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January 09, 2007

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Electrifying Muzzleloaders: CVA's New Electronic Ignition System


Here’s one to weigh in on: Three years ago, Remington came out with an electronic ignition system for centerfire cartridges that replaced the conventional one with a trigger that closed a circuit and zapped a current into an electronic primer, which ignited the powder charge. The Etronx system worked very well, but did not succeed commercially for reasons known only beyond my pay grade.

Now, CVA has come up with some very similar to Etronix system in a black-powder rifle. The .50 muzzle-loader, called Electra, dispenses with the beloved 209 shotgun primer, and relies instead upon electronic circuitry (see photo) that sends them volts right into the powder charge. So what you get is a no-movement trigger, lightning-fast ignition, more uniform powder burning, and less mess to clean up.

Electra is powered by a 9-volt lithium battery that is good for 500 shots. That noise you hear is Jim Bridger whirling in his grave.

Now there are two ways to view this:
Electra is an amazing step forward in black powder shooting, and deserves to be a monstrous success.

Electra runs counter to the whole idea of using a muzzleloader, where you’re supposed to be using a primitive weapon. Why not have done with it and develop cartridges for the thing?

Which side are you on?


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I am a great admirer of mankinds creativity. I really am. I have a great deer stand. Now if I could just acquire a BMG.


I don't care for the idea of electronic ignition in a firearm for the same reason I don't like any of the various "red dot" scopes, and don't rely on electronic range finders: I've never had a battery (car, flashlight, cell phone, et. al) fail at a convenient time. My favorite hunting rifle is my M70 featherweight, .30-06, and its dead-reliable trigger.


I feel that the inclusion of this new ignition system goes against the spirit of what blackpowder hunting is. I have no problem seeing this type of new rifle in the field, but not in the exclusive "primitive firearm" hunting seasons that many states have. At least in-lines rely on a shotgun primer as a cap. This new ignition system is definately not "primitive" in ANY sense of the word.

JC Blauvelt

Seems to me that the only difference now between a muzzleloader and a center fire rifle is that there is no brass casing. The modern ML's are just single shot rifles firing hand loads. To hunt with a ML is a one shot challenge. That is still a sporting way to hunt.

Ralph the Rifleman

I guess it would be OK, but simpler is better. I wonder if it malfunctions does the gun have primer back-up ability?

Peter C

Wow...Tom Swift and his electric smokepole! Why not dispense with the battery altogether and use a piezo-electric ignition similar to those on cigarette lighters or outdoor grills? Seems to me that this new gizmo is an answer to a question nobody asked.


I've never hunted with a black powder rifle before, but if I ever do I would assume the whole point in using one is the fact that it's not supposed to be a technologically advanced hunting instrument. The way I see it if you're going to use that type of a rifle then it's for reasons of nostalgia, and anyone who knows a little history knows that original black powder rifles did not have electronic ignitors. Now I do not think that it's a way of cheating, but come on now, why buy a black powder rifle with an electric ignitor, just go buy a more modern rifle.


Electronic Ignition.

Amazing for certain, but I doubt it’ll sell by looking at the bells and whistles on the thing. However, the flint lock was in service for over 200-years, but was replaced in short order by the percussion cap.


Well, Mississippi changed their blackpowder season so that blackpowder cartridges such as the 45-70 and it's ilk are allowed if used in a rifle designed before 1895 such as a Hi-Wall or Sharps. So i guess they should develop TWO seasons. Blackpowder/Bow (Primitive) and Modern Muzzleloader. Primitive could be open sights traditional firearms/ any bow. Modern would basically be a single shot with no other restrictions.

Lee B.

Muzzleloader has become nothing more now then an extention of rifle season with a slight hanycap.
Personaly, as long as the ignition system is reliable, I'd go for it. It reduces loading/reloding time.

The one worry I'd have is the safety of it and the acessability of the breach for cleaning.


Looks like more technology for the sake of technology. It would appear to be one more thing to go wrong and aggravate the pi** out of someone and be expensive to fix. Muzzleloaders have gotten to the point that it's like shooting a heavy bullet centerfire rifle. 200 yards is a long shot with one but it's possible (in the right hands). I think this shows that usable, reasonable muzzleloader technology has just about reached it's limits for now so let's put electronic gizmos in one to see if the public bites and will spend more money for something that adds very little to their guns.


Lee B.

good point.....

