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Barnes Bullets Review

This is a real preliminary report on Barnes Bullets that will continue to be updated as I continue to load and shoot them. Barnes sent me a large stash of bullets awhile back for use in my .223 Remington, .22-250, .25-20, .257 Whby Magnum and in my .44 Magnum revolvers and rifles. That’s a pretty tall assignment really as I have a wide variety of bullets especially for the .22s. It will take me a year or more to get around to loading all and testing in multiple guns so rather than wait until the review can be completed I will report results as they come in.

So far I’ve loaded only two types of the many that I’ve been sent and those are the .224” 53 grain TSX-FB and the .257 TSX. To date I’ve limited my firing of the 53 grain TSX-FB to my Remington Model Seven Predator as I am kinda hoping to find a load accurate enough to give these a try on deer. I’m NOT a fan of using .223 Remington or any of the .22s for that matter on deer but I acknowledge that many people do so each year so I feel I should give it a shot so to speak and report the results of these bullets which seem they should be one of the better choices for deer if one is bound and determined to use a centerfire .22 for their deer hunting. This rifle wears a Mueller APV 4.5-14 scope.

So far my testing with it has been limited and I’ve honestly not found a load yet that is accurate enough to take hunting though one of the first three loads tested is showing enough promise to give a second try. To be completely fair I must say that so far this rifle has not shown great accuracy with any load I’ve tried though I did find an old load put together for prairie dog hunting several years ago that did shoot under an inch at 100 yards so I’m confident it’s merely a matter of finding the load it likes and it will perform.

The one load so far that seems to offer the most potential with the Barnes 53 TSX-FB is using 26.0 grains of W748. I have found W748 one of the best powders for use in a lot of my .223 Remington rifles. This particular load with a five shot group measured a totally unspectacular 1.95” but three of those clustered into only 0.60” which isn’t bad. Now I must figure out why the other two were so widely spread. I will try this same load one more time as I still have five more of them loaded and if it again shows some potential for better accuracy I will play around with seating depth to see if that helps and will also try different powder weights. I also have ten rounds loaded using 27.0 grains of the same powder. In the past I have found 27.1 grains to be almost magic in the way it delivers accuracy with both Hornady V-Max and Nosler BT bullets so have high hopes it is going to work that way with these Barnes bullets as well.

I gave AA2460 a fair trial as well and results proved to be just plain dismal with one load shooting into 1.95” and another into 3.65” both for five shots at 100 yards. Clearly that’s not the powder that is going to work with this bullet in this rifle. I do plan to give it a try though in my R700 SPS Varmint rifle just to see if the load combination stinks or if this rifle just doesn’t care for it.

I also have some 36 grain Varmint Grenade bullets loaded up with RL-7 which seemed the best powder choice from what I have on hand based on the new Barnes reloading manual. I’ll get around to shooting those next range session hopefully as well as finishing up the series I have loaded with the 53 TSX-FB.

Now on to the really bright side of this review which is the .257” 115 TSX.

I have a limited edition Remington 700 LSS in .257 Whby magnum made only one year which I am also doing a review on. Barnes gave me a variety of their bullets to try in this one and the first load right out of the chute seems to be real close to a winner for me. The rifle wears a Leupold VX-II 3-9 scope.

That load uses Weatherby headstamp brass made by Norma with Reloader 22 powder and the 115 TSX loaded to an overall length of 3.160” which is what Barnes recommends in their newest manual. I loaded up three rounds each with three different powder charge levels those being 65.0, 66.0 and 67.0 grains. That last one is pushing right up against maximum in the Barnes manual but bolt lift was no different than with the others and primers look no different. I am not one who believes you can judge safe pressures from such observations but still the load is within book limits and exhibits no signs different than lighter loads so I don’t think it’s gonna be too hot for use in this rifle at least not in milder fall temperatures.

Both of the two lighter charges turned in an identical performance of 0.9” for three shots at 100 yards. Each bullet in each group was darn near equal distance from each other in a near perfect equilateral triangle. To me that indicates no bedding problems with the gun and a load with some potential to do better once I determine what exact load it wants and what seating depth the rifle prefers with this bullet. I do believe I will find a really sweet spot with this bullet and powder that will get my groups down closer to a half inch and who knows maybe even reach that small group size. For really long range work and that really is what I bought this rifle to give a try I’d like to see 100 yard groups in the half to three quarters of an inch range though normally I consider any load that consistently shoots under an inch fine for my normal hunting.

