Guests - If You want access to member only forums on HSO. You will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up on HotSpotOutdoors.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.


    You know what we all love...

    When you enchant people, you fill them with delight and yourself in return. Have Fun!!!

Sign in to follow this  

New to muzzleloading

Recommended Posts

Hello!  I just purchased a CVA Optima, and would appreciate some direction getting started with purchasing powder, sabbots, cleaning supplies, etc.  Is there a particular brand of powder pellets I should purchase?  Are two pellets per load the norm?  What about primers?  Anything I need to look for?  Sabot weight?

Finally,  cleaning supplies - brand? The cleaning process I am also unfamiliar with.  It sounds as though most people wet swab, then dry swab after one shot.  After doing this,  does the barrel need Barrel Butter or similar?  Or can I swab and reload?  

I currently do not have a peep or front ring.  Needed?

Any help would be much appreciated. 

Thanks all,


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Welcome to muzzleloading, it is a lot of fun. If you ask a hundred guys what they use for powder/bullet/sabot/primer/ cleaning stuff they use, you might get a hundred different answers, you just have to find what works well in your particular gun. I think a good starting point is to find someone with the exact same gun as you, find out what they use, and start with that. I don't have an optima, I have a  cva Kodiak and a cva accura v2. I started with 50 grain triple 7 pellets (2) but have switched over recently to blackhorn 209, a loose powder. I shoot a hornady 250 grain .45 caliber XTP pistol bullet in a Harvester crush rib sabot, there are tons of bullet/sabot combinations or sabotless bullets available, but this setup works well for me. I put a Williams peep sight on my Kodiak a couple of years ago, it worked better for me than the open sights the gun came with, but then I am  60 years old and have had some eye issues. I have a scope on my accura. Good luck, I hope other folks chime in with their thoughts.

Edited by Crow Hunter

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I currently shoot a Traditions Vortex.  My load is 100 grains of Blackhorn 209 with the Federal all copper muzzleloader bullet.  This is the first year trying it but I am really happy with the groups.  I have been lucky in that any bullet I shoot through this gun has grouped well (Barnes, Hornady, Nosler .44 mag pistol bullets).  When using a sabot I always use the EZ glide or Harvestor crushed rib type.

I do not swab between shots.  If I shoot and I am still hunting the next day I will clean my muzzleloader then. The only time I use boar butter is during storage. 

As far as cleaning I have always went with what they recommend to clean with.

Have fun shooting!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to leave the bullet and powder thing to others.  I'm sure they will say shoot what you're gun likes.  Problem with that is unless you are really into it you'll be doing that for a long time.  I'd find something easy to use with most likely 100 grains or so of Triple 7.

Keep the cleaning simple.  Hot water will dissolve triple 7, have a toothbrush for the nooks and crannies of the small parts.  Light oil after it dries and you're good.  I have a stainless barrel on my muzzy.

Shoot a squib load before you go out hunting if possible.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

just to get started i first get a range ramrod, on that had a rubber palm pad on it. the ram rod with your gun is for the field and can be a pain at the range.  get plenty of cotton patches.not familiar with cva but ive got 2 TC omegas, that have a threaded breach plug, yu need gorrila grease antiseize if yu have that style, think most come that way now. after every thuro cleaning put a dob of it on the threads or it will sieze up. Brass brushes, I use a TC liquid boar cleaner, you must clean yur gun after range sesion or the powder fouling will pit your barrel and will cause many headaches and never be accurate. im very articulate on the cleaning procces, I runn the brass brushes first, then I run a few patches on the brush dipped in boar cleanner or Hoppes #9 then patches till it clean. Powder fouling will eat yur barrel. 

Powder. to start with and for the ease of it 777 pyrodex pellets, i use 2, 3 kicks yur butt after a few shots at the range, luse if one uses 3 pellets and dosent match the bullet grain properly, yu will get an in accurate tumbling of the bullet, to much velocity and not enough weight. I use 2 pellets and 250 grain shock waves. if i used 3 pellets id bump up to 300 grain bullet for the beginner id go with the pelltes for the ease of then uprgrade to the loose powder if yu so desire. Im gona but just cant seem to get thru my stash of pellts.  peeps are nice, ive got one, but killed plenty with out it.

