I was impressed with the performance and functionality of Rossi’s .22LR, so the proverbial bar had been set relatively high before the .50 caliber ever got out of the house and onto the range. Perhaps not surprising, I wasn’t disappointed with her performance.
Although typically a pelletized powder kind of guy, I decided to test the Wizard with both pellets and granulated powder, basically out of curiosity. Pyrodex products got the nod here; I’ve had nothing but good fortune with the company’s RS granular material and 50-grain pellets over the past decade or so.
For bullets, I chose a variety – 295-grain PowerBelt AeroTips (AT) and Hollow Points (HP); 290-grain Barnes Spit-Fire TMZ (TMZ); PowerBelt AeroLites in a 300-grain format; and 300-grain Knight Red Hot bullets using the High Pressure (black) sabot. Like the powders, I’ve used all of these projectiles over the years, and all with good success both on the range and in the field. Ignition was supplied by Remington’s Kleanbore 209 muzzleloader primers, and the barrel was swabbed clean between shots.
Mechanically, I experienced absolutely no problems throughout the course of the 50-shot run at the bench. Ignition was immediate and reliable and recoil was noticeable, though tamed somewhat thanks to Caldwell’s Lead Sled and a PAST shoulder pad. In terms of downrange performance, it was the 295-grain ATs that won out, printing 2- to 2-1/2-inch three-shot groups at 50 yards; however, I’ve never been extremely impressed with the ATs’ on-target performance in the field on whitetails.
The Red Hots, though a close second with their consistent 2-1/2-inch clusters, provide, it’s been my experience, extraordinary knockdown power on deer-sized creatures – and based on those observations will be what we’re stuffing down the Wizard’s gullet come December. Post-range cleanup was minimal, quick, and easy; pull the plug, scrub the bore, take a toothbrush to the plug, lube, install, wipe, and it’s over.
What didn’t I like about the Wizard .50 muzzleloader? At almost 9-1/2 pounds, she’s a heavy little thing, and quite barrel heavy and unbalanced. The telescoping ramrod, though understandable in this particular situation, does, at least for me, take some getting used to. Afield, my thoughts are to either pack a lightweight 25-inch fiberglass rod with me, or telescope the OEM rod and lay it alongside my pack – just in case I need to reload the Wizard with the quickness.
And I think the transfer bar and manual safeties are a bit of an overkill; in fact, I found the left-side manual switch to be rather inconveniently located for a right-hander, not to mention tremendously noisy when allowed to fall forward by itself. That said, a little practice with manual safety can help overcome both inconvenience and noise. Price? Online, I found the Wizard Matched Set, which includes wood-stocked .243Win, .50 caliber MZL, and 28-inch 12-gauge barrels for – ready?—only $325 (hinterlandoutdoors.com). That, if my math is correct, makes for three very different firearms for just a touch over a C-note each.
Rossi Wizard Specs
Make/model – Rossi Wizard
Caliber – .50 Caliber Muzzleloader
Operating system – Inline; black powder only
Barrel – 23 inches
Overall length – 38-3/4 inches
Weight – 9.4 pounds
Trigger pull – 5.6 pounds
Safety – Transfer bar; Rossi/Taurus key lock; manual SAFE/FIRE safety
Sights – Fully adjustable rear, fiber optic; fixed front bead
Finish, metal – Blued
Wood – Walnut stock/forearm
Recoil pad – One inch ventilated rubber, with white spacer
Accessories – Sling swivels; Weaver style one-piece base
Ramrod – Brass; expandable from 15-1/2 inches 23-1/8
This article appeared in the Gun Digest the Magazine 2013 Shooter’s Guide. Click here to subscribe.
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About the Author: M.D. Johnson is an outdoors writer who has published articles at numerous publications as one half of M&J Outdoors. He's authored several books about the outdoors, including "Successful Duck Hunting" and "Guide to Pheasant Hunting."
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