Safe Black Powder Guns??

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Red Neck64, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. Red Neck64

    Red Neck64 Former Guest

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    Dangerous Muzzleloaders

    By Randy Wakeman



    In my opinion, far too many people have had their lives destroyed by reportedly using cheap imported muzzleloaders as directed by manufacturer's printed instructions. There are no muzzleloading standards, and there is no governing body on the American muzzleloading scene to effect any semblance of quality control or reasonable safety testing.

    According to one attorney, his client is an ex-marine who has been trained for about 13 years on how to clean, load, and fire a muzzle loading rifle. The accident occurred 3 days after he received the rifle as a gift from his daughter. It was a new Traditions .50 caliber inline. The attorney believes he was using the gun as directed by the manufacturer on the date of the accident. The man has lost his right hand as a result of the explosion.

    Another attorney's report details how a man purchased a new CVA .50 caliber inline, a package of .50 caliber / 50 grain Hodgdon brand Triple Seven propellant pellets, a package of Winchester brand W209 Primers and a CVA brand .50 caliber Complete Muzzleloading Accessory Outfit at a chain store, according to the receipt. A short while later, one primer was fired per the instructions and then, to sight in the muzzleloader, loaded 3 of the 50 grain pellets, a .50 caliber "PowerBelt" 295 grain hollow point bullet with plastic "sabot" snap-on base and a W209 primer.

    He fired the muzzleloader and the barrel exploded. His wife was present at the scene of the accident. She transported him to the hospital ER. This man was in the emergency room within about two hours of his new purchase. Two surgeries have already been performed in an attempt to repair the damage to his hand as a result of the explosion. More are indicated.

    In another incident, a different man, with approximately 20-25 years of experience hunting with muzzleloaders / black powder guns, was target shooting on a Saturday with a friend, using his CVA inline. The hospital reports that after being stabilized x-rays were taken which revealed a "large metallic FB with spring located at the angle of the mandible."

    In yet another CVA incident, a man with ten years of muzzleloading under his belt was sighting in a new scope on his CVA inline. His brother and nephew were present. After a catastrophic failure, his injuries reportedly consisted of a torn right nostril from the base of the nostril to just below the right eye socket. It took 40-45 stitches to close this wound. His nose and his right cheek bone were broken.

    A concerned consumer recently wrote to Mark Hendricks, Technical Manager, Connecticut Valley Arms (CVA), 5988 Peachtree Corners East Norcross, GA 30071. The letter describes how a design defect nearly caused the death of this man's son-in-law. It reads, in part:

    "My opinion as a graduate engineer is that CVA has a critical design defect, which should be corrected immediately, and should require a product recall. In addition to this problem, we discussed the rationale for specifying barrel strength, and I asked you what the strength of CVA muzzleloader barrels was. You would only tell me that the "minimum specification" was 700 kp/cm2. When I asked you what the maximum pressure spec was, you told me that no one knows, and that "ignorance is bliss". In other words, you could not tell me at what load pressure the barrel would burst. Is this the same attitude that I heard your customer service technician express when he said that the problem I reported had never occurred, therefore it was not possible?"

    Jim Bruno, VP of Traditions Firearms, e-mailed me a while back, stating in part:

    "Randy, Do you think that we would make a firearm that would not support charges that we advertise and market to the public of the United States of America? I know that you are evaluating and comparing muzzleloaders of different companies in the black powder industry and have done a pretty thorough job, but understand that every time you write or speak any negative comments about our industry you provide ammunition for the people who do not believe that the 2nd amendment exists."

    Well, Jim, I'll answer you here and now. First of all, you are apparently unaware of what you are selling. You manufacture no muzzleloaders; you merely import them from a company in Spain. You have no known testing facilities of your own. You have been unable to show that your imported frontloaders are tested with the charges you recommend--charges that are not recommended by powder manufacturers.

    It is a "red herring" argument to attempt to turn your lack of knowledge about your own product into a 2nd Amendment issue. The 2nd Amendment is not an entitlement for you to foist substandard product, built to unknown or non-existent standards, on the American consumer.

    Terry L. Eby, BPI National Sales Manager / Retail, e-mails in part:

    "Randy: I don't consider my language careless and I absolutely stand by my opinion that your position has no basis in fact--but much in conjecture and assumption. If your implication that we would knowingly put our customers at risk is not defamatory, I don't know what is."