Swabing at the range, I do it. cause after a couple shots, the fouling build up and gets harder to load the barrel, plus will cause inaccuracy. I shoot, chew on a patch, swab, dry swab, then load, pain, yes am i accurate. I can hit a soft ball 9-10 times at a 100 yards. and you will be surprise at how small a softball is in the front of ur barrel at a 100. get target that have a very large center circle.. When i zero in a new ML I get a large piece of cardboard like 3x3 piece, sit at 25, then 50 tweak if needed and out to a 100. I also like to switch out my front page, if its green to a red, green dissapears quicker at low light. Have fun!!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Boar has some practical good tips like the ram rod at the range.  At least bring a pad or something because after a while your palm will have an indented circle in it from pushing the ramrod.  Out in the field if you shoot twice at one animal that would be unusual...

however, one year I shot at an elk at 170 yards with a scope.  Hit it and it just stood there.  I shot at it 5 freaking times and for the first time ever the adrenaline was rushing so hard that each time when I pulled the trigger I knew I had little chance of hitting it.  I was on a gigantic rock in an uncomfortable position and couldn't use my shooting sticks which didn't help.  Luckily I had someone with me and we recovered the elk, I will try to find a photo, it was very steep terrain.

The antiseize should be put on all threaded parts, a little dab will do you.  Same stuff as you put on choke tubes.


Edited by leechlake

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A few other minor things might be if you go loose powder like I do, it isn't necessarily easy to find black powder but we measured out the exact recommended grains of powder needed to toss a .370 grain maxi ball out of it, we cut a brass tube to size so when that's full that's the amount of powder we need to put into our TC's and we have of course "speed" loaders lol not sure on the speed part but has the amount of powder needed, a maxiball and make sure to put that in the speed loader correctly so the point comes out of the barrel first of course and then the cap or primer. A sling is beneficial also of course for climbing in and keeping your fingers warm as you won't have to hold your gun walking around. PS. If you hear a deer I'm confident and feel safe enough to bring the hammer back if that's your weapon as it does make a loud click that's hard to muffle on a calmer type day, then you'll either see what you want to shoot and if not it's easy to me to hold the hammer and release it back forward to the ready position by pulling the trigger if it's not a deer you'd want to try at, but certainly be very careful with that. Binoculars are valuable at times without a scope, dress warm, as nocturnal as they are come muzzy season average weather lets say sit the first 1.5 hours and the last, prime time it, my 3 ML kills all were in the AM however I always feel like the PM hunts are best for some odd reason.To me it's far easier seeing antlers in the early AM vs. that extra 1/2 hour we get in the PM. Good Luck, OTC 

PSS. Snow can make a difference of course seeing deer and knocking down tall grass and some cattails to help see better. 1 other thing that makes a difference is maybe how far off the road(s) trails are you, I try to get in deep to bedding cover meaning AM hunts are not going to happen there, the windier afternoons I can take my time and usually work into my stand without alerting the deer. AM's are often so calm, cold, creaky, frosted over, etc so I need to try to get in there while the deer are still out feeding. Last year was the first year I heard a grunting buck chasing a doe or fawn during muzzy. I also had a nice sunny first Monday of muzzy last year and from 11:48AM-12:41PM my trail cam caught 4 bucks in a row spread out by 10 minutes or so. Y buck, then 6 pointer, then 8 pointer, then a large 8 pointer, broad daylight, all walking slowly on the same trail so there goes my 1.5 hour theory, but in the 16 days how can a guy predict that behavior, none of the 4 ever went by my tcam again light or dark the rest of the season.  Best of luck, 3 days to go guys.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the ML side Aaron.  Ill forewarn you it’s hard to go back.  I picked up a ML a few yrs back to extend my season, after a fruitless gun season and now im HOOKED.  I haven’t hunted with anything else since  gun or ML season. 

There has been a lot of good info already here but ill add my 2cents.

I’m NO expert by any means but I have the same exact ML as you.  I bought it at FleetFarm and it came with the starter pack and a cleaning kit.  Which isn’t bad but not the greatest if you plan on using it a lot.  Since then I have various cleaners, brushes, patches… “an old white t-shirt cut into 2”x2”  squares works great and cheap”

I also 2nd a ramrod just for the range but practice with your field rod as well. 

