We all know that damp conditions and rain can affect muzzleloaders if our powder gets wet, but can seasonal differences in temperature have an effect on your accuracy?
When you’re at the range in summer and it’s 83 or 90 degrees — maybe with some humidity, too — will your dialed-in smokepole be hitting the same holes on the target as in winter when it might be 45 or 39 or 28 and snowing or drizzling rain?
Brad Rucks and Dan Schmidt discussed this on Deer Talk Now last autumn and Rucks had a few thoughts about accuracy. Both have the CVA Accura V2 rifle, a darn fine smokepole.
“I think it’s definitely going to make a difference,” Rucks said, “First thing, get yourself a quality scope. If you’re going to hunt with a scope, use a quality scope. If possible get one specifically designed for a muzzleloader. Hawke makes a good one, as does Nikon.I started at 25 yards. Get a big enough piece of paper (for the target). A click at 25 yards is a fourth of a quarter-inch, so remember that, too.
“If you’re going to shoot distances then I recommend practicing at those distances. It will take more time and effort at the range” but you should practice at the distance you plan to shoot. Be sure to load accurately and not be distracted during the process.
After getting your scope dialed in, which is a no-brainer before the season opens, be sure to save the target from each distance. Some hunters dial in at 25 yards and then know the bullet will be high or low at 100, or they’ll dial in at 100 to start with. Whatever method you use, save the target and use a Sharpie to put the date, distance and ammo dope on it for future reference.
Then later in the season, if you can and want to, head to the range for a quick session with your rifle. Fire at the same distances with the same ammo load, of course, and then compare the targets to see if everything is still copacetic. Rucks said what might be spot-on in summer could be different in winter.
“I’m going to shoot again at 100 yards,” he said. “The barrel may act different in the cold weather. Temperature change could make a difference.”
Rucks used the CVA 250-grain PowerBelt bullet and 150 grains of powder, the Triple 7 pellets, “but you don’t really need that much. One hundred grains is all you need.”
Two pellets, typically 100 grains of powder, is what most hunters use in their muzzleloaders. But you may want to try three pellets to test the accuracy. Just like with rifles and handguns, different ammunition and barrels can get along well or argue like cats and dogs.
“Depending on your ignition you may not get a full burn on the third pellet, too,” Rucks said. “For the average guy, 100 grains is what you need.”