I went to the range today to do some shooting and test the theory that there is no bad day at the range.
The shooting part went pretty good, but I only brought a few guns(Marlin .357, Saiga 7.62 X 39, S&W 686+, and Walther P22), with my Traditions Muzzleloader being my primary reason for going to the range. Deer season starts two weeks from tomorrow, and while I was happy with my accuracy over the winter and spring, I was not happy with the reliability of the firearm. It was taking at least two pulls of the trigger to get the No. 11 percussion cap to properly fire. Believing the problem to be something internal with the springs in the bolt, I ordered a new one.
Traditions shipped the bolt in a timely manner, and it fit right into the rifle. Then I kept saying 'You know, this weekend I need to go make sure the gun works better with the new bolt that it did with the old bolt'. And I kept saying it, and saying it...but not doing it, until today.
As I'm sure you can guess, it looks the problem isn't something internal to the bolt. Even with the new one, I didn't get consistent first time ignition. I did get first time ignition about 1/3rd of the time, which was better than with the old bolt, but while 33% success is great for checking if you are flinching(I'm not!), it's not so good for shooting a deer/elk before it can run away.
I'm not sure I can head into the woods with a gun I only trust 33%. In fact, I know I can't. If I missed a deer because of this, I would be sad. Missing a cow elk with my special tag would make me closer to inconsolable.
The only real 'cheap' option from here would be buying another can of percussion caps, and trying them. Maybe CCI Caps are a bit 'tougher' than other brands.
Poop. With only two weeks to go, trying to borrow one from someone else would be tight, which really means I am looking at having to run out in the next 5 days to buy a new one, so I can play with it next weekend, before needing to go hunting on the 29th.
Luckily, with the house having sold, I am in a place where I can do this. I was already starting to dream about what type of gun to get at Christmas time. I had just kind of hoped that I would break my 4 year no new gun drought with a BLACK gun, not a black powder gun.