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The .45 CVA Muzzleloader Versus the .50 CVA Muzzleloader for Elk with Chad Schearer

Editor’s Note: Chad Schearer is the host of “Shoot Straight with Chad Schearer,” which airs on the Sportsman Channel, Fox Sports South and CBS in Montana. He co-hosts the show with his wife, Marsha, and his two sons, Walker and Wyatt. He owned and guided for Central Montana Outfitters for 15 years.

Question: Chad, most people believe that when you go elk hunting, you need a .50-caliber CVA Muzzleloader rifle. You hunt elk with both .50- and .45-caliber rifles. When and where do you choose one caliber over the other for hunting elk?

Schearer: One of the things a hunter needs to realize is that if he’s shooting a .50-caliber Muzzleloader rifle and using a saboted bullet, he actually has a .45-caliber bullet coming out of the barrel. I prefer a .45-caliber PowerBelt bullet because that’s the actual bullet diameter. That bullet has enough weight to kill an elk. I like a 275-grain copper-clad aero-tip PowerBelt bullet, or a 300-grain PowerBelt Platinum bullet. Either one of these bullets gives you enough weight and knockdown power to take an elk. We’ve taken elk out to 200 yards with both these bullets. If you load your .45-caliber CVA rifle with a magnum charge, you’ll have about 7 or 8 inches of drop at 200 yards, which makes the .45 caliber a really flat-shooting muzzleloader.

Question: Chad, if you were going to take a 200-yard shot at an elk and knew the bullet would drop 7 to 8 inches, where would you aim?

Schearer: I’d aim about 3-inches below the backbone and just above the back of the shoulder, which would drop the bullet right in the elk’s lungs.

Question: Why would you take a .50-caliber CVA rifle on an elk hunt, if you knew the .45 caliber would shoot much-more flat?

Schearer: Oftentimes you can find .50-caliber components for your rifle much easier than you can .45-caliber components. For instance, if you need more powder or bullets and have to go to a local sporting-goods dealer, that dealer much-more likely will have the components for a .50-caliber rifle rather than components for a .45-caliber rifle. Any area that has muzzleloading hunting for elk in the West will have bullets and powder for a .50-caliber rifle, because there are more .50-caliber rifles than there are .45-caliber rifles.

Question: How much drop do you have with a .50-caliber CVA rifle at 200 yards, and where should you aim on an elk?

Schearer: The .50 caliber will drop about 10-1/4-inches at 200 yards. I’ll aim right at the backbone and just behind the shoulder of an elk. That bullet will drop into the elk’s vitals at 200 yards.

Question: What bullet do you recommend for a .50 caliber?

Schearer: I like the 338-grain PowerBelt platinum bullet for a .50-caliber CVA rifle.

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