guard swings down and the breechface cover swings away and around. When you seat a cap, you only put it in this far and it is seated by the breechface. This allows for easy replacement if you get a dud primer without taking the gun off of your shoulder.

The CVA Optima is a break action, similar to a single barrel break shotgun, and they actually make this gun in a centerfire .45-0 as well.

The TC Omega doesn’t come with rings, but Walmart sells a scope kit for it with rings and propietary bases that are drilled to fit several screw spacings for differnet muzzleloader brands.

It is a little confusing when you open the package because the directions are not good, but eventually we figured out what screws go where.

The CVA Optima comes with a DuraSight ring and base combination that is really nice, and we bought the Bushnell scope to match.

The TC also comes with Williams fiber optics sights installed. It could be that since we bought these in Florida where scopes are legal for muzzleloaders, the CVA comes with the scope mounts instead of open sights.

The strongest aspect to the CVA is its finger removeable breechplug. Even after punishing the rifle with dozens of rounds of full house 150 grain magnum loads, it opened easily. Notice the silver lithium grease on my fingers.

Our most consistent groups were from the TC Omega using the TC Shockwave bullets and 150 grains of Triple Se7en. At 50 yards three shots were almost always in into an inch or under.

The plastic sabots are a little hard to get down through the forcing cone after the first shot, but you can carry a little tin of Crisco, or even the TC 17 bore cleaner.

We use the end of the cleaning rod as a starter, and a range rod to push it home. A range rod keeps your ramrod from getting all scratched up and is a good investment.

The CVA Optima put the same Shockwave bullets into about an inch and a half consistently using the same load.

The Powerbelt bullets did the same thing in both guns. Two shots went into a ragged hole and the third generally an inch to an inch and a half away. This could be because the pressure was at the top of the rating for this Aerolite bullet, so it was cutting some gas on the side.

Powerbelts are 1/1000th under bore diameter, not .45 cal like the sabots. They use this plastic cup in the back to capture the gas and obturate the bullet and bump it up to the size of the rifling. They are easier to load than sabots, but the rest of the claims from Powerbelt seem to be mostly bunk.

Our most consistent groups were from the TC Omega using the TC Shockwave bullets and 150 grains of Triple Se7en. At 50 yards three shots were almost always in into an inch or under.

The CVA did the same behavior, ragged hole with a flier.

We didn’t conduct accuracy testing with the 100 grain load, but on the chronograph it came out to about 1300 feet per second, or roughly a little over .44 magnum ballistics, compared to .444 Marlin ballistcs at 150 grains.

Note that in all of this testing we only ran a bore swab down the barrels once, and this was the result. There are no clumps of fouling with the Triple Se7en. You can shoot it all day.

This article isn’t meant to be a winner takes all comparison, but you should understand that there is a class difference in these rifles that transcends the features. The Omega is a TC and an extremely mature product made in America by Americans. Check out the fouling on the breechface on the CVA vs. the TC. After dozens of rounds there was no backblast at all in the Omega.

I strongly suggest that you remove the breech plug and apply some lithium grease to the threads on the TC (or any other inline muzzleloader) before you shoot magnum loads. This grease comes with the TC cleaning kit you can buy at Walmart.

In Okeechobee the muzzleloading section is getting a little thin and the muzzleloaders are sold out, but your local Walmart probably doesn’t have the hardcore locals that are here in G-d’s country in this hunter’s paradise. You don’t need most of the gimmick products they sell. You aren’t going to get a second shot anyway with all the racket that your muzzleloader makes.

Both of these rifles are great guns and you can buy them with confidence. The biggest selling point on the CVA is definately the unique breechplug, but you can’t beat a TC for overall long term reliability and accuracy. It all depends on what you want, and they both actually TOTALLY ROCK! Have fun hunting.

Thompson Center Omega
CVA Optima

Muzzleloaders are very different from every other type of hunting rifle. Most hunters consider them ancillary, because the extra two weeks of muzzleloader season are meant to put you at a disadvantage. You get one shot at the deer, and you are forced to use what is considered by many to be a substandard weapon. Some states even have laws that you cannot use optics, putting older hunters and an even further disadvantage, and many states have quirky little laws to exclude certain advanced features that have crept into the modern muzzleloader market. Couple all of that with the fact that you can have a muzzleloader shipped to your door from online in most states, and you get a muzzleloader market that is something of a mess. Many small gunshops don’t even stock new muzzleloaders, so a lot of hunters end up settling for what’s on the shelf at Walmart. Fortunately we found that this isn’t such a bad thing. We bought two muzzleloaders and all of the stuff to shoot them in one trip to our local Walmart in Okeechobee, Florida, and the results were surprising. For about $350, with the scopes, both of these guns rivaled centerfire rifle accuracy, and proved that even the most inexpensive modern muzzleloaders aren’t substandard at all. If you are thinking of buying a muzzleloader at Walmart this week for your states special early season, have no fear. Walmart muzzleloaders totally rock!