Mike Diehl

It's a matter of taste. The only difference between muzzleloading rifle hunting of any kind and centerfire rifle hunting is the spirit of "1 shot followed by a substantial waiting period before the next shot."

IMO an ML guy using an electronic ignition ML won't in high Hollywood fashion win any contests for dressing up like Daniel Boone, but he's a muzzleloader hunter as far as I am concerned. At least that's how I'd vote in the ballot box or the jury box.

Mike Diehl

Of course, would I want a gizmoe'd circuit board igniting my shots? No. But that too is a matter of taste. Someone wants to push the technology envelope it is OK by me.


From a business stand point they might be onto somthing. Each hunter has to decide where their ethics lay.


If people want to use it fine but keep in mind that it's from CVA whose track record isn't exactly sterling; I'm interested to see what kind of bugs pop up.


My gut tells me that this is not going to excite too many folks nor is it going to make hunters run like wildcats to the nearest dealer to obtain one. I can't object to the idea considering I hunt with a compound bow rather than a recurve. Technology shall know no boundaries.

Ed J

Now here's a solution in search of a problem


oh yeah! Just hook it up to a game camera and stay in bed on them cold mornings. Git yer picture and game at the same time, just what we need if they would only legalize it fer trespassers..:-)

Thomas Hall

In his book Tracker, Tom Brown describes how he killed a deer by dropping onto it from a tree and cutting it's throat. If we make that the baseline technique for hunting a deer then I think the question becomes "what level of technology beyond that do you prefer?".

Personally my heart belongs to yesterday but my head belongs to tomorrow.

My head wants to know if I Can have one of these that averages the wander of the barrel so that when I pull the trigger it always fires at just the right instant? And can I set it to recognize my fingerprint so no one else can fire my gun?

My heart wonders if it will add firearms to the list of things that become obsolete in a few months and thrown away in a few years? And will they make ones that talk? "we're sorry, your shot did not go through, please hang up and try your shot again."


My only reservation to the electronic ignition would be the reliability of ignition, durability of the system towards water/physical abuse and the ability to clean the rifle without harming myself or the ignition system. If you want to hunt like Davey Crockett then buy a Davey Crockett reproduction flintlock and go for it... if you want to hunt and your state will allow, inline ignition, riflescopes, smokeless powder, and/or electronic ignition then hunt with whatever the law will allows. We get our panties wrapped around the axel too tightly sometimes regards what other folks want to do...this type of ignition system is not going to put more game in front of your sights than any other type of system...buy what you want and the law allows then go hunt and stop worrying about what other people are hunting with...

Micah Steele

All of the black powders being produced today are a far cry from the traditional. As long as you still have to put the powder and the bullet down through the muzzle with a ramrod I don't see the issue. I am sure that this ignition system will still have it's issues. Some poor hunter will still have the sights on "the big one" only to have the powder fail to ignite for some reason or another just like always. An just like always, he'll only get one shot.


Don't like it ... nothing like a "squeeze-click-boom."

Capt Walt

High Voltage Ignition System. Yea why knot.

Lets beef up the idea a tad by getting rid of that diry old Black Powder and replacing it with Butane or Map Gas or Gasoline kicked up a notch with a little liquid Oxygen sprayed into the breach by a computer controlled fuel ingector nozzel.

Then dispense of those old lead bulletts and patches by replacing them with thermoformed hyperdense non metallic projectiles with "Smart" expanding cores that mushroom only after penetrating a target with specific density algorithums.

No more Walnut Stocks. Nah! that wont do. It will have to be Aramyid Carbon Fibers with automatic infered, ultrasonic rangefinders.

Recoil? Whats that.

All of the reverse momentum will be transfered into automatic injection of the next following round down the muzzel of course (need to keep the sprit) for quick follow up shots; say 15,000 rouns a min? Wait now the design calls for liquid nitrogen cooling of the barrel.

Then again? Maybe a Flintlock aint such a bad idea??

[email protected]


Chuck M

Not to diminish the accomplishments of all the "modern" muzzloaders out there.....but one state for sure - Pennsylvania - has a muzzleloading season after Christmas that requires the use of flintlock rifles with open iron sights, that is no scopes or optics. Bucks may still be harvested provided the hunter has not taken a buck during archery or regular firearms season. It is one of the best times of the year to hunt here in PA......and I cherish the opportunity even with the rain, wind and snow. This approach can make both sides happy.

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