Tips to keep your muzzleloader in working order no matter the weather
Muzzleloader hunts are a blast! But… there is a chance for things to go south if you’re not prepared. Below are several things I have done to ensure my muzzleloader is in working order every day of the hunt no matter the weather.
Keeping powder dry and not a giant mess
Unfortunately, this lesson was hard-learned on my first backcountry muzzleloader hunt. I went to reach into my bag where I kept my powder tubes and I noticed powder everywhere. A few of the tube caps somehow popped off and there was loose powder in the bottom of the bag! What can go wrong on a hunt will go wrong. It only took one occurrence to learn my lesson. From that day on, any time I was out hunting with a muzzleloader, each powder tube I taped shut with electrical tape.
Along the lines of keeping powder dry, I will also place each sealed powder tube in a ziploc bag.
Create reference marks on your open sights
You never know when you might fall or bump your muzzleloader. Having reference marks on your front sight and back sight could save your bacon on a hunt. Once I have the sights dialed in at the range, I will mark several small sections with a silver marker in places as a reference in case something gets bumped.
Tape your ramrod
Before you head into the field, tape your ramrod (or scratch it up) where the final seating depth of your powder and bullet sits at its packed level. This is essential for safety and accuracy. If you do this method, use the same jag and ramrod at the range that you will use while hunting. That way you know exactly how much you're packing the powder to keep things consistent.
Keep your barrel dry and debris free
I tape my rifle barrels to prevent debris from entering the barrel, and on a muzzleloader, it’s even more important to keep as a way to keep things out of the barrel and to keep your powder dry. With a bigger bullet, comes a larger area for debris or water to get into the barrel. And if you've already loaded powder and a bullet down the barrel, you really want to make sure you keep everything dry.
On the CVA muzzle brake I was using last season, I just put the piece of electrical tape through the first opening on the brake. If you're shooting a different style muzzle brake, you can just wrap it around all the side ports of the brake down the open vent side. And if you shoot with no brake, I still suggest taping the barrel. I prefer electrical tape because I usually have a surplus of it rolling around in my truck and I always pack it in my kill kit.
Another great way to keep your muzzleloader dry is to use a sleeve over the entire weapon. This will help to further protect it from the elements and even when using the sleeve, I still tape the barrel. I use the goHUNT Gunslicker Protective Cover which I also use while rifle hunting.
Keep bullet tips protected
This might not be that important for some muzzleloader bullets, but bullets with very long tips, it’s a great idea to protect them from getting dinged up in my opinion. I use PowerBelt ELR bullets in my muzzleloader and to protect the polycarbonate tip, I place my bullets in empty powder tubes when I’m in the field. And to further prevent them from shaking around, I will place a little piece of foam at the top of the tube. On the larger 160 grain magnum Blackhorn powder tubes, I can easily fit two of the ELR bullets per tube. This is also very handy when making a stalk and you need to toss some bullets and powder tubes in your pocket in case you need a backup shot.
Keep primers dry
No matter what type of ignition system you have on a muzzleloader, keeping your primers dry is also a great thing to be aware of. I store my CVA Veriflame Adaptors that have primers in them in another one of the empty powder tubes. And just like the tubes I keep my powder in, I will also place electrical tape on the cap.
All of the items that I need for a muzzleloader I keep in their own “muzzleloader bag.” That bag I keep everything organized in is a Stone Glacier Swing Out Pocket. I'll keep my powder funnel, primer tool, powder tubes, bullets, bullet starter, extra electrical tape and primers in this bag.
With muzzleloader season on the horizon... hopefully these tips will help keep your muzzleloader in prime shooting condition for that shot of a lifetime. There's a bunch of other ways to keep a muzzleloader and all the components in working order on hunts, but these are a few that have helped me out the past few years.