The DIY Hunter

Target bullet groups

The 3 shot 100 yard groups I shot today with my CVA Accura V2, Browning X-Bolt in 270 WSM and my Model 1885 in 243 WSSM. I did shoot a 4th shot on the 150 SST group.

243 WSSM Model 1885 - 95 Gr Berger VLD

The 95 Gr Berger VLD has just been amazing in my 243 WSSM Model 1885 rifle over the years. Today I wanted to try H1000 powder charges instead of the MagPro I had been using. Today I tried two powder charges with this bullet 46.0 and 46.4 grain loads. In the targets above the group on the left has two bullets in one hole.

Since I am wanting to really extend my range out to 300 yards and beyond with my muzzleloader I'm going to need to up the powder charge from the 100 grains of FFG that I have hunted with in the past.

Today I was trying 130 Gr of Triple7 FFG powder behind the 300 Gr Hornady SST, 300 Gr Hornady FPB, and the 300 Gr PowerBelt AeroLite. On my last trip out I learned that having the ramrod attached to the muzzleloader was affecting my group sizes so this time out I kept the ramrod off the muzzleloader for all of my shooting.

I also brought a couple of my rifles to shoot different loads with so I would shoot three shots with one bullet in my muzzleloader then switch to a rifle for three shots. Doing this helped to keep my barrels cool and give me better results.

The 300 Gr PowerBelt AeroLite was clearly the most accurate again on this trip out. With 130 Gr of Triple7 FFG powder this bullet shot a 1 1/8 inch group at 100 yards and was going just a hair shy of 2,000 fps on my chrony. This bullet is designed to open up in game with non-magnum charges. Since I am wanting something that will be able to take deer out past 300 yards, I thinking the AeroLite with magnum loads might be the ticket. But what about those Parker bullets???

Someone might ask why I haven't tried the Barnes muzzy bullets. Given my experience with Barnes' awesomely accurate rifle bullets I have not been pleased with their performance on game in long-range applications see this article for some of my thoughts on Barnes Bullets. Maybe their muzzy bullets would perform better than their rifle bullets at longer ranges however I think the AeroLite is probably the best pill for the job right now.

I still need to figure out the scope mount to give me a little more MOA adjustment. Right now I have exactly 28 MOA of available adjustment for long shots left on my Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 scope. With the 300 Gr AeroLite and a velocity of 2,000 fps that would get me to around 500 yards which should be plenty but I would prefer to have a larger window of adjustment and be using more of the middle of the adjustment range.

I am looking at having EGW make a custom rail or go with some Burris Signature Z-Rings that have the MOA adjustment inserts. Hmm...

CVA Accura V2 with Vortex Viper HS LR

CVA Accura V2 with Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR mounted with an EGW rail and a set of low Weaver Tactical 4 Hole scope rings.

300 Gr Muzzlelaoder Bullets

The four 300 Gr Muzzleloader Bullets that I tested today. Powerbelt Platinum, Powerbelt Aerolite, Hornady sabot SST, and Hornady FPB.

Elevation turret almost topped out

My elevation turret appears that it is almost topped out when zeroed offering me only 25 MOA adjustment for long shots. The hash marks on the turret indicate 6 rotations when in actuality there is just slightly over 3 rotations available for 79.5 MOA of total adjustment. Where it is zeroed right now I have just over one rotation for 25 MOA left to dial the long shots. I am working on getting a custom 20 MOA rail from EGW to give me 20 more MOA to adjust.

300 Gr Powerbelt Aerolite 3 shot group

My best group today was this 1 1/8" group with 300 Gr Powerbelt Aerolite bullets.

The Palm Saver on the end of the ramrod may be effecting the accuracy.

For really tight groups and long range accuracy the Palm Saver on the end of the ramrod may be effecting the accuracy by touching the barrel changing the harmonics.

With my Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR mounted on my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader I was itching to try it out. 

My first time out with this scope on my muzzleloader I had four different 300 grain bullets to test. the 300 grain bullets: Powerbelt Platinum, Powerbelt Aerolite, Hornady sabot SST, and Hornady FPB. To test these bullets all of my powder charges were 100 grains of FFG 777 loose powder.

My normal shooting range is closed right now for construction so I had to shoot out in the scorching sun for a couple hours as I tested muzzleloader. And it was a warm one in the mid 80s and very breezy. So not the most comforatable nor best conditions for me to shoot good groups, not to mention I am sun burnt, ouch!

