Muzzleloader – CVA Optima V2 Black Powder Rifle for Deer Hunting – Preview

Muzzleloader – CVA Optima V2 Black Powder Rifle for Deer Hunting – Preview Review Preview: CVA .50 Caliber Optima V2 in Stainless Steel/Realtree Green with a Konus Pro Scope and carrying […]

Muzzleloader – CVA Optima V2 Black Powder Rifle for Deer Hunting – Preview

Review Preview: CVA .50 Caliber Optima V2 in Stainless Steel/Realtree Green with a Konus Pro Scope and carrying case

muzzle loader deer rifle CVA - kitThe Gear Report team would like to thank the fine folks at for sponsoring muzzleloader deer season by providing a CVA Optima V2 .50 caliber rifle in Stainless Steel/Realtree Green with a Konus Pro Scope and carrying case. We are a bit different than most review websites in that Gear Report won’t guarantee a good review in return for a retailer providing products to test. This scares away some brands, and that is fine with us. We only want to be associated with great brands that know their products and stand behind them. In our dealings with Blue Ridge Firearms we have been impressed and feel confident in recommending them to the Gear Report nation. Unlike many big box retailers, Blue Ridge Firearms is run by folks that know their stuff and can be trusted to steer customers towards the right product to meet their needs. Please check out and tell them your read about them at Gear Report.

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Updated October, 2015

Muzzleloader? You mean one of those long, heavy, unreliable contraptions?

Actually, no. That might be a good description for some types of traditional muzzle loaded, black powder rifles, but it is flat out wrong for a modern muzzle loader like the CVA Optima.

How do we know? We have an old Sharon barreled side-lock, percussion cap Kentucky rifle in the Gear Report safe. While it is a beautiful rifle, it is massively long, heavy, and a real bear to clean. If the steel barrel isn’t cleaned immediately and thoroughly right after it is shot, then you can actually see the old Kentucky rifle start to corrode. Contrast that to the Stainless barrel of the CVA Optima V2, which is very easy to clean, comparatively short and light, and resist corrosion such that waiting an hour after it is shot before you clean it isn’t the end of the world.

The old Kentucky rifle uses rather fiddly number 11 percussion caps. Some people find these difficult to handle and get into position on the firing nipple. Number 11 percussion caps can also have issues with exposure to moisture, making hunting in the rain a real exercise in faith. On modern muzzle loaders like the CVA Optima V2 the powder charge is ignited by a more stable and easier to handle 209 primer.

A feature of modern muzzle loaders that I really like is that if you don’t shoot shoot it while hunting, you can unscrew the breech plug and easily push out the powder and bullet to be used next time. Cleaning the residual powder out for the bore and beach plug on a modern in-line muzzle loader is significantly easier than having to shoot the bullet and powder out of an old side-lock muzzle loader. After all, once shot, you have to do a full cleaning on a muzzle loader.

In short, a modern black powder rifle can be nearly as easy to care for and shoot as a modern conventional rifle.

Why bother with a muzzle loader?

In many parts of the US there are portions of the Deer hunting season when you can only hunt with a muzzle loading, black powder rifle. In our home state of NC, some really good hunting at the front edge of the rut is during the black powder only season. With a muzzle loader you can extend the season by at least a few weeks, and get to the deer BEFORE the conventional rifle season starts and all the lazy hunters start blasting away and scaring the deer into hiding. At Gear Report we are big fans of hunting during both archery and muzzle loader seasons. Although, it really won’t hurt our feelings if you decide to stay home during archery and muzzle loader seasons. We promise we won’t kill ALL of the deer before conventional rifle season.
Who am I kidding. I can’t make that promise. 😉

muzzle loader deer rifle CVA Optima V2 - Sighting at 100 yardsSo, how is the CVA rifle?

I sighted the rifle, finding that it shot OK with Hornady Great Plains lead bullets over 2 x Hodgdon Pyrodex 50/50 Pellets. However, the fluted stainless barrel really likes Hornady SST-ML 250gr .45 caliber bullets in .50 caliber sabots over 2 x 50 grain Pyrodex pellets. The SST-ML are very easy to load and have shot very consistently, thus far. Through a super-human feat of ammo mismanagement I sighted the rifle with the SST-ML bullets, then sighted an old Knight LK-93, ending with a single SST-ML bullet in the box. No problem, right? Wrong! All of the local stores were OUT of SST-ML, leaving me with just one round for the first hunt. That round was spent very quickly on an errant shot (let’s just say that either I had a moment of poor trigger discipline, the CVA has a light trigger, or both), leaving only the lead Great Plains bullets, or a fresh box of Hornady .50 cal sabot with .45 cal 300 grain XTP Mag bullets to hunt with. Expecting better terminal performance, I went with the XTPs.

The results speak for themselves: This 8 point whitetail buck ran about 20 yards before dropping like a stone. The CVA Optima V2 was dead-on accurate and the Hornady XTP provided a clean pass through the lungs and heart.

muzzle loader deer rifle CVA - with 8 point buck

The danger of being 6’4″ tall and posing poorly with a deer… although this 8 point buck doesn’t look huge next to me, the deer processor commented that it is rare that he sees a buck this big and thick. While this isn’t a “MONSTER buck”, it would look more impressive if I would remember to SIT behind the deer instead of kneeling over it.

You call that a review?!

Nope. We call it a “Review Preview”. This was written shortly after receiving the Optima V2 and has been updated a few times, but the full review can be found here:

Black Powder CVA .50 Caliber Optima V2 Muzzle loader Rifle Review

Picture gallery below…


About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.