The two guns we tested were a $288 Thompson Center Omega and a $296 CVA Optima, both in .50 caliber. Your local Walmart, if it carries guns, and not all do, may not have these specific rifles, but you should be able to find the same brands with similar features. Your local gun dealer can also get you these guns, but because muzzleloaders can be bought online without a transfer dealer in most states, a lot of gun shops shy away from stocking brand new guns. We did buy ours actually at Walmart, as well as a Thompson Center scope package for the TC, and a Bushnell camo scope for the CVA. Both scopes were under $50. The TC scope package came with proprietary bases and rings, and the CVA Optima itself came with a monolithic base and ring combination, so for about the same money, both guns came out to just under $350 scoped.

While both of these rifles performed very well, they are also very different guns. Overall, the TC is a more accurate and mature rifle, and you are buying an entry level rifle from the most trusted name in muzzleloading hunting rifles, made in Springfield Massachusetts. The CVA Optima is made in Spain and is much more of a full featured rifle, but the accuracy isn’t quite as good as the TC, and at the end of the day, it’s a CVA and not a Thompson Center. The Omega comes with a regular, blued barrel and plain black polymer stock. The CVA is brushed stainless, with an ambidextrous thumbhole stock and raised cheekpiece in camo. Both of these guns are designed to take #209 shotgun shell primers exclusively, but the action on each is different. The Thompson Center has something reminiscent of a “falling block” action, similar to a Sharps. The trigger guard unclips and the breechface cover drops down. The advantage to this is that if you get a dud primer, you can replace it without removing the gun from your shoulder. The TC also has a unique trigger that stays forward until you cock the hammer. This prevents you from forgetting to cock the hammer in the wake of hunter’s tunnel vision when a trophy buck appears. The CVA has a break action, similar to an old H&R single barrel shotgun, so you would have to take the rifle off your shoulder to seat another primer should the first one fail to go off. It is a small point, but in the moment the difference can be very important. Both guns have a twist rate that is made for modern sabot slugs and other premium muzzleloading bullets.

This article isn’t meant to be a head to head, winner takes all type of comparison, so though I am from New Hampshire, where TC got its start, please keep in mind that both of these guns performed very well and would be great choices for your deer season this fall. The CVA has a unique QR breech plug system that sets it apart from pretty much every muzzleloader out there. You don’t need a wrench to remove the breechplug. A large knurled knob the width of the breech easily removes and re-seats with hand pressure. You may not think this is a big deal, but on a muzzleloader, you tend to remove the breechplug a lot, and not just for cleaning. Many times on long afternoons shooting my muzzleloaders I have forgotten to put the powder down the barrel before the bullet , requiring either a bullet puller or a removal of the breechplug to drive the round out. Neither of these guns have to be taken apart to remove the breech plug, which is nice, but the thumbscrew CVA plug is so easy to remove, you might as well remove it to boresight the gun as well, which I did. Even with full house 150 grain magnum loads the CVA breechplug twisted free with only hand pressure, and that is quite a feat. In every other muzzleloader in which we have tested that load, it has been difficult to remove the breechplug, (including the TC Omega but we didn’t grease the plug first). In the last Traditions gun we tested, we sent the gun back to them with the breechplug stuck in it. This was a shock that the CVA breechplug removed so easily.

Most people consider 100 yards a long shot with a muzzleloader, but both of these guns performed at levels that exceed many cartridge guns. We tested two types of bullets, both at 250 grains. The first was a sabotted bullet from TC called the “Shockwave”, and the other is the “Powerbelt Aerolite,” which is a unique full caliber gas check bullet made by a company that appears to be connected to CVA called Powerbelt. They claim to be the the best selling muzzleloader bullet in America, with over 7 million bullets sold a year. I suspect this is because of the heavy Walmart distribution. Powerbelt claims that their bullets are much superior to sabots, so though I had never heard of Powerbelt, I was eager to try them in these two guns. The only problem is that the Powerbelt bullets come in grades, and I didn’t notice that these bullets carried by Walmart were only for standard loads, not 150 grain magnum loads, and I only noticed this after all of the testing …with 150 grain loads. We tend to use full house magnum loads for accuracy testing simply because most guns generally shoot their worst at magnum velocities. If a muzzleloader shoots good at 150 grains, it will shoot really good at 100 grains. We should have bought a different Powerbelt for these tests, but we were close in velocity anyway, and they performed pretty well regardless.

