After more than 50 years of hunting big game with muzzle-loaded guns, I still have a few voids on my "Muzzleloading Hunter's Bucket List" ... but this fall I did manage to mark one more of those challenges off that list - to take a whitetail buck with a muzzleloading handgun.
While I have used several different 10- to 12-inch barreled muzzleloading .50 caliber pistols to fill a few antlerless or doe tags over the years, I just couldn't justify shooting at a larger and harder to bring down buck with a muzzle-loaded pistol that I fully knew COULD NOT muster the knockdown power needed to insure that, with proper shot placement, it would quickly and efficiently put a buck down.
Fortunately, after a long series of ballistic testing with a .50 caliber Traditions VORTEK muzzleloading rifle barrel, shortened (in two inch increments) from 30 inches to 20 inches, I discovered an unplanned benefit of that testing. The lock up lug of the barrel was exactly the same as the lug for the VORTEK Pistol ... and that 20-inch "rifle barrel" precisely snapped right into the VORTEK Pistol frame ... turning the handgun into what I have dubbed my VORTEK Pistol Carbine. From that series of velocity and energy testing, I ended up with a 20-inch barrel capable of turning one of the VORTEK Rifles into a fast handling and hard hitting carbine length "Brush Rifle" for hunting thick and heavy cover ... while at the same time that longer barrel would allow me to shoot "rifle loads" with the barrel installed on the pistol frame.
When the barrel was first mounted on the VORTEK Pistol, I had mounted a long eye-relief handgun scope on it ... but that meant the barrel could only be used on the pistol. The eye relief of the handgun scope was too great for snapping the barrel into one of the VORTEK Rifle frames.
The solution was easy ... simply going to one of the toughest and most reliable electronic reflex red-dot sights available today - the Hi-Lux Optics MAX-TAC Dot sight. Thanks to the forgiving unlimited eye-relief of this sight, it has allowed me to turn a Traditions VORTEK Rifle & VORTEK Pistol combo into one extremely versatile muzzleloading modular shooting system.
Here's a link to a look at how well the MAX-TAC Dot sight performed on the long-barreled handgun ... and how the sight performed on the muzzleloading handgun hunt for a whitetail buck. - Toby Bridges