My first muzzleloader was an old Thompson Center 50 Caliber. Living in New Hampshire, there was only one Muzzle loader to own and hunt with and that was a nice Thompson from our own state, made in Rochester New Hampshire. These days, Thompson is owned by Smith & Wesson and are made at their plant in Springfield, Mass. I’ve enjoyed Black Powder hunting for some time now, and have harvested quite a few New Hampshire White Tails during the special NH Muzzleloader season. Last fall I felt I badly needed an upgrade so I began researching rifles and decided to purchase a Knight Ultra-lite with a bare primer breech plug, and in their attractive green stock.
When I received the rifle in the mail I was pleasantly surprised. It’s unbelievably light weighting in at just 6 lbs without a scope mounted! It comes with a 24″ Green Mountain light contour barrel and a gorgeous Bell and Carlson kevlar stock which is slim and very attractive. I found the rifle to point naturally and to be very well balanced. The stock is fitted with a very generous recoil pad which really tames even the heaviest loads in this light weight rifle. The stock also has an aluminum bedding block which I found to be truly providing a very nice bed with full contact for the receiver. The barrel is also free floated. Knight uses a really nice trigger, which right out of the box was set to a very crisp and smile educing 3 lb break and I saw no need to adjust. Even the ram rod has a few nice touches. The rod is very stiff, and has a carbon core provided by Easton Archery. The tip screws out of the rod and provides a few extra inches of reach so it can be used as a cleaning rod which I felt was a very nice touch. Fit and finish was excellent with all screw heads seemingly untouched and no scratches or marks to be found anywhere on the gun.
Upon shooting it for the first several times, I settled on a load consisting of 120 grains of Black Horn powder, Winchester 209 primers, and Hornandy’s 250 grain SSTs with supplied smooth red sabot. I was able to get 2 to 2 1/2″ groups with this at 100 yards, which I wasn’t very happy with but figured adequate for deer season and I rationalized it was just temporary and I’d work on a more fitting load after season wrapped up.
The following spring I began investigating this rifle to see if different powder loads, bullet, and sabot combinations would unlock it’s true accuracy potential. An odd thing was occurring…as I was trying my best to eek out the rifles very best accuracy, groups continued to move all over the target and increase in size. Soon, a 4″ group was the best I could pull off. I began investigating the rifles basic build and inspected the crown, the bedding contact again, barrel float, and scope rings and bases. I removed the scope and replaced the mounts with rings and bases from Warne.