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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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Electronic short = KABOOM!

Clay Cooper

What do I see hanging off to the lower left of the picture of the circuit board? A battery! AAAAAAA BAAATTEERRRYYYY!!!!! What happens when a battery gets cold? How many times you have picked up something and it doesn’t work and you just changed the batteries a few days ago? Sound familiar doesn’t it! Gee Mr. Wizard! I rather have a small hand full of 209 primers or no 11 than a pack full of batteries! Hold still Mr. Big Buck, my battery is dead! CVA, is that a special battery? How come you’re not using the Energizer! I know why! Thought you pass a fast one didn’t ya! Crack me UP!

Del in KS


You can crank up the difficulty factor by going to a flintlock longrifle. I carry a possibles bag with lead balls, patches,powder measure and 2 powder horns (1 of FFFg and primer horn). Couple yr ago shot a big doe 40 yd with 50cal rd ball. Broke both front legs with complete pass thru.

Del in KS

IMO a good ol' flinter is more fun to shoot than any cap lock (currently I have 3).

Pizzo lighters are nice to have, but pisso ignition?


Del in KS

Thank you, but no! I have enough difficulty with the cap lock, can't imagine "me" trying to deal with a flint lock! I'd be like one of Clay's "howling monkey's" trying to reload a flinter!
If that's all you shoot, I admire you!


Clay Cooper

I’m one of those if it does suppose to work? WORK! I can see myself in a dear stand in the freezing cold reloading a flinter yet alone trying to keep the powder in the tray! LOL!
Here’s your sign!

Del in KS

The fun is in tinkering with the lock. Once you get your flint adjusted just right. The lock time on a quality flinter will approach a caplock. A follow up shot is about as fast as any other ML. If we really need meat or in wet weather I switch to an inline or caplock. It is amazing to me that the old timers killed so many critters with flinters. If you get the chance to examine a well made long rifle by all means take a good look. My gun was made in 1993 by a fellow named Bingham from Ohio and it is worth the $1500 it cost back then. Sometimes I just pick it up, look at it and imagine what it would be like if that was the only guns available. It has a 39" Getz swamped barrel, engraved brass patchbox, carved curly maple full stock. Siler lock and Davis double set trigger. It is more accurate than I can hold and the balance is like a Purdey shotgun. No factory gun can compare.
Clay, Thanks for the scope info.

Del in KS

Go with a flinter when the experience is more important than the kill.

Clay Cooper

Looking at that circuit board and that capacitor, it’s a matter of time that recoil and environmental conditions will take it out $$$$$$$$$$!

James Hawk

I have actually wondered why firearms in general haven't used such a piezo system. The idea of using impact sensitive chemicals seems more primitive to me. I think the idea would ultimately be more reliable as well as less corrosive. If s*** hit the fan and society broke down, I think I would rather have a piezo system than a stash of caps. Seems like finding a battery (and some systems are even batteryless) would be easier than trying to locate a source of percussion caps, primers, or their contents (lead azide, sodium perchlorate). Remember why the old mountain men preferred flintlock - for the same reason.

So I am all for technological improvements on all firearms, BUT that doesn't mean that I agree these weapons should still be regarded as primitive per state hunting laws. I think the designation is arbitrary, but it should still stand.

Mr. Sauers

I'm all for this electric ignition system. Nothing is worse than fumbling with primers in the freezing cold while wearing gloves. If batteries are a concern, I fail to see why you couldn't keep a couple 9-volts in your pocket.

Paul Botha

Well, down here on the Southern tip of Africa, where we have to go through an expensive, annoying and time consuming (months/years) wait for a firearms licence and relicence every 10 years, the licence exemption for muzzleloaders makes the CVA Electra a winner. I wish CVA would punt them down this way, I was lucky to find one in a "progressive" gunshop.

A muzzleloader is the only type of rifle I can buy and walk out with. (Of course I must still get a permit for the black powder or equivalent, but that thankfully only takes days).

The muzzeloaders down this way do seem to favour percussion caps and side ignition guns, but there are advantages to the Electra and the fan base is growing: Lock time is reduced, rifle format looks like a modern centrefire, reducing the odd looks from landowners (we have almost no public hunting land, if any) who are wary of people hunting with smokepoles without telescope sights.

I like the simplicity, the large caliber, and the fact that my not-so-hot eyes can be aided by a telescope sight. Anything that can assit the muzzeloading hunter to place his/her shots better is a good thing. Plus it shoots 400 grain conical groups of 1 MOA!

If there is a "traditional season" (we have no such season and many outfitters in Africa won't let you near their land with a bow or a rifle with no sights, for obvious reasons) one can understand objections. As a weatherproof muzzleloader for general hunting it makes a lot of sense, especially on tough game.

Dick Lewis

C'mon guys! It's not about the gun. It's about the hunting; and I mean the total experience, the preparation, the anticipation, the camaraderie. the smell of the woods, the excitement building. We've all had misfires, but that's part of the package. Makes a good story back at camp, and will be remembered just as long as the day you got the big one.

