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  #1  
Old 11-13-2011, 07:04 AM
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Default CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report

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I have been waiting for a Modern Inline Muzzleloading Pistol for a long time now. I even considered making one of my Sidekicks into a custom "Hand Cannon" for several years, but with all the gray areas and talking to the ATF that don't know any more than the book tells them, I decided I didn't want the "Men In Black" stopping by and putting me in one of those nice white jackets that buckle in the back. I even went so far as to have a concept done up, but that is as far as it has ever gotten.

Sidekick II Concept. Yeah, it's ugly.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I ordered one of these new elusive Optima Pistols. They told me it was in stock and I should receive it in a week to 10 days. Then I get an e-mail update on the process on around the 9th day, and it said the same thing the day i ordered it. So I called them, and they tell me it is now on back order! Needless to say, I wasn't very happy and told them they could cancel my order. I found a local dealer that said they would order one for me, but I made them call to make sure whoever they order from actually had them in front of them. Most all of these online dealers never even stock the inventory, they list what their distributor has in stock (or says they have in stock) as their stock, then order from the distributor AFTER you place your order. That is why it takes 7 to 10 days for something they list as being in stock. Enough of that!

I placed my order on Tuesday of this week with a local sporting good store, and was guaranteed that it would be in on Friday (yesterday). Finally, someone was able to keep their word, but I did have to pay retail for it. Sometimes it is worth it.

It came in a nice little box, that they neglected to put the serial number on the outside, but packaged satisfactorily enough to survive the Postal Gorillas.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

It is listed as having a 14" barrel, but take away 1-5/8" for the breech plug, and another 3/8" for the BGM (Bullet Guiding Muzzle, CVA's version of the QLA), you have just 12" of working barrel left.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

It also states that it comes with sling swivel studs, it does but just not installed. The one in the pistol grip is a littl tough to get started but I prevailed. The one in the forestock actually replaces the forestock screw and belly button.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

The fluting on the right side of the barrel seems well done, however the left side leaves a lot to be desired.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:10 AM
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Continued.

Moving on up to the frame. The casting lines/seams run along the upper and outer edge of the frame. This could easily be cleaned up before finishing to enhance the look and feel. The finish on the reciever also leaves a lot to be desired. Not sure of the process, but it appears to be not much more than silver paint. All of this is purely cosmetic in nature and should not affect function in any way.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

It does come supplied with a Weaver style scope mount, D&T'd for optional open sights.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Of course it would not be complete with out a scope and sling. The scope is 23 years old, and proven. I pulled it off my Ruger Redhawk .44 Mag. I didn't want to throw out $300 for a new Leupold before I knew if this thing could shoot or not.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Went to clean it up before heading out back to the range, and after getting the gritty Never Seize nad OEM plug out went to work on the barrel, which was filthy. I worked on it for quite a while, but with the type of rifling CVA uses it still looked funny on the lands.

I had ordered the Blackhorn 209 Breech Plug from CVA last week. It has a 1/8" flame channel and a narrow but deep powder pocket. The OEM plug has a 3mm flame channel and flat faced plug with slight concave to the flash hole.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

The primer pockets in these breech plugs are .250" diameter, while my custom plugs run around .243". The quarter inch diameter leaves the doors open for the European primers that run a little larger in diameter than our US primers. So the NSI 209 primers got the nod. They are longer like the Winchester W209, but will not fit in any other breech plugs I have but one, and they stick in that one. My firing pin bushing has an o-ring on the back, but not enough to keep it from being below the face of the standing breech. I added another like o-ring, and the headspace was perfect for the primers that I would be using. I went out back and fired 3 primers before heading out to the range. They all came out perfectly clean.

I had "eye ball" bore sighted the scope after mounting, and was sure it would be on paper, but set the target up at 25 yards for the first three shots. The first 3 shots were with 80 grains of BH209, 240 gr Cheap Shot, and the NSI 209 Primer. I was actually shocked at just how close it came, but the group needed some work. These are not the most accurate bullets by far, but I got a great deal on several packs a few years ago at $1.88 per 20 pack. The wind was gusting from R-L, with occasional luls to gusts that would nearly blow my chronograph and tripod over.

Here is the first 3 shot group. Close enough to go back to 50.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

This is my second group at 50 yards. 80 gr BH209, 200 gr Shockwave, and NSI primer. Yeah, that grin hasn't wore off yet.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Back to the Cheap Shots again and 70 gr BH209. Two together, then one went high.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Next up was 350 gr Hornady FPB's, 70 gr BH209, and NSI primer. These are usually outstanding shooters in my .502 bores, but I think I jacked them up trying to load them in this pistol without a short starter. 2 bullets hit high and left, the third just off the paper a hair, just left of the top hole.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:18 AM
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Continued.