The old rule of thumb with black powder is that the caliber of the weapon should govern the volume of the charge (BP grains are measured as volume not weight). If you shoot a .50 caliber rifle, at normal rifle barrel lengths, you should probably use about 50 grains of powder. More than that won’t burn inside the barrel, because black powder burns so slow. This is one of the reasons why, these days, we don’t use actual “black powder” at all. After testing real black powder from Goex and Swiss powder, as well as several black powder substitutes, we use exclusively Triple Se7en pellets from Hodgdon in all of our #209 testing. The pellet variety is every bit as reliable in the modern inline muzzleloader guns as the powdered variety, and loading couldn’t be easier. You just drop the powder pellets into the barrel. Triple Se7en burns clean and you can shoot a dozen rounds or more without ever cleaning the barrel. It also isn’t corrosive, yet Triple Se7en cleans up with tap water and dish soap, just like real black powder. It ignites a lot hotter than real BP and doesn’t work great in traditional wormhole guns, but inline, there is no better or more accurate powder than Triple Se7en and we use the 50 grain pellets exclusively. Walmart also conveniently carries them.

At magnum 150 grain loads of Triple Se7en, the Thompson Center Omega repeatedly shot into in inch at 50 yards with the TC Shockwave bullets. The CVA Optima performed almost as well, averaging just about an inch and a half with the same TC Shockwave sabots. The Powerbelt bullets averaged one and half to two inches for three shots, but again, these particular Aerolite bullets weren’t made for the magnum loads we subjected them to. As you can see from the targets, the most common behavior with the Powerbelts was two shots into a ragged hole and the third shot about an inch and a half away. This could have meant that one in three rounds was getting slight gas cut from the extra pressure. Now we need to find some magnum Powerbelts and give them a try.

One thing that was striking about the Powerbelts is that they seat much easier than the sabots. Both of these rifles have a forcing cone about 8 inches down the barrel. The CVA was a little tighter than the TC, but sabots both were noticeably hard to seat in both guns once you got them into the bore. This is because the plastic on the sabots actually rides the rifling down, at bore size. The Powerbelts are 1/1000th under bore diameter, and the plastic skirt gascheck keeps them from falling out. On firing, the Powerbelts obdurate in the breech from the pressure, then ride the rifling out. Ease of loading is one of the marketing claims on the Powerbelts, and this one is true. Some of the other claims aren’t true, especially that the plastic sabots leave residue. If they did we wouldn’t have seen this kind of accuracy. We also so no difference in muzzle velocity from the Powerbelts. But they definately are easier to seat.

Say what you want about Walmart, but a lot of first time hunters buy their guns there, and that is a good thing. It isn’t fair that gun dealers can’t generally buy guns at wholesale for what Walmart sells them for at retail, but at GunsAmerica we feel that it all comes back around in the wash. They introduce a lot of new enthusiasts to our shooting and hunting sports for cheap money, and eventually the guns bought there are traded or sold for guns that they don’t sell at Walmart. For accessories, everything we used for this article came from the muzzleloading display in the outdoor department. Remember that if Walmart wanted to, they could make their own guns in China or Turkey and sell them at half the price. These two rifles are from two of the oldest names in muzzleloading, Thompson Center and CVA. The TC is even Made in the USA, (though not in New Hampshire anymore). You can attack Walmart for a lot of things, but in guns, they sell almost exclusively American made guns from Remington, Mossberg, Savage, and even Colt. These Walmart muzzleloaders are going to bring a lot of new shooters into one of the most challenging and exciting “one shot one kill” aspects of our sport. If you decide to impulse buy a muzzleloader at Walmart this week, don’t worry, they totally rock.

