CVA Optima 209 Magnum

posted on July 13, 2010

The Optima, whether Pro or Elite, has served as CVA’s mid-priced break-action muzzleloader since 2002. For 2010, the company has revamped its workhorse, adding upgrades that make it even more appealing to consumers.

The Optima 209 Magnum’s 26-inch fluted barrel is made of stainless steel. Although produced in the same facility in which “premium” Bergara Barrels are manufactured, its barrel doesn’t receive the extra honing that barrels on higher-priced Accura and Apex models are subjected to, which lowers cost.

To ease and quicken loading the new Optima 209 Magnum’s barrel features the Bullet Guiding Muzzle. Essentially, it is a 1/4-inch section without rifling that reduces the pressure needed to start a projectile and helps ensure that it is loaded straight for optimal accuracy. The 1:28-inch right-hand twist barrel is rated to handle 150-grains/volume of blackpowder or suitable blackpowder substitute charges.

The Optima 209 Magnum’s barrel also features the Quick Release Breech Plug (QRBP), which debuted on the CVA Apex in 2009. The nose of the QRBP has a lip that interfaces with a tapered section machined into the barrel, and the two are machined to provide a slight crush fit when the breechplug is fully tightened. During firing, pressure creates an expanding force on the lip of the breechplug, further enhancing the seal; however, when the pressure subsides, the lip returns to normal.

The design keeps fouling and heat out of the threads and allows tool-free removal by hand, even after multiple shots. In fact, so confident is CVA that the QRBP will not seize that the company does not include a removal tool with the rifle. During testing, we encountered no trouble removing the QRBP, regardless of the number of shots between cleaning. Although we found its use unnecessary, a tool was provided to ease removal of 209 primers from the enclosed design of the plug.

Topping the Optima 209 Magnum’s barrel are DuraSight metal sights with red (front) and green (rear) fiber-optic pipes. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The barrel is also drilled and tapped for the addition of an optic. The thumbhole-stocked version comes with a DuraSight Dead-On mount with integral rings, but no iron sights.

Holding the aluminum ramrod are two black, metal ramrod pipes with polymer inserts. The pipes are attached via slots milled directly into the barrel. Similarly secured is a U-shaped sheet metal fore-end retainer. A steel pivot pin in the receiver allows the barrel to swing open.

As for the receiver, it is aluminum-alloy, which contributes to the new gun’s light 6-pound, 10-ounce weight—the previous Optima 209 Magnum weighed more than 8 pounds. Unlike the frame and trigger guard, the hammer, firing pin, trigger and breeching lever are of steel. Pulling rearward on the breeching lever frees the barrel to swing downward, exposing the QRBP for priming/de-priming and removal.

The hammer features a reversible extension to aid operation when an optic is mounted. The rebounding hammer is blocked in the neutral position. Essentially, it prevents forward movement in the at-rest, or forwardmost, position. When the hammer is cocked, the trigger engages its full-cock notch. Pressing the trigger releases the hammer, and as the hammer travels forward an internal stop arrests the drive spring. After the hammer strikes the firing pin, it hits the frame, stopping its forward motion. The rebound spring then pulls it back to a neutral position out of contact with the firing pin and again it is locked by the trigger.

The trigger has what CVA calls “neutral center of gravity,” denoting that from the pivot pin of the trigger, there is equal mass on either side. This allows the trigger return spring to be set at a lighter pull weight without compromising safety. The test rifle’s trigger broke cleanly at 5 pounds of pull weight and exhibited no discernible overtravel.

The synthetic fore-end has a distinctive drop in the center with molded-in checkering and a sling swivel stud that allows for the use of a Harris-type bipod. An internal spring provides yet more tension to the ramrod.

The synthetic buttstock, offered in fully ambidextrous standard and thumbhole versions, features a slim wrist. Molded-in checkering enhances purchase, and a 0.80-inch-thick CrushZone recoil pad helps mitigate recoil.

To test the CVA Optima, we topped it with a Bushnell Elite 3200 3-9x40 mm DOA 600 riflescope in DuraSight rings and bases, then shot the rifle with three loads. Between shots the barrel was swabbed with two solvent-soaked patches, two dry patches and then a primer was fired to dry the barrel and clear the breech plug. In between groups, the barrel and breechplug were cleaned thoroughly.

Overall, the test rifle shot very well. During testing the only issues were several hang fires with Blackhorn 209, even though all recommendations with the use of the powder were followed.

Considering its price, which starts at $282 for the stainless/black version, the new Optima 209 Magnum is an excellent value. Not only is it accurate, but also extremely user-friendly with regard to maintenance and cleaning.

Importer: CVA; (770) 449-4687;
Caliber: .50
Action Type: break-action single-shot muzzleloader
Receiver: aluminum-alloy
Barrel: 26", 416 stainless steel
Rifling: 1:28", RH twist
Sights: DuraSight fiber-optic (standard model only); drilled and tapped for scope bases (both standard and thumbhole versions)
Trigger Pull: single-stage; 5 lbs.
Stock: synthetic; black or Realtree Hardwoods Green camo; standard and thumbhole; length of pull, 141⁄8"; drop at comb, 15⁄16"; drop at heel, 11⁄2"
Overall Length: 41"
Weight: 6 lbs., 10 ozs.
Accessories: 209 primer removal tool, manual, DuraSight Dead-On bases with integral rings (thumbhole version only)
Suggested Retail Price: standard black/stainless, $282; standard Realtree Hardwoods Green/stainless, $332; thumbhole black/stainless, $314; thumbhole Realtree Hardwoods Green/stainless, $377


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