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September 2009 Barnes Bullet-N

Randy Brooks Message:  

With shooting and hunting, there are many variables you must consider to get the performance you need. For example, if you own a .243 Winchester, you may shoot prairie dogs and rockchucks in the spring, then hunt deer with it in the fall. I’m a big advocate of target practice on varmints with your hunting rifle.

Oftentimes, it’s acceptable to use the same rifle for a number of applications—but using the same bullet can be a whole different story. For example, the 62-grain Varmint Grenade is ideal for shooting varmints and paper, but is far too frangible for hunting deer. Enter the TSX Bullet. This 85-grain all-copper bullet delivers instant, controlled expansion, and completely penetrates deer.

The previous example requires no careful thought—maybe just a little education and common sense. The performance differences in these two bullets are obvious; however, other situations may require more thought and research. When choosing a bullet, it’s important to match the right projectile to the activity. Will you be hunting deer, moose or elk? Are you likely to be shooting at close range or distances out to 500 yards and beyond? Are you competent and confident in your equipment and abilities to properly place the shot? These are just a few of the important questions an ethical hunter should contemplate before going afield. Deliver your full intentions to the target by choosing the best bullet for the job. Proper bullet selection is vital to a successful hunt. If the bullet fails, what have you to show for your investment and hard work?

In hunting, it is possible to find a “one size fits all” combination for a variety of game. If this happens to be your goal, there are many great Barnes Bullets options to accomplish the task. At high velocities, light-for-caliber Triple-Shocks and Tipped TSX’s kill deer and other thin-skinned animals quickly without punishing recoil. These light bullets are great coyote medicine, and I’ve witnessed some excellent prairie dog acrobatics resulting from a direct hit to the lower one-third region at 3,800+ fps!

I’m going to simplify things a bit this fall. I plan to hunt the majority of the game I’m going after with a .300 Weatherby Magnum and Barnes’ 168-grain Tipped TSX bullets. I’ve already used this combination to shoot a nilgai this year. As I reported in an earlier column, the bullet performed flawlessly on this notoriously tough animal, delivering full penetration.

Living in Mona has afforded me the opportunity to practice shooting longer distances more than ever before. Be sure to read the “From The Lab” section below to understand more about why the Tipped TSX is truly the best big game bullet choice. Terminal performance is the critical deciding factor to a successful hunt. You can count on Barnes to deliver the best. When I put everything together in my mind, I’m confident that I’ll be successful this hunting season.

Wishing all of you a successful season as well. Be sure to send us your photos!

Best regards,

Randy Brooks

It’s hard to believe, but hunting season is here. It’s time to get serious and start preparing for the hunts you’ve planned.

A week or so ago it looked like that, for me, this year’s hunting would be limited to the successful hog hunt I enjoyed in Utah earlier this year. I had not drawn any tags for Utah or Arizona, so I thought I would be sitting the rest of this year out. With this in mind, I decided it was time to go get my torn rotator cuff and separated bicep tendon operated on.

Then just this last week, I was presented with an opportunity to hunt black bear and possibly whitetail in Canada. We are sponsoring a television show called “International Sportsman TV,” which will be launched this fall on Wild TV Canada, The Outdoor Channel, and Versus Channel in the United States. The opportunity was too great to pass up, so I put off my surgery until mid-November. This will give me a chance to do some hunting with my daughter Jessica. We’ll be doing what we both enjoy—hunting and spending time in the outdoors.

Jessica will be hunting black bear and goat in Canada with a .257 Roberts loaded with 100-grain Tipped TSX bullets. I’ll be using a .270 Winchester and 130-grain Tipped TSX bullets.

Jessica and Coni enjoying the Outdoors Together

Strangely enough, this is my first black bear hunt. I’m pretty excited about it. I really don’t know why I haven’t hunted black bear before, but I’ll finally be trying my hand at it. Time permitting, we’ll move on to hunting whitetail. I think we’ll have a great time. Hopefully, I’ll come home with a great black bear and a good whitetail deer and Jessica will come home with some trophies as well.