    Unfortuantely, Terry, the "basis in fact" will be presented to you in court, as your injured consumers have no other recourse. Your company, "BPI," is Spanish owned and operated and has no proper American testing facilities. Do you have any at all? The brands you peddle, CVA, Beartooth, and Winchester Muzzleloading still come from the very same factory that the sorely defective "CVA Apollo" came from, with the same steel, don't they?

    This is the CVA Apollo gun that had so many personal injury claims filed against it that the "old CVA" was forced into receivership, is that not true? I have seen nothing to indicate that your sub-standard proofs and poor quality control is any better now than it was then.

    If you don't believe the printed results from Lyman Ballistic Laboratories showing 25,000 PSI peak pressures in three pellet loads that you recommend in your manuals for use in your guns that bear a 10,000 PSI area House of Eibar definitive proof mark, you are welcome to take it up with them.

    Hodgdon Powder Co. recommends that only two 50 grain equivalent Pyrodex or Triple Seven pellets MAXIMUM be used in .50 caliber inlines. You recommend three. By whose authority is this done? On what basis is this done?

    The pity of all this is that proven safe, quality muzzleloaders have never been more plentiful, or more affordable. Knight Rifles, NEF / H & R, Thompson / Center Arms, and Austin & Halleck all currently offer exemplary inline muzzleloading rifles today that you won't be betting your life on.

    The Savage 10ML-II is the best built frontloader of them all, using the Savage magnum centerfire barrel as a starting point. The affordable Knight Wolverine, proven for twenty years right now, is a shining example of how you can fly first class with a Green Mountain barrel for an economy ticket price.

    The girl behind the counter at Wally World may be oblivious to all this, and apparently large retailers such as Bass Pro and Cabela's are as well. I've heard and seen enough of this nonsense to last me several lifetimes; I don't have the stomach for much more human blood.

    Cheap, extruded barreled rifles should give anyone pause. Any propane tank for a gas grill is built to a better, uniform standard of testing for the application--at least your propane tank must pass hydro. And, this isn't just my opinion: you won't find muzzleloading legends like Doc White, Henry Ball, or Del Ramsey dissenting.

    It is my considered opinion that muzzleloading rifles with soft, extruded barrels proofed to only 10,000 PSI are not fit to be used. I'd much rather dial in a Knight Wolverine than dial 911. Wouldn't anybody?

    There is a huge, ever increasing body of evidence that shows CVA branded guns (BPI, CVA Winchester Muzzleloading, New Frontier, etc.) can be quite dangerous with factory recommended loads. Those that have their own personal injury issues can contact several sources for help. Here is one good one: Eaton & Sparks 1717 E. 15th Street Tulsa, OK 74104 Attn. Dean Wise Firearms use, in general, is a very safe sport, with firearms related injuries falling year after year. In fact, A new report from the National Safety Council shows that accidental firearm related fatalities remained at record lows in 2004. Statistics in the council’s “Injury Facts 2005-2006” show a 48 percent decrease over a 10-year period ending in 2004 (the latest year for which data is available). There are rare, very rare exceptions. CVA guns, deficient in design, materials, and quality control in my opinion, give the great sport of muzzleloading a bad name. To subsidize further injuries and fund the decay of the great American firearms manufacturers with your hard earned dollars by buying a dubious CVA gun is unnecessary and unconscionable.
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    First of all, CVA has been around for YEARS with no problems...

    The PROBLEM is all the STUPID people loading MAX loads doing things with the jacketed sabot rounds and Rifle primers these rifles were NEVER intended to fire!

    You want Centerfire performance? USE A DAMM CENTERFIRE. Want to hunt Blackpowder? USE A SIDELOCK. In-Lines should be OUTLAWED, or allowed only where/when regular rifles are allowed..that's just my humble opinion.

    150 grains of blackpowder OR substitute in a 50 cal is TOO DAMM MUCH and ANYBODY with "10 years" or *20 years" of "Muzzleloading Experience" will KNOW that!


    Besides, you load DOWN for accuracy! Loading UP for velocity is for FOOLS.

