Rifles > Single-Shot

Thompson/Center Fire Storm Muzzleloader

The Fire Storm combines traditional functionality with modern components and performance.

12/14/2011

The arguments over flintlock or percussion cap, traditional or inline have existed for years, with few people changing their minds, even as laws have changed to allow modern muzzleloaders to be used in more places.

Traditionalists believe flintlock or percussion cap muzzleloading rifles and blackpowder is the only fair way (they even argue among themselves about which is better), while inline enthusiasts claim their rifles are just muzzleloaders that shoot cleaner and more accurately. Neither side seems willing to change.

One reason many hunters use more modern muzzleloaders is because they’re compatible with blackpowder substitutes such as Pyrodex and Triple Seven, which burn cleaner and come in both powder and preformed pellets. Blackpowder is dirty and very corrosive, requiring traditional shooters to take extreme care to prevent rust from forming on their muzzleloaders.

Thompson/Center may have changed all that with the Fire Storm, a traditional-style muzzleloader that can shoot blackpowder substitutes, combining old-style shooting with easy cleaning.

When I heard about the Fire Storm, I was immediately intrigued. Thompson/Center had created a traditional muzzleloader, in both caplock and flintlock varieties, that could ignite Pyrodex (both pellets and loose), as well as blackpowder—effectively giving traditionalists a choice in propellants.

The secret to the Fire Storm’s ability is the Pyrodex Pyramid, which directs the ignition fire around the entire base of the pellet and draws the fire through the center and igniting a “fire storm” in the breech. This allows a Fire Storm flintlock (tested), or a No. 11 caplock, to create enough spark to ignite blackpowder substitutes with higher flashpoints than blackpowder.

The Pyrodex Pyramid is part of the breech plug, which is removable to allow for easier cleaning. Basic breakdown is conducted by removing the wedge pin from the stock, lifting the barrel just enough to clear the recoil lug and pulling the barrel out of the breech plug hole. Then, the provided plug wrench can be used to remove the breech plug. Reassembly is just as easy in reverse.

This modern flintlock muzzleloading rifle is a great choice for hunters wanting, or required, to use a flintlock for deer. Because it is designed for hunters, it’s more weather resistant than many other muzzleloaders. Offered with a stainless or blued barrel, the Fire Storm comes with a black composite stock and an oversized trigger guard for gloved fingers. The Fire Storm has no place to mount optics, but comes with adjustable fiber-optic sights for taking low-light shots. It also uses standard flints, making it easy to nap or replace flints when they’re chipped or worn.

Shooting the Fire Storm was slow fun. Slow because it takes time to reload a muzzleloader, and fun because this was the first flintlock I’ve been able to really play with for an extended period of time.

Since a scope couldn’t be mounted, I decided accuracy was less important than reliable ignition; however, the rifle had to be accurate enough to bring down a deer out to 100 yards. To start, I dropped two 50-grain pellets of Pyrodex down the barrel with a 250-grain sabot and filled the frizzen with FFFFg blackpowder to see if the gun would fire. It did, with just a slight hesitation. I attributed this to overfilling the frizzen, which created a large flash that took longer to burn down to the touchhole. Only about a third to half of the frizzen should be filled for optimal firing. I remedied this problem with a Cabela’s Baby Flask, which allowed more control when priming the frizzen.

To be honest, it took some time to get used to the flash in the frizzen going off in front of my face. However, going through the steps of rifle shooting kept my face down and gave me more confidence, but occasionally I caught myself lifting my head and having a flyer down range. Of course, a huge problem in accuracy was caused by the Fire Storm’s extremely heavy trigger that weighed in at 16 pounds.

I contacted the manufacturer about the trigger and was told that this was not the correct poundage and that I should ship the rifle back for repair. Upon receiving the rifle a second time, the trigger was much lighter at 6 pounds, but it still wasn’t as smooth as I would prefer as it stacked toward the end of the squeeze.

With the improved trigger, accuracy greatly increased whether using Pyrodex pellets, black powder or Triple Seven powder. During accuracy testing, I ran a solvent patch then a dry patch down the barrel between shots, and completely cleaned the rifle after each five-shot group. My first five-shot group using 100 grains of Pryodex with Barnes PBT 250-grain sabots measured 3.9 inches. For the second group, I used the same amount of powder, but switched to 245-grain PowerBelts, which nailed out a 4.5-inch group. The third five-shot group was shot with 100 grains of Triple Seven powder using 250-grain sabots, which ended up with a 4-inch group.

In addition to accuracy testing, I decided to shoot the Fire Storm in simulated real-world scenarios to see how it would handle for deer both freehand and from a rest. In all manners of shooting positions, the Fire Storm consistently hit in the kill zone of a deer-sized target at 100 yards. I also had no problems loading or firing multiple times without cleaning between shots, except for occasionally wiping the frizzen to remove the oily residue left by the FFFFg blackpowder used for priming.

The Fire Storm will not end the debate between traditionalists and modern muzzlerloading shooters, but it will provide a good deer-hunting muzzleloading option for hunters who don’t want the hassle that comes with using blackpowder.