November is really the only time I can schedule my operation. In January, trade show season begins. I’ll face a pretty long recovery time, and I need to be ready for all those shows.

We will be participating in the Dallas Safari Show in Dallas Texas on January 7-10, the SHOT Show in Las Vegas from January 19-22, and Safari Club International in Reno, January 20-23. We hope to see some of you at one of these shows. Please stop by to say hello.

Yes, the SHOT and SCI shows overlap each other. This makes things difficult because we love both shows very much. We’ll have no choice but to separate our crew and try to cover both shows at the same time. Seeing our customers at the shows is the highlight of our year. It is like a family reunion – just without the immediate family – and we particularly like meeting new customers as well. We consider all our customers family. The success stories we hear and the pats on the back for great products gives us the energy we need to continue making great products that we can all count on to make our hunts a success.

This has been an amazing year, and we have accomplished so much. Every day proves that moving into a new facility was the right thing to do. We’re already contemplating where we can add on to and change the new plant to make it even better.

We hope you all have some great plans for hunting, and wish you much success at such a wonderful time of year. There is nothing like hunting and enjoying the outdoors. I love smelling the fresh air and seeing all the wildlife. There is no better thing in the world I’d rather do.

I feel fortunate to have had so many great experiences in the outdoors. I wouldn’t trade one of them, even though many have been very physically and mentally demanding. They are all memories that will last forever and no one can take those away.

I hope there will be many more to come.

Good Luck,

-Coni Brooks

Ty’s Tips

We are working up loads for an August antelope hunt in New Mexico, and need the ballistic coefficients for the following TTSX bullets.
.243-caliber 80 grain
.257-caliber 80 grain
.257-100 grain


—Eddie Allen

Hi Eddie,

The BC values you asked for are as follows:

The BC for the .243-caliber 80-grain TTSX is .331
The .257-caliber 80-grain TTSX has a BC value of .316
The BC value for the .257-caliber 100-grain TTSX is .357

—Best, Ty

Hi Ty,

Thanks for the quick response. We have been having outstanding results shooting wild pigs in California with Barnes Bullets.

We mostly use the .25-caliber TTSX, which regularly produces one-shot kills. Some of these bullets give full shoulder-to-shoulder penetration.

I have to admit that at first we weren’t excited about being required to use all-copper bullets, but it’s worked out great.

People are having a hard time finding Barnes bullets at local gun stores. I’ve ordered them direct from you and have had great service, We get three days shipping to California at no extra cost. So far, none of the bullets we’ve purchased have been on back order.

Thanks again for great customer service!


I have a 1904 Winchester Model 94 in .38-55 chambering. Should I get the .377-inch bullets or the .375-inch bullets?

—Knute Olson

Hi, Knute,

That depends on the diameter of your rifle’s bore. Using a simple dial caliper, measure the inside diameter of the bore (the distance between grooves, not the elevated lands). If the groove-to-groove diameter is .376-inch or smaller, you need .375 caliber bullets. If your bore measures .377-inch or larger, we recommend .377 caliber bullets for best accuracy.

Thanks for the great question!

—Best, Ty

Recipe of the Month

Elk Casserole

2 lb. ground elk, beef or any wild game

8-10 slices of bacon

2 cans of tomato soup (un-diluted)

2 cans of whole kernel corn

1 med. onion (chopped)

1 tsp. garlic powder or crushed garlic (optional)

1 pkg. chili seasoning

2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix

In a large skillet cook bacon, remove bacon and drain on paper towel, save drippings. Brown hamburger and onions in drippings. Add the 2 cans of tomato soup, and chili seasoning. Bake @ 350 degree oven until corn bread mix is golden brown.

From The Lab

Thad Stevens
Ballistics Lab Manager

The controversy over rifles, cartridges and alternative hunting methods certainly makes for an interesting discussion. Several months ago, Barnes conducted a series of tests applicable to long range hunting and included the results in our Club-X Newsletter and on our website. One competitor in particular responded with some information that was neither factual, nor consistent with anything we know to be true in the field of ballistics.