Then I had to go back to those 200 gr Shockwaves, with 80 gr BH209 and NSI primers. Just grinning again, and still. Looks like this is what she is gonna like.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

This is the overall target at 50 yards.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

I did shoot a couple groups at 100, the first group had two touching, then mis-timed the wind on the third and opened the group up to 2-1/2". This was with the light 200 gr Shockwaves and 80 gr BH209. I was getting 3-1/2" of wind drift at 100 yards. The last group I shot was with the 250 gr SST Low Drag red 3 petal sabots. That group is just a hair over 2".

Average velocities for the 200 gr Shockwaves and 80 gr BH209 was 1510 FPS.

Here is the breech plug and standing breech after the 21 shots, cleaner than a whistle.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

Old habits die hard, so even though it didn't need it, my breech plug was still pretty in pink after removal.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

One thing that really shocked me was the shockwave sabots hardly opened up at all, but shot the best of all the bullets today, outstanding actually. Here is some of the sabots, some primers, and the breech plug. All clean except for the business end.
CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders

These breech plugs are unbelieveable, although I didn't shoot the OEM breech plug, the Blackhorn 209 breech plug worked flawlessly for 3 primers and 21 shots. The flame channel has a bit of carbon build up, but not even a hiccup. I will probably mod the OEM breech plug to a 5/32" flame channel and add a vent liner like my other custom breech plugs.

My overall thought of my first CVA, and muzzleloading pistol is cosmetically it could use some work, but it is mechanically sound, and a hoot to shoot. It has earned a trip to the woods this Tuesday, the opener of our general firearms season, and during our December muzzleloading season as well. Next range session will have to wait until after season, I will try more powder, but I can't imagine it shooting better than those 200 gr Shockwaves and 80 gr BH209.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:58 AM
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Very cool and the accuracy is impressive with such a short barrel.. Where did you get the BH Plug.. Blackhorn or CVA?

Just added a Optima to the family with its elite brother and am thinking of making the switch next year..

P.S. Do yourself a favor, get rid of the Shockwaves.. Although impressive on paper, on game performance suffers.. Please do not find out the hardway like I and so many others close have..

Find yourself the same grain Barnes TMZ, they shoot equally well and in the guns I have shot, shoot similar POI as the shockwaves.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:21 AM
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Very nice............
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:36 AM
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I find that the 200 gr Shockwave sabots rarely open unless pushed hard. My 100 gr BH loads barely open them from my Elite.
Impressive gun and shooting. Great write up as usual.
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for the info on the Shockwaves guys, might be something to consider at the speeds this pistol is shooting. With that said, I have shot around 15 deer with the Shockwaves and SST's in every weight 200, 250, 300, in muzzleloaders from 60 to 115 yards, NOT ONE ever ran off complaining. Not for more than 60 yards anyway, and most dropped on the spot. This is with 80 to 100 grains of powders like Black Mag '3, Triple Se7en, and Blackhorn 209 in muzzleloaders, and a half dozen more with the Hornady SST 250 grain bullet in a 20 ga slug load.

I will probaly try the 200 gr XTP and 195 gr Barnes Expander today in the .50/.40 Shockwave Sabot, they both should be better suited to the slower velocities of my new pistol.

Thanks for making me think about this, I still have faith in the 200 gr Shockwave, but will test some less pointed bullets since this will be my woods/treestand gun at ranges that are unlikely to exceed 75 yards, and more than likely in the 25-50 yard range.

I will also have my newly customized (converted .45-70 barrel with a Savage breech plug for shooting Blackhorn 209) .45 cal 1:20 twist Huntsman with the 195 gr Barnes expander for longer shots, and the pistol will be my backup, or for shorter shots vice versa. Be shooting them both again today.

CVA Optima Pistol Thoughts, and Range Report - Muzzleloaders
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:04 PM
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Default Great write up

Thanks for the post!
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:17 AM
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Great job Busta !!! Its obvious you're having FUN! Good luck tomorrow.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:02 PM
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Whats scary is that pistol would give full size muzzleloading rifles a run for their money! I just may have to pick one up after all. I noticed they sell open sights for it too. Even better!
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:16 PM
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Gotta ask........ Did ya busta buck with it yet?
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENCORE View Post
Gotta ask........ Did ya busta buck with it yet?
See other thread.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:26 PM
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ive been thinking about getting one for a while but havent found anyone that sold them. where did you order it from?
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freezerhunter View Post
ive been thinking about getting one for a while but havent found anyone that sold them. where did you order it from?
I ordered it from a local Mom & Pop. I am not sure who they ordered it from. Now I wished I had bought 2 of them. One with the scope, and another for open sights.
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:36 AM
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Default Breach plug question

A while back you posted contact info for a guy that customizes breach plugs specifically for Blackhorn powder. I can't seem to find the link. Please post again if you don't mind.
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