Traditions Nitrofire Rifle & Federal Firesticks Change Muzzleloading Forever – SHOT Show 2020

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Every year at SHOT Show we think about what would be the biggest story of everything we have seen. This one is going to be tough to beat!

Traditions, maker of super high quality and super affordable modern muzzleloaders, in partnership with Federal Ammunition, has pretty much broken all the rules. The Nitro Fire is a muzzleloader without a breach plug. You can see right through it, and you load the powder charge from the back.

This seemingly innocent Traditions NitroFire rifle is hiding a huge secret.

The bullet is still pushed in from the front. That hasn’t changed. But Federal created a new polymer chamber sleeve to hold the gunpowder charge. It’s called the Federal Firestick. The stick slips in from the rear, and it resembles a .410 shotgun shell.

You will load your 209 primer into the back of the Firestick, as if it were the nipple on the back of what has always been the breech plug.

There is no breech plug in this “muzzleloader.” You can look clean through the barrel.

The chamber sleeve houses the actual combustion, so most likely they will not be reusable. The powder is going to be a new product from Hodgdon called “Triple Ei8ht,” which we will hopefully get more details on in the future. For now, there seems to be only one loading.

The secret is in the charge. Traditions has partnered with Federal Ammunition to create a system for Federal’s “Firestick.” It houses a charge of Hodgdon’s new Triple Ei8ht powder, and you insert it into the breech from the back. Then a 209 primer fits in the back of what is a cartridge-like polymer chamber sleeve.

Firestick changes the whole dynamic of muzzleloading firearms. The plastic sleeve is sealed, and waterproof. It is made on commercial ammunition manufacturing equipment, so it will always be consistent. Cleaning the gun will no longer be a chore, and you won’t have to deal with breech plug threads that never seen to want to move after you figure out your ideal magnum load. I can’t imagine an avid hunter who would not want to scream from the rooftops, “EVERYTHING JUST CHANGED!”

Range Day was a first look at this gun, and according to the Traditions company, it will have no legal problems at all in all but “about 10 states.” Traditions is in contact with the legislative activists and regulatory agencies in those states to hopefully overcome these obstacles. It certainly does bring a new dimension to a whole extra month of deer season in many states. We look forward to getting one in for review.

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{ 73 comments… add one }
  • William Iliff February 21, 2020, 6:06 pm

    It appears ATF has decided this is actually a firearm and requires the usual paper work/BGC. Makes you wonder how many states will accept it as a muzzleloader given this ruling.

  • Milton L Tilley III January 25, 2020, 2:24 pm


  • Roscoe January 25, 2020, 1:21 pm

    Was the firing pin broken? Was that why they didn’t fire it? If I take the time to pull up a firearms video, I wanna hear a BANG! Rats.

    • Barry Mottershead February 11, 2020, 6:38 pm

      I agree– I was waiting for them to load it up and fire the damn thing- and the video ended. Kind of reading a book only to find out the last couple of pages are missing.

  • Clint W. January 25, 2020, 12:21 pm

    Well, of course ‘black powder’ shooting would have been more accurate, but that rifle has the look of the H&R single shot rifle or shotgun. I’ll stick to actually putting powder and ball down the muzzle, thank you.

    • Truckman February 11, 2020, 9:49 pm

      Me too because I think the ATF is going to have problems with it because it is firing a self-contained cartridge nothing like a muzzleloader

  • Archangel January 24, 2020, 5:13 pm

    If ANYONE in the gun industry EVER screams from a roof top, “EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED” I will assume nothing but one tiny little something that 99% of us will not even care about has changed!

  • DeeBee January 24, 2020, 11:49 am

    I too am one of the traditional muzzleloader lovers… Altho for many years I’ve only hunted with a bow. I see these types of “improvement” as potentially able to alter the lawmakers’ perceptions of muzzleloading shooting and weaponry to the point where they will be able to put all of our black powder arms into the same category as black rifles or modern arms. all it takes is a little more modernization every couple of years… in line, scopes, fiber optics, hot primers, magnum loads, radical stocks, you name it… as been said elsewhere here – all for profit. Even if the legislators don’t get involved, you can count on the fish and game people putting new restrictions on guns that look like they cross the line. The result will probably end up being that our seasons will be no different than those for modern firearms. If has web feet and stiff lips, it’s a duck, say those who’ve never met a platypus!