Generally speaking, I don’t believe people that shoot match grade, high BC bullets are “unethical and careless.” I’ve fired countless match bullets myself in competition and plinking. What I did say in my article, and will stand by, is that there should be more than just a “magical” BC value involved when an individual is selecting a hunting bullet. We often hunt with less-than-favorable conditions working against us. The shot may be partially obstructed, adverse weather conditions could set in, our target is on the move—you name it. I say apply Murphy’s Law to your hunting scenarios and play it safe.

At Barnes, we take the approach that the bullet delivers your intentions to the target, so choose wisely. Some believe you don’t need a so-called “tough bullet” for antelope, whitetail deer, and other thin-skinned game because energy is “wasted” once the bullet exits the animal. Some even claim that expanding “mono-metal” bullets create less damage and are less effective on game than cup-and-core bullets. If they’re talking about a Barnes TSX, Tipped TSX or MRX, they’re flat wrong. Here are the reasons why:

A bullet that opens rapidly (within the first half-inch of penetration) and continues its path through the animal while wreaking havoc on bones, arteries, lungs, heart and possibly an off-side shoulder prior to exiting, is NOT wasting the bullet’s energy. In fact, it’s maximizing a bullet’s performance potential. When a Barnes TSX, Tipped TSX or MRX (hereafter referred to as only the TSX) exits an animal, there is virtually no energy left to expend. However, a bullet that comes apart in the first few inches and then fragments in many different directions is not maximizing energy at all. This is illustrated in the differences between a permanent cavity and a temporary cavity.

The Berger 168 grain VLD moving 3,065 fps penetrated ten inches through bone-gel. That doesn’t even meet the protocol the FBI requires of handgun bullets for Law Enforcement personnel. I realize the temporary cavity looks impressive, but it’s important to understand that with temporary cavities the energy is only deposited next to the vitals. Tissue is simply disrupted, not necessarily destroyed. For example, lungs, muscle, and arteries can all expand and contract a tremendous amount. The temporary cavity has no reliable wounding and/or permanently damaging effect on elastic tissue. A bullet simply depositing its energy next to vital tissue and organs is not something that can be relied on to dispatch game every time. Energy alone does not kill. A temporary cavity and kinetic energy won’t kill reliably every time. Knock-down power is a myth.

I can imagine that some of you are ready to pull the gloves off at this point. But the fact remains that a bullet simply cannot knock an animal down. If it had the energy to do so, then equal energy would be applied against the shooter and he, too, would be knocked down. (Remember physics class? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.) It is important to keep in mind that the single most important factor is the permanent cavity. Everything else only offers support to reaching the goal of dispatching an animal in a quick, clean, humane manner. The effects from energy and the temporary cavity should be viewed as a bonus when they happen, because they are not repeatable and predictable every time.

There are two factors involved with the permanent cavity. The first is the amount of penetration (the length of the permanent cavity). The second is the frontal diameter of the bullet. The destruction of tissue within the permanent cavity is really the only reliable gauge of a bullet’s ability to effectively and consistently take down game. Broken bones, cut tissue and arteries, and the destruction of vital organs are the effects that consistently anchor animals. To further prove the importance of deep-penetrating bullets, I personally challenge anyone to find a ballistics wound expert anywhere who would say ten inches of penetration will kill a bull elk, or even a mule deer consistently and reliably from any angle. Ten, or even 18 inches of penetration just isn’t going to get the job done every time. Can we always control the angle of our shot? No. Remember Murphy’s Law.

Barnes builds hunting bullets that are extremely accurate and kill reliably under a wide variety of conditions. A bullet incapacitates by damaging the central nervous system, and/or by causing a lethal amount of blood loss. Vital organs lay deep within the body. The bigger the animal, the deeper the organs could be positioned. For big game hunting, it’s extremely important for a bullet to reach the vitals or destroy the blood-bearing vessels that feed them—from any angle, every time. The bottom line is that the more penetration a bullet can achieve, the better the chances of it destroying bone, vital organs, tissue and arteries. The way to achieve deep penetration is by weight retention, and the Barnes TSX certainly delivers that.