Growing up in the fifties, when there were only three deer in Ohio, two of those in a zoo, and reading everything Jack O’Connor wrote, I learned that it wasn’t important what you carried into the woods, or how much meat you dragged out. The ultimate satisfaction was a humane one shot kill.

Anything that adds to that likelihood is an improvement and should be lauded. As far as primitive weapons, there are still some around, but most of them are in a glass case and are too valuable to shoot.

If you want to worry about something, worry about the lack of new hunters coming on to replace us when we’re being spoon-fed from a small jar.

Del in KS

Dick Lewis,

You make some good points. However, because of the way the barrels were made a truly primitive flintlock would be somewhat dangerous to shoot regardless of cost. There are still plenty of artisans that build them just like the old time Pennsylvania gunsmiths did it. The only exception is the barrels are made of modern steel. They look the same but are much safer to shoot. I have owned 4 inlines but, keep going back to my Lancaster style longrifle 'cause it's much more fun. also a beauty to look at. Building them is considered an art form.

Dr. Ralph

Believe it or not my piece of crap kit gun (I'm no artist and there must be some secret to bluing) outshoots all my in-lines... patched round balls and a two inch group from 100 yards.

Dr. Ralph

...with iron sights.

Lone Star 45

CVA's New Electronic Ignition System???

First: how many times have you had electronics fail

Second: The colder it gets, the less reliable are batteries especially 9 volt

Third: Possible of accidental discharge when loading!

Fourth: If you have a charge in the barrel, it’s considered loaded even in transport and against the law in most states and defiantly unsafe!

Fifth: It’s illegal in my State!

I’ll stick to my Encore Thank You!


I will be buying the CVA Electra. As far as worrying about circuitry failing and the gun being junk, it comes with a lifetime warranty, so I will get it fixed if it were to ever happen. I tried to look up any news of accidents or injury from the CVA Electra and found none. I am sure the manufacturer made sure that the weapon was a safe firearm as all manufacturers do, before releasing it to todays "sue happy" public. As far as the technological advances in the sport are concerned, I am all for anything making an outing more accurate. Some hunters have earned a bad name using not so accurate weapons leaving animals injured and not following up to retrieve them. And to you whiny guys crying because of advancing technology.......I guess you will have to call whoever it is you call with your "crank phone" to write your replies here on the internet for you, because I am sure you did not use advancing technology to write your negative comments about advancing technology. By the way, I am sorry if I offended any of you by asking you to use your crank phone. I will send a formal apology in a smoke signal. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, but so is advancing technology. Why not stop fighting one or the other and celebrate both?


Have been looking for information on the Electra and ran across this page. I'm firmly in the boat with the guy from the southern tip of Africa. I live in a state (MD) where you can hunt archery, muzzleloader (including the Electra), and shotgun. No rifle. Nada. Ever. But they even say a muzzleloader is considered unloaded for transport if the battery is removed. So it is apparent that they know and approve of the Electra and/or the Etronix.

With all that being said, I'm all for an easier way to get longer range within what the state allows. And for me, after shooting my first deer, it is all about getting meat, nothing more. Heck, I'd use a remote airborne platform with infrared detection, laser targeting, and guided projectiles if the gov't and my finances would allow. Nothing could be better than walking out in the field and picking up my freshly killed package of meat and taking it home to process. I used to have grand visions of the perfect shot on the magnificent buck, but like I said, after the first perfect shot on a deer, I just want more meat. I'm surprised by all the weeping and gnashing of teeth regarding muzzleloaders and primitive weapons. I guess I'm just not a good hunter.

So, anyone got any good concrete information on the reliability of the circuitry?

Paul Botha

Hi, its me agin from South Africa, and I did go and buy the Electra.
All I can say is WOW. This rifle has relkindled my interest in hunting and shooting just be cause it is so different yet so simple.

Quite a few down this neck of the woods have bought these rifles, and everything, (including our largest antelope, the Eland, which is huge) that they shoot seems to just fall down right there. some even seem confident of shooting a Cape buffalo with this .50! I'm waiting for our hunting season (not legal, just the way it's done, better for drying meat and all) from May to August.

On the range, a beauty. It shoots 300 grain Hornady .44 XTPs with sabots, really nicely even beyond 150 yards. It groups around 2 inches with most bullet weights, with properly matched charges at 100 meters/110 yards. I have seen a friend shoot just under an inch at 100 meters with one.

We use a South African BP substitute called Sannadex (read up on whitesmoke.co.za). It also really likes those Pyrodex pellets the US guys are so lucky to be able to get. I use a moden telescopic sight, because anything to help proper placement of a bullet is ethical hunting, more so for those whose eyes are not so keen.

And, the only incidents thus far are people who forget to scrub the face of the "sparkplug" clean now and then, requiring a dismantle.

All the concern about safety is really just uncalled for. Im sure (and can now see) that no company in modern, litigation-happy USA would release an unsafe rifle. Much safer that carrying a bunch of primers in your pocket...

Shoot an Electa, you know you want to...

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