As a neo-Luddite, or what some folks may call a late-adopter, I’ve watched the modern muzzleloader world go by while clinging to my Hawken with all the grip my traditional mind could muster. In 2009, my home state of Nebraska made telescopic sights legal for the month-long muzzleloader deer season. Coincidentally, the past few years have also marked a decline in my eyesight, which in turn has decreased the maximum range I’m comfortable shooting the Hawken’s open sights. Then after watching several nice bucks stroll by just out of range, I started my search for a modern muzzleloader.
In the past 10-plus years, front-stuffers have come a long way. In-line muzzleloaders now rival smokeless rifles in both usability and sometimes even accuracy, at least within 100 yards. Modern designs that accommodate magnum loads, new advancements in powder and bullets, and the ability to use telescopic sights can make shots out to 200 yards possible.
Last season, I hunted with the Accura V2, CVA’s most recent update to its popular line of modern muzzleloaders. The V2 (Version 2) is fitted with a number of upgrades to the original, some cosmetic and others true technological advancements. Most notable is the addition of CVA’s Quick-Release Breech Plug, or, as they call it, the “QRBP.” The V2 also gets fitted with a SoftTouch-coated composite stock inlaid with rubber grip panels and a CrushZone rubber recoil pad.
The model I carried was a thumbhole-stocked .50 caliber, dipped in Realtree APG HD camo and fitted with a 3X-9X-32mm Konus scope. This particular model, packaged with a Quake Claw sling and soft canvas gun case, is available exclusively from Gander Mountain. Straight-stocked and open-sighted models are available in camo or black options, all with stainless steel barrels. In addition to the .50-caliber models, CVA sells a .45-caliber black thumbhole/stainless version.
While the upgraded stock does offer some additional functionality, it’s really the breech plug that is a leap forward in muzzeloading technology. One of the weaknesses of modern muzzleloaders has been the difficulty of removing the breech plug for cleaning. Most required a special tool—even those that were labeled “quick and easy” to remove were not always so quick or easy. The V2’s QRBP is designed to be able to be removed with nothing more than your fingers, even after multiple shots have been fired.
I shot 20 rounds through the Accura, using three different powders, without removing the breech plug. After this round of shooting, and all others, the QRBP unscrewed easily using a minimal amount of finger pressure. Of all the testing I did, the only time I had difficulty removing the QRBP was when the gun sat overnight before I removed the plug. (It still gave way, but not without applying a stout grip.)
There have been a few reports of ignition problems with the QRBP. One representative of a well-known powder company said that in his opinion, the QRBP had design flaws that “reduced the primer delivery energy to unacceptable levels.” I can say I had no ignition problems during my time on the range. Loaded with a variety of powders ignited by Winchester Triple 7 209 primers, the V2 fired reliably.
As the name implies, it’s accuracy that CVA is hanging its hat on with this modern muzzleloader—accuracy aided by a barrel crafted by Bergara. The Spanish barrel maker, with input from legendary riflesmith Ed Shilen, uses a four-step CNC process to create straight-shooting barrels for a number of CVA rifles, the Accura V2 included. First, Bergara straightens 416-grade stainless steel bar stock to a deviation of less than .0004 inch. That’s followed by a four-spindle drilling process, button rifling and three-step polishing process.
To test accuracy, I shot three different loads at 100 yards. Each shot was followed with a spit patch and dry patch; between groups the gun was swabbed with solvent-soaked patches until clean. All of the loads shot well.
A fair amount of the V2’s accuracy is attributable to the adjustable, zero-creep trigger thanks to a set screw behind the trigger guard/breeching lever that allows shooters to dial in their preferred pull weight. From the factory, my gun dropped the hammer at a scary-light 1.5 pounds, as measured on my Timney tension scale. Suspecting the trigger on my test gun had been adjusted by over-exuberant PR folks, I stopped by my local Cabela’s and put a tension scale to a V2 there. The result? It measured a tad over 2 pounds.
Loading the Accura V2 is made easier thanks to an over-bored muzzle that starts and centers the bullet within the barrel. Both the Powerbelt and Barnes bullets started with just thumb pressure, while the full-bore Hornady required the use of a starter. This quick-reloading feature was invaluable on a Montana hunt last season when a quick follow-up shot was required to anchor a mule deer.
I’m not sold on thumbhole stocks on hammer guns. There’s just something about it ergonomically that doesn’t work for me, as pulling my thumb off the stock to engage the hammer is awkward. Better, in my opinion, is a pistol-gripped model, or else resign yourself to cocking the hammer with your index finger.
After a couple days of range time, I did experience a few hiccups with the V2. First, the plastic sleeves lining the ramrod guides worked loose. While my test model was fitted with a scope, all Accura V2s come equipped with metal fiber-optic sights. After several dozen shots, the front blade worked loose, something that would have caused a headache if I’d been relying on the open sights instead of the scope. These are all minor issues, but ones I wouldn’t expect from a gun of this price.
Relying on open sights, either on the V2 or my old Hawken, would have also caused me to miss an opportunity on a wily Montana mule deer. After spotting the buck earlier in the afternoon, I belly-crawled to within 100 yards of the deep-tined 4x4. It was easily within range for either a traditional muzzleloader or a modern version. However, the buck was smart and stayed hidden in brush until dusk.
With only minutes until the end of legal shooting hours, we coyote-howled, hoping the buck would reveal himself; finally a third howl made him nervous enough to stand. As the light closed in around us, there would have been no way to pick the deer out of the brushy background using open sights, but the Konus scope provided enough light for a last-minute shot. After 12 years of chasing mule deer with traditional arms, I finally tagged my best buck thanks to my new modern muzzleloader.