In addition, our competitor claims that if you can’t put the bullet in the right spot, construction means very little. This logic is completely flawed. Experienced hunters know that a properly constructed hunting bullet could most definitely end up compensating for poor shot placement. You’re really taking your chances with a lightly constructed match or target bullet that only penetrates a foot from any angle and expends its energy early on. In terms of terminal performance on big game, BC means very little. Remember what the ultimate goal is here: A clean, quick, humane kill. So prioritize bullet characteristics carefully and correctly. Choose a bullet with performance qualities that will get the job done effectively, and work from there.

What really separates a match bullet from a hunting bullet? If the answer was simply “accuracy” I’d have to say that every bullet manufacturer in the United States builds match bullets. However, most of us know it is construction that separates the two. Hunting bullets are designed and built to kill reliably. Over the years, hunting bullets have also become very accurate. If standard jacketed, lead-core bullets had completely met the needs of hunters, we wouldn’t have premium hunting bullets from Barnes, Nosler, Swift and other companies. The fact is that standard jacketed bullets don’t provide top performance, so bullet design has evolved into what we know as the high-performance hunting bullets of today.

Is BC important? Of course it is. Should it be the most important point of focus when choosing a hunting bullet? No. It is unwise to pick a bullet intended for big game hunting based almost solely on a BC value. I’ll explain this in a little more detail using 7mm-caliber bullets as an example.

A Barnes 150-grain Tipped TSX has a BC of .450. A Nosler 150-grain Ballistic Tip has a BC of .493, and a Berger 168-grain VLD has a BC of .617. Both the Nosler and Berger bullets have higher BCs than the Barnes bullet. What does that translate to downrange? If all bullets are fired at 3000 fps, with a 200-yard zero, at 7000 feet elevation, 59-degree F. temperature, 78 percent humidity, and a barometric pressure of 29.53 inches of Hg, the drop in inches at 600 yards is as follows:

That’s an extreme spread of 5.5-inches of drop at 600 yards—less than 1 MOA—which is easy to compensate for, given the equipment and technology offered by companies today. A mule deer’s vitals measure about eight inches in height.

The bullets listed above, fired at the same velocity and under the same conditions–-but with the addition of a ten miles per hour wind—would exhibit the following drift at 600 yards:

That is an extreme spread of 6.32 inches of wind drift at 600 yards. Again, given the platforms available to shooters today, I’m confident when I say that BC can reasonably be compensated for, but bullet construction cannot. In fact, it’s nearly impossible at that range to perfectly place your shot from any angle every time. Do you need 34 inches of penetration on a deer or elk every time you pull the trigger? Probably not, but it’s more than likely you will at some point in time. If you’re shooting a bullet that only penetrates ten to 18 inches, your valuable hunt could end in failure.

Now let me address other statements that were posted in online forums. A comment was made to the effect that the lab results Barnes published only proved that Berger VLD bullets do indeed provide “enough” terminal performance, and that we had made their point for them. Hunters who have spent a fair amount of time in the field know that Murphy’s Law often comes into play. Anyone who says he or she can place a perfect shot at six or seven hundred yards under field conditions every time is either misinformed or stretching the truth. Considering the aforementioned comments on bullet construction, performance, temporary and permanent cavities, I suggest that if you participate in longer-range hunting, you take the time to really understand what “enough” terminal performance is on big game. Then, make responsible decisions. We owe this to the animals we’re hunting. We also owe it to ourselves and our success in promoting ethical hunting practices.

I believe our competitor is right in stating that most hunters don’t have the time and resources to thoroughly ring out the intricacies and details of their chosen bullet’s terminal performance. It is up to us as manufacturers to provide our customers with complete and accurate information so there are no questions or surprises after they take the shot.

Our competitor also stated that Barnes doesn’t want to believe there are other ways hunting bullets can perform successfully, and that we just don’t want to evolve. Somebody is preaching to the choir with that comment. Barnes is the recognized leader in bullet technology and innovation. Come on, are they seriously trying to claim that Barnes refuses to evolve? When the all-copper X Bullet hit the market in 1989, it was the first major change in bullet design since the Nosler Partition was introduced forty years earlier. Randy Brooks developed the X bullet because he, an extremely experienced hunter, was not satisfied with what cup-and-core bullets offered in the way of performance.

