Traditions Mountain Rifle – Review – Hawken Style Sidelock Muzzleloader

Traditions Firearms (this gun is not on their website yet)
Traditions Mountain Rifle – Fully Finished $519.99 (Midway)
Unfinished Mountain Rifle $429.99 (Midway)

Sometimes gun reviews do not go the way you would expect, and that was the case with this Traditions Mountain Rifle. This is a new mid-year release for them, and I had hoped to get it out before muzzleloading season in most of the US, but that didn’t happen. So just in time for rifle season, I’d like to turn you on to a really well done traditional muzzleloader that may end up #1 for your Christmas list this year.

My goal was to introduce the gun to you using conical bullets, because most people think of these traditional looking guns in the context of patched lead roundballs. The Mountain Rifle officially shoots conicals due to the “medium” 1 turn in 48 inches twist. Theoretically this should be enough twist to ensure a stable spiral, like a big heavy lead football, whereas the conical bullets are actually made for the 209 primer modern muzzleloader twist that is traditionally 1 turn in 24 inches.

At this goal I failed miserably, because after speaking with Traditions, it turns you have to lube the bore, which I did not do. This resulted in tumbling bullets, even with only one pellet which is fairly tame. They suggested a traditional 80-90 grain black powder load with their 250 grain sabot slugs, and lube the bore, I assume with Crisco or any standard BP lube. That would equate to trying two pellets of Triple Se7en, BlueMZ (which I tried in the video), Pryrodex, and other BP substitutes. For target shooting and a leisurely day at the range, I love black powder, but for hunting, where you may not even get to shoot the round out of the gun for a couple days of #deercamp, I suggest a substitute. They are much less corrosive and finicky.

Moving on to roundballs, this Mountain Rifle is a champ. I didn’t mention in the video that those last few shots I tried were at 100 yards. I also briefly tested the 178 grain roundball on my Pact chronograph, and got almost 1,100 feet per second, which is like a light .45acp carry round in a pistol. If I have a chance to return to this gun on game, we’ll clock it with 2 pellets, and test the accuracy. With the double tenon design, I bet it is just as accurate with that same ball coming out at almost 2,000 feet per second.

As I showed you in the video, the fit and finish on this gun are superb. I have what is now probably a 10 year old Traditions Pennsylvania full stocked flintlock rifle, and it isn’t even close to this. Traditions guns have always been a good buy, but they have taken their quality control to an entirely different level on the newer models, and the prices haven’t risen relative to the euro/dollar ratio at all. I was only able to find them for sale at the Midway link above for $519.99, but also check with your local gunshop as they may be able to pull one from distribution. This is especially true if you live in one of the states where muzzleloaders require an FFL.

With a tailored load, this gun will be every bit as accurate as any modern muzzleloader, and as reliable, especially if you put a few grains of powder in the nipple compartment using that screw I showed you. Ballistically there is not a huge advantage to using conicals at deer hunting distances in the Northeast and many other parts of the US. Roundballs aren’t the sexiest of gear, but there is really something to crunching through fresh fallen leaves in October with a rifle that looks 200 years old, but is as sure shooting as any gun built today. There are very few hunters in the woods during muzzleloading season. And in many states, you can take a second deer with a muzzleloader.

Another thing I didn’t really cover in the video due to time constraints was filing the front sight. These guns are meant to work in a tailored load for what you are hunting, and they give you a really high brass front blade sight so that you can dial it in to exact point of aim. When you get the gun, it will shoot low, and after you are satisfied with the sweet spot on a load, you dial in the sight. This requires gentle and gradual filing, a little bit at a time. If I end up keeping this gun, I’ll get back to it and have our guide friend Dwayne shoot a hog or two, and for that I’ll work up a load, then file the sight. The rear sight is also driftable for correct right/left windage.

Right now there appears to be very few of these guns. I saw that the Sportsman’s Guide had them and sold out, so if you want one, I would grab it. The only other double tenon gun out there is over $200 more, and barely nicer if even nicer. The brown Cerakote and clean inletting on the butt/toe plate, and the patch box, really make this gun something special for good looks. The performance and modern features complete the package nicely. If you are in the market for a traditional looking sidelock muzzleloader, you won’t be disappointed with the Traditions Mountain Rifle.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Rick January 25, 2017, 10:00 am

    It is a CAPLOCK muzzle loader not a side lock , who decided to make up new names for muzzle loaders???

    • OFBG February 8, 2017, 8:33 pm

      Rick, it is both a “sidelock” and “caplock.” There are several muzzleloader (as well as breechloader) “blackpowder” firearms types. Most “inline” muzzleloaders are “caplocks” and most “flintlocks” are “sidelocks.” I imagine that it would take a great amount of time and research to determine “who decided to make up new names for muzzle loaders.”

  • Rob October 31, 2016, 10:58 am

    Great review, Try some of the .50 caliber Minie balls and see how you like those. You can cast them yourself or get them from Track Of the Wolf. I cast them myself in .58 caliber and use them in a 1:48 twist bore. The skirts of the Minie balls grab the rifling of the bore really well to make for an accurate shot, especially compared to the plastic sabots you were using. But using too much powder will damage the skirts.
    Here is a link to the Track of the Wolf page to look at BALL-50-MINIE

    • Mark N. November 1, 2016, 12:03 am

      Agreed. 1 in 48 is already marginal for bullets as opposed to balls, so over powering the load will negate any twist you might achieve. A good load would be right around 70 to 75 grains, no more.

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