Muzzleloading has come a long way in the past two decades. The muzzleloaders that I grew up with looked like historic pieces from museums and fired simple lead round balls with pillow ticking patches. They were most commonly seen in the hands of guys who wore buckskin clothing and smelled like a campfire. Those guns are still available, and in fact Traditions has an amazing selection of traditional muzzleloaders. However, many modern hunters have become enamored of the new “inline” muzzleloaders.
The Lady Whitetail is such an inline muzzleloader. It is lightweight, the stock is well designed, and it fits shooters of all statures very well. My wife is 5'3” and a hundred and nuthin' and it fits her so well that she told me that if I wanted to avoid sleeping on the couch for the holidays, this gun had better end up under the Christmas tree.
The Lady Whitetail comes with a Traditions brand 3-9x40mm scope, mounted and boresighted. The scope is good quality, the dials are firm, but easy to manipulate, and the optics are very clear, especially for an entry-level scope. The rangefinding reticle (pictured) is very simple to use and is a feature that will become a necessity the first time you have to make a long shot with a muzzleloader. The Traditions scope definitely adds a significant amount to this package The scope was boresighted well enough that it only took three shots to properly zero the rifle, and we were off hunting.
As she is somewhat recoil-sensitive, my wife chose to load the gun with an 80-gr. charge of Triple 7 (one 50-grain pellet and one 30-grain pellet) underneath a Traditions 250-gr. “Smackdown” bullet. The “Smackdown” bears a striking resemblance to the Hornady 250-gr. SST-ML, a bullet that I've used to harvest big game from Nebraska to eastern South Africa. I find both to be accurate, tough, flat shooting and hard hitting.
The Lady Whitetail is based on the Traditions “Pursuit Ultraligh,t” platform and it definitely falls into the “ultralight” category. Tipping the scales at a mere 5.65 pounds, it is an absolute dream to carry. The first thing that really jumps out as you open the box is the pink. It's dip coated with Realtree AP HD Pink camo. The finish is expertly applied to the stocks as well as the base and 3-9x40mm Traditions brand scope. The stocks are a “soft touch” texture which provides great grip, even in wet and slippery conditions. The .50-caliber barrel is 24 inches long and has a 1-28 inch twist rate.
This means it will work well with any of the spitzer-shaped muzzleloader bullets that seem to rule the marketplace today. The fact that the barrel has a CeraKote finish is a very welcome fact as muzzleloading propellants-even the new ones-are more corrosive and dirtier than smokeless propellant. Not only is CeraKote is extremely corrosion resistant, it is also extremely attractive. The frame is lightweight and trim in size; it's made of Traditions' “LT-1 inch alloy, with a CeraKote finish to match the barrel. The finish color on the barrel and receiver is best described as “titanium”…overall, an extremely attractive look.
When it comes time for unloading and clean up, the Accelerator breech plug is a flat-out awesome feature. The Accelerator twists out by hand in only three rotations due to a very aggressive thread pitch. No interrupted threads or special tools needed. However, if the breech plug does become stuck, the folks at Traditions supply a spanner wrench in the box with the gun. If you wish to unload the gun without firing, simply remove the Accelerator breech plug, and push the charge out the breech of the gun. If your gun is loaded with granular propellant, pay particular attention to catch the propellant so that it doesn't fall into the receiver.
One of the most important features, in my opinion, is one that almost got past me. (Hey, I'm a typical guy, I don't like to read instructions first…) When loading the 80-gr. charge to zero the gun I was using a range rod. I paid little attention to the rod that is included with the gun. After loading the rifle for the evening hunt for my wife, I quickly popped the rod out and dropped it down the barrel. Much to my chagrin, it fell in about 3/4 of an inch below the crown of the muzzle. I thought that this was a detail that had been overlooked based on the assumption that everybody uses a three-pellet or 150-gr. equivalent charge. Well, Traditions didn't miss this detail either. The cleaning jag/bullet seating end of the rod is about 3 inches long, when threaded on the rod to be carried in the gun, the ramrod measures 20 3/4 inches. If one removes the jag/bullet seater and turns it around and screws it back on in reverse, the rod grows to 22 5/8 inches, which is plenty long to seat even light charges. This is an ingenious solution to create a rod that stows compactly, but quickly expands to safely load the gun.
I've sworn by the muzzleloaders produced by competitive company for most of my adult life. I wasn't sure what I would think of the Traditions muzzleloader. After spending a couple weeks with it myself, and seeing the joy on my wife's face the first time she picked it up and when she shot it, there is little doubt that I will be buying a Pursuit Ultralight for myself in the very near future. Hey, they even have a Pursuit Ultralight in Mossy Oak Infinity…Traditions may just be my new favorite muzzleloader company.