Here at MAX, just the research is what leads to the TRUTH.
Because this is our policy and in order for us to better serve our customers, I decided I should attend the 2010 Shot Show (Jan 18th – 23rd) in Las Vegas, NV. To date, it has been the best single investment of time we have made into our company - MAX! This has got to be the biggest Hunting & Shooting Industry Show in the world! I’m sure that there were many small companies involved in Modern Muzzleloading products that were not in attendance, but all the big companies were there, as were many small and up-and-coming manufacturers.
What I was looking for was new products from anyone, and most all, transparency in a company.
Webster defines transparent as: permitting a clear view of; easy to see through or understand; obvious.
The way I define transparency is: can a product do what they say it will do, or do they need to pay for and/or depend on big names with big tv shows to sell the product for them? What is their true intentions towards the consumer?
It took me three days, due to the shear size of this show, just to get to all the muzzleloader equipment, but my thoughts and observations are on my website by category. Here I would like to begin with my discoveries with the Rifle companies:
My first stop was CVA because we have been doing almost a full year of research on two specific rifles made by CVA for our next two videos on track for release Summer 2010. CVA is one of the several brands that fall under BPI (Black Powder Inc.). Dudley McGarity, the CEO of BPI and owner of the CVA brand, is a very grounded and approachable person. He has surrounded himself with a great staff of knowable and innovative people that are dedicated to moving CVA products to a new level. And they have done that in a big way.
Per MAX normal operating procedures for unbiased tests and opinions, I had purchased a new CVA Accura for analysis and a possible video project way before I ever met the first person from BPI. As time passed, I did meet Dudley and his staff and have found them to be extremely helpful and transparent in our testing process.
The only two CVA rifles that I have any knowledge of, or experience with is the Accura and the Apex. Both have exceeded my expectations. Dudley McGarity and his staff have worked hard to build a different CVA than we, the consumers, have ever seen before; this is definitely not the same CVA we were used to in the past. Be looking for MAX videos on these two rifles from CVA in the late spring 2010.
Another brand under BPI is Bergara. This is a barrel manufacturing company located in Spain that is turning out some of the best production rifle barrels in the world. Not only does CVA’s Accura & Apex come with these high-quality barrels, these barrel are also available as replacement barrels for Thompson Center’s Encore. I believe that Bergara Barrels have become much more in demand than BPI ever imagined as they are of a higher quality and are a much better value than the Thompson Center brand.
The person I had show me Thompson Center’s new products was very informative, and very proud of their new products. The newest product in their line, as far as muzzleloaders goes, is the new Impact.
This muzzleloader is intended to address the lower dollar market for the hunter who does not want to spend a lot of money, but still wants an inline muzzleloader. The retail of the black & blued rifle is $259 and the camo version is around $300. We will buy one and give it a try sometime in the future, maybe next year, as we already have 4 rifles planned to test this year. I also noticed a new bullet from them called “the Copper Crusher” which, as the name implies, is all copper. We will look into testing these also.
Another company I ran across and will be testing, is from MDM-Muzzleloaders.
MDM is a company out of Vermont who has rifles, cleaning supplies and scopes. Their rifles seem to be very well made and have the feel of the H&R type rifle. They come in blued and stainless with several different stock options: black, camo and wood. The president of MDM and his pro-staff members were all very helpful and I’m looking forward to working with a MDM rifle this year.
The person I talked to at the Traditions booth did not really seem to be that knowledgeable about their top-of-the-line rifle. They were busy and maybe his expertise was in another area, although he didn’t offer to let me talk to anyone that might be able to answer my questions. When I asked to see the newest and most cutting-edge rifle that Traditions has to offer, he showed me their new Vortex Ultra Lite. The rifle looks and feels great and does have a very easy to remove trigger mechanism. The only problem I could see with the rifle was in the safety system.
The Vortex is a break-open design like most other brands, but besides the hammer, it has a cross bolt-type safety, which he pointed out to me. After I cocked the hammer, I tested it by pushing on the back of the hammer (after pushing the safety to the OFF position) and the hammer fell. The staff member looked at me and told me that would happen if you pushed hard enough. ?? I guess to me, safety means safety. Why even put it on the rifle if it doesn’t work?
We will be testing a Vortex at a later date, but I’m going to go with the regular Vortex and not the Ultra Lite; I don’t mind a little extra weight with a muzzleloader.
Over all, this was one of the most productive trips I’ve ever taken in relation to hunting and shooting. The days were very long, but I gained a lot of knowledge about the muzzleloader industry and the direction it’s headed. More importantly, I made decisions on where MAX is headed in the future.
We’ve got some great ideas, videos & tools that will help you Maximize Your Muzzleloader and we will start passing them on to you as fast as we can!