17 Apr The Case for a Take-Down Style, Aluminum Ramrod
Muzzleloaders come with ramrods, so, you might be wondering why we’d dedicate an entire post to muzzleloader ramrod upgrades.
It’s because we have a better solution, one that’s better than whatever came with your rifle.
If you don’t believe it, pass on.
But if you’d like to keep an open mind, keep reading.
The Problem with Wooden Ramrods
Traditional sidelock muzzleloaders and kits come with wooden ramrods. Wood is an “alright” material for making ramrods, but just that, and no better.
The thing about wood is, strong as it can be, it is weak along the grain and, when thinned to the diameter of a ramrod, very liable to moisture absorption and warping.
Wood is also softer than fiberglass and aluminum, and on top of that, prone to breaking. If you grab your ramrod more than a few inches above the muzzle when driving a ball or bullet home, well, don’t be surprised if it breaks.
And when a ramrod breaks with the ball or bullet halfway down the barrel, you have a serious problem.
You can’t shoot it out and unless you can soak the charge, it’s not safe to pull it, either.
So hang up the wooden ramrod. It’ll look nice with your gun hung over the fire, but it’s not practical in the field.
The Problem with Fiberglass Ramrods
Most manufacturers caught onto the problems with wooden muzzleloader ramrods, so today, most modern in-line muzzleloaders come with fiberglass ramrods. Many modern sidelocks with synthetic stocks do, too.
Fiberglass is better than wood, and stronger, too, but still far from perfect. While it is very durable, if you stress it, it can still snap.
Worse than this, if you stress fiberglass, it can start to separate. Lengthwise separations along fiberglass ramrods make them dangerous to use and predispose them to breakage.
Ultimately, while fiberglass muzzleloader ramrods are better than wood, they’re still not optimized for use.
Our three-piece aluminum muzzleloader ramrod, however, is.
A Better Muzzleloader Ramrod
Knowing that both wood and fiberglass muzzleloader ramrods have some glaring faults, it might seem like a single-piece aluminum ramrod is the best way to go.
They’re better than wood and fiberglass, that’s for sure, but they’re bulky and annoying to carry. If you want to lighten the weight of your rifle, removing the ramrod from the slot is an easy way to do so.
Plus, a packable ramrod like our aircraft-grade aluminum muzzleloader ramrod, is a much more convenient option. It breaks down into three pieces so you can stash it in your pack or possibles bag.
At less than half a pound, they are incredibly light and unbelievably strong, and, being made from high-strength aluminum they are corrosion-resistant and will not snap like wood or fiberglass.
Another advantage of this style of ramrod is that it’s compatible with a Big Bertha bolt knob, enabling you to seat your bullets or patched balls more comfortably.
It’s the last muzzleloader ramrod you’ll ever need, more modular than a one-piece, and just as strong.
Other Muzzleloader Loading Tips
Carrying a stronger, modular muzzleloader ramrod is only one way to improve your success in the field. Here are some other loading tips.
- Always carry a jag, a brush, a breech scraper, a ball puller, a patch worm, and some patches
You might like to hunt light, but doing so with a muzzleloader is not really the way to go. It’s better to be prepared, and each of these loading (and in some cases, unloading) components can solve a heck of a lot of problems in the field.
- Jags can be used, with patches, to swab the bore after a few shots. Dirty barrels can be very hard to load, and make it difficult to seat subsequent bullets and balls.
- The same goes for a breech scraper. A dirty breech can make loading difficult and even prevent proper ignition.
- A patch worm can help you pull out patches that get stuck in the bore, and a ball puller should be your last resort if you can’t get the gun to fire and you need to pull the ball or bullet.
You can find some of these essentials in our collection of Thor, AO, and CVA muzzleloader accessories via the previous link.
- Snap a cap or two before loading (AFTER springing a rod)
If you shoot an inline or a caplock, after springing a rod in the field to make sure the gun’s not charged, load and snap a few caps. One to two should do it, and the practice helps clear the path of ignition the sparks from the primer must travel to fire the charge. Snapping caps also helps dry out any residual oil or moisture that remains in the bore.
- Carry (and use) a ball starter
It is theoretically possible to start a ball or bullet with a ramrod but it is never a good idea. For one thing, this is probably how the majority of wood and fiberglass ramrods break in the first place, and on top of that, ensuring that the bullet is perfectly seated is paramount to accuracy. “Winging it” by starting the bullet with the ramrod instead of a ball starter is a good way to load the bullet in such a fashion that the nose is out of line with the bore, which will inhibit spin stability and will wreck accuracy. Use a muzzleloader bullet starter instead.
- If your aluminum rod doesn’t have a palm saver, either buy or make one
You can disregard this tip if you use our aluminum muzzleloader ramrod since it’s compatible with a Big Bertha knob that serves as a palm saver, but if your ramrod doesn’t have one, either buy it or make it.
Using a palm saver that fits nicely over the end of the ramrod will enable you to properly seat the ball or bullet, which will ensure more complete powder combustion and better ballistic efficiency.
- Be consistent, to the grain
Whatever load you determine produces the best results from your rifle, stick to it, down to the grain of powder. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) how much a grain of variance one way or the other can impact accuracy.
- If you leave your gun outside and charged, store it muzzle-down
Our last tip: some hunters may leave their guns outside overnight because they’re afraid of condensation forming in the barrel if they bring them in a warm cabin at night during a multi-day hunt.
If you practice this, remove the priming, keep the gun secured, preferably in a locked case, and store it with the muzzle pointing down. This will help ensure that, if any dew or condensation does form inside the barrel, it does not run into the powder charge.