Growing up in PA, we had to use flintlock only in muzzleloader season. So when I moved to Ohio, I wanted to give the modern inlines a try without breaking the bank (very young family just starting life).
After some research, I 'pulled the trigger' on a T/C Impact in 2012, with scope and case, for $299. Right now, it's listed on Gander Mountain and Cabelas for $249 (no scope). Dunham's seems to run a package deal fairly regularly where you get the scope and case for < $300.
I still think that price is amazing for the tack driver that this is. I shoot it with 92 grains of Blackhorn 209 behind a 250 grain Barnes EZ-load Sabot. Most recent shooting from a bench was just last week: 3 shots within 1 inch of each other at 100 yards, and a single shot touching the bull at 200 yards (aiming 7 inches high).
So, I'd encourage you to check-out the Impact. It's a bare bones model that's great for a starter...and I have no planes of 'advancing' beyond it. It has no 'bells and whistles', but it shoots great, and I love the balance of it. It's a basice design, I think with only 3 moving parts, and that simplicity transfers to precision shooting.
Regardless, I'd also encourage you to consider researching whether Blackhorn 209 is a good fit for you (in place of Pyrodex powder or pellets). Here's what I love about it:
1- Shoots 'clean'. By that, I mean I can shoot again and again with NO cleaning or spit patches between shots. I have shot up to 10 shots in a row, with repeated accuracy, despite no cleaning - and the 10th shot still loaded with relative ease. (I only stopped at 10 because I was done shooting that day)
2- Cleans great. I use Hoppes No. 9 instead of any water-based cleaner --- you basically clean your gun like you would any smokeless firearm, and I LOVE that!
3- It works. I get consitent accuracy. Other stuff might work to, but this stuff works with the added benefits of #1 and #2.
Obviously go with what works for you --- this is my approach and it has worked for me without breaking the bank.
I own a CVA Wolf and a TC Omega. I bought the wolf because it was cheap, and I wasn't sure if I'd like muzzleloaders. They both shoot very well, by the Omega is a way nicer gun. As it should be, considering it cost 3 times as much. I'm no expert, but the one piece of advice I will give you is DONT SHOOT POWERBELT BULLETS! I've spoken to several very accomplished guys who hunt exclusively with muzzleloaders. They will all agree. A friend of mine has shot 4 deer with powerbelts and only recovered one. He has yet to find a blood trail on any of them. The one he did recover, just happened to die in the middle of the path he exited the woods on, so he literally found it due to luck, as he was walking out for the day. He has killed plenty of deer over the years and knows how to blood trail them, and definitely puts in a bunch of effort to recover every deer he hits. I keep telling him to switch bullets,and he claims he's finally going to listen.
I have the opposite opinion on Powerbelts. I shoot 295gr behind 100gr of Pyrodex and have yet to lose a deer (6 total with one being a 200#+ buck). I agree that there can be an issue with a blood trail but I've never had one go far enough that I couldn't find it quickly (there have been blood trails). You need to have other woods skills besides following a blood trail no matter what bullet you use. ( I know this sounds snarky but it isn't meant to be)
BTW, I also have an Impact and that's an awesome gun too!
I shoot Powerbelts out of my Omega and have 11 deer hit and recovered. I shoot the 295 grain HP with 110 grains of Pyrodex.
Don't even use my slug gun anymore because of how well the Omega shoots.
Both of my brothers and 3 other people I know shoot Powerbelts exclusively....all deer hit have always been recovered.
There is a reason that Powerbelts are probably the top selling smoke pole bullet made.
MK Knight-85, or wolverine. I have them both, they are dead on at 100 yards. Have made 120 yards shots. I would be comfortable out to 150 with them. They all shoot pretty well, just how much yo want to spend.
He's shooting much lighter bullets. 240 or 250 maybe? With 100 grns of 777 pellets. He swears hes hitting them, but perhaps he's missing. The guy can shoot, an has been hunting for 40 plus years. He knows the woods like the back of his hand, and is damn good at finding dead game. I wouldn't have used him as an example if I wasn't sure of his skills. I'm glad you guys have had good success with them. I was steered away from them by a couple guys who really know their stuff.
I shoot the 180 Gr. 44 cal. Jacketed Hollow point and have killed tons of deer. I have recovered 7 bullets just under the skin on the far side. they did what they should of. Mushroomed and lost very little weight, expending all their energy into the animal. I use 100 Gr of 777. Deer aren't that hard to kill if you place the bullet properly.
Wow...you use the 180 grn ! I'm the opposite, I use the 300 grn XTP bullets. I do opt for the .44 cal vs the .45 cal bullet. (in the 50 cal ML). I Have used the powerbelts, never lost a deer with them. I agree, they expend all of their energy in the deer and cause a lot of damage, but do not always pass through, so less of a blood trail. My buddy uses the T/C shockwaves, dropped a doe in her tracks Monday, but I have seen/heard some of his past shot results and haven't been impressed..although he hasn't lost a deer either! I used 100grns T7 powder, just swithched to Black Horn 209. Anyone want to buy some loose 777 powder in Central OH!?
I use a t c omega and a savage muzzle loader. 100 gr buck horn powder 200 gr t c shockwave. I have never lost a deer I have shot usuly that may not go over 30 or 40 yd. l have not used a slug gun in at least 10 yrs. both have mil dot scopes on them.
I came across a site (https://www.muzzle-loaders.com/) that looks to have a good selection. I like to buy from my local guy, but he doesn't do much in terms of muzzleloaders. I stopped by the NE Ohio 'big box' store and their prices all looked to be 25% more than what I see on-line.
MJ I agree on the TC Encore. I have the 50 cal barrel and a 30-06 barrel. I have them both set up with weaver bases and quick detach rings for my Leupold VX 2 3x9 variable scope. The trigger breaks like a pane of glass and it will out do my shooting skill. Killed many deer and a pronghorn @ 300 in Wyoming with the 06 barrel. I love the gun. Plan to use it on a muzzy Elk hunt in AZ when I draw one of these years. I would feel comfortable shooting at 200 with it. I will have to work up a load for the Elk. The one I got will shoot up to 150 grains of 777. I haven't looked at the ballistic charts for awhile, but I want to get it set up so I could shoot out to 250 before I go. I will have a few months once I the draw is finished to do the range work.