    95 grains of blackpowder behind a .50 250 grain LEAD conical Minie is PLENTY For deer, accurate as heck, and SAFE.
  3. JohnK3

    JohnK3 New Member

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    Polish, I agree that 95gr is sufficient for deer and plenty accurate. The objection to the CVA muzzleloaders is that they *advertise* for people to use the "magnum" 150gr. loads in their smoke-poles, when the barrels aren't proofed to that level to begin with.

    It's irresponsible marketing. Besides, they've not been around for YEARS with no problems. They've been around for YEARS with problems, just well-spun by their local marketing.

    Remember, just because you haven't heard of the problems, doesn't mean they haven't existed. I've heard of the problems before, as I live just down the road from them and some of their problems have made the local papers.
  4. ryan_marine

    ryan_marine New Member

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    I own both an inline and a side lock. My inline has a scope and is made by Rossi. My load for the inline is 120gn of loose 777 ffg with a 223gn powerbelt areotip. I produces 1.5" groups at 100yrds. I have tried smaller and heaver loads and nothing is better than this load. My side lock loves 100gn of 777 ffg with the same bullet. I can shoot better with it (and iron sights) than I can with my inline. I just like shooting the inline in open country over the iron sights in the thick stuff. Now about people blowing up their guns. If you look these are all new guns. I think that if someone was to load a new gun with max pressure this will happen from time to time. Just like hand loading with center fire rifles and pistols WORK UP TO FIND MAX LOAD. NEVER START AT MAX. I think these people should of started with about a 70gn load and went up from there.

    Ray
  5. Red Neck64

    Red Neck64 Former Guest

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    Well for me I wouldn't pull the trigger on any gun without proof markings on it.My fingers and eyes are worth more then all the guns in the world.
  6. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Go to Friendship next spring, ask ANY shooter on the line with his 1000 to 3000 rifle, that MAY not have any proofmarks, what HE thinks of shooting 150 grains down HIS rifle....

    I STILL maintain that all these "Newbies" to BP shooting who IMMEDIATELY go for "Magnum" loadings, or the "Maximum" load, or Saboted Jacketed Hollow Points are BAD for Muzzleloading!

    I have NO problem with a hunter trying to maximize his ability to hit, or maybe even extending the range a little, BUT....is it ANY different than any OTHER firearm???? KNOW IT, don't PUSH it....


    THe SAME guy blowing up his CVA with 150gr loads probably blew up his Super trying to hit major in the 80s, or his Krag trying to reach '06 power in the 30s, etc, etc,etc...it's the SAME mindset!


    And as far as CVA advertising it's safe? If there WEREN'T so many numbnuts out there WANTING to shoot that much cheaply and easily and that probably wouldn't BUY anything that said it COULDN'T be done for safety is as much of the problem! And if you CHECK the CVA cataloue on line, tell me how MANY 'Traditional" guns they made in the past they STILL make???? In Line is a FAD, and they are on it BIG time....for the MONEY! YES I wish they'd proof their barrels, BUT could they sell them AS CHEAPLY? IF they RAISE their price to the level of a Knight, do you think they could compete, with their reputation for "Cheap Quality?"

    My son and I BOTH shoot a CVA caplock, (It's his, I just "steal" it when it's raining....:p ) and it is a reliable, accurate, handy, hardhitting carbine for hunting....with that 95 grains and a 245 ballet....does EXACTLY what it's supposed to do, EVERY time (Well, maybe except when we don't get the drum COMPLETELY free of oil...:p )


    And why not the same fervor about GLOCKS? THEY blew up, THEY Have (Had?) a design flaw, and the company FEVERISHLY denied it, FEVERISHLY blamed it on "handloads" or "operator error" when ANY moron KNEW it was firing out of battery, or SOMETHING....did it hurt THEIR sales?


    At a time when NOBODY shot Blackpowder except a small hardcore out of the mainstream group of fanatics, CVA brought a TON of new BP shooters into the world of smoke and thunder, by offering AFFORDABLE, easy to operate rifles and pistols....EVERY manufacturer TODAY owes them a debt of gratitude....


    WHich may be why I am loath to DUMP on them....
  7. Red Neck64

    Red Neck64 Former Guest

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    So be it.,
  8. JohnK3

    JohnK3 New Member

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    Careful there, Polish. You're treading awfully thin rhetorical ice.

    Blaming CVA's advertisement of unsafe loads on the consumer comes awfully close to blaming rape on how a woman dressed.