Still I didn’t exactly buy this rifle for my normal hunting. I am hoping to take it west to give it a try on Pronghorn antelope and perhaps mule deer at some point in the future. Both can turn out to be long range propositions and given my health and lack of walking ability these days sneaking close as I prefer just might not be possible for me. I’m clearly and vocally not a fan of long distance shooting at game but I do plan to do some long range practicing with this rifle once I find a truly accurate load and see if I can push my confidence level to at least 400 yards from the current confidence level of around 300 yards that I generally call my personal maximum shot range. Hey if I can hit prairie dogs at 400-500 yards I should be able to hit a pronghorn hopefully at least that’s the plan for now.

The higher charge of 67.0 grains clearly had more noticeable recoil than the two lighter loads and while it wasn’t bad and in fact is less than a .30-06 rifle of similar weight it was noticeable in this higher charge weight whereas I was not able to tell a difference between 65.0 and 66.0 grains. That charge also didn’t shoot so well turning in a three shot group of 1.7” almost double that of the two lighter charges. So I’ll be working this one a lot more using the two lighter charges and perhaps also trying half grain increments below and above each. I will also vary seating dept by 0.010” at a time both shorter and longer and see if I can find the sweet spot with this bullet. I do believe it is going to work very well with this rifle.

I must confess to being happy to have finally found an accurate load with a Barnes bullet as I’ve given them a try in a lot of rifles and a few handguns in the past using the original X bullets with decided lack of success. Groups in the past for me have been more like the .223” 53 TSX load with AA2460 and so I’ve mostly not reported my findings as I hate to report really negative results when I ask for the product for a test. I do tend to talk about it when asked but seldom report such dismal results. This bullet and rifle combination are the brightest spot for me yet with Barnes bullets and I do have high hopes the new TSX bullets are going to be a turning point for me with Barnes bullets.

I’ve shot this rifle so far with a few other loads both factory and my hand loads and can say that this Barnes bullet so far is the best shooting bullet in this rifle of those tested so far. That really is high praise considering the other bullets tried so far which have a proven reputation for accuracy. Still I’ve only barely begun to shoot this rifle and I doubt it has more than 40 rounds down the barrel so far so I fully expect it to continue to get better as I shoot it.

More will follow as more shooting is done with the Barnes bullets I have on hand. So far they are looking like they will shoot well and as such will get some time on game once I work out my loads with them in several rifles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First follow up to my review

First follow up to my review:

I’ve now done some more firing with the Remington 700 LSS in .257 Whby magnum and must say that rifle loves those Barnes 115 TSX bullets. It is shooting them like a varmint rifle should shoot and making me mighty happy with both the rifle and the bullets. They aren’t the only bullets it’s shooting well but are the subject of this review.

I shot the rifle again today (11-03-09) using two loads. First was 65.0 grains of RL-22 with the 115 TSX and that load put three shots into 0.45” at 100 yards folks that’s varmint level accuracy from a magnum big game rifle. NICE! Next up I shot 65.5 grains of RL-22 with the same bullet. This group SHOULD have been better and it was strictly my fault it was not. I called shot number two a flyer as soon as it went off as I jerked just as I fired and knew it was not going to be with the group. It wasn’t but it only opened the group to 0.7” which is still darn fine for a big game hunting rifle. The other pair were kissing. I won’t say they over lapped but I find no gap at all between them. That group too would have been around a half inch or less had I not pulled the shot. That is not the fault of the gun, load or bullet but strictly a shooter error NOT the only such error made today.





On a less bright note I also shot the Remington Model Seven Predator using a couple of the Barnes .224” bullets. Performance varied from DISMAL to not bad. I completed the series I had begun previously with the 53 grain TSX-FB and five shots turned in groups of 2.0” and 4.7” and that was with W748 normally one of my most accurate powders for the .223 Remington.

I also shot a couple of loads using the 36 grain Varmint Grenade bullets over RL-7 powder. They weren’t great but weren’t horrible either. First up was 24.0 grains of RL-7 and the five shots went into 2.0”. With 25.0 grains five shots went into 1.2” and of those four out of the five went into a group of 0.75”. Had it not been for the flyer that group wouldn’t have been bad at all.

Next up was 26.0 grains of W748 with the 53 TSX-FB which had shot best for me last time out and those five shots went into 2.2” again due to a single flyer which might have been my fault as I did seem to have some flyers today that ruined otherwise fine groups. This time the other four went into a tight 0.5” group. This gives me hope that if I can avoid flyers that this load with the 53 TSX just might be a good load in the little Model Seven Predator and if so I’ll try to see how it will perform on game maybe even deer if/when the opportunity arises.

That’s the end of today’s update on the Barnes bullets.
 

