Editor’s Note: Mark Hendricks is the Vice President of Technical Developments for BPI/CVA.
Question: Mark, what are some of the new developments that CVA has in its muzzleloader line now?
Hendricks: The quick-release breech plug is one of our most important.
Question: What is it? How does it work? And what problems does it solve?
Hendricks: Right now, we have the quick-release breech plug on the Apex rifle. We were embarrassingly late coming to the market with a quick-release breech plug. Our competitors announced their new quick-release breech plug 2-years ago. However, we wanted to make sure we had the best quick-release breech plug that we could develop, before we brought it to the consumer. Quick-release breech plugs are faster and easier to remove than the old breech plugs if you have to use a tool when you’re trying to remove the breech plug.
We found that most breech plugs are easy to remove, until you fire the gun. We went to enough blackpowder shooters to learn if the quick-release breech plugs are just as difficult to remove after they’ve been fired as the old breech plugs were, which required a tool. Many of these quick-release breech plugs used today still required a tool to loosen-up the breech plug before you removed it. We decided that if we were going to have a quick-release breech plug, we wanted ours to be completely tool-less. So, we put our engineers to work, trying to design a quick-release breech plug that would really do what it was supposed to do, to make breech plug pulling quicker, easier and tool-less. We discovered that to get the performance out of the quick-release breech plug that we thought it should have required much-more time and engineering than many breech plugs that were already on the market. We went through a lot of prototyping and an awful lot of casting before we brought our quick-release breech plug to the muzzleloader hunter.
Question: Okay Mark, what makes the CVA quick-release breech plug better than what’s on the market today?
Hendricks: We learned that the way the breech plug seats into the barrel had an awful lot to do with how easy the breech plug was to remove after the gun had been fired. We knew we had to have a seal that would keep the gas flow and the debris out of the breech plug threads when the gun was fired. The gas and the debris were the two ingredients that caused breech plugs to stick and hang when you were trying to remove them. When we felt we had the design that would perform as promised, we tested our new breech-plug removable system at our factory in Spain, and then tested it again when we brought it back to this country.
We had our CVA Pro-Staff shooters test the design, and we received glowing reports from them. One of our pro staffers, Jim Kosier, called me after testing the quick-release breech plug system by shooting 98 shots from his Apex muzzleloader. Jim found a small-sized person at the shoot he was attending and invited that person to remove the breech plug. This small individual was able to remove the breech plug by using only two fingers.
Question: What type of oil or lube are you using on this breech plug to help it come out easier than conventional breech plugs?
Hendricks: We recommend the CVA Slick Breech Plug/Nipple Grease that CVA hunters and shooters have always used. It’s basically an anti-seize lubricant, similar to the lubricant that mechanics use when they’re putting-in spark plugs. Our lube is a high-temperature grease that keeps the threads loosened-up and is like the same type of compound that’s used on traditional-valve breech plugs. The regular breech-plug lube only kept the breech plugs from becoming permanently stuck. It didn’t make the breech plugs easy to remove. However, with this new quick-release breech plug, the threads hardly get any dirt in them. You only have to use the grease, whenever you clean the breech plug. And, now with our new quick-release breech plugs, you don’t need a breech-plug tool. One of the most-annoying problems we’ve found with hunters, is when they go to the hunting camp and want to clean their rifles. Often they can’t find their breech-plug tools. However, with our new quick-release breech plug, they won’t even have to wonder where they’ve put their breech-plug tools. In the past, getting the breech plug out was a major reason that hunters and shooters put-off cleaning their guns. Or at best, they grumbled because they had to clean their guns. However, with the new CVA quick-release breech plug, we’ve eliminated those issues.
Question: As the vice-president of technical development for BPI/CVA, what do you see out in the future of CVA muzzleloading?
Hendricks: CVA has new products coming out every year, and obviously, the direction we’ve taken in recent years is to develop blackpowder rifles that can be more versatile types of guns, like the Optima Elite, and the CVA Apex. Both of these guns allow the same blackpowder rifle to be used for the center-fire rifle or a rimfire rifle. This gives the consumer much-more versatility with his or her blackpowder rifle. With these rifles, they can now hunt during black-powder with either.45 or .50 caliber rifles, and at the end of blackpowder season, they can change barrels and hunt during the modern-weapons deer season. With one frame and stock, you have a tremendous amount of versatility for your hunting. You can attend a south-Alabama muzzleloading deer hunt one week, and the following week you can be hunting in Africa, with the same gun but a different barrel. Also, if you’re hunting during muzzleloader deer season, and you tag-out early, you can take your muzzleloading barrel off of your CVA rifle, put a rimfire .22 on, and go squirrel hunting. We’re trying to build more value into our CVA rifles by making them more versatile.