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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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Call me a stick-in-the-mud, I prefer "traditionalist", but this is absurd. The whole idea for the original "primitive" season was to allow hunters willing to exert a little extra effort the opportunity for an additional firearms hunt. It was bad enough with the advent of centerfires, pre-measured pellets, speed loaders, saboted bullets, scope mounts. Then came shotgun primer systems, plastic and fiberglas stocks, high pressure, "magnum" capable barrels. Now this. Please tell me what's "tradition" or "primitive" about this. They fit just fine for use during a normal gun season, but are totally out of place for the "primitive" season. Hell, why not mount the damn thing on a motorized tripod, replace the scope with a camera, and hook it up to your laptop with target identification software. Then the "hunter" can sit back in his treestand and sleep, or just stay home. After all, with the camera, he can check once in a while to see if he's gotten "his" deer yet, then hire somebody to go out and field dress it for him.


I love my PA Pellet and would go as far to say that this little number is pushing it as far as being "traditional", especially after reading John's comment. I do agree John. I shoot sabots,pellets and even have fiber optic sights. I can go all out Traditional with this gun if I so wish except for the breech plug that is removable. I like the idea of cleaning this hot number with NO worry when the job is finished. I've heard too many horror stories of the old traditional's meeting thier maker becuase of improper cleaning. I shoot the hell out of mine and she still bellows, smokes,kicks,and smells great! I can't get enough and thats why I named her "Annie." Oh, I almost forgot. Someone out there is gonna buy into the "electronic ignition",It isnt gonna be me!!


A lot of people have taken away from the meaning of the Black Powder hunt when they allowed the inline style of firearms. And NOW they are playing around with a electric firing mechanism for black power fire arms!! Just think, if it will only fire with or by a recognized finger print, In cold weather I prefur to keep my gloves on and just think about that battery, in cold weather it is going to drain it power a lot faster. Most people think that the Traditional black powder firearm is to much work, and are you going to remember to change your battery and carry spares with you just in case the one in the firearm drains and goes dead, sure. And I am the one still hunting when your electric mechanism fails you in the field.
I prefur the old way, the traditional way, I will stick with my smooth bore flint lock and still fill my tag. I like my flint lock because I know it is dependable and I can rely on it to do it job in all type of weather. Modern tech. is great but not were it was set up for traditional style of shooting, Black Powder was set up for the traditionalist who shot the OPEN HAMMER style of black powder firearms and it should return to that, If you hunt with inlines and electric fireing pin fire arms they call black powder guns, they should be only aloud to be used in the modern fire arm hunts.


I don't care one thing about it. In my opinion hunting guns with built in electronics just don't mix well. I'll bet you won't see the folks from the Custom Gunmakers Guild build one. It aint right.


If it doesn't have a side hammer with a rock in it, it's not a REAL muzzleloader. End of argument!

Dave Taylor

I spend several months a year hunting the woods of southern Ohio.Though Bow hunting is my first passion,The primitive season is my second love. The true idea of muzzleloader seasons are that they are designed to be challenging.By adding electronic ignition we are just taking one more step away from the traditional.I hope that alot of state divisions of wildlife will look at this weapon and exclude it as an acceptable muzzleloader for the primitive seasons.

william anderson

traditional? not!! the people who use an electronic ignition system on their muzzleloader are the same who, probaly, support deer darting competions. this is ridulous!! why even have a " traditional" season, if one is allowed to use this kind of modern technology?? in my opinion, this is going to far.

Mike Diehl

"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"

Sounds like you got a "comprehensive plan for victory" there, Saco. ;)

Bill Martin

This is missing the whole intention of having a separate season for muzzleloaders. The purpose was to attempt to bag a deer using PRIMATIVE weapons. Today's in-line muzzleloaders and now this electronic ignition idea is nowhere in keeping with the initial intention of having the separate season. Pre-measured powder, modern bullets with sabots, modern shotgun primers and now electronic ignition? What next...... heat seeking bullets. There needs to be closer regulation of the weapons allowed during this season. If you want modern weapons, then hunt during the modern weapon season. If you want the thrill of meeting the challange of taking a deer using a side lock rifle of either caplock or flint lock ignition then you should hunt the muzzleloader season as it was meant to be hunted.


The solution to undercutting all this modern technology is simple. I don't care if it's a traditional blackpowder rifle or a modern inline rifle with electronic powder ignition if you make all muzzleloaders open sights only you really cut down on the benefits of modern technology. Most people can only shoot to 75-100 yards with open sights. It would make ALL muzzleloaders much more of the short range firearms that the primitive weapons season are supposed to be about.

Mike Diehl

I have an easier solution. Eliminate blackpowder seasons. Anyone who wants to hunt with an ML or a black powder or whatever can do so, but let's not hear any more whining about how this is all about tradition. It's only about paring away a corner of the season for the special olympics version of hunting.

To the traditionalist imperialists I have this to say. If you are not hunting with a match-lock arquebus, while wearing hose and a whale bone corset, you're not a "traditionalist." You might as well go to the store and buy your venison as agitate for your local G&F department to fall into a regulatory squabble of rules designed to rain on someone else's parade.