{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Cecil Lawrence April 1, 2015, 1:05 am

    For what it is worth. I live in an small economically depressed town about an hour out of Kansas City. We have a local outfitter, great guy, will help you with everything except compound bow strings. We do not have a local bow shop or a gunsmith either. therefore, like a lot of gun nuts in this area I window shop at WM. Last week I picked up both of the TC and the CVA rifles discussed in this article for $74.99 and $79.99 respectively. This was less than 1/3 of the original asking price. I am sure it was a close out but a hell of a deal anyway. First guns I ever purchased at WM. I could not pass up such a good deal. Regardless of my personal issues with WM and the way they can destroy a small town’s local economy I have a responsibility to my family to make smart choices when spending our money. I could speak volumes on what citizens should do to ensure their local economy thrives even with a WM in town but this is not that forum. I got a good deal, saved nearly $400 dollars which was promptly spent on groceries, gas, and shoes for the kids. Oh yes, all in local shops other than WM. Great article about two great entry level rifles. Take the article for what it was intended, a comparison of firearms aimed to enlighten and encourage newcomers to our shooting sport.

  • VEARL August 25, 2014, 7:08 am


  • Rocky Martin July 28, 2014, 2:59 pm

    I have to chime in. I go to Wal mart look at the sporting stuff go to a local gun store a county away and buy what I saw at wal mart. SImple reason. I can rely on the local gun shop for answeres about loads and other tech questions. Wal mart is going to be put out of business by cost-co anyway no worries. There is always some one cheaper in the market of how low can you go. The local UNION grocery stores are doing great because the people in the community realize they perform better. There people are happy to help you with a smile. I don’t know why people hate union people. I dont under stand this mentality. I as a steelworker union member for 36 year(retired) appreciate that cva and thompson are usa made. weather union or not. So for all the haters out there I feel sorry you just cant enjoy the article as it was written. It has helped me alot figure out what I will buy so thanks for writing it. With my gunsmith buddies help Ill be shooting safely for now and till my sun sets. Thanks.

  • Hubert July 22, 2014, 11:38 pm

    After checking out a few of the articles on your web site, I really like your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website as well and tell me what you think.

  • Archie Michael Leedle II June 2, 2014, 6:57 pm

    Thanks for the review, man. We could use more comparisons such as this.

  • Archie Michael Leedle II June 2, 2014, 6:07 pm

    There are no two or even three century-old hardwares. As a matter of fact, one of (if not) the oldest non-government owned businesses in the world is a small restaurant that has survived nearly two hundred years. These are simply poorly conceived statements full of misguided aggression brought about by a documentary produced by particular disgruntled purveyors of a small Midwestern town. Your inane hate for Wal-Mart is nothing more than a pop culture reference. I would be willing to bet that none of you have the same hate for Wal-Greens and yet it can be considered the precursor to the ‘big box store’ that you all despise so profoundly. If you don’t agree with the way the company does business (i.e. matching prices, accepting returns, stocking the largest inventory of general goods and always striving to accommodate you, the customer, instead of using all sorts of rhetoric and other sales tactics aimed at shoving you towards that new shipment of cheap LCRs tagged with the whopping and non-consumer friendly manufacturer’s suggested retail price ((10-15%+ overvalued))) then, by all means, you shouldn’t waste your time and hard earned money shopping there. Either way, your niggling quibbles and your silly, small-minded assertions are not going to save the world from the evil deeds of the oversized department store. It’s certainly not going to stop folks like me from breaking out in grins every time we drive past a ‘Wally’s’ that so happens to sit directly across the street from an Ace or True Value.

    • Joe McCool September 15, 2016, 3:50 pm

      I hate to say it but Walmart is a necessary evil, I go 100% with the mom and pops store I still shop a thing or two in the ones that are left because I can find unique items, bit when it comes to a generic item I can’t pay 3 or 4 times than what I would pay at wally world , honestly, and I do have very strong personal reasons to hate the guts out of this company, after my wife put in 15 years and got sick because of the filthy bakery department that caused her to catch a lungs infection she almost die of it still affects her to this day and what they did they lied telling her to come back one day and then they said that they were expecting her 3 days before and used this to fire her, she collected unemployment from them for 3 years but years later when she was granted unemployment and the records showed that Walmart owed her a ton of money, even though they’re crooks as hell you can save a lot of money and the money is very hard to come by , so I put my feelings aside and save.

  • bill September 28, 2013, 10:40 am

    The local WAL-SCUM here in Mi. quit selling guns right after they drove 2-3 century old hardware stores out.

  • Jason MacKenzie September 27, 2013, 8:45 am

    yep… I agree, if you buy it at Wal-Mart, then come to me for advice on how to use it… I’ll probably send you back to Wal-Mart, and have them explain the gun to you… Don’t buy from them and “USE” me!!! I’ll take care of my loyal customers, I don’t need a penny pincher for a customer. I have enough loyal ones that I’ll take the shirt off my back for, so I can stay in business.

