There’s no question long-range shooting is here to stay. For confirmation, all you have to do is walk the aisles of SHOT Show and count the number of rifle models designed to shoot at distances well in excess of 400 yards.
CVA, best known for its line of blackpowder rifles, has decided it is high time muzzleloader hunters were given a chance to get in the game. That’s the premise behind the manufacturer’s new Paramount long-distance blackpowder rifle.
“Unlike any other CVA rifle, the bolt-action Paramount was developed and designed to handle super-magnum propellant charges,” says Chad Schearer director of advertising/media relations, BPI Outdoors (parent company of CVA). “By ‘super magnum,’ I mean we use a maximum of 140 grains by volume of black powder. We found that more than 140 grains did not give us substantially more velocity, and the accuracy degraded. So, 140 is the ticket. That provides the higher velocities necessary for killing shots at 300 yards and beyond.”
Unusual for a blackpowder rifle, CVA decided to use a .45 caliber chambering instead of the standard .50 caliber. “We did a lot of testing with .50 caliber versus .45,” he says. “We decided to go with .45 because it gave us the speed—2,200 fps—we were looking for. Going this route also allowed us to use a 280-grain bullet that would give us substantial knockdown power, but without heavy recoil. The bullet also has a ballistic co-efficient of .452.”
The rifle looks markedly different from other CVA blackpowder rifles. That’s because the stock and barrel are sourced from Bergara (another division of BPI Outdoors). Over the past few years, Bergara has quickly gained a reputation among long-distance hunters and shooters for the quality and accuracy of its rifles. The heavy stock helps control recoil, and the adjustable cheek piece allows for a precise fit, without which consistent long-distance accuracy could not be achieved. The free-floating Nitride-treated 416 grade stainless-steel barrel is also an important component.
“For maximum comfort and stability, the Paramount stock offers full ergonomic adjustability of both length of pull and comb height,” Schearer says. “And, for quick in-the-field reloading, a self-deploying compact ramrod and belt case is included, along with a one-piece range and cleaning rod.”
Upon closer inspection, you’ll also notice something different about the Paramount’s primer setup.
“The Paramount was built around CVA’s VariFlame breech plug, which uses a hotter and more consistent large rifle primer rather than the 209 shotshell primer,” Schearer says. “With the VariFlame our extreme spreads in velocities suddenly went to single digits. This was huge for long-range accuracy. You can still use the standard 209 primer, if you wish, but to really access all the performance of which this rifle is capable, and by that I mean range and consistent accuracy, we recommend using the large rifle primer.”
Schearer notes that CVA prefers the use of loose powder. “You can use pellets,” he says, “but we find more consistent performance with powder.”
Schearer and his team spent last year testing the new rifle. “I took an antelope at 301 yards,” he says. “We’ve also shot the rifle at 12-inch steel targets out to 400 yards. Once sighted in, we hit those targets consistently. We are very confident that Paramount owners can replicate that performance, as long as they practice at that distance and properly set up their riflescopes.”
Schearer also said that while the rifle can be set up to shoot at 400 yards, it’s also a great tool for the more common 100- to 200-yard shots. “On standard muzzleloaders you’ll commonly see a seven- to 10-inch drop at 200 yards. You won’t see that with the Paramount. If you sight in three inches high at 100 yards, all you have to do is hold dead on at 200 yards. In this case, you can focus on the animal and not worry about estimating holdover.”
I was able to hunt with a Paramount last fall in Montana with Schearer. Though I was hoping to take a mule deer at 300 yards or more, the fickle weather in that part of the state during my hunt dictated otherwise. For the better part of two days, Schearer and I endured alternating bands of rain and snow and steady wind, gusts of which hit 40 mph. The deer didn’t care for the conditions either and hunkered down in brushy draws to find some measure of relief from the elements.
But with about 30 minutes of daylight left on the second day, we spotted three bucks at the bottom of one of those draws. A careful, quiet stalk put us within 125 yards of one. There was an opening in the buckbrush through which I could see an older deer, in the early stages of the rut, moving in on a doe. It was a small opening, but it was the only chance I was going to get. When the buck stepped into that window, I squeezed the trigger.
I saw him leap up when hit and cartwheel forward. He didn’t go 10 feet. That’s a performace aspect I really appreciate. As a hunter, I want my animals to go down fast. Tracking is always dicey, and tracking at night is no picnic.
When we field-dressed the deer, I marveled at the knockdown power of the bullet. “That Powerbelt ELR was designed specifically for this gun,” Schearer said. “It’s incredibly accurate and hits like a sledgehammer.” SRP: $1,000. Booth #14516. (cva.com)