I really dont see what all the fuss is over. A dealer friend of mine went to a pre SHOT show event at Ellett Brothers distributors in South Carolina last week. The folks from CVA were there with the new electronic ignition muzzleloader. It is called the Electra. Apparently it was the hit of the show. My friend said that the CVA booth was packed to the gills, and there was a lengthy wait just to see the gun up close. Meanwhile, the folks at the competitors booths were literally all alone. As far as the durability of the new system, CVA apparently did extensive testing in very harsh conditions. The CVA rep advised that they took one of the pre-production guns to a remote area in Canada accessable only by float plane, and known only to CVA. They loaded the gun, and placed a small piece of tape over the muzzle to keep moisture out. They left it there for about 25 days and went back to the location. The gun had been exposed to numerous snow/thaw cycles, and did not hesitate to fire the instant the trigger was pulled. They also conducted a similar test where the gun was left in a very swampy area in one of the southern states for about the same length of time, and the result was the same. My friend said that it appears to be a very well made and thought out product, and accurate to boot, as all of the dealers were allowed to shoot the guns at an indoor range. As for primative weapons, who gives a darn as long as people are in the woods hunting and enjoying the outdoors. I for one dont have any desire to run around and play Daniel Boone with a flintlock. I bowhunt, and that quenches my thirst as far as primative weapons go. I may be completely wrong, but I believe that this will be the next big innovation in muzzleloading. Within 2-3 years I bet every manufacturer will offer at least one model with some form of electronic ignition. It is simply much faster not to have to fool with a cap or shotshell primer. Just ram the pellets and sabot home, and pull the trigger. I for one hope that we will continue to see such innovation from the firearms industry, because the day that we dont will be a dark day for all of us who love guns and shooting.

Dave King

this is getting ridiculous. First the inline ML's now Electronics?
If this is what you want to Shoot fine but hunt in the proper season MODERN FIREARMS ! We should insist that our states natural resourses dept. return to the primitive firearms statutes rather than ML. inlines are nothing more than a new twist on the modern rifle and Electronics have NO place in the muzzle loader world

Mike Diehl

@Dave King and other Defenders Of Tradition.

Just curious -- do you all use any of the following when you hunt? A GPS, a digital or electronic analog watch, a radio, clothing or shoes made of synthetic fiber, an illumination device powered by anything other than tallow, paraffin, or whale oil, or any kind of vehicle with an internal combustion engine?


Technology is about money - even in hunting.

It also allows those who lack most skills to think they're hunting.


Electronic ignition in a blackpowder muzzleloader seems pointless to me. But, I think that guns in the future could go that route (not paired with muzzleloaders though).

I saw a post up there somewhere about bows (any) being primitive. Why do people think that modern compound bows are the same as a longbow or a recurve? To me, they are just as advanced as the modern in-line is to a flintlock.

By the way, just got my first deer over the weekend with my muzzleloader. It was by far one of the best hunts of my life. Missed a deer in the morning...no second shot. Shot a deer that afternoon and it didn't kill it (bad shot). When I went to finish it off, the pyrodex didn't ignite. Finally got the deer but it wasn't an easy time of things.


Why are people discussing this in relation to hunting seasons?

What does this gun have to do with hunting seasons?

Not all guns are used to hunt with, so I don't see why that particular line of thought is relevant to this.

I also don't know if everyone that has a muzzleloader does so because they wanted a primitive weapon. I have one because it was on clearance for $40 and it is a .50 caliber. I like big calibers and at that price, I didn't even have to ask my wife if I could buy it!

Anyway, people should be allowed to have whatever gun they want I suppose. But, if I was the head of product development at CVA, I would have passed on this idea.

Roger E. Reeves,  Sr.

With teh un-successful sale of Remington's gun, why would anyone want a electronic B/P gun. For me, the 209 primer is enough. I would not trust a battery for a shot at a trphy W-tail. To me its a waste of money.


Mike Diehl and others miss the point of the "traditionalist" view. I'm not a total traditionalist, I have a whole rack full of pump shotguns, semiauto .22's, .223 highpowers, even a "liberal" machine gun in the form of a .30 Carbine. I agree that this is probably a really cool developement. The industry has to keep coming up with something new or hunters will get bored. It's the best way for the industry to prompt new sales, some new gizmo that everybody's gotta have. I also agree it's got it's place in the greater scheme of things, along with scopes, powder pellets, sobots, etc. I have a lot of respect for someone who limits themselves to one shot hunting, it shows a lot of discipline in a world of machine gun mentality. But the "traditionalist" view is simple, please give us a season that is traditional, that "primitive" means more than just muzzle loaded. Keep that one, short season we enjoy limited to side locks, open sights, and powder that really is powder.

SW Michigan Hunter

No, it doesn't carry the whole primative concept. It is more efficient. I don't hunt archery because of the high rate of wounded animals. If I can get a cleaner kill, I'll put my shotgun, rifle, antique bang stick away and try this out!!!!

Mike Diehl

"But the "traditionalist" view is simple, please give us a season that is traditional, that "primitive" means more than just muzzle loaded. Keep that one, short season we enjoy limited to side locks, open sights, and powder that really is powder."