As far as the accuracy of Barnes bullets being called into question, I myself have fired and hunted with bullets from nearly every manufacturer in the business. I can’t say I’ve ever shot better groups than Barnes bullets have produced. To qualify that remark, I obviously shoot a lot of Barnes bullets. However, we receive thousands of letters and targets each year from folks saying the same thing. The late Skip Talbot used a Barnes bullet to set the .50 caliber heavy gun 1,000 yard benchrest record that remained intact for ten years. Barnes bullets can be loaded to a reasonable overall length that will fit into a factory rifle’s magazine AND shoot ¼ or ½ MOA groups from a rifle capable of doing so. This is not always possible with a VLD bullet. More rifles shoot Barnes Bullets accurately than ever before.

Barnes’ BC values were called into question. The guys in the lab had a good chuckle over this one because we have spent a tremendous amount of time and resources compiling accurate values for our customers. Sure, there are instances where our BC values aren’t as high as some folks would like to see, but we have remained honest, and continue to provide shooters with accurate, solid numbers. All our BC values are determined by firing on an indoor 300-yard range with state-of-the-art equipment, including temperature and humidity sensors strategically placed downrange. Muzzle-to-target measurements are taken, and tolerances held to less than 1/10th of an inch at 300 yards. The comment was made that Barnes’ BC values are typically five percent higher than the actual values. Barnes Ballistics Lab employees and anyone who has fired large numbers of BC tests understand that, even when shooting indoors under strictly controlled conditions, you’re darned lucky if you can shoot the same bullets from year to year and keep the numbers within five percent. I’ve have discussed this at length with Dr. Ken Oehler, and he agrees. A BC value is simply a reference, not a hard number. I’ve shot hundreds of BC tests and I could never say that Berger—or anyone else, for that matter—is consistently one way or another when reporting BC values. I will say that Barnes has been giving accurate data for years and did NOT jump on the bandwagon because “it’s the thing to do,” or because customers are getting smarter and more demanding. Dr. Oehler also states that a BC is good for twice the distance it is shot, so Barnes’ BC’s are in fact as accurate as they can be out to at least 600 yards.

And finally, it was claimed that the loads in the Barnes “From The Lab” long-range bullet test article are unsafe and the data is inaccurate. The loads were taken from current reloading manuals published by Barnes, Lyman, Nosler, Sierra and Hornady. This was done so the results would not be obscured by using only Barnes’ loading data, which potentially could have been perceived as Barnes using their data with everyone else’s bullets to skew results. The loads are certainly safe and we feel comfortable giving this data to customers every day, just as we’ve been doing for many years now. The trajectories are accurate at 7,000 feet—a reasonable elevation at which mule deer and elk are often hunted. All trajectories were calculated with Oehler’s Ballistic Explorer software.

In closing, I would like to make it clear that I’m not trying to get into a mudslinging match here, but I felt there were certain inaccuracies that needed to be cleared up. The information I originally posted was on the Barnes’ Club-X newsletter, and was the article in its entirety. The piece that was posted on the website was just an excerpt, and I understand that information was left out and caused some confusion.

I’m not suggesting I know what is right for each and every hunter. What I can do is continue to shoot tests that are fair and unbiased, and pass that information on to hunters. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: I don’t believe anyone out there tries harder than I do to find inadequacies with Barnes bullets. It’s our passion in the shooting sports—not just those of us in the industry, but the end users as well—that keep this industry moving forward at the unbelievable speed we are seeing. With that said, I appreciate everyone’s opinion, even those that shed a negative light on our product because it does, indeed, give us something to think about, and a reason to keep building better bullets.

Barnes News


Congratulations Club-X Prize Winner!

Don Coomer

Don won the Tipton’s® Best Gun Vise

Prize for September

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Parting Shots

Thought you might like to see a good group at 400 yards from a hunting rifle.My remington 700 .300 WM likes 80.0 grains of H1000 and a 165-grain TSX set back .065″ off lands from ogive.

Thanks for a great product!

-Randy Costa

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