  • Joe Ingram February 21, 2013, 1:15 am

    Thank you the time you put into this realy helped me to deside witch one i wont to buy no matter where it is bought .

  • Erik December 30, 2012, 9:02 pm

    Most of you guys sound like Pro Union Thugs. Walmart is the biggest employer in America. Its basic supply and demand. And for all the Mom And Pops that couldnt compete with the Big Box stores, at some point there was a smaller hardware store that couldnt compete with the new mom and pop that just opened. Its all cyclical. Wake Up People this is America the land of the free. Dont begrudge people there hard earned money. Walmart started out as a small store and then grew, like every other business owner would like to do. I think the article was great dont let these Commie Turds ruin it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dave December 17, 2012, 4:21 pm

    Hate to say it because Im not huge fan of wal-mart myself, but after seeing how this company is growing it would surprise me a bit if in a few years they start hiring gunsmiths, and put the smaller sporting goods stores right out business. Don’t underestimate the power of a blood thirsty company like that. they are defiantly coming for your jobs!!

  • Tim December 10, 2012, 5:55 am

    Bottom line it’s my money I’ll spend it where I want when I want. On the way out the door right now to go to Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. Why because they will be open and I’ll still be in the woods before daylight!

  • Al December 3, 2012, 8:36 pm

    I was a small business owner before entering public service. I had to compete! If I could have grown to be a giant like Wal-Mart, I would have done so: As would the mom and pop outfits that survive today! Mom and pop almost certainly out-competed a few would-be challengers along the way. Few business owners sit around thinking about how they only want to earn enough to feed themselves. Wal-Mart just does it better. Me, I find the attitudes of many small business owners stinks these days. Whether it’s auto service or hardware stores, I find that polite inquiries about how the work is to be done or what it might cost brings feigned indignation. Just bring your credit card buddy… it’ll cost what it costs. If you don’t like it, some other sucker will go still further into debt without question, and I don’t need your business. Unfortunately, due to easy credit, folks aren’t spending real money, so don’t bother to beat better prices out of retailers, services, or restaurants as was expected in the old days. All consumers are poorer for it. When I was a young man, if you spent too much, you didn’t eat at the end of the month. Now, folks are burying themselves in unsupportable debt instead.

  • Les Orlick December 3, 2012, 5:41 am

    When I worked sporting goods at Wal-mart, I had all the answers for people interested in black powder and it was the greatest form of shooting, you had to get to know you powder, your bullet weight and the amount of powder for certain yardages and it always turned out to be a fun day for the shooter. Man and his special rifle. Once all those things where figured you couldn’t miss!

  • Jim October 18, 2012, 2:27 am

    Wow. So much vitriol. Where’s the love?

    Frankly, I find help, or information, or advice, or tips and tricks where I find them. Same with deals on guns and everything else. But I have my limits too. My last car I bought a Mustang instead of another Toyota, or worse–a Government Motors product.

    Sadly, I live in the gun banner’s paradise known as the The Franchise Tax Board, formerly known as People’s Republik of Kahlifornia, and the Walmarts here don’t sell guns. Wasn’t there an article on here some time ago about why it’s a good thing that Walmart isn’t going to sell guns anymore?

    And it is NOW “Walmart”. It WAS Wal-Mart, but they changed it sometime back.

    But really, who cares? That’s what you have to complain about?

    I get the best prices on some things at Walmart, so that’s where I get those things. The problem isn’t Walmart driving our jobs overseas with under-priced Chinese made crap. The problem is the federal government taxing and regulating the lifeblood out of American corporations, and plaintiff’s attornies enriching themselves by filing business choking shakedown lawsuits based on dumbass laws that SOUND GOOD, but which are created by corrupt career politicians and lawyer’s groups, like Kahlifornia’s upcoming Prop 37. American companies then move manufacturing to China and other countries that are more business friendly than our own government, in order to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

    In an ideal world, we reduce corporate tax rates, get rid of scads of business choking EPA and other regulations, and American companies (and other nation’s companies!) move manufacturing back to the US. Then we can buy cheap American made stuff from Walmart instead of cheap Chinese made stuff.

  • Jon October 16, 2012, 8:41 pm
  • Jon October 16, 2012, 8:31 pm

    And…… One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is that Pellets are known to not be consistent from shot to shot or even the most powerful/efficient and doesnt allow you to tailor the correct load to your gun.