No I don't think I "missed the point." I think I get the point and I disagree with the agenda. Why should a special season be carved out for people who hunt with "not just a muzzleloader, but a particular KIND of muzzleloader!"

Since the claim seems to be "It's the gun that matters" for tradition, rather than all the other equippage, let's consider the guns' performance.

Does an in-line of necessity mean that a hunter using one can abandon the hunting skills required to stalk up on an animal? Nope.

Does a scoped in-line mean that you can abandon such skills and try to shoot your animal at substantially greater distances? Nope. Indeed, a person trying it would be worse off than a typical unscoped ML hunter and worse off than a typical repeater hunter, because based on what I see 99% of us -- me included -- aren't Delta Force Snipers. It is still the case that most animals are taken at 100 yards or less range, regardless of the action or the way you put the charge and bullet in your gun or set it off.

Was I to take a very authentic replica of a Civil War period sniper rifle would it meet the standards of "traditionalists?" Yes. If I were as good a shot as the rifle might permit me to be, would it shoot more accurately at greater distances than most off-the-shelf repeaters? Yes.

The point of "traditionlists" is one that I grok. They want a special season all to themselves in which access and therefore competition from other hunters is limited. The claim is about "primitive technology" but the dedication to "primitive" is apparently so shallow that it goes no further than the firing mechanism on the rifle.

Were it really about tradition you'd carry your powder in a horn not use any electronic equipment, not use a quad, not drive to your hunt site in a vehicle, nor wear anything made out of synthetic materials. Your tent would be made of canvas. Your sleeping bag made of cotton fabric filled with goose-down. Your lantern, if you had one, would flicker and go out in a stiff breeze.


Thanks for making my point Mike. Should a scoped inline mean that hunters can abandon the accepted hunting and shooting skills? Certainly not. Unfortunately to some, it does. Just a few weeks ago I sat in my treestand and watched as a guy crashed through a tree line, kicked up a doe, and by the time he got his balance, leveled his scoped inline and took his shot, it was at a target at least 120-130 yds away and running away. Thank God he missed. But I'll bet somebody convinced him his inline with all the gadgets and tricks could do anything. Incidently, this guy even tried to reload quick to get a second shot, but the bullet fell off the end of his barrel from the speed loader and he had to dig for it in the alfalfa. Do I want less competition in the field during primitive season? Yes, this kind of competition. And, by the way, I do carry my powder in a horn, especially when using my flintlock, I don't even own a quad, let alone use one for hunting and while I do drive to where I hunt, it's still a good 1/3 to 1/2 mile hike in to where I hunt. I wear synthetic in the form of hunter orange because the law dictates. If you know of a source of hunter orange buck skins let me know. I do indulge myself 2 modern conveniences, binoculars because I want to see the distance, and a plastic sheet to drag a deer out, because at 54 it makes it a little easier. Am I a snob about this? You bet. Maybe the answer is 2 muzzle loader seasons, one unlimited and the other a true "traditional". Please understand my disdain of the "gadget" mentality is born from listening to hunters at the gun store who truely think that this new gimmick or that will allow them to take that 150 yd shot at a running deer and will be guaranteed an instant kill that will drop on a dime. Am I exaggerating? Ya, a little, but not much. In Ohio, we're now allowed only 3 rounds in the gun during modern firearms season. When this law took affect, the moaning was deafening because all hunters know that firepower is an acceptable substitute for marksmanship. I hear the same thought process when it comes to high tech muzzle loaders. These things will shoot flat out to 300 yds., won't they? Mike, I gather from your remarks your hunting ethics place a high priority on marksmanship, knowing your range limitations, and doing everything possible to insure a clean, swift kill. I applaud and respect that. Unfortunately, there are far too few of you.

Gunner Benavente

All this fancy gadjetry for muzzleloading? I always thought you were supposed to pour the powder down the barrel, push a rag and ball down on top of it, then put a cap on or pour powder into the flashpan. I think THAT is what 'muzzleloaders' are supposed to be doing.


Mike Diehl

@John -

Hey I think that's great. Look, we'd *all* love to have fewer people on the landscape who take shots at targets beyond their ability, shoot at stuff they can't see, and so forth. But I have some fairly old classic hunting books from the 19thC that suggest that taking bad shots was quite common during the days of muzzleloading blackpowder rifles. And I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that the full range of yahoo behavior is found among "traditional" muzzleloader hunters as among any other hunters.

We'd all like to hunt surrounded by fewer Yahoos. But you're not going to get there by limiting the technology. You're only going to get there by changing attitudes about practicing with your firearm, and taking clean shots at your prey.

I (last month) bought a Savage 10ML-II for a variety of reasons including desire to get into ML hunting, safety (of rifle and propellant), and price reduction (in that order).


i think you guys look too deep into the matter, all muzzle loaders are the same..give er take a few advancements here or there. They all use bullet, some sort of powder, and regardless of wut kind of muzzle loader you, you till have to put in the time and effort and do a little thing called hunting. It dont matter if ur shooting a machine gun, if you cant find the animals...its a no go, regardless of gun.

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