As you get started in muzzleloading you’ll need to get plenty of accessories. Unlike shooting a centerfire rifle muzzleloaders require a lot of “stuff” to do it right. But all that stuff is what makes it so much fun! If you’re going out to buy your first muzzy the “what to buy” can be daunting. Do you listen to the pimple-faced kid behind the counter that’s never smelled that sweet smell of sulfer before? Heck no! Here’s your list to help you avoid buying junk you don’t need and to get you started off on the right foot.
Powder Measure ($10-$15) – A powder measure is necessary for measuring out the grains of powder. Most go in 10 grain increments up to 150 grains. The better ones have a funnel that doubles as a leveling device. Do NOT compact the powder. Just like measuring flour.
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Flask ($10-$20)- A flask is an intermediary device between the powder jug and the powder measure. It has a spout so you can control the amount of powder going into the measure.
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Powder Funnel ($4)- A powder funnel goes on the end of the powder jug so you don’t spill the powder going into the flask.
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Speed Loaders ($0.88 – $8)- Speed loaders allow you to pre-measure several powder charges prior to hitting the range or the field. It’s best to measure them at home that way you don’t waste valuable range time measuring powder. I generally go to the range with 15-20 pre-measured speed loaders, depending on what I plan to accomplish. I found a great deal on .45 cal speed loaders at Cabela’s – $0.88 for a pack of 3. Regular price is $5.99 for a 3 pack. While I shoot a .50 I only use them for powder and a .45 speed loader holds 150 grains of powder. Score!
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Range Rod ($15-$45) – The ramrods that come with a muzzy typically suck. They’re short and don’t have handles. They are basically meant for field use. Using a range rod to at least clean the barrel makes life much easier as they have a decent handle and are much longer. You can use the rod from your cleaning kit for this if you choose. There are some high quality range rods out there, including some with a handle that spins so it follows the rifling. You get what you pay for so be mindful of your purchase.
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Muzzleloader Cleaning Kit ($30) – I like this kit from Cabelas. It contains all the essentials: Cleaning rod, breech plug lube, a few patches, a .50 cal wire brush, .45 cal wire brush, and cleaning jags.
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Spin Jag ($18) – A spin jag attaches to the end of your ramrod and twists with the bullet or patch as it is pushed down the barrel. This allows the sabot to have the rifling cut into it so it follows the same path out, resulting in a more accurate bullet. And since you’re not pushing against the rifling but with it, it makes for easier loading.
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Tool Box ($14 – $20) – You’re going to need some place to put all your supplies. A possibles bag is only good enough for out in the field. When you hit the range, you need a tool box big enough to handle everything. Try to find one deep enough to hold a jug of powder and compartments for bullets, allen wrenches, jags, etc. I have a 23″ Stanley I picked up at Wal-Mart for $16.00.
2.5″ Round Cotton Patches ($12 for 250) – The touch, the feel of cotton. Nothing beats it for soaking up propellant residue. Go down the black powder aisle of a sporting goods store and most have 2″ patches. Those are far too small for a .50 cal rifle. Find some good 2.5″ round cotton patches.
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Ballistol ($14) – Ballistol is a great all purpose cleaner / lubricant. For a cleaning solution, mix 50% Ballistol with 50% water and soak your patches in it.
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Palm Saver / Bullet Starter ($5 – $30) – A good foundation is the start of a good home. Same goes for loading bullets. You need to start your bullet properly in order to get the best accuracy. In order to reduce and consolidate my tools, I prefer the Traditions 4-in-1 Loader. It’s a speed loader, bullet starter, palm saver, and a bullet holder all in one. 4 -in-1 loaders come from several manufacturers, they all serve the same purpose. Or you can get one specifically meant as a palm saver / bullet starter like the SpinJag starter (shown below). Thompson, CVA, Knight, Cabela’s and others also make bullet starters. Be sure you get one that can accommodate the type of bullet you’re using.
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Breech Plug Grease ($5) – The little tube of breech plug grease that comes in the cleaning kit will probably last 1-2 seasons. But it’s messy. Pick up the CVA Breech Plus Anti-Seize Grease Stick.
Breech Plug Cleaner ($9)- If you are shooting 777 or Pyrodex, you definitely need some breech plug cleaner. Thompson Center makes a good one. It comes with a basket that you put the breech plug in, dunk it in the solution, and VOILA! A clean plug.
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2 x Zip-Lock Containers – (about 2.5″ – 3″ in diameter and 3″ deep) ($10 for a 12 pack) – I use these containers for the following purpose:
1. One container for dry patches – to keep them clean, dry, and organized.
2. One container for wet patches – get them just damp with a mixture of Ballistol and water.
This is a big help in managing your time at the range and not making a mess of things.
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Allen Wrenches – Seems like everything on a muzzy uses an allen wrench. Keep extras in your box for your buddies and you’ll be a hero.
Drill Bits – The drill bits are used to clean out the flash hole and primer seat of the breech plug. Each breech plug has a different sized hole so you’ll have to do some checking to find the right size.
Priming Tool (if needed) – If your breech plug requires the use of a priming tool your rifle should have came with one. If not, this should be in your arsenal.
Possibles Bag – This will be what you carry out into the field. A small container of patches, some bullets, speed loaders, primers, breech plug wrench and allen wrenches are all you really need.
Chronograph – If you really want to get down and dirty on velocity. A chronograph will help you in determining the maximum effective range of your powder / bullet combination.
Digital Caliper – Digital calipers are nice for measuring groups, bullets, barrels, etc. They can be picked up for as little as $15.
Lead Sled – A lead sled is must for discovering the true ability of your muzzleloader. There are a lot of variables in shooting and having a solid rest will help narrow those variables. If you’re shooting 100 grains or higher a lead sled will tame the kick and help you focus on trigger pull.
Pellets – While not an accessory, I just want to make sure you never buy these. Unless there is a zombie apocalypse and the only gun you have is a muzzleloader and some pellets, there is never a good reason to buy pellets. I will have a post in the near future explaining why.
Bore Butter – Unless you are loading a patch and a round ball, bore butter is useless. Muzzleloaders do not need to be ‘conditioned’ like a cast iron pot. You also shouldn’t be putting bore butter on a sabot. It may make it easier to load but that means it comes out easier, increasing the slippage and not catching the rifling. For storage, clean the rifle and run an oiled patch down the bore. Shooting a round with a barrel lubed in bore butter causes the second and preceding shots to be different. You want consistency. Always shoot with a clean barrel.
Scale – Black powder is measured in volume, not by weight. This being there are different densities between the different types and all load data is based on volume. Weighing your powder does not make you more consistent.
Bullet / Patch Puller – If you need to remove a bullet, pull the breech plug and push it through. Using a bullet puller will wreck the tip of your bullet. If you use the bullet puller 5 times, you’ve already doubled your cost of the puller because you’ve ruined 5 bullets. I’ve never had a patch get stuck on me so I don’t see a need to have a tool for a < 1% scenario.
If you haven’t purchased your gun yet, hold tight. The 2012 Muzzy Round-Up is just around the corner to help you make your decision.