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i have used the 165 grainer's in my 308 win.and had very good shot kill ratio. 4 shots -3 kills ( 1 shot kills) the first time i used them i shot a big buck at 187 yd's and he did'n even flinch so i thought i missed him ,i chambered anotherand let fire ,still stood there ,kinda had me wonderin' if my reloads were doin the job,,then while puttin' the crosshairs on him i saw his hind-part start to sway sise to side a little so i held of on the shot and sure enough ,he dropped where he stood and never enen took 1 step..while skinning him out ,i found both holes ,not an inch apart.the first did the job i just did'nt know how good barnes bullets worked.. that's all i hunt with ,,to expensive to punch paper with except 1 shot a couple days b4 opening morn. of rifle season ;D
 

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Hey try changing to a different primer on that 223 always thought a primer was a primer and this year was very surprised at how much a primer will change groups. We always bought the same primer with the same lot number now we buy the primer to fit the gun and its accuracy
 

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There is something cool about the quarter-bores, whether they're the Bob, or the Remington, or the Weatherby. I've found with my .25-06, if you crank up the throttle on the RL22, the groups keep getting tighter. My son and I were out shooting last week and he got out his .25-06, an old Ruger 77 that I bought for him several years ago. Firing a WLR primer and a 115 gr Sierra Gameking, he made two consecutive one-inch groups at 200 yards. We went out to the 300 yard line and he fired a group that opened up some, but not much. Well under 2 inches at 300 yards. The powder was RL22 and the charge was close to max.

There's just something about a quarter-bore.
 

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As accurate as they may be (superbly so in some of my guns), the Barnes lineup is still plagued by inconsistencies in low-velocity performance. I tested the 30 caliber 130 grain TTSX today. My first group was a ragged hole, but the bullets did not expand at all in he medium.

I didn't bother to clean off the dirt from th projectile on the left. It passed through the medium and wound up in a dirt berm, where it was recovered.



Here are results of some other tests I've conducted with Barnes bullets in the past:
















 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Other than the .308 130 grain in the first photo they all look like they did what they were supposed to do.

I'm still not sure if I trust them to open or not but I'm using the .257 115 TSX at around 3400 fps in my .257 Whby this year. If I get a chance at a deer I'll see for myself what they do.

In fairness to Barnes they don't promise you they'll expand in newspapers only in game. Those others I take it were recovered from game but regardless of the media involved they look like those in Barnes advertisements. Personally I'd not worry too much about what happened in paper so long as they work in game. Still wet paper does normally expand conventional bullets at least and did so in the Barnes bullets I've shot into it. Your velocity from the TC is a bit low but you still want good performance. I guess I'd likely not use them at those expected velocities. That's why my first trial on game will be with the .257 Whby moving them out seriously fast.
 

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At least Barnes has backed off its claim of "full depth of cavity expansion down to 1600 fps." I have never seen it -- neither in game nor in test media -- in any .30 caliber and under projectile.

I've had good luck with some lots of Barnes bullets and experienced failures with others.

I also have another 7mm 120 grain TSX which was recovered after penetrating the length of a hog. The impact velocity was around 2365 fps, and the bullet is pristine other than rifling marks. The bullet clipped the very top of the hog's heart. I found it several hundred yards away and in a very weakened condition. It likely would have expired in another minute or so, but I ended the ordeal with a bullet to the neck.

Even with hard impact, the Barnes bullets do not afford full depth of cavity expansion. Case in point:



The Barnes bullets generally work best in cartridges featuring the capacity of the 30-06 case and above and at top-end velocities. They should do quite well in your .257 Weatherby.

Also notice in the video clips Barnes shows on its site that all the impacts are at high velocity. There is a reason we are not seeing any video of impacts at 2200 fps or slower...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm getting half inch accuracy with them in the .257 Whby. I'd never trust such a hard bullet to open at 1600 fps. That's asking a lot of a conventional bullet really. I think most of the more or less conventional cup and core bullets with a plastic tip do and if they have a bunch of lead exposed they seem to do OK as well. I'm not sure that plastic tip in the Barnes really has much effect on expansion or at least not positive effect.

I hope to see what it will do before season is over. Most likely any deer I shoot will be under 100 yards so it will be moving fast when it hits.
 

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My experience witht the solids are that they are extremely hard to get them to group. I guess if you can find a load for them they would work, but then there are lots of conventional bullets that perform as well or better and are easier to make shoot good. I guess when all lead is banned that barnes will have a leg up on all the other makes. There must be a better solution to the lead (perceived) problem. Larry
 

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I am a HUGE fan of the barnes bullets. I have a load with the 168gr TSX in my 300 RUM that shoots great and has killed everything with authority. I have used this load on 2 moose, 3 black bear, and two caribou. I have several friends now shooting that same load and it has accounted for 2 more moose and 5 black bears, and a Mt goat, 9 different rifles shoot it well. I have yet to have a bullet fail to exit even on a rump to chest shot on a bull moose. that is 5+ feet of penetration. I have also always noted obvious penetration. My buddies son shot a nice bull with 185gr TTSX out of a 338 Federal and found the bullet just under the hide on off side, looked like one of thier PR examples. I even used thier 250gr XPander mz muzzle loader sabot on a large cow this year. Again obvious expansion and full penetration on a quartering shot at 70 yards.