  • Tommygun851 January 24, 2020, 11:39 am

    Gun manufacturers like to use the “grey” area an awful lot lately about their designs. Mossberg with the 14” barreled, 26” length, birds something grip, “not a” shotgun! I don’t know if this qualifies as a muzzleloader or not. But if it does. I just added a few more them to my gun collection! I have several single shot H&R’s in 45/70, 444 Marlin and 500 S&W. What’s the difference if I take an empty brass, put a new primer in it, fill it full of power and put a cardboard cap on the end, shove the proper projectile down the muzzle and shoot it?!! At least I won’t be stuck with having to buy a proprietary plastic charging plug! Thanks Traditions! You just added some versatility to my gun collection!

    • Thomas Fowler January 24, 2020, 12:36 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly with Tommgun851…The Traditional hunter must develop woodcraft, and deal with damp weather, among many disadvantages. It makes us better hunters. Get the hunter out of his four wheeler, and give the game a chance… Thanks….

      • WVRidgeRunner26559 January 26, 2020, 12:06 pm

        Being 100% disabled and a Class Q qualified hunter (Can legally hunt from vehicle) this past year I was fortunate enough to kill three antlerless deer. For those that like to make light of people on the ATV or UTV I would suggest you give consideration to why they might be on the ATV or UTV. Personally I would love to be able to climb the hills and ridges of WV. Due to a hip replacement last June, that is not likely to happen As long as I can get out, I will. I now understand why my father hunted that way for so many years. His incapacity was due to having both knees shot in Korea. And 30 plus years crawling around inside coal mines.

  • Ed Heinlein January 24, 2020, 10:50 am

    This new gun/ammo arrangement is to muzzleloading as a crossbow is to archery! My muzzleload hunting consists of a flintlock I made from scratch, and I bow hunt using a bow that requires drawing, holding, aiming, and releasing the arrow under my on physical power because these methods require skills that create a greater challenge. I’m not against the newer “muzzleloaders”, or crossbows, however, I don’t think they should be permitted to be use in the special muzzleloader and archery specific seasons.

    • Joe January 24, 2020, 3:50 pm

      Well ya know what they say about opinions….😉
      Who cares how the next guy hunts.

  • Big John January 24, 2020, 10:18 am

    Jeff Cooper said it best: “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist”. If gun mfg. want to impress me they should restore QUALITY to the products they have cheapened over the years. Hire some Polishers, dump the crappy finishes, laser engraving, dot matrix inventory markers, “Lawyer buttons”, pallet wood and soft plastic stocks. Remington and Marlin come to mind as the biggest violators.

  • Jon January 24, 2020, 10:13 am

    I have a bias for traditional muzzleloading…traditional ball/bullet over black powder, and a cap or flint to set off a charge. I get a lot of satisfaction from the process, being able to keep my powder dry, and taking game in this manner. Seating your sabot/bullet from the muzzle on to a shelf and adding an encapsulated charge of modern propellant from the breech, makes it simple, but just doesn’t seem much like “muzzleloading” to me. Seems kind of a funky way of going about it, but good luck with your product.

  • todd January 24, 2020, 10:12 am

    What is preventing it from being modified to accept a self contained cartridge? looks like BUBBA could epoxy a couple washers in the “chamber” to fill the void of that extra thick cut out so a normal cartridge rim sits flush with the breach and create an illegal firearm.

  • Brian January 24, 2020, 10:02 am

    I would say it’s a still a muzzleloader because you still load the bullet from the muzzle. Like it says in the article.

  • Birda January 24, 2020, 9:38 am

    Had one since I was 16 , my ole Stevens 20 gauge shotgun

    • mark January 24, 2020, 1:17 pm

      HI Birda…wow…great point!

  • JD Morris January 24, 2020, 9:35 am

    The orange plastic thing contains only the primer and powder charge. The bullet is loaded from the muzzle, just like any other muzzle-loader.

  • Paul Mikulin January 24, 2020, 9:19 am

    Yes. Muzzleloading has been changed forever. It is now worse than ever. I thought the inline muzzleloaders were about as bad as you could get, but this is even worse. Hunting with a true muzzleloader is great. The side lock traditional type muzzloaders should only be permitted as this was a sport for those that truly desire to get their game with a primitive style muzzleloading rifle. This should only be permitted in the center fire rifle type regular hunting seasons. This type of hunting was designed for the true sportsman that wants to hunt with a primitive weapon. Not for making money for corporations that give kickbacks to poor congressmen and legislators.

    • Dick Holbrook January 24, 2020, 10:24 am

      I agree Paul

    • WVinMN January 24, 2020, 11:13 am

      Go ahead and don your buckskins, play acting Jeremiah Johnson still hunting deer with your not-so-trustworthy flint lock. You’re welcome to do so in any state offering a black powder hunting season (or any other hunting season that permits the use of firearms for that matter). Just leave the rest of us alone.

