Re: In-line Accuracy?
There is a huge difference betweeen hunting accuracy and fine target accuracy. Muzzleloaders in particular are subject not just to the minor differences fom gun to gun, but accuracy is largely variable depending on load and bullet and individual loading practices, cleaning between shots etc. The best equipment in the world won't perform with inconsistent loading practices. Add the variable of each shooters individual eyes and sight picture and the shot spread can widen exponentially. A person who flinches and jerks the trigger is doomed regardless of all else.
Now, truth is nearly every gun on the market is capable of 5 to 6 inch 5 shot groups at 100 yds. IF the shooter does his part and loads are both proper and consistent. One of the challenges of muzzleloading happens also to be the frustration for beginners is getting that combination of gun, sights, load and follow through to produce acceptable accuracy for the intended task.
Some guns are better than others, some sights are better and some shooters are better. Given the cosmos of all these factors, it is pretty easy to screw things up without realizing it. And also pretty easy to get it together, at least for hunting accuraccy.
If we were interested just in mechanical accuracy, we could just use a machine rest to shoot lasers at a pin point.
Absent a screw up or defect in manufacturing nearly any muzzleloader on the market can produce acceptable accuracy for the deer woods.
There are quality differences. Hey a cheap CVA Bobcat rifle that sold at wally world for $100 bucks, is a great bare bones deer hunting rifle. There are more expensive and other styles of guns that may or may not send the projectile down range any better. Fit, finish, etc isn't necessarily a prerequisite to accuracy. A $100 dollar spanish made side lock percussion gun can adequately kill a deer. That deer doesn't get any deader because you use a $700 gun. Think of it like a ride from point "a" to point "b" You can get there on a moped, a motorcycle, a chevy or a rolls royce. If you are only going a half mile on a warm sunny day, which doesn't really matter much. 20 miles in the cold rain, it does.
The gun andd load combo should match the game and range. Eastern woodland whitetail, a patched round ball is fine, Western Elk at 400 yds, requires a different approach, faster twist and preferrably a longer bullet than the average 230 grain whoop de doo prepackaged $3.00 a piece bullets offered at most area stores. Just as you probably wouldn't hunt western elk with a 44-40.
There's alot of hype about "magnum" muzzleloaders. Unless you have a trip to Africa planned, or are going for Kodiak Bear, you don't need it.
Folks seem to fall into that more is better trap. More powder, more expensive guns, more expensive bullets. Not for whitetail.
In lines serve a definite purpose. They offer increase power over a longer range than the typical side lock round ball gun. IMO, though, even those short 50 cal in-line bullets suffer from range limitations and offer only a a couple dozen yards worth of better perfomance than a round ball. For really long range, like over 300 yards, it takes a more specialized approach.