August 2, 2021

Illinois Department of Natural Resources to Review the Definition of Muzzleloading Rifles

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager


Why it matters: While CSF maintains that state fish and wildlife agencies are the entities best equipped to make decisions regarding the management of our public trust fish and wildlife resources, these agencies typically host public comment periods to solicit input on proposed regulatory changes. These comment periods provide the public, including sportsmen and women, an opportunity to learn the reasoning behind proposed regulatory changes and provide their input. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) believes that the proposed changes in Illinois regarding muzzleloaders will increase safety while expanding hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women to take advantage of novel technology.

CSF submitted a letter to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) supporting regulatory changes to the definition of a “muzzleloading rifle”. This change would allow for the use of new technologies such as the FireStick platform produced by Federal Ammunition.

The current definition of a muzzleloader requires both the powder (propellent) and bullet (projectile) to be loaded only via the muzzle. The proposed language would only require the bullet to be loaded from the muzzle, thereby legalizing the use of new technology, like the FireStick, which allows both the powder and primer to be safely loaded and unloaded from the breech end while the bullet is loaded from the muzzle. This new technology allows the powder to remain dry in adverse weather conditions, ensuring a consistent and reliable ignition of powder and improved accuracy at standard ranges. The increased reliability and simplicity allows muzzleloaders to be more accessible and user-friendly without creating an unfair advantage. These new designs do not increase the number of shots or effective range when compared to many of the common in-line muzzleloaders that Illinois hunters are already using.  

Additionally, because the powder and primer can be removed with ease, muzzleloaders can be transported more safely. Many surrounding states already allow for the use of this technology, including Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky. CSF’s Midwest staff has recently supported regulatory changes to allow hunters the use of this new technology in several states.  

The Illinois DNR will review all comments before making a final decision on the change. Please continue to follow The Sportsmen’s Voice for updates.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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