    • Alan January 24, 2020, 1:28 pm

      Yep, hence the definition, BUT, as you can see from the posts, there will always those naysayers and namby pamby’s who want to kowtow to Big Brother.

    • Alan January 24, 2020, 1:31 pm

      “We have met the enemy, and he is Us”. Nice. And just whose side are you on? Think about it.

    • Luke Tilley January 25, 2020, 2:17 pm

      Then get you a rock

    • Luke Tilley January 25, 2020, 2:21 pm

      You can hunt with a 45-70 single shot rifle in Mississippi. No need for your worthless flintlock, and I’m pretty sure your not Jeremiah Johnson

    • Murdock January 26, 2020, 9:07 am

      If you truly want to go primitive, just use a pointy stick. Or you can step it up a notch and use the pinnacle of Indian technology, attach rock to stick.

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn January 24, 2020, 9:17 am

    Nice try Traditions.. The Ohio Division of Wildlife has all ready ruled that it does NOT qualify as a muzzle-loading rifle… Love your ingenuity and attempted end run, though…

    • WVinMN January 24, 2020, 11:05 am

      There are 49 other states in the US. You do realize this, yes?

      • Cayne February 4, 2020, 10:26 pm

        It won’t currently fly in Tennessee either as a muzzleloader with the current definition in the TWRA regs

  • MIKE BOLTON January 24, 2020, 9:14 am

    Seems to me it will be slower to load.

  • Joe Teeter January 24, 2020, 8:42 am

    Is there a ring of metal in front of the chamber which would keep someone from loading a bullet through the rear?

    Is the powder smokeless, or does it contain corrosive oxidizers?

    Can it shoot a 275 grain bullet at 3,000 fps?

  • Ron Page January 24, 2020, 8:21 am

    You still load the projectiles in the front of the muzzle.

  • brian smith January 24, 2020, 8:08 am

    Reads “the bullet is still pushed in from the front”.

  • Chick January 24, 2020, 7:45 am

    Still waiting to hear from Paul, how or why, he classes this as a muzzleloader. It is clearly an inferior breech loader. What a waste of time.

  • Chris January 24, 2020, 7:38 am

    It’s a muzzleloader because you still insert the bullet/projectile from the muzzle and push it in with a ramrod. Plus since u need to add a 209 as a separate step, I doubt most states would have a problem with it.

    • Cayne February 4, 2020, 10:29 pm

      It all depends on how the state defines a muzzleloader. It won’t qualify as an MZ in Tennessee according to how an MZ is defined in the regs

  • Duh January 24, 2020, 7:38 am

    4th paragraph, first sentence. “The bullet is still pushed in from the front.”

    …Muzzle loader…

  • Mike in a Truck January 24, 2020, 7:37 am

    No the dynamic has not changed. Hype and marketing. I’ve been making combustible cartridges for years for use in my Ruger Old Army. With this system your wedded to Federal for those breech sleeves. Furthermore with a breached firearm you can run loose powder or pellets. What can this system offer me that my old TC Hawken 54 bore cant? Just because something is new dosnt make it better. I’m more interested in that new Triple Eight powder tho.

    • QSYB January 24, 2020, 11:16 am

      What does it offer? The ability to open the breech at the end of the day and remove the load, thereby rendering the firearm completely safe.

  • Greg January 24, 2020, 7:20 am

    This is a dumb gimmick that doesn’t do anything but add cost and take away the ability to tweak charges in your muzzle loader. How hard is it to drop the pre- measured charge down the barrel? The only advantage I see is maybe a little easier cleaning, which is negated with BH209 powder anyway. Invention of percussion ignition was revolutionary. This gimmick is not. :).

  • Dave January 24, 2020, 7:08 am

    bullet still loaded from muzzle.

  • Dr Motown January 24, 2020, 7:06 am

    Muzzeloader for the non-muzzleloaders….not much different from my father’s 1940s bolt action single-shot shotgun

  • Tim January 24, 2020, 7:04 am

    Neat idea but as of right now it’s not legal in my state for muzzle loading season. I can’t even use a paper cartridge 1859 Sharps during muzzle loading season.

  • Hill Creekmore January 24, 2020, 5:44 am

    You still put the projectile in from muzzle

  • Bryan L Danner January 23, 2020, 6:00 pm

    Will it be legal in new jersey

    • Alan1018 January 24, 2020, 8:13 am

      If it shoots it wont be legal in the PRNJ. (Peoples Republic of New Jersey)

    • JD Morris January 24, 2020, 9:37 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised of NJ made it illegal. The powers that be in NJ hate guns and would outlaw every one of them if they could.

