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Colorado Bans Electronic Ignition Muzzleloaders

February 8, 2008

The 2008 Colorado Big Game regulations are out, and they include a new provision that prohibits the use of muzzleloaders with electronic ignition systems during the muzzleloading seasons.

The ban is similar to one instituted by Florida prior to their 2007 season.

Electronic ignition uses a charge from a 9-volt battery to ignite the powder charge in a muzzleloader. The electric charge replaces a more traditional percussion-based primer such as a #11 percussion cap, a musket cap, or a 209 shotgun primer.

Electronic ignition was pioneered by CVA in their Electra rifle, released in 2007. The Electra was widely hailed in the outdoor industry as an outstanding and innovative design. CVA cites these benefits of their ignition system:

The ARC™ Electronic Ignition is completely sealed from the elements – there’s not even a flash-hole. No parts other than the barrel have to be cleaned of fouling – ever! Ignition is absolutely instantaneous. The trigger pull is incredibly clean – because the “trigger” is really an electronic switch."

The Colorado Division of Wildlife undertook formal consideration of the ban in October of 2007, raising the issue under the following justification: "The historic philosophy of the muzzle-loading season is one of primitive methods. It has been argued that such advances in muzzle-loaders as electronic ignition are not in keeping with a practice of a primitive season."

During discussions of the issue, the NRA filed a brief with the CDOW opposing the move, arguing, "There is no reasonable scientific or biological justification for the proposed prohibition of electronic ignition muzzle-loading rifles." The brief went on to suggest, "It is clear that politics or a misguided fear of technology is the only motivation behind those seeking a ban."

Specifically, the new Colorado regulations state, "Electronic or battery-powered devices cannot be incorporated into or attached to muzzleloader during muzzleloading seasons."

Muzzleloaders such as the Electra, would however, be allowed during the regular rifle seasons. Because electronic ignition systems would be allowed in the field at some point, the CDOW clarified the definition of what constitutes an unloaded state for transporting these firearms in a vehicle: "It is illegal for anyone to have a loaded electronic-ignition muzzleloader in or on a motor vehicle unless the chamber is unloaded or the battery is disconnected and removed from its compartment."

Conservative elements in the Colorado muzzleloading community successfully lobbied for a ban on inline muzzleloaders a number of years ago. Idaho also moved to ban inlines prior to the 2007 season. Both of these bans lasted only a year, repealed after large numbers of disenfranchised sportsmen objected.

Given the smaller constituency of muzzleloading hunters who already have firearms with electronic ignition, the protest of this move will likely be much smaller, and this ban may be more likely to stand.

For more information on the 2008 Colorado Big Game regulations, see our related coverage.

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