  • Jon October 16, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Decent article for someone looking into shooting/buying a muzzleloader for the first time. There are, however, several points you make that I disagree with. First one being that the TC is more accurate than the CVA “hands down”. The fact that you used one powder at magnum levels, one primer, and only two different bullets shows your testing was not the most accurate of testing between the two guns. Not to mention your argument that it is well known that magnum loads give the worst groups in any gun and which ever one does the best groupings at max powder charge is the more accurate rifle is just not a valid point. Yes I do agree that max powder charges do not contribute to great bullet groupings, but just because it did not shoot great at 150grns of powder does not mean that it will not shoot sub-moa using 100grns at 100yrds. It all comes down to testing your “individual” gun to find what works the best, whether that be a specific type of powder, primer, or bullet design. Also you mention that the TC is the most reliable in the long term. What do you base this assumption on? Did you have any issues with the CVA during testing? From reading the article, it doesnt appear so. So what makes you believe the TC will outlast the CVA? And you do know that CVA does have a lifetime warranty (for the original owner) if ever an issue did arrise just like the TC? Seems to me they will both offer a lifetime of reliable use for years to come. Also on the CVA, I noticed on your breech you were getting blowback. An easy remedy is to get a headspace kit from CVA that allows you to bring the firing pin bushing closer to the primer to get a press fit of .005″ on the primer in the primer pocket and keep the primer from backing out. And this is not just unique to CVA as TC offers a headspace kit as well. You have to remember the tolerances within the muzzeloader community is different from manufacturer to manufacture to include barrel diameter, primer size, breech plug design, etc.

    I do like the fact that TC is made in the USA, a division of S&W.The only downfall to the CVA is that in order to be able to run Blackhorn 209 powder is that you need a different breech. The factory design does not allow for sufficient ignition of the powder. Good news is that a breech plug can be bought for $20 that was designed and tested by Western Powders, the makers of BH 209, which is considered to be the best powder on the market by far. Just know if you do use BH 209, the 209 primers developed specifically for muzzeloaders will not be powerful enough, and that you should use standard magnum shotgun 209 primers such as CCI 209M as they will ensure a reliable ignition.

    So I say go do some real testing. Try different variables and find what your particular guns like best. Youll be suprised at what just changing a primer can do for shrinking/enlarging group size. And if your aiming for the best accuracy, the barrel should be swabbed after each shot. Also, you should allow the barrel to cool between each shot to alleveiate any stringing due to a hot barrel. A lot of people settle on a particular load and the results because it is “good enough” and they either have little desire or time/money to test their gun for a short muzzleloader season and leave a lot accuracy on the table. It is a lot of work, but once you find the sweet spot, might just want to continue using your muzzleloader on into centerfire rifle season.

    I could go on and on but you get the picture. In the end, both are good guns and a buyer really cant go wrong with either. I recomment if you want to learn more about the art of “black powder” shooting and how to get the most of your gun. On his site, he conducts real world testing of products to include bullet testing, primer testing, how to clean your muzzleloader, etc… Go check it out when you get a chance. Youll learn quite a bit.

  • Buck Buster October 15, 2012, 10:15 pm

    Our local Walmart sells the guns, the primers, the bullet/sabots, the cleaning kits, extra ramrods & other accessories but NO PELLETS OR POWDER!! In other words you buy the gun there and then have to go someplace else to buy powder/pellets. Doesn’t make sense.

  • smokey October 15, 2012, 9:26 pm

    Why do you use or even mention three pellet 150 grain loads? Hodgdon’s own website reconmends no more than 100 grains in a .50 caliber load. I personally would never exceed a manufacturer’s maximum load by 50 percent. I do know many do use three 50 grain pellets and get away with it.

  • chafox October 15, 2012, 7:12 pm

    Good grief. I guess it is wrong from me to purchase anything from a chain store of any kind? Come on people. Businesses are built to fulfill a need. If they do not succeed, they are not fulfilling a need. Large, small, or inbetween they all provide for a certain shopper. Give me a break. If I purchase from “on-line” or a small store, or a chain store, I know what my options are. Information is available anywhere, and everywhere, and not all that information is good no matter where you shop. Get off your high horse and stop telling people where they may or may not shop. Wal-Mart fulfills a need just like every other business! Get off my back!

  • James Riley October 15, 2012, 6:36 pm

    I don’t care what screw or what store.I have to shop where the price is nice or buying buying isn’t an option.I can get advice from books and online.Just like our Government Big money rules and will always steal what they want until everyone wakes up at the same time.Don’t think it will happen soon we have a obamanation.

  • BP BOMMER October 15, 2012, 3:05 pm

    “It is a little confusing when you open the package because the directions are not good, but eventually we figured out what screws go where.”

