I have a split personality when it comes to muzzleloaders. My home woods are in Pennsylvania, which has a post-Christmas deer season limited specifically to flintlocks, and my preferences in smokepoles lean partly toward patch-and-ball, buckskin nostalgia. I own a powder horn. It hangs right beside a couple plastic containers of Pyrodex pellets, revealing a dichotomous affair with the modern in-line. Flintlocks are a lot of fun, but if I really need to kill a deer with a muzzleloader, I'll trade the 4F for a 209 primer and have no regrets.
Muzzleloader manufacturer CVA is much the same. For decades the company staked its name on building front-stuffers along traditional lines. It even proudly displayed the snail and frizzen of a flintlock at half cock as its logo. All that, including the logo, has changed in recent years, and now CVA prides itself on being one of the most prolific manufacturers of modern in-lines in the world.
The company's muzzleloader, the Accura 209 Magnum, is as modernly styled as blackpowder is ancient. You still have to use a ramrod to load it, but with a break-open action, custom-quality barrel and a trigger that would inspire a benchrest competitor, the Accura demonstrates that the long guns of today's CVA are far from primitive.
If you think CVA is sending a subliminal message with the Accura's name, you must have gotten it. Accura. Accurate. Not much difference there phonetically. CVA spokesman Chad Schearer touts the Accura as the most accurate muzzleloader the company has ever built.
Schearer points to the Accura's premium, stainless steel Bergara barrel as a major factor in the gun's precision. Made at a multi-million dollar facility in northern Spain with technical guidance from heralded barrelsmith Ed Shilen, Bergara barrels enjoy custom-grade tolerances thanks to high-tech, computer-aided machinery. The bore of each barrel is honed for a highly consistent diameter along its length, and then polished in three stages to result in a smooth finish.
Besides the fluting, I also appreciated the barrel's Bullet Guiding Muzzle. The last half inch of the bore is free from rifling and slightly oversized to make it easier to start a bullet. The barrel comes with a set of DuraSight fiber-optic sights. I promptly removed the rear one and took advantage of the Accura's barrel being drilled and tapped, mounting a Bushnell Elite 4200 scope.
Hunters familiar with the CVA Optima Elite will notice the Accura looks somewhat similar. However, the Accura is built on a smaller, newly designed frame with fewer moving parts, which reduces weight slightly and makes the Accura easier to disassemble. Instead of a removable hingepin running through the barrel block like in the Optima Elite, the Accura's barrel block is machined with a semi-circular cutout on its front face that pivots around the pin. No need to tap out the pin to free the Accura's barrel from the frame; disassembly requires removing just one screw that holds the fore-end to the barrel tenon.
The opening lever is also new. It's integral with the trigger guard, extending about an inch below the bow, and made of aluminum alloy. Pulling the lever to the rear retracts the wedge that mates with the recess in the barrel block, unlocking the barrel from the frame and allowing it to pivot downward.
Any gun is only as accurate as the shooter's skill allows, and the trigger plays a large part in this relationship. The Accura's trigger is hands-down the best one I've ever squeezed on an in-line muzzleloader. During testing it broke at a touch more than 1 lb., 3 ozs., with no creep to spoil the bliss. Hunters wearing heavy gloves will probably want to take off the one covering their trigger finger before shooting. It doesn't take much to make the Accura go bang, and a Thinsulate-covered index finger isn't exactly nimble inside a trigger guard. I like a light trigger for the bench, but 1 pound, in my opinion, is a little too light for the field. Shearer says the current production Accura trigger averages 2.5 to 3 pounds.
My sample Accura came with a composite, thumbhole buttstock. I know some hunters aren't enamored by the thumbhole design, but this is not your normal thumbhole. For one, it's ambidextrous. Instead of angling through the stock to the left or right, the Accura's thumbhole is cut straight. It's easier to acquire than most thumbholes. (If you're still not convinced, you can get the Accura with a standard buttstock.)
No, the Accura is not traditional, but that's a good thing. I doubt many flintlock or caplock shooters would be comfortable taking a shot at a deer much past 100 yards. That range is well within the capabilities of this muzzleloader. Now if I could only get Pyrodex pellets to work in my powder horn.
Type: in-line muzzleloader
Caliber: .45, .50 (tested)
Barrel: 27"; fluted; 1:28" twist
Trigger: 1 lb., 3 ozs.
Sights: DuraSight fiber optic; drilled and tapped for scope
Safety: rebounding hammer
Stock: two-piece composite w/ CrushZone recoil pad; standard or thumbhole; black FiberGrip or Realtree camo finish; LOP-14.5"
Overall Length: 42.5"
Weight: 7 lbs., .3 ozs.
Metal Finish: matte blue or stainless
Accessories: Quake Claw sling, extendable aluminum ramrod, breech plug removal tool, primer de-capping tool