    • G. Paul January 24, 2020, 9:47 am

      You’re kidding, right? … 🤣🤣🤣

  • TR January 23, 2020, 12:21 am

    If a muzzleloader is a firearm which is loaded through the muzzle, how is this breech loading rifle considered a muzzleloader?

    • Chick January 24, 2020, 5:06 am

      Yep. This is an inferior design breech loading rifle. What a waste of time.

    • Ryan January 24, 2020, 5:28 am

      He said it is loaded from the muzzle. It is charged from the rear.

    • Bob January 24, 2020, 5:46 am

      If you read the article you will see that only the charge is loaded from the breech. The bullet still needs to be loaded from the muzzle. This is now some weird combination of the two. Not strictly a muzzle loader or breech loader. And uses a proprietary powder cartridge, just like all them fancy razors. The rifle will be cheap but man those non reusable charges will cost you an arm and a leg over time.

    • Jim Amirault January 24, 2020, 7:39 am

      The projectile is loaded through the muzzle. It cant fire without the projectile! Only the powder charge and primer is loaded from the breech. It wont be any faster to reload and fire than a conventional muzzleloader. It would be more convenient to be able to remove the charge rather than firing it off or pulling the breech plug.

    • Normankeith January 24, 2020, 7:41 am

      Because you have to still push the slug through the end of the muzzle

    • Chris January 24, 2020, 8:02 am

      What are you, the fish cops?
      Who cares!

      P.S. You’re loading the bullet in through the Muzzle.

    • Brian January 24, 2020, 8:19 am

      My guess is that because the bullet is loaded through the muzzle, it would still be considered a muzzleloader in many jurisdictions – the innovation here looks like an encapsulated powder charge loaded from the breech, but the bullet or sabot would be loaded as normal.

    • Bryan Burtsfield January 24, 2020, 8:58 am

      The bullet is still pushed in from the front. That hasn’t changed.

      • Chris Brown February 26, 2020, 6:48 pm

        Yes i agree just think about something some states have shotgun or muzzleloader on special permit hunts so whats the big deal its still a muzzleloader not a shotgun.

        • Chris Brown February 26, 2020, 6:56 pm

          you still push the sabot down the barrell with a ramrod. And a plus is if you dont remember if you unloaded your muzzleloder with this new concept of the firestick wow great technology.

    • Rex January 24, 2020, 10:03 am

      The bullet loads from the muzzle. The firestick replaces powder and percussion cap. Thus, still a muzzleloader. Pretty neat.

  • Gerry davis January 22, 2020, 10:45 am

    Need to get them legalized for idaho

  • ro January 21, 2020, 11:24 am

    so… is this still classified as a “muzzle loader?”

    Does not appear to be much different than other single shots in use that are definitely not muzzle loaders…..i.e. falling block, rolling block, or specifically similar, the H&R 45-70 Buffalo classic……

    inquiring minds want to know…is there an ATF letter?

    • Ryan January 24, 2020, 5:31 am

      Probably because the bullet is still introduced from the “muzzle” you’re only charging it from the rear. I would think anyway.

    • Steve January 24, 2020, 7:32 am

      the bullet is still loaded from the muzzle(though I can see how that would create some ambiguity, hence the ten states where there are legal questions.)

    • srsquidizen January 24, 2020, 7:58 am

      Good question. Can’t see ATF deeming it illegal but since it does use a cartridge of a sorts, will it still retain the obsolete design status that exempts traditional muzzle loaders from the federal red tape of being a “firearm”?

    • Chris January 24, 2020, 8:04 am

      Writing letters to the ATF is how you get things reclassified… And screw the whole community over.

    • Dav January 24, 2020, 9:41 am

      You should know now that an ATF letter means exactly jack squat now. This will have a letter getting them returned to manufacturer for destruction within the year.

    • G. Paul January 24, 2020, 9:52 am

      The “Firestick” is only the propellant charge assembly, similar to pellet type charges, to which you have to add an ignition source (ie. the primer). The only difference is that it effectively does away with the breech plug.

      Bullet is still pushed into the chamber from the FRONT (ie muzzle), making it a “muzzle loading” firearm.

      • Darrell Worrell January 24, 2020, 12:25 pm

        My question is without a breech plug how does the back of the muzzleloader not blow up from all the pressure, once the power ignites and sends the projectile down the barrel

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