Beware the new .45 Caliber Rifles

.45 caliber rifles are the item of the day. Once Tony Knight opened the door with the introduction of the Knight Super .45, all the other gun manufacturers jumped through. We now have .45 caliber magnum muzzleloaders from CVA, Traditions, Remington, T/C, Kahnke, Winchester, etc.. We have bolt actions, barrel breaks, drop triggers and side locks; all bragging about outstanding velocities and great accuracy. But do they deliver what they advertise?

From the gun makers listed above, there is a 50% difference in rate of twist of the barrel. What that means is the Traditions with it's 1:20" twist will rotate the bullet once in 20" of barrel travel. The Knight with it's 1:30" twist on the other hand will rotate the bullet once in 30" of barrel travel. Clearly, if one twist is correct than the other one is not. By comparison, every factory .270 Winchester ever made have a twist of 1:9", 1:9.5" or 1:10".

We have .45 barrels in the shop with twist of 1:20", 1:22", 1:24", 1:28" and 1:30". We have done extensive testing using sabots from 175 grains to 250 grains and conicals from 275 grains to 360 grains. We have tested these bullets with charges of powder from 70 grains to 150 grains. Velocities from 1350 fps to 2350 fps. Our results are predictable and consistent.

1:20" twist barrels shoot long heavy bullets fine at velocities below 1650 fps with sabots and under 1400 fps with conicals.

1:24" twist barrels shoot long heavy bullets fine up to about 1800 fps with sabots and under 1550 fps with conicals.

1:28"-1:30" twist barrels shoot all weights of bullets fine either sabots and conicals over the entire velocity range attainable with charges of powder up to and including 150 grains.

Personally, I would not buy any .45 caliber muzzleloader that did not have a barrel twist of 1:28" to 1:30". Period. Currently the gun makers who fall into that range are Knight, CVA, Winchester, Remington and Kahnke. At the time of this writing (June 10th, 2002) all other .45 are twisted too fast to deliver acceptable accuracy with a variety of bullet weights and magnum powder charges.

If you are fortunate enough to have a 1:28"-1:30" twist magnum .45, we have the best selection of bullets made. Our 175 grain .357 caliber Dead Center is the flattest shooting, softest recoiling bullet you can use on white-tailed deer sized game. For larger game, we make the Dead Center in .40 caliber up to 240 grains.

If you currently own a 1:20" twist .45 muzzleloader, the two longest sabots that we make in .40 caliber both work fine with moderate charges of powder. The two bullets that I would try are the 250 grain QT .40 and the 240 grain Dead Center .40. This twist is extremely fussy and quite unforgiving. In fact I have one customer who has returned 3 different .45 caliber 1:20" twist barrels to the manufacturer because he could not get any to group inside 3" with 100 grain charge of powder. He was eventually given a .50 caliber 1:28" twist as this manufacturer did not offer a slower than 1:20" twist .45 barrel.

December, 2002 Footnote:

The new T/C Omega and the Encore barrels are now being produced in .45 caliber with a 1:28" twist. I have done substantial testing with the .45 Encore barrel and the results have been great.

I also understand that T/C is standing behind their Lifetime Warranty and helping those with the older 1:20" twist barrels. Contact the factory for full details.

I believe that Knight is also responding to the pressure from all those who bought a Super .45 with a 1:20" twist by now replacing those barrels.

To my knowledge, Traditions are the only one left who still manufactures and markets the .45 with a 1:20" twist barrel. It will be interesting to see how they treat their customers. I'll keep you posted with updates as I get them.

We added a 195 gr .357 Dead Center to the line. With a BC of .381 I believe this is the greatest long range bullet available for any muzzleloader.

By Spring we will be introducing a sabot to shoot all our .357 Dead Center bullets in your favorite .50 caliber gun.

Click here to check out the entire Dead Center line.
Click here to check out the entire QT line.

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