I've been playing with the 270gr TSX out of my 375 RUM and it is showing definate potential, already turning in 3 shot 100 yard groups under an inch. I want to work up a 53gr tsx load for my 22-250 for wolves and deer, might even see if my boy can tag a baited black bear with it.

Anything that shoots over 3000 fps gets a tsx in my rifles.
 

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2010 was my first dealings with Barnes bullets. I started with the 165 TSX in 300 win mag in a Ruger markII and it loves them. Then my 12 yr old daughter drew a cow tag and since she is on the small side of 12, I thought the 85 gr TSX in 243 would be the best option out of my gun safe. So, worked up a load that shot pretty well (which ended up being Barnes max published load of 46.5 gr of Hunter @ 3334 fps). Yes, 243 is leagal in Oregon, Yes I know it's light for elk, but the unfailing deep penatration advertised so proudly gave me a bit of confidence that a well placed shot would do the trick. Anyway the moment of truth came and it was a mess. The first shot was good (80yards), through the shoulder, top of the lungs and lodged under the hide just infront of the opposite hind quarter. She went about 50 yards and lay down. The second shot (30 yards) entered just under the left eye and left from just under the right ear. This shot made one heck of a whop a big mist spray and one cow elk did a back flip, landed on her feet and was off to the races. She ended up taking bullet in the hind quarter, 2 more through the shoulders and 1 in the neck to finish the day. I recovered the first bullet and it failed to expand, the tip was slightly deformed sealing the expansion cavity. I also recovered another one of the shoulder shots, it expanded good and pealed the four petals completely off.
My daugher deer hunt was less interesting, she put an 85 gr TSX through the shoulder and one between the eyes. Both seemed to expand well judging from the holes left.
After a half dozen emails to 2 different departments, Barnes did send me a box of ttsx bullets for my troubles. I hope I have better luck with them on game with my 300 win mag and the 7mm08 I had made.
 

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I've been using them in my 300 Wby for several years now.They are very accurate . To date they are responsible for = 1moose, 2 caribou, and 3 deer. All one shot kills. I have been using the 180 gr. TSX. I know , too much for deer, but I'm lazy and don't want to carry different loads and have to resight the gun in each time I change loads.
 

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Thebear_78 said:
I've been playing with the 270gr TSX out of my 375 RUM and it is showing definate potential, already turning in 3 shot 100 yard groups under an inch. I want to work up a 53gr tsx load for my 22-250 for wolves and deer, might even see if my boy can tag a baited black bear with it.
I'm also a big fan of TSX bullets. I shot 300 gr TSX's from my .375 RUM on one trip to Africa, and 270 gr TSX's at 3040 mv on another tirp. Both bullets shoot 3 shot moa groups.

I'm also getting 3 shot moa groups with 180 gr TSX at 3200 mv and 168 gr TSX at 3290 mv from my .300 Wby. I've only hunted with the 168s, and had one shot kills on a Blackbuck, a Scimitar horned oryx, an Aoudad, and a bull Elk.

I've tried 45 gr TSX's in my .22-250 for a deer/antelope load, but have not got acceptable results yet.
 

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I have been struggling with accuracy on my model 70 black shadow 7mm WSM. Worried it was me, I would switch over to my trusty 06 and assure that I was not the problem. I finally bought 4 boxes of factory loaded (I load all my own normally) of the federal loaded with 160 grain barnes triple shock and tried them today, I shot four that could have been hidden completly under a quarter! So, this gun is just plain finicky. Looks like I am going to have to invest in a bunch of the expensive freakin things. I think the midway price was like 34 dollars for a box of 50.
Do you think it is just the added bullet to rifling contact that is causing accuracy? It wont shoot winchester 150 grain power points for anything, hornady's or sierra's either. EJ
 

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RWK, I cant imagine those two bullet weights in barnes not doing well on either elk or deer. Obviously, the above pics of penetration issues can be a factor at longer ranges, but then again, newspaper doesnt have bones either. The only issues I have experienced with Barnes were the lack of expansion and cost and thats it. They usually are accurate and hold together. I personally dont use them unless I am hunting elk or using my 7MM WSM that really wont shoot anything else reliably. I use core loct for my 270, game king's, hornady SST's, accubonds and a myriad of other bullets for deer.
 
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