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Black Powder Handguns


          Handgun hunting is a challenging aspect to add to hunting whitetail deer. Black powder hunting is also a step above to up the ante for adding a challenging aspect to hunting whitetails. Merge the two and you have created a great combination to test the skills and aptitude of most hunters.

CVA-Its-Just-A-Better-Gun-1355854751Black powder firearms have come a long way over the past twenty years. With the invention of inline firing mechanisms, to the advent of the .209 primer as an ignition system. As the firearms have continued to evolve, we have removable breech, fiberglass ram rods, stainless steel, and premium optics so much so that many of the black powder rifles are capable of taking game in excess of two hundred yards. Today’s black powder firearms are anything but primitive weapons.

When you look at all of these advancements, how is someone looking for a challenge with black powder find a real challenge? Basically there are three options, (with some variations) flintlock rifles, and side breech percussion cap rifles and black powder handguns.

In the world of black powder handguns, we have cap and ball revolver pistols and we have single shot muzzle loaders. Of these, the Thompson Center Encore and both editions of the Contender, Traditions Vortek, and the new CVA Optima are all options for those looking to enter the world of black powder handguns. For today’s discussion we will not be looking at revolvers, rather sticking with the single shot varieties.P152172

One of the benefits of these handguns are the variable loads they can carry. While the Optima says it can handle up to 100 gr of powder charge, it is rarely necessary. In fact, someone new to shooting these handguns will greatly benefit from using much smaller loads to get used to the working of the gun. Loads as small as 40 grains can be shot easily and significantly reducing the recoil. In hunting situations loads exceeding 70 grains is mostly waste. The short barrels prevent all of the powder from being burned inside the barrel.

Shooting a .50 caliber handgun carry’s a lot of power. Maximizing the powder and the bullet will get the most out of the gun without punishing you in the process. For many reasons, the sabot bullets are the way to go, their much more accurate than round balls and easier to load. Most black powder handguns are really unique and will take some shooting to get the most out of your particular gun. However, starting with a load of 40 grains with a 250 gr bullet is a good place to start. Gradually stepping up to a maximum of 70 grains will do all you need it to in the woods.

While most of these modern handguns come tapped for optics, they are not a requirement. For the purist, good iron sights will suffice. However, if you prefer to use optics, stick with smaller power verses variable power optics. A good fixed 2x will do all you need it to do in the realm of ethical shots at game.

While there are many choices for traditional looking black powder pistols, and other brands than those mentioned above. Both the Traditions Vortek and the CVA Optima are excellent choices for those looking to get into black powder handgun hunting.