June 2006

.50-Caliber Muzzleloaders: The T/C Hawken Beats Lyman’s GP

The traditional lines on the Lyman Great Plains may woo some shooters, but Thompson Centerís Hawken had the edge in quality and versatility, and it came with a lifetime warranty.

Nearly every state in the union has a special blackpowder hunting season. Such seasons, some of which are exclusive bp-only hunting periods, entice a lot of hunters to try their hand at muzzle loading. Some states specify that the rifles used must be side locks and shoot round balls. Other states allow in-line rifles that shoot sabots and often come with scopes. Each hunter has to decide for himself how he wants to limit himself. A round-ball shooter is limited to 100-yard shots, but a sabot shooter can reach out to 200 or even 250 yards. Also, a round-ball shooter, also known as a traditional-style shooter, carries a rifle similar to those our forefathers carried more than two centuries ago. Carrying a rifle like that lets the modern-day hunter relive history, and actually taking game with such a rifle is a real test of his hunting skills.

The two leading traditional-style rifles being sold today are the Lyman Great Plains, $435, and the Thompson Center Hawken, $550. Designed after rifles of the late 1800s, these .50-caliber rifles are well made, accurate, and would both perform well in the woods on a deer hunt or a fun day at the range. But we wondered if one model would be a better buy than the other, so we put them through a head-to-head evaluation at a private range outside of Lampasas, Texas.

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