Guns > Muzzleloaders

The Return of Knight Rifles

The company that pioneered the modern inline muzzleloader is back in business and looking to be a player once again.

5/9/2011

When Knight Rifles founder Tony Knight introduced his MK-85 inline-design muzzleloader back in 1985, it changed the entire course of blackpowder hunting and redefined “primitive” arms seasons in a way that is still debated. Knight’s creation took the less reliable sidelock configuration of blackpowder rifles that were in use and created an ignition system that launched a spark straight from primer to powder for a faster, much more reliable "boom."

The accuracy of the MK-85 (Tony told me during a hunt we shared in 2005 that the MK stood for his daughter Michelle’s initials) and its simplicity of loading and firing made it a quick hit among hunters looking to take advantage of special muzzleloader seasons that typically precede regular firearm deer seasons. In fact, much of the rapid growth in muzzleloading’s popularity throughout the late '80s up to today can be traced back to the availability of Knight’s inline design and the innovation it spurred among the company’s competitors. Prior to that, muzzleloader seasons were nearly the exclusive occupation of traditionalists toting Hawken replicas or other primitive kit-made arms and sporting coonskin caps and buckskins.

Throughout its history, even after Knight sold his company to outdoor products conglomerate Pradco, the company remained the benchmark by which other muzzleloaders continued to be measured. To most casual observers, the company seemed like it was most likely one of the most profitable as well. Thus, it came as a shock in 2009, when Pradco announced Knight was shuttering its gunmaking operation due to a downturn in the market. They would still make muzzleloading accessories and service existing rifles, but the move effectively killed the Knight line. Ordinarily, that would be the end of the story. But thanks to a Tennessee-based company that specializes in manufacturing plastics and run by a group of guys who love to hunt, it has turned into simply the start of another chapter.

Second Chance
Walk into the headquarters of Plastic Industries, Inc., and it’s immediately noticeable this isn’t your standard corporate office. The board room and offices are adorned with the mounts of elk, a cougar and other game.

“Our management team is made up of some extremely avid hunters, who have hunted with Knight rifles for a number of years,” says Sam Brocato, who now serves as sales manager of Knight Rifles. Plastic Industries, or PI Inc. as it is known, was founded in 1952 and specializes in plastic injection molding, structural foam molding, vacuum forming and other plastic technologies. Among the many products they manufacture are plastic handles for recliners, G-suits for fighter pilots, swimming pools and the plastic parts of feeders for Moultrie, which is owned by Pradco.

Swimming pool production makes up their largest division, but the bulk of that business is seasonal, with most sales taking place between May and July. Management was looking for a business line to get involved with that would provide more revenues during the fall months. As fans of Knight and already working with Pradco, the company leadership naturally inquired about producing some of the plastic accessories for Knight. It was then that they learned the entire company was up for sale.

“We were at the right place at the right time. A lot of people didn’t even realize the company was up for sale…some things just lined up for us,” says Brocato. PI Inc. bought Knight in March 2010 and with the start of 2011, the famed company was once again in the blackpowder rifle business.

New Line Knight Rifles
Upon the completion of the sale, Knight’s operations were moved from Centerville, Iowa, to Athens, Tenn., where PI Inc. is based and production was started. Knight began quick production of some recognizable models including the Disc Extreme, Long Range Hunter, Bighorn and Littlehorn muzzleloading rifles and the TK2000 blackpowder shotgun. Both the Revolution and the KP1, the latter being the previous ownership’s effort at entering the centerfire market, are no longer manufactured and warranty issues are still handled by Pradco.

Knight has updated some of the offerings and features of the existing lines and introduced new products as well. Completely new from Knight in 2011 is the Mountaineer. Powered by the 209 primer, the gun is available in both .50 and .52 caliber models. It is offered in five laminated stock variations, including three thumbhole designs and two standard stock options.  The trigger is fully adjustable and this gun, as all of Knight’s rifles, still use the Green Mountain barrels that helped make these guns so highly regarded for their accuracy.

The Mountaineer’s barrels are laced with DynaTek, a ceramic clear-coat that makes them more resistant to corrosion and reduces the need to clean the barrels as much as other blackpowder barrels. The gun’s ramrods are made by Easton Archery from a carbon core arrow shaft, which also reduces the need for cleaning and adds less weight to the gun.  Brocato was quick to point out that all Knights are also 100 percent made in the U.S.A., something that is becoming harder to find in almost every product line.

Every Knight comes with a 200-yard guarantee right out of the box, which promises the gun will shoot 4-inch groups at that distance. Indeed, it was Knight that made blackpowder shooting and hunting more of a long-range proposition than what it was when first on the scene. When I began blackpowder hunting in the early 1990s, it was generally regarded that shots, no matter what rifle you were using, needed to be kept within 100 yards. Fast forward to that New Mexico antelope hunt I shared with Tony Knight in 2005, and on steel targets, we were making 300-yard hits with every shot. Knight’s performance was impressive and in its new form, it appears that legacy will be carried on effectively.