    It doesn't matter what the "market demand" is for a product. You either produce a product that meets the market demand or you don't. You don't advertise that you do when you don't, in fact, produce such a product.
  9. Red Neck64

    Red Neck64 Former Guest

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  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Yeah, I guess I may have been a little out of line, letting my biases AGAINST "In-Lines" and "Blackpowder Substitutes" interfere with my judgement. Maybe it's the "Substitutes" for making it HARDER for me to find REAL powder is making me crotchety too...whatever....:cool:

    You are of course right, IF CVA and Traditions "suggest" loads they haven't tested,,,and for that there is no excuse...

    But then again, the Eibar region of Spain has been making firearms maybe longer than ANY single area on earth, granted some JUNK, but just as MANY aren high quality weapons...it IS unfair to condemn EVERYTHING made there...


    I guess my REAL frustration IS in the original premise...I STILL think ANYONE loading 150 grains of ANYTHING in ANY muzzleloader is STUPID, "manuals" or "Suggested loads" notwithstanding! Hell, Parrot and Rodman RIFLES blew with regularity in the CIVIL WAR with just a slight increase in "suggested" loads, was that a MANUFACTURING issue, or a USER issue?


    Shoot REAL blackpowder, keep the loads to loads "suggested" for more than a CENTURY now, and CVAs and Traditions will NOT blow, PERIOD.

    You want more performance? Then PAY for it...and get a Knight, or a Savage, or a CENTERFIRE.


    But keep up the fight...CVA and Traditions NEED to change their information to REFLECT what their barrels will HANDLE, PERIOD, even if just to SAVE people from themselves...
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2006
  11. 22WRF

    22WRF Well-Known Member

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    I load my 50 cal Hawkin with 70 gr of Pyrodex RS plenty strong enough and accruate enough for me.
    The book says I can go to 120 gr but I'm not about to do it.:eek:
  12. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    And a patched ROUND ball has hit AND killed out to 300 "with JUST enough powder to get it there" for HUNDREDS of years IF the shooter does HIS part....

    The Mountain men carried JUST enough to last, and didn't waste ANYTHING...if the charge BARELY covers the ball in your hand it's "enough..."


    And I don't like compound BOWS either....;) :D :D :D
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2006
  13. spurs101

    spurs101 New Member

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    Excellent post - followed the Chuck Hawes comments when he originaly made the observation and research. IM(humble)O and 20 years of front stuffing my go to deer gun is the old TC Scout in-line. Yes - I love my Hawkin and Renegade - however not a purist. In-lines have been around an awful long time and have a place in the history books too. 85g and a 300 Sabot or maxi is accurate and hard hitting to 100yds. I see alot of new guys shooting smokepoles that want to go extended ranges with max loads. They've read all the hyped advertising and more is better. There are just to many dumb things that newcomers do or try - and what ever you do don't offer advise unless asked.:)
  14. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I was reading all the info from the new Dixie catalogue (AGAIN! How long HAVE they been printing all that stuff ANY ML shooter should know????) and they even have their own recipe for "proofing" your OWN barrels....


    It's not like every (or ANY???) "Country Gunsmith" in the 1700s to the 1850s "proofed" their handmade barrels EITHER...and MANY of those "customs" are STILL being shot....

    Take the barrel, (you CAN use the whole rifle and shoot it with a 30 foot string, but at least THIS way if it "fails" you still have the stock and action and can always REPLACE the barrel!:p ) load it with TWICE the "recommended" load (NOT the MAX load, if you INTEND to shoot 150 grains like a goofuss, that's ALREADY about twice!) behind TWO appropriately sized and seated patched roundballs.....

    Secure it with bungee cords and/or rope to an old TIRE, put a sufficient length of firecracker fuse in the touch hole, point it down range, light the fuse, and RUN LIKE HELL.:D


    If it can do this TWICE with no visible damage, it's "proofed..."
  15. Red Neck64

    Red Neck64 Former Guest

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    polishshooter,Proff testing as you describe back in the late 1950s and 60s was preformed like that.That was before the muzzle loading revolution that we have today.Back when interested muzzle loading people had to make their own guns,or at best when kit guns arrived buy one of them."OFF TOPIC".Back when real honest to God gunsmiths, printed articles on How Too Do This and That in the gun magazines,and real gun writers weren't trying to sell you something.
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