Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets
GUN WORLD – APRIL 2004
Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets
by Richard Folsland-
It seems like a long time ago when Barnes created the first X Bullets. In 1989, when these all-copper bullets became available, they were quite a departure from the common lead-core hunting bullet. The X Bullets were designed to give better penetration than most of the bullets produced for hunting large game. The X Bullets gained a loyal following among serious hunters.
Although the first generations of X Bullets were all flat base, it was only natural that boattails would soon follow. It took Barnes some time to get to the boattails, but that too was worked out, and now shooters had an X Bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient.
The next step in the X Bullet saga was the introduction of the XLC and VLC bullets coated with a blue-colored dry film lubricant. Barnes claimed an increase of up to 200 fps more velocity than their uncoated bullets. At the same time, these coated bullets decrease friction in the bore, which results in less copper fouling.
Introduced in 2003, the new Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullet is designed to have all of the attributes of the XLC coated bullets, but without the coating. Although coated bullets have a following, many shooters have had poor results with different types of bullet coatings and simply prefer a plain or uncoated bullet.
In order to achieve the higher velocity and a reduction in fouling, the Triple-Shock -Bullets have three rings cut into the bearing surface. If you look closely, they are like the grease groove cuts on a cast bullet. The word “Triple” is from the triple impact: (1) the initial shock on impact, (2) beginning of expansion and (3) full expansion of the hollow cavity.
The Triple-Shock X Bullets are offered in the following calibers and weights: .243-95, .257-100 and 115, .270-130 and 140, .284-140 and 160, and .308-150, 168- and 180 grain (editor’s note: other calibers and weights are also now available). Depending on the individual bullet, both flat base and boattails are represented. Other than the three grooves (some calibers have more), they look just like regular X Bullets.
Barnes X Bullets usually have longer bearing surfaces compared to other brands of bullets in the same caliber. This factor causes pressure to increase faster when reloading. Barnes recommends that only Barnes data be used to reload Barnes X Bullets and that bullets be seated a minimum of .050-inch off the rifling lands.
Samples of the Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets were received for testing. These included the .243-95FB, .257-100BT, and 115FB, .270-130BT, and .308-150 and 168 BT. The test rifles chosen were Remington 700s in .243 and .25-06, a Ruger Model 77 in .270 Winchester and a Ruger #1 in .300 WSM.
The powders selected for all of the calibers were slow burning. They include Alliant Reloder 19 and 22, Hodgdon H414, H4350 and H4831SC, Accurate Arms MagPro and XMR-3100, VihtaVuori N550, Norma MRP-2, IMR 4831 and 7828, and Ramshot Magnum. Brass for the .243 and .270 was Winchester; Norma cases were used for the .270 Winchester and .300 WSM. Winchester WLR primers were used in the three non-magnums, and WLRM primers ignited the .300 WSM. loads.
All four calibers tested were fired at 100-yard targets. Since all of the guns had light sporter-weight barrels, three-shot groups were fired, and the best group for each bullet was recorded in the summary.
The shooting got started with the .243, which also has the least amount of recoil of any of the calibers chosen. A Nikon 6X scope was mounted on the 700 Remington. The best group fired with the 95-grain FB measured .982. The powder used was Reloder 22, and the average velocity was 2,881 fps. Next in line was a group of .995, fired with MagPro at a velocity of 2,790 fps. The fastest load, using Reloder-19, measured 1.04, and had a velocity of 2,921 fps. (Barnes has replaced the 95-grain TSX bullet with an 85-grain TSX bullet.)
The Remington .25-06 test rifle is one of the author’s personal favorites for deer and antelope. It has a Shilen barrel, and a Leupold 3.5-10 Vari-X III mounted in QR mounts. It has accounted for many critters that achieved the “free ride to the locker in the bed of the pickup!” It has a long list of favorite loads, and after shooting several good groups with these new X Bullets, they will be added to the list!
The best group with the 100-grain BT bullet measured .352, using MRP-2, at a modest velocity of 3,202 fps. Following closely was a group of .360, with Reloder 19 and a speed velocity of 3,320 fps. Another nice group measuring .602 was fired with AA-3100 at a velocity average of 3,210 fps.
The Ruger .270 Winchester test rifle was the stainless model with the laminated stock. The scope chosen was the satin-silver Bushnell 2.5-10 4200 Elite, with Rainguard. The best group fired with the 130BT measured an amazing .308, using IMR-4831, at a velocity of 3,049 fps. The next best group was .516, using Reloder 19, at a velocity of 2,971 fps. Hodgdon’s H4831SC produced the fastest velocity of 3,053 fps, with a group of 1.03.
The Ruger #1 in .300 WSM was built by Brett Evans of Northwest Armswerkes, with a Shilen stainless match-grade barrel. The modified Ruger scope base was topped off with a Bushnell 2.5-10 4200 Elite in the Ruger extension rings. This gun simply dotes on the 168-grain TSX Bullets! The best group measured .497, using N-560, at a velocity of 3,200 fps. Runner up was a group of .544, using IMR-4831 at a velocity of 3,198 fps. Following very closely was a group of .554, using Reloder-19 at a velocity of 3,204 fps.
In summary, The Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets certainly lived up to their accuracy claims. In fact, the author feels that the TSX bullets are by far the most accurate Barnes hunting bullets he has tested! It was found that the best accuracy was obtained at or near the maximum loads, as listed in the Barnes Reloading Manual Number 3 for the regular X Bullets.
Barnes has put out a lot of innovative new bullets in recent years. These bullets have been used and proven in the field by hunters. Other shooters have also indicated the Triple-Shock X Bullets are very accurate and are working out well in the field. Like any brand of product, some shooters swear by Barnes X Bullets! If you already like the Barnes C-Bullets, you will really like the Triple-Shock X Bullet!