“Our goal is simply to make a premium quality gun and be profitable,” says Brocato. “We want to focus on quality and keep our customers satisfied.”

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37 Responses to The Return of Knight Rifles

stephen wrote:
December 03, 2014

I have a knight lk93 and just bought a new knight vision. knight now has 209 extreme conversion kit on their web (to be up soon)

chris b wrote:
October 07, 2014

I have a Knight LK93 that I converted to 209 when the first kits came out in the late 80's. The breech plug has burned out and can not find another. Knight said the product was discontinued for issues but would not elaborate on what issues meant. I have the equipment to manufacture another but Knight would not or could not provide the technical specs for the fire hole. Does anyone have this spec or a line on getting another breech plug of this type?

maynard Davenport wrote:
July 27, 2014

My Knight 45 cal appers to have very little muzzel velosity. Ca you give me an explanation. or what to look for?

ca wrote:
May 08, 2014

great rifles but what happened to customer service or even answering the phone.

Thomas wrote:
March 17, 2014

Okay I have a knight 52 cal. Love the gun. Haven't shot it in over a year because I ran out of the bullets. I have a few as in maybe a hand full of sabots. I need to find someone that sells these. Any ideas?

John Ray wrote:
December 03, 2013

Hi,just shot a 3 point bull elk today with my 50 cal. Knight Bighorn. used 350 grn Hornady bullet with 120 grn 777 black powder, Distance was 135 yards and one shot downed it, and 2nd shot was a lights out shot. also no scope was used just optics that was on it when it was purchase it .

Jason stotler wrote:
September 02, 2013

Ive had knights muzzle loaders sense the early 90s they all shoot well.glad you're back tony

Dean Vanier .. North Woods Common Scents wrote:
April 23, 2013

I just recieved my Knight TK 2000. What a beautiful shot gun. It's a piece or art and shoots like a dream. My wife shoots the Big Horn and I shoot the Mountineer. They both drive tacks at 100 yards. Great product . To see picks of our Knight Bucks check us out at www.team-northwoods.com.. God Bless the American Hunter

Jimbo wrote:
March 06, 2013

Does/did Knight make/sell MML Inc, s 9480 50 cal rifle? I need a new breech plug, but I'm having trouble finding one. Any suggestions where to look? Thanks

Dean Vanier wrote:
March 04, 2013

I've been shooting a Knight for 20 years.I Just recieved my Knight Ultra Light....All I can say is wow.. It.s a piece of Art and Shoots Fantastic.

David Callahan wrote:
January 17, 2013

Does Knight make a breech plug to shoot 'Blackhorn209 powder?

greg sly wrote:
December 29, 2012

I have my dad's mk85 50cal.l think max charge is 120 gr. Blk. Powder. Can I shoot 120gr. 777 or do I have to reduce by 15[%]? I have the primer conv. Kit.

Bob Abel wrote:
December 07, 2012

My first Knight rifle was a BK92 which still shoots great, including a 120yd kill two years ago. My .45 cal disc rifle does shoot 4" groups.

Walter L. Barger Sr. wrote:
September 29, 2012

I have a Knight Disc 50 Cal. and I have a Knight wolverine 50 Cal. Keep up the good work Knight. and God bless

Linda Kendrick wrote:
December 13, 2011

This muzzleloader deer season my husband's Knight Muzzleload fell from his deer stand (20 feet) and hit the ground hard and cracked the stock. My husband got down from the tree stand and picked-up his muzzleloader. the 20 foot fall cracked the stock. However, my husband knew Knight muzzleloaders were tough and he just picked up his muzzleloader and climbed back into the tree stand. About an hour later he shot an 8-point buck. I bought this muzzleloader for him in 1996. Knight muzzleloaders are tough and in my opinion the best muzzleloader on the market! hopefully I can find a replacement stock for his knight muzzleloader.

John McVicker wrote:
December 05, 2011

I just called and ordered some parts for my muzzle loader and the customer service at Knight is A+++

john zehler wrote:
November 07, 2011

My new long range hunter does not have a green mountain barell, and had to be returned as barell tolerance was out of spec. When ordering new knight rifels ask many questions, quality aint toney!!!

robert Toquothty wrote:
November 07, 2011

I'M SO GLAD that Knight rifles are back, I have a Lk - 93 I have enjoyed some special hunts with that rifle and I look forward for more hunts with my Knight rifle. Keep up the good work.

Sean wrote:
October 15, 2011

Wow this is so cool, Made in Athens, TN just a short drive from me here in Chattanooga, wierd thing is I just purchased a American knight at a pawn shop for 70 bucks.. I wonder if they have a outlet there

dbknkl wrote:
July 20, 2011

Glad to hear it! I have a Knight Magnum Disc in .45cal and a KP1 chambered for the .45-70 govt. I love them both and would not part with either of them. Glad to hear that Knight is back in the action.

bear hutner wrote:
July 09, 2011

I had a T/C ,but traded it in for a knight big horn and love it. I wish that kight wood make a shotgun with a vent rib and change able choke tubes for deer hunting in areas where muzzleloader rifles are not aloud and shotguns,bows,and handguns are. It would be nice if Knight would make a double barrel shotgun.

