In-Line Black-Powder Rifles: Knight’s DISC is our pick
Of a quartet of modern blasters, we’d buy the DISC and Winchester’s X-150, but Remington’s 700 MLS was too costly, in our view, and the CVA Firebolt had some quirks.
Several months ago we reviewed some flintlock rifles on these pages. Many shooters use the flinters much like time machines, to experience hunting and shooting as it was for this country’s earliest explorers and founders. But not every muzzle-loading fan wants to travel down the old road, so to speak, when there are modern alternatives. In this report we test four state-of-the-art in-line muzzle-loading rifles. Ignition is generally provided by a modern shotshell primer held in place by short-throw bolts, and fired by strikers within the bolts. There are no external hammers here. The in-line name comes from the position of the primer, located directly behind the powder charge and in line with the bore, instead of resting on a side-mounted chamber like on a traditional hammer-fired black-powder rifle.
We obtained four models. They were the Knight DISC Extreme DE706B ($704), Winchester X-150 Magnum ($345), CVA Firebolt 209 UltraMag ($300), and the Remington 700 MLS Magnum ($569). All were .50-caliber rifles with twist rates designed for sabot loading of elongated, sub-caliber bullets. In keeping with the most modern concepts of black-powder technology, we tested our batch of rifles with combinations of 50- and 30-grain Pyrodex pellets, rather than messing with loose powder and any sort of measure. We used the iron sights as provided by the makers, and shot at 100 yards from a bench rest. We observed no ignition delay in any of these shotshell primer–fired rifles. Felt recoil was similar in all guns. We judged recoil to be stout with the full 150-grain charge. It felt similar to that of a .30-06. It was much more comfortable with 130-grain pellet charges, which we thought gave less recoil than the average .308. Recoil with 100-grain charges was comparable to that of a .243.
The flash and sparks from the ignition of the primer were substantial from all the rifles except the Knight. Bystanders, especially those standing to the right of someone shooting one of these rifles, should wear shooting glasses and hearing protection. The sound levels of these smokepoles were comparable to that of centerfire rifles, but the sparks were a different story altogether. The Knight’s DISC system contained the primer, and thus limited the flash and sparks to about a quarter of that experienced with the other rifles. Here are other findings on a rifle-by-rifle basis.