The Ultimate Backcountry Muzzleloader
By James Petker
One of the most overlooked hunting opportunities in North America is the muzzleloader seasons. As an opportunistic hunter, I have keyed in to this fact and taken advantage of some tremendous limited entry and general season hunts and have been lucky enough to notch tags on some respectable animals while doing so.
Over the last five years ,the big hype in the hunting industry has been on ultra-light gear and carrying your camp on your back allowing you to maximize your time in the field. With that being the trend, Knight Muzzleloaders, an entirely American made company stepped up to the backcountry hunting plate and introduced the Knight Ultra-Lite with Western kit option (WA, ID & OR Legal). I may be a bit partial to Knight as they are the only muzzleloader I have owned or harvested with in the last 15 years but for good reason….
The new Ultra-Lite weighs in at a mere six pounds and has skeptics saying “REALLY? How is that possible without accuracy sacrifice and pure shoulder punishment?” Lets break this muzzleloader down into three sections and you will soon see the advantages Knight beholds.
The author mounted a scope while working up a load for the Ultra-Lite before switching to open sights for the Colorado hunt
Accuracy, strength and durability of a rifle starts at the stock and there were no corners or cost cut here. The action & barrel lays within a custom built Bell and Carlson high-grade featherweight Kevlar stock with an incorporated aluminum-bedding block for stiffness and rigidity. This transmits into shot after shot consistency. I have average sized hands so when shouldering the gun, the stock’s sleek lines and slimness handles very well for me. The spider webbing paint creates great grip for the characteristically wet country I typically hunt in. The stock carries a straight comb style cheek rest, which even with a scope attached with low bases creates perfect eye alignment from rear to front of gun to the target down range.
The biggest question everyone seems to ask is about the the felt recoil. I always reply with that it’s manageable! The gun definitely has a snappy reaction but the Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad incorporated into the package truly absorbs and makes it manageable to shoot round after round at the range. Pachmayr first introduced their recoil pads in 1949 for the use on military firearms and is still going strong today making them the perfect choice for an all American Made Stock and Pad combo.
Green Mountain Barrels
A top tier stock is worthless without a proven and reliably accurate barrel and that is were Green Mountain barrels come into play. Green Mountain barrels have been manufactured in Conway, New Hampshire since 1976 and hold dozens of competitive shooting records over the last 40 years. The Ultra-Lite, sports a 1:28 twist, Bead Blasted, Dyna Tek Protective coated, 24″ Contoured barrel that has been precisely turned down just enough to still hold its strength and integrity yet be overall light weight and accurate. The Barrel lies within the Bell and Carlson stock fully free floated and guarantees a 200 yard Moa accuracy rating by Knight.
When ordered with the western kit the front and rear of the barrel comes drilled and tapped with a Williams slide and glide fully adjustable metal housed fiber optic sight, which helps tremendously with low light shooting conditions. I have never been a huge open sight fan, as it seems the sight tends to take up the entire target or animal I am aiming at while shooting at longer distances. However, this isn’t the case with this particular Williams sight.
The other great thing about the gun being drilled and tapped for the Williams is that you can easily change the fiber optic set out for any of the aftermarket Williams sights that suite your aiming fancy.
The final assembly built into the barrel is the Easton aluminum jacketed carbon core ramrod giving rigid strength yet carbon weight.
I am a born and bred bolt-action man and the Ultra-Lite has won my heart over with their Western Edition Bolt action. For you east coast guys, many of our western states require a factory exposed breech to be legal for hunting and use of a No.11 or Musket caps, hence the Western Edition. The bolt is machined out of stainless steel, equipped with a perfectly sized bolt knob, a secondary safety built into the firing hammer at the back of the bolt and beautifully jeweled for a touch of class!The greatest thing about the Western Kit is the breech, with the bolt closed the cap is only exposed by about ½”, which makes it very easy to cover keeping moisture and debris out.
On a side-note, I have come up with some interesting ways to cover the action but most recently discovered a system that MacGyver would be proud of. Go to www.swattourniquet.com and check out their Swat-Tourniquet. The Swat can simply be cut to your desired length then stetched, wrapped and tucked around the exposed action creating a water tight barrier. The wrap comes off quickly for speedy reloading and can be used over and over again.
The last and final piece to this featherweight heart stopper is a crisp, clean breaking fully adjustable match grade Timney trigger housed by a one piece machined aluminum trigger guard. I know that if anybody made it this far into the article they are well aware of Timney and their legendary reputation for the last 69 years building match grade triggers in the US of A!
I strongly support US made products and Knight makes that very easy. Knight bases its foundation on manufacturing in the US and only using US made components. As you read above, the Ultra-Lite is put together using nothing but the highest quality components and gunsmithing methods possible.
After carrying the six-pound Ultra-Lite for the last year I can’t imagine using any other muzzleloader while hunting off my back. The Ultra-Lite gets a solid 10 out of 10 in my opinion as there is nothing I could imagine changing about it. If your truly an opportunistic backcountry hunter and want in on some exceptional hunting opportunities, get down to your dealer and pickup the Knight Ultra-Lite .50cal and fill her up with 115 grains of T-7 followed by a 300 grain Bloodline Sabot and Musket cap. You will fall in love at the first trigger pull!
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