“Mark the ramrods to know how far dwn the load should sit, I used a bright marker.”

Not knowing much of much my 1st yr I used what CVA recommended.  They have a DVD that is pretty helpful and vidz on their page as well. 

I hunt that yr and bagged my 1st ML deer using 295gr HP PowerBelts pushed by 2(50gr) pellets of 777    “ I would’ve probably used WhiteHots as per CVA but the store was out of them at the time and a lot of buds I know uses 777 plus they were on sale”  

Range shots using a LeadSled

The Powerbelts loaded very easily and I got very good groups with that load.  At 50yrds I had 3 rounds touching, 3-3.5” groups at 100yrds, every once in a while a flyer.  Which seemed as though was usually the 4-5th shot, so now I run a bore snake a few times after the 3rd shot. Makes it easier to load and seems to help accuracy.

1st part of the bore snake I soak in cleaning solution before the brush, after the brush I put on bore butter on for an inch or so and the rest wipes it clean.

Some reviews on powerbelts aren’t that great and I did notice my bullet broke apart a little bit inside the animal. 

However, it drop a decent 8pt in its tracks at 65yrds with no exit wound. Which isn’t bad no tracking needed and it transferred all its energy into the animal for a quick clean kill.

Being me I can’t leave nothing good enough alone, the next yr I decided to try a different round.  I went with CVA’s 300gr SlickLoad sabots, same powder charge and added a Williams Peeps Sight.  The factory sights aren’t bad but by having the peeps sight located further back  “the last mounting hole” has helped me keep my head dwn and it easier to pick up the target.  

“Beware that the factory front sight sits a tad high and the Williams sits a tad low.  I had to move the peep all the way to the very top to get it to zero at 100yrds”

With that setup I got the same groups at the range and a very nice doe at 82yrds, she only took 2 hops, no tracking needed.  Hit the top of her heart and lungs.

However, I notice the entry and exit wound were almost the same.  Which meant it didn’t get much expansion and I wasn’t happy with that.  

Needless to say I’ve changed to a different round.

I now used Hornady’s LowDrag Sabot 300gr SST pushed by same powder charge. I get the same performance at the range but haven’t had a flyer at all and I can get off 5shots without using the bore snake. I still usually run it after 3 shots tho but it’s nice to know I don’t have to if I’m lazy.

This yr during the gun season, I got a big bodied 6pt at 78yrds and he never took another step. Looked as though his legs were cut from underneath him.  The shot was a pass through, the entry was the size of a quarter and exit the size of a golf ball .  It was hard to tell apart the difference between the lungs and liver.  Flipping him over was like dumping out a 5gal bucket.  I am glad to say I am VERY HAPPY with the bullet performance and might stick with this setup for a while.  

Who am I kidding probably not, my bud was just telling me about the Barnes all copper he uses lol

Couple other tips,,,

They recommend firing a cap after cleaning to ensure no particles are in the breech.  My buds and I use air instead.

Being a 1:28 twist, its recommended not to use bullets over 300grns.  Some of the buds uses 240, 250 and some of us use 300grns.  I like the heavier bullets personally.


Hope this helps and good luck everyone


Edited by Mr Special

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good info and yes the gun issued ram rod we marked it so we know if there's a bullet in there or not. I was surprised by the accuracy of these guns and lack of recoil really, without a scope there's no scope to the eye worries. Now you have the gun, your getting on track with bullets charges and primers so more tidbits to help some out there with the nuances of the sport. One thing I noticed in the 3 deer I shot with it is be sure to take that recoil kinda straight back in a sense, don't let it kick sorta up, my gun is barrel top heavy for sure and ease the trigger as you would a rifle lets say as all 3 I hit them a little higher then I was aiming. The .370 grain took em out nonetheless. Stand angle, tall grass, etc  I learned I need to aim a little lower and that the pull on my muzzy isn't anything like my 30.06 there's more pull to my musket before the hammer hits the primer. Keep it clean for sure, I boil water maybe most do idk but reading my TC book on my muzzleloader cover to cover was valuable and you're basically set, now to see a deer in legal light and be able to tell what it is without snow and a scope will be another facet of muzzleloading. Maybe giving up on a stand and sitting stump watching that one trail from downwind that puts you in better range but risks spooking them. It's all scheming once you're set. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this