Rex wrote:
July 01, 2011

I purchased Knight Disc rifle as my first (and last) muzzleloader. Wouldn't trade it for any center fire rifle out there. Love it.

BOB wrote:
June 21, 2011

GREAT NEWS! STILL HAVE MY TBOLT AND WOULD NOT TRADE IT, STILL OUTSHOOTS MY SON'S TRADIONS AND CVA BUCKHORN. LOOKING FORWARD TO NEW KNIGHT MODELS

mike wrote:
June 20, 2011

Just love this news!!! The TC just does not shoot like my MK-85 does.

Jerry wrote:
June 18, 2011

I'm so delighted to hear that Knight Rifles is back on track! I own two revolutions,and one rolling block. They all shoot more like high power rifles!

ed wrote:
May 29, 2011

great to hear the news bougth two new knights in 2009 love them.

Toby wrote:
May 14, 2011

I do quite a bit of test shooting for Knight Rifles, and have now put close to 3,000 rounds through one of the new Mountaineer prototypes. The best overall shooting load for me has been 120-grains of the new Blackhorn 209 powder (shooting with a Federal 209A primer), and the saboted 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullet (Harvester Muzzleloading). The load is good for 2,054 f.p.s. - and will consistently shoot right at an inch at 100 yards. The rifle and load have punched several sub 2-inch 200 yard groups. Drop from 100 to 200 yards is 10.2 inches. And at 200 yards, the load still delivers more than 1,500 f.p.e. This next week I plan to do considerble shooting witht he new Knight "Bloodline" bullets.

JRW wrote:
May 13, 2011

So glad to hear. Knights muzzleloaders and service is second to none. Have 2 LRH and 1 disc extreme. They are a joy to shoot!

Doug Hall wrote:
May 13, 2011

Remember the original Wolverine Inline Black Powder Rifle? Made in Michigan by Dan Kerkausky (approx. spelling) during the 1970's, available in blued and stainless steel. The BATF decided the 209 primer ignition system made Wolverines modern arms subject to the controls of modern cartridge arms, to be recorded on 4433's etc., not handled as conventional flint or percussion arms. Federal Red Tape killed a fine rifle and a new manufacturer. By about 10 years, Knights Rifle was not the "first" inline ignition system. #00002

jes wrote:
May 13, 2011

Larry, you might try looking at:http://www.hpmuzzleloading.com/ The Knight rifles and loads there are pretty incredibly accurate!

John Z wrote:
May 13, 2011

FWIW--my favorite long-range loads is 130 grs. Hodgdon Triple Seven granular pushing a 240-gr. Precision Dead Center Sabot or the 245-gr. Barnes Spit-Fire TEZ. Both of those bullets have a polymer tip and boattail configuration, both of which allow a longer, sleeker profile. That gives the bullet a higher ballistic coefficient, and thus translates to flatter downrange trajectory. The 130-gr. charge kicks a bit less than a full 150-gr. load, but it still might be a bit stout when firing lots of shots in the course of the match. In fact a heavy propellent charge really isn't necessary. Blackpowder tournament shooters were deadly out to 500 yards back in the 1800s shooting 100 grs. or less. The trick is making elevation sight adjustments and doping the wind.

Doug wrote:
May 13, 2011

Hey Larry--For the life of me I can't remember precisely what we were shooting though I honestly don't think it was anything other than 150 grains of Pyrodex and whatever Knight bullet they were pushing at the time. I will try to see if i can find my old notes to see if I have anything down on that. I know one thing: When we got there and Tony told me we were going to shoot targets at 300 yards, I was skeptical. But I was able to nail those metal spinners at that distance every time and little of the hunting or shooting I do here on the East Coast ever requires me to shoot that far, so I'm hardly a long-distance expert. It was impressive.

Al Sabino wrote:
May 12, 2011

Still own my Knight MK85 Stainless and wouldn't trade it for any other. Shot my first muzzleloader deer at 20 yards while still hunting @-10 degrees, Dropped in it's tracks! Found 100+ yd shots extremely doable. Glad to see they will still be around.

Rusty wrote:
May 12, 2011

Great news I have the disc extreme and a long range hunter and love them both, not a better made rifle

Robert L Brown wrote:
May 12, 2011

Glad to hear that Knight is back!! I have shot the Elite, MK85 and the RevolutionII. Have been very pleased with all.

J Morse wrote:
May 12, 2011

Very, very good news to hear!

Larry wrote:
May 12, 2011

I am interested in 300 yard target shooting with my ML. Can you tell me your load and loading procedure (clean barrel, swab etc).