On this trip out the Powerbelt Aerolite performed the best with a 1 1/8" group and the Powerbelt Platinum did the worst with a 7 inch group. My tests were not scientific in any nature so I will be out testing some more to see if the Aerolite is really the bullet I want to go with this year. With the exception of the Powerbelt Platniums, I am going to keep testing these bullets with different charges, hopefully in better weather conditions as the two Horandy bullet also shot well.

I like the idea of the Hornady FPB bullet and will still keep playing around with it however they were a bit of a pain to get lined up with the bore. They also have the most resistance of any bullet I have seated in a muzzleloader. Also, there were at least three bullets in the package of fifteen that had some QC problems with the cup of the base being rough and jagged. They shot ok but had some fliers that I couldn't account for the reason. I'll keep playing with them for now.

One thing I notice is that it appears I get better groups by not having the ramrod attached to the muzzlelaoder when I shoot. As an example I shot a 2 3/4" group with the ramrod attached and a 1 1/8" group with the ramrod off the muzzloader using the Powerbelt Aerolite bullets. There may have been barrel fowling issues or other factors opening up the one group but in general I have noticed I shoot better with the ramrod off the muzzleloader. It makes sense that the palm saver on the end of the ramrod can easily be rotated and touching the barrel and could definitely effect the harmonics of the barrel. Whenever I need to take a really long shot I will take the ramrod off to make sure I get the best accuracy. Most hunting shots in the 100 yard range I'm not going to worry about the ramrod, just the 200 plus yard shots.

The biggest thing I learned from this trip out is that I am going to have to alter my mounting of the scope. I am using an EGW rail with a set of low Weaver Tactical 4 Hole scope rings. The rail and rings work great I just have an issue with MOA adjustment of the scope. To get the muzzleloader zeroed at 100 yards I had to adjust the turret up so high as to only leave me with 24 MOA left to adjust. This is just not enough adjustment for what I am wanting. I really can't take any advantage of having such a nice scope on this muzzleloader with the lack of vertical adjustment. At a minimum I would like 35 MOA of vertical adjustment to take longer shots. My only option that I can see now is to go with Burris Signature Zee rings where I can use shims inside of the rings to add MOA but these rings are higher so I may need to add something to the comb. Hmm...

Now to figure out how to get the scope mounted better and up the powder charge to be able to have the energy needed at longer ranges.

With Utah opening up the use of optics for muzzleloaders to anything goes, I have started working on setting up my CVA Accura V2 with optics to see how far I can effectively shoot. My blog entries will be a work in progress as I continue working on setting up and testing my muzzleloader with a variable power rifle scope.

With a 1x Vortex scope and 300 Gr SST Hornady bullets I was dialing up shots out to 200 yards quit effectively in 2015. I'm excited to see what I can now do with some higher power glass. 

To start with I am going to try my favorite big game scope, that being a Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR. I have a couple of these scopes and love them. I like that they have 24 minutes of angle adjustment in elevation with just one turn of the turret. I think this scope is a little on the overkill size for what I think my muzzleloader is capable of but I need to pull one of these scopes off a rifle anyways so this will work out perfect to test and see how I like it.

Given my work schedule this year I will most likely missing out on my favorite hunt, that being archery elk hunting. I am just too busy in August and September to be able to spend any time in the field hunting. So once again I will most likely be muzzy elk hunting around the first of November. 

Dallen also recieved a CVA Accura V2 for his high school graduation gift. We will be setting up Dallen's muzzleloader also. I am right now looking at the Vortex Diamondback HP line of scopes, particularly the 2-8x32.

Next up is my first trip out testing this scope and various 300 Gr bullets.


Overkill muzzy scope? I have mixed feelings on Utah opening up the big game muzzleloader seasons to variable power optics. My preference would have been to keep optics to 1x... if variable power is the game then I thought I would first try pulling one of my favorite big game rifle scopes off one of my other rifles, a Vortex Viper 4-16x50 HS LR. To mount the scope I ordered an EGW rail with a set of low Weaver Tactical 4 Hole scope rings. With a 1x Vortex scope and 300 Gr SST bullets I have been getting right around 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards and dialing up shots on milk jugs out to 200 yards. Wondering how far I can effectively shoot now? #thediyhunter #diyhunting #muledeerhunting #utahhunting #cvamuzzleloader #vortexoptics #hunting #evolutiongunworks #elkhunting #muzzyscope

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on