By Trent Swanson

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Last year my best friend had a muzzleloader elk tag and he used my gun. Since we already had a good load figured out, all I needed to do this year is upgrade my sighting system, and then get it dialed in. That has proven harder than I thought.

First, I had to get my stock replaced because an internal part of the bedding block broke. While covered under T/C’s warranty, the process wasn’t quite as expedient as I hoped, partly due to the crappy mail service in my town.

As soon as the stock arrived, I was ready to attach it and mount my new Williams Ace-in-the-Hole sight. Since Colorado does not allow riflescopes during the muzzleloader season, I searched for a high-quality peep sight. The Ace-in-the-Hole has a picatinny rail and an integral peep sight. It will allow me a long sighting plane with the peep sight, and then the ability to add a scope with quick-detach rings when I hunt Arizona, New Mexico, or Kansas where scopes are allowed.

At the range I shot okay groups, but was most impressed with the velocity and consistency of my chosen load. I stacked a 350 grain Hornady FPB over 110 grains of Blackhorn 209. When the CCI 209M primer fired, it developed an average velocity of 2012 feet per second! I plugged the requisite information into a ballistic program and found that if sighted in at 150 yards, my max height would be 2.35” at 75 yards with a drop of only 5.21” at 200 yards. Energy at the muzzle is 3146 foot-pounds and still over 2000 at 200 yards. I plan to shoot no further than 150 yards on an initial shot, but will have no problem taking follow-up shots out to 200 yards if the conditions allow it.

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My second fiasco began with my new torque screwdriver. I read the instructions and torqued the base screws to their suggested setting. As it turns out, I torqued them too much, because on my second shooting session, I found three of the screw heads had fractured. I noticed something fishy when my first shot missed the target at 100 yards and my second barely clipped the bottom. Obviously, my muzzleloader shooting was done for the day. I then had to order new screws, but have not yet had a chance to remount the Ace-in-the-Hole and shoot again. I guess that’s why you start plenty early when sorting out your gear!

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Trent Swanson, a Colorado native, is the Mountain Territory Sales Rep for SWAROVSKI OPTIK. You might recognize his name since he used to work with us here at Western Hunter. He is a self-professed “optics nerd” who has been chasing big game critters for nearly 30 years. You can find the rest of the blog posts about his Colorado elk hunt here.