I think a lot of people think a muzzle loader is some lower powered, inaccurate, unreliable thing you are allowed to hunt with.
Rest assured the CVA Optima is no such under powered, unreliable, inaccurate hunting instrument. Power wise it is a 45 Colt on the lower end to a 454 Casull on the upper end.
I do not have my notes handy, however below is Chuck Hawks load workup with his test gun.
Harvester Sabot 250 Grain Bullet, Black MZ Powder
80 grains = 1310 fps
90 grains = 1390 fps
95 grains = 1451 fps
2 each White Hot Pellets, 250 grain Bullet, Harvester Sabot = 1610 fps
Harvester Sabot 260 Grain Bullet, Black MZ Powder
80 grains = 1290 fps
90 grains = 1374 fps
95 grains = 1425 fps
You can use more powder, however as was said above recoil becomes a problem above the loads listed above. At 454 Casull velocity the CVA Optima is a handful with the factory plastic grip. You will probably want to do a little polishing "Rounding" on some edges of the grip to make it a little more comfortable to shoot.
If you plan to shoot loose powder I recommend getting a BlackHorn 209 Breach Plug. It is funnel shaped to work better with loose powder. The factory Flat Faced one is made for Pellets.
Keep the thread clean on the Breach Plug, and use Anti Seize on the threads to keep the breach plug from locking up.
I also have changed the Scope Base to the EGW "Evolution Gun Works" brand. It has a lot more slots for improved ring placement. I have one on my CVA Scout in 357 Maximum also.
I worked with all kinds of Black Powder Substitutes with mine. My advice is to bite the bullet and spend the $$$ on Blackhorn 209 powder to start with. It is expensive, but it does not trash out the barrel after two shots like almost every other powder does. I fired mine 10 times without cleaning using Blackhorn 209, and I could have continued. You wont do that with anything else. With all other powders I worked with I considered two shots without cleaning the barrel to be the limit.
I use the Triple 7 Cleaner in mine. It was the best that I used at cleaning the barrel. Probably other products that work well that I did not test. After finding one that worked I quit looking.
Reliability, In my testing mine has been as reliable as gravity. It has fired 100%.
209 Shotgun Primers. I tested using several different shotgun primers including the one made for an inline. I would not waste money on the specialty ones. Standard 209 Winchesters worked just fine.
I recommend using Harvester Sabots, and jacketed bullets for the 45 Colt. Much cheaper than the carded saboted bullets.
Bottom line this is one fine hunting handgun, and extremely accurate. I have never heard of one that did not have a good factory trigger either.
I would like to see some improvements from CVA however. It could really be improved with better grips and a 10 inch forend like Tony or Bullberry makes. Everything about the Optima and Scout Pistols says quality except the cheap plastic furniture. Unfortunately Tony does not make wood for the CVA Handguns.
A scope or an UltraDot will work well. I would rate the Optima as a 150 yard maximum deer hunting handgun. That maximum is after shooting it to get proficient with it.
I have been hunting with Contenders and lately Encores for a long time. I so far have never fired at a deer more than one shot with one. I see no disadvantage to hunting with the CVA Optima from a reloading in the field point of view. With the Blackhorn 209 powder vials and a saboted bullet at the ready, I can be reloaded in probably 20 seconds realistically. Plenty quick enough to be reloaded when you go to check the blood trail.
Accurate and powerful, what's not to like.
Edited by Bob Roach (12/05/18 08:05 AM)
See You At The Range