    Are you kidding me? i didn’t even read the article after reading this. How can i put any faith into an article written by people that cant even look at ring/base screws and automatically know where they go. I prefer to read about guns when the writers are actually knowledgeable about the subject at hand.

  • David W Fine October 15, 2012, 12:55 pm

    I just wish you would learn that it is NOT Walmart, it is Wal-Mart.

    It is a registered company name.

    Would you like someone MISSPELLING YOUR NAME?

    • Jim December 3, 2012, 11:09 pm

      Nice redirect! Especially when your losing….

  • John October 15, 2012, 12:18 pm

    I detect a pro Walmart slant going on here.Please, by all means continue to patronize a company that will one day come for your job. Maybe they will start doing gun revues.

  • JB October 15, 2012, 11:43 am

    Article was great .. Sorry it turned into the Great Wally World debate.. they hit a soft spot.

  • Don October 15, 2012, 9:18 am

    Well now matter where you purchase your black powder gun, this is a very well written and informative article and I appreciate the time and effort put forth to back it available to each reader, good job!

    • Administrator October 15, 2012, 9:20 am


      • Jim October 15, 2012, 7:31 pm

        I always include shipping (or the lack thereof) when comparing prices. Sportsman’s Guide still wins on the first
        order (this month) and the order I’ll be placing on 2Nov (next month’s SSD deposit), except for the ammo, black
        powder pellets, and primer for the muzzleloader, and for the snake gaiters that I bought from another outdoor
        store in Louisianna ($37.05 including FedEx Home Delivery). Like I said, I have to watch every penny … and
        that includes shipping (or, again, the lack thereof).

  • Jim October 15, 2012, 9:02 am

    The deal at WalMart is a good one (specifically, the CVA Optima. I WAS planning on buying it for the February
    “Late Archery/Muzzleloader” season (the best part of the rut here in NW FL), until I checked out Sportsman’s
    Guide (no, I don’t work there…just a customer). They have the “CVA Buckhorn 209 Magnum .50-cal. In-line Muzzleloader with Scope, Accessories” for $224.99 (buyer’s club members) or $249.99 (non-members) with all
    but extra bullets, black powder pellets, and primers. To be more specific, this (which I’ll be buying, probably
    in December or January) comes with (snarfed from the web page and re-formatted…): Konus 3-9x32mm
    scope, essential tools, powerBelt Bullets and bullet starter, speed loaders, cleaning jag and patches,
    Barrel Blaster Wonder Gel solvent, breech plug grease stick and brush, and an instruction manual and
    Blackpowder 101 DVD.

    I’ve tried finding a better deal, and have yet to do so. You have to watch every penny when you’re on
    disability (resulting from permanent damage done by my first cancer and the harsh chemo, then three
    brain surgeries + whole-brain/max-dose radiation therapy, followed by the EXTREMELY harsh chemo that
    almost killed me along with the cancer—by comparison, cancer #2 was a wimp).

    • Administrator October 15, 2012, 9:04 am

      SG scams you on shipping. That is their deal, like CTD.

  • Boyce Hamer October 15, 2012, 8:05 am

    Hawk is right ! I don’t need someones kid or grandma who has know idea how to do anything conserning GUNS ! They are getting in the assault rifle business , when I asked about chrome lined and barrel twist they couldn’t give me an answer . I wounder if they could recomend a type and charge ? Next question would be if the scope is any good and do you have to rezero it when you use it?

  • John October 15, 2012, 8:03 am

    How anyone can even think of supporting Walmart and their predatory business practices is beyond me.By the way, for the 1st time in history, Walmart is facing strikes from it’s own workforce.

  • Tb October 15, 2012, 7:47 am

    Well hawkeye, if you weremjustnthinking or talking on a well trained gun knowledge staff then I would totally agree. However, what the writer of this article is talking about is value and pricing. Cry all you want about your little hardware store that went out of business because of big bad Home Depot. They didn’t go out of business because of home depot, they went out of business because they refused to adapt and lower their prices. The hardware store had no problem raping you and your parents for decades and now they and you want to cry about their demise? Please! Times they are a changing hawkeye, get on the bus or become part of the left behinds.

    • JB October 15, 2012, 11:40 am

      Refuse to adapt & lower prices…. Are you flippin serious… Mom and pops cant buy ship loads of Made in China crap for nuthin n sell in for nothing… Its bass ackwards thinking like that that suck our economy dry.. Chinas n Taiwans cargo ships come in to our ports Plum full n leave bone dry .. unless they are filled with free aid we are shipping out….gee I dont know what the economy could have wrong with it…. Glad they sell american made guns .. I wont buy 1..