Manufacturer: Thompson/Center; (866) 730-1614; TCArms.com
Model: Fire Storm
Caliber: .50
Action Type: Flintlock muzzleloader
Barrel: 26” with QLA Muzzle System (blued or stainless)
Rifling: 1:48” RH twist
Sights: Adjustable, fiber-optic
Trigger: 6 lbs.
Stock: Black composite
Overall Length: 41 3/4”
Weight: 7 lbs.
Accessories: Breech plug and nipple wrench, cleaning jag, touchhole pick, allen wrench and manual.
Suggested Retail Price: $567 (stainless $634)

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12 Responses to Thompson/Center Fire Storm Muzzleloader

RICK HAMILTON wrote:
October 28, 2013

FOR RELIABLE IGNITION EVERYTIME , ADD 5-15 GRAINS OF LOOSE POWDER, FFFG OR WHATEVER, BRAND YOU LIKE BEFORE DROPPING IN THE PELLETS YOU USE THATS IT WORKS FOR ME EVERYTIME.

steve r wrote:
October 15, 2013

Ive had my firestorm for years now and I have never had any problems. No mis fires, great groupings and 5 deer. I shoot tc maxi hunter with 85 grain of powder

Dan Lawless wrote:
December 24, 2012

My brother gave me a TC firestorm Flintlock for xmas years ago.No matter what I tried it shot all over the place.I sent it back to TC and they said it was fine but I should use round balls.TC states it will shoot accurate up to 200 yards. I couldn't group at 50 yards.Shots would be 10 inchs apart.I asked TC to give me my money back or exchange it. They refused and I will never buy another TC as they do not stand by their product. The firestorm was purchased at Cabela's.10 years later my firestorm still sits in the gun cabnit as it would not be fair to shoot at a deer and blow his leg off or wound another deer standing 5 feet away from my point of aim. I had people watch to make sure I didn't flinch etc. It wasn't me the gun is useless. At the time I was an active NYSDEC Hunting instructor. I will not sell the gun as it is not fair to have another shooter or deer.

Matt P. wrote:
November 25, 2012

Wade ... I was a muzzleloading instructor a few years back. What exactly is the problem? Bad grouping , bad ignition, hangfires ?

Wade Rine wrote:
January 28, 2012

I have a question I got a firestorm when they first came out it doesnt shoot worth a darn does not matter if your shooting balls chonicles sabots or whatever. I have prety much gave up on it I wont take it out hunting I hunt with my lyneman there is no comparison between the two in accuracy at twenty five yard your lucky to hold a 20 inch group with the firestorm could it be a bad barrel? I would like to be abel to use it to hunt with any suggestions. Also shooting off a bench at 50 yards the slug usualy hits the ground before it gets to the target cant get site elevated enough

tim chlebina wrote:
January 06, 2012

Thanks for information. Yes my fire storm triggeris way to hard to pull,where I bought ituse they said there was nothing that cloud be done to fix the trigger pull.its got to be 16done pounds or more.I was going to take it riggto a gunsmith.to get fixed.because I shot a deer 25 yards broadside.and the trigger was so hard to pull my shot hit the deer bad and never did find it.so the only way I will shot at a deer again is im resting on a tree.im going to call thompson center and see if they will fix mine thanks you saved me some money.

Gerald Keller wrote:
December 23, 2011

I have a double set trigger on my flintlock. This helps to take care of any issues of flinching, etc. If you ever have a chance to upgrade to one of these, you should do it.

Terry Meyer wrote:
December 22, 2011

I would be interested to learn the technique for consistently igniting pellets. I had to switch to loose Pyrodex to achieve reliable firing.

Bruce Pierce wrote:
December 22, 2011

I see a nipple wrench listed in the accessories. Why would I want one with a flint lock? I guess primitive fire arms write ups would indeed benefit from a little expert input from primitive fire arms experts. Give Paul a break, guys. Other than a couple of faux pas, he did a good article.

Bill Williams wrote:
December 20, 2011

Mr.Rackley unfortunately is misinformed regarding muzzle loaders utilizing #11 caps,will ignite either Pyrodex or Triple 7 powder reliably.Even with musket caps (more powerful than the #11 caps)there are misfires and hang fires utilizing these modern powders.In addition,Thompson Center does not manufacture a fire storm type rifle utilizing #11 caps.

Bob Lund wrote:
December 20, 2011

I didn't know that I couldn't use Triple 7 in my muzzle loaders. including my flinter. I have been using it for years. While hunting in cold weather I put a squirt of 4 F from my pan charger down the tube to make sure the Triple 7 goes off.

Bob Anderson wrote:
December 20, 2011

Good write up. I've always liked TC traditional muzzleloaders. I'll check this one out at the local Man Store. Unless pellets have been redesigned, I'm surprised that you had reliable ignition in a flintlock. Pellets always had an enhanced area in the back around the center hole to help them ignite while the ignition flame in a flintlock comes from the side. Did all of your pellet loads experience a hang fire (delay)? Since you're new to flintlocks, I'll give you a pass on your terminology. You prime a flintlock by putting powder in the PAN. The FRIZZEN is the moveable metal piece that covers the pan and sparks when struck by the flint.