14 Feb Sundry Shooting Accessories to Keep in Your Muzzleloader Range Bag (and Why)
The shooting accessories you need to properly operate and clean a muzzleloader are, in many cases, entirely different from those you’ll need to have on hand in your range bag for your breech-loading arms.
Black powder and front stuffers are different beasts entirely.
While there is some crossover, there are many unique muzzleloader accessories you should keep in a dedicated range bag for your smoke poles. These are some of them. While you might be able to get away with the omission of some of them from your hunting possibles bag, they should absolutely, without a doubt, be present in your range bag.
So here they are.
A Breech Scraper
This one’s more necessary for you in-line muzzleloader fans than for the sidelock crew. After a couple of shots, fouling can get so thick on the breech that your primer won’t be able to ignite the charge.
That’s an extreme circumstance and very unlikely but it could happen. Get a brass breech scraper, they only cost a few dollars and you can use them to clean off your breech plug face in just a few moments.
A Vent Pick
A vent pick is a must-have for both sidelock and in-line muzzleloader shooters, and this should be in your hunting possibles bag as well.
Often, the muzzleloader’s vent (for both sidelocks and in-line muzzleloaders) gets fully obstructed with fouling.
A vent pick, as simple as it is, is positively invaluable for restoring “shootability.” Also, if you don’t have one, you can make one from annealed wire (use annealed wire because it is soft, making it easier to form and preventing it from scratching your gun).
A brush – specifically a pan brush – is also useful for cleaning fouling away from the vent, cone, or breech plug. They’re cheap and useful – so get one.
A Muzzleloader Bullet Starter
You might think you can just use your ramrod – and technically, you can – but we can also say without a doubt that more than one broken ramrod has its origins in that line of thinking.
And then what do you do, at the range or in the field, with a snapped ramrod in your hand and a partially started ball? Your shooting session (or hunt) is over.
Instead, get a muzzleloader bullet starter. These are better for seating and starting patched balls and muzzleloader bullets and will prevent you from breaking a rod.
Take another two cents from the bank of Anarchy Outdoors: get a synthetic muzzleloader bullet starter, like the one from the previous link.
No, they are not traditional, which you buckskin-wearing, horn-toting long-rifle shooters may not appreciate, but they also won’t break.
A Palm Saver (Or Something Like It)
The ramrod that comes with your gun is great for loading in the field, but not at the range.
The reason is this: there’s no handle at the top, and seating the ball firmly on the charge will start to become very uncomfortable after a while.
That means you can use it comfortably for a few shots. But if you’re at the range accurizing your muzzleloader and firing more than 10 shots in a session, it will start to hurt your palm after a while.
So, get either a dedicated palm saver (a wood knob that fits over the top of the end of your ramrod) or a dedicated range rod with a T-handle that is much more ergonomic.
An Appropriately Sized Bore Mop (and Some Bore Brushes)
Here’s another thing about muzzleloading. The fouling is so thick that after as few as 3 shots, it can be almost impossible to seat another ball or bullet.
Naturally, this will vary according to the type of propellant you’re burning, but black powder and its substitutes produce outrageously thick fouling that can gum up a bore right quick.
The antidote is a bore mop – never go to the range without one. The combo of a bore mop/breech scraper can clear out your bore in a few passes, making it easy (read: possible) to load and seat the next round.
Old Rags (Cotton)
Patches are good, but they’re not that absorbent (all things considered) and pretty expensive. Old rags are not. Just make sure they’re clean.
You can use them to clean the outside of the gun and, when cut up into strips, can be used to swab out the bore and apply bore lubricant or solvent for field conditioning or cleaning.
Bits of Pillow Ticking
Muzzleloader shooters generally buy their own patches, but there is no reason you can’t cut your own from a strip of pillow ticking fabric (if you shoot a patched round ball).
Pillow ticking is much more affordable than pre-cut patches, too.
A knife has a million and a half uses, from cutting impromptu patches to cutting up strips of cloth for cleaning.
If you’re shooting a smoothbore muzzleloader or a shotgun and experience a misfire, a patch worm is the best way to unload the gun (once it’s safe to do so).
Remove the barrel, submerge the breech end in water, and screw the patch worm into the wads and cards before pulling them out.
Silent Ball Discharge OR Wedge Key Lever and Ball Puller
Finally, you need to be prepared for those times at the range when your gun doesn’t go bang – and if you shoot a muzzleloader enough, believe us, it will happen.
You have one of two options. The quickest and easiest is a silent ball discharger that fits over the breech or vent and uses compressed CO2 to discharge the ball or bullet. These are safe and effective.
The other option is the old-fashioned way, with a ball puller. However, to use this, you’ll need a wedge key lever and a bucket of water, too.
First, wait at least a minute with the barrel pointed in a safe direction. Then, remove the barrel from the gun using the wedge key puller and submerge the breech end in water. Allow the charge to become fully saturated with water.
Then, remove the barrel, screw the ball puller into the end of your ramrod, insert it into the barrel, screw the puller into the top of the ball or bullet, and pull it out.
Another Helpful Tip: Keep Your Muzzleloader Accessories Separate
These are some of the most important muzzleloader range accessories that the wisdom of experience has shown us it’s necessary to keep close at hand.
Here’s one more bit of sage advice, free of charge. Keep your muzzleloader shooting accessories separate from your breech-loading shooting accessories.
Keeping separate shooting bags will keep you more organized and prevent you from getting cluttered.