    • oldcop December 3, 2012, 11:56 am

      I think you have missed an important point here. Factories and suppliers sell cheaper to volume dealers. The local gun shop, or hardware store that buys 200 items a year from a source can not get the same bottom line price that someone like Wal-Mart, or Home Depot that buys in the thousands of items a year. That being said, if you have rapport with the local gun shop you will get perks that you don’t recieve from a large chain. The shop I deal with all the time has a gunsmithing shop in the back. I am allowed to use their tools to do my own repairs that I can handle, and get a discount on everything they do for me. I can also get a discount on anything I buy. And no this did not happen over night. First I had to drop in for a visit when I didn’t need anything, buy my guns and supplies from them even if I could get it for $5.00 to $15.00 bucks less than I could at a chain store, but it has paid off over the long haul, and if I have a problem with any product I buy there I don’t have to ship it off and wait for the maker to get around to making it right. I take it in my local shop, and it is replaced and he deals with the company for me. Try that at Wal-Mart. And I have the same experience with my local hardware store. I have delt with them for enough years that they trust me to get bulk bolts and screws from the bins without re checking my count, and recently sold me a cordless drill of higher quality at a cheaper price than Home Depot, or Lowes chinese made junk. I for one believe that you are better off dealing with the one you know and trust, and treat them with honesty and respect. You will be surprised at the pay off, but always remember that trust is a two way street. You break it once and it becomes a one way alley.

  • hawkeye2 October 15, 2012, 5:55 am

    You know if you keep buying your outdoor equipment at Wal-Mart your local sporting goods store will go the way of your local hardware store when Home Depot and Lowes came along.: OUT OF BUSINESS!! Just try to get some advice from one of those big box employees about scope mounting or a stuck bullet! Which bullet is correct for the game I’m hunting? How much powder is enough; how much is TOO much? Hey it’s your life and your sport; you wanna put it in the hands of Wal-Mart???

    • Bruce Riverside Trading October 15, 2012, 8:00 am

      I will second that, and add that you will get NO service or help from your local gun shop when you buy from Wally world. It may be bad business but it is our policy to tell wal mart gun buyers to go back there for advice and repairs.

      • Administrator October 15, 2012, 8:22 am

        Which is extremely shortsighted Bruce. As we have explained in our Monday Memo to gun dealers, and it is mentioned here, Walmart is a supplier of gateway guns for future gun addicts. If you developed that relationship and helped the guy, the $30-$50 you lost on the sale of the rifle would be more than made up in future business. Instead you send him away scowling to do the rest of his shopping online.

      • Bruce Riverside Trading October 15, 2012, 9:56 am

        First off the article is very informative and well writen, but Please allow me to enlighten and explain what the local walmart here calls a business practice. The margin on most guns would be $0 to $20 at best to compete with there prices, and even at $0 profit walmart will match my price, and give them a $5 gift card on top of that, that holds true on everything we compete on wether it is a $300 gun or a $5 accessory. We support ALL of the local club and ranges here with discounts to there members on guns and ammunition, prize donations, at cost ammo and discounts on guns for active military police officers, Free ammunition and use of guns for youth shooting programs, as well as free firearm safety classes, and Free used gun safety checks by our gunsmith. Even free layaway and payment plans. So I think we pull our weight when it comes to promoting the shooting sports. Walmart has donated 0 dollars and 0 time to any of the above and only cares about the $ So that being said if I make $0 on a gun or accessory I won’t be in business long, like so many of the other businesses that are effected by the walmart practices. So thereby we send them back to where they bought it, and like i said I don’t think it to be good business, but it makes the point clear, and perhaps you can see my point of view

        • Andy August 19, 2013, 3:54 pm

          Bruce Riverside Trading

          You are indeed shortsighted as The admin pointed out. You mistreating people is not excused because you were mistreated first. The golden rule still applies to you and no amount of other charity makes up for your pettiness. Your actions reflect all gun owners and sellers and you should be ashamed of yourself. My dad always said that a hundred great deeds makes a leader of men, but it only take one “oh s@$t” to wipe the slate clean again. Welcome to the bottom again sir.

          Understanding but unsympathetic,


    • OH Slinger October 19, 2012, 11:05 am

      Yeah I’m going to agree with you on this one. It might be a “great value” but that deal won’t be looking so sweet when an accident happens because you cheaped-out on your equipment.

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