Barnes TSX review

The discussion is triggered by the post from @trperk1 in response to the question of @Firebird. We may have used the word poor or marginal shot a little unfortunately for the double lung shot. But since it's mainly about the working of bullets, especially the TSX from Barnes, I can from personal experience understand what was meant by bullets that expand quickly and especially in the case of the double lung shot, cause the greatest damage as possible. For this reason it is understandable that some have concerns that TSX bullets do not always deliver that. A PH once showed me a 400gr TSX bullet caliber 416 that did not expand in a buffalo with a lung shot.

We exclude gut shots. Even the biggest and fastest bullet does not help here.
Your right. I was referring to shot placement, and not actual results. I think a broadside, behind the shoulder, trying for double lung is a risky shot. Particularly for US hunters as most of us grew up hunting whitetail deer and the lungs are further back in the chest. Plus, too often that animal is slightly quartering towards you and you just can't tell. In that scenario, I'd prefer a bullet that expands quicker and even one that breaks apart some. Like and Nosler Partition.

For all the guys posting pics of the perfectly mushroomed Barnes, I have those too. And with near 100% weight retention. That's not the point though. My experience on my last safari was the Barnes bullets blew through smaller animals, with pretty much zero blood from the exit or entrance hole. Given the exit hole was the same diameter of the entrance hole, I don't think they expanded much if at all. For me I stick with them for larger animals but use something else for smaller ones.
 
You're right about the Ford and Chevy Green Chile. My comment about double lung is related to the vitals of African game being tighter under the shoulder than N. American animals. Generally US hunters are aiming too far back on African game as a result. I also think that's due to US hunters not wanting to "waste" meat by driving one through the shoulders too.

Going back to the Ford and Chevy. I like the Barnes bullets for Buffalo as I don't need to think about a soft and solid combo. Based on what I experienced this year on my plains game hunt, I'd use Swift A Frames or Nosler Partitions next time.
I must agree with you here on the bullet placement. Understanding the internal anatomy of African game takes a bit of getting used to. My first trip on an oryx cull hunt we had some difficulties with our shots. We were tending to shoot just that little bit too far back and had a few follow ups. Like most hunters reducing meat damage is to be avoided.Our PH admonished us somewhat and insisted on shooting them on the shoulder. After that we were golden.

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My wife’s cow Buffalo 375 H&H 300 gr Barnes TSX shot at approximately 60 yards.
The cow went approx 10 feet and was bellowing

I experienced even better results with CEB safari raptors. 100 grain up to 400 grains. And 535 grain CEB solids.

if a poor shot or angle is taken I would prefer the safari raptor.
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I really wish I could disagree with you because I like certain Barnes bullets and will continue using. However, I’ve seen some very irregular performance from certain Barnes bullets I don’t have an explanation for. I’ve never had one fail to expand though. They seem to be much more particular than lead core bullets. I’ve had great results from 150 gr TTSX but I’ve had several cases of poor penetration with 180 gr TSX in 30 caliber. 250 gr TTSX is the most accurate bullet I can shoot in my 375 but it appeared to blowup on a perfect broadside shoulder shot on an impala that required a follow up shot. 110 gr and 130 gr in 270 win has done very well for me on deer. I’d use 55 gr TTSX in 223 up to deer size animals without concern the performance has been so good to me. It seems certain weights and calibers perform better than others with Barnes. Lead core bullets seem much more flexible across a wider range of weights.
Good post
 
TTSX and LRX should give you faster and more reliable expansion than the TSX.

I just returned from Africa. I can confirm that the 30 caliber TTSX performs superbly on plains game from 22 to 360 yards.

The 30 caliber LRX on the other hand did not fare as well on shots less than 100 yards. But performed well on shots from 250 to 350 yards.
 
I just returned from Africa. I can confirm that the 30 caliber TTSX performs superbly on plains game from 22 to 360 yards.

The 30 caliber LRX on the other hand did not fare as well on shots less than 100 yards. But performed well on shots from 250 to 350 yards.
What went wrong with the LRX?
 
What went wrong with the LRX?
One of my friends was shooting LRX bullets out of his 300 Win Mag.

The first Wildebeest took two LRX bullets from a 300 WinMag in the shoulder while standing broadside at approximately 75 yards and was never located. Blood trail was 5 total drops.

The 2nd Wildebeest took two in the shoulder from the same gun and load a couple days later. Standing broadside again at about the same range. I watched the impact through my binoculars. Blood trail was a ok for 100 yards and then dried up. A tracker was able to follow the animal for about a mile. Found the animal still alive 2 hours after the first shot. 3rd shot was at 30 yards and it took one more shot to the neck to anchor it for good. This animal was harvested on the last day of the safari and we didn’t take the time to autopsy and find out what exactly was happening with the LRX bullets.
 
Use the TTSX, run them light and fast, if broadside aim for the high shoulder 1/3 down from the back. If quartering, aim for the forward edge of the shoulder down 1/3 so it exits on the rear edge of the offside shoulder. If possible, wait until they lower their head. For some reason I cannot explain that does make a difference.

Do not aim for the lungs with any bullet as animals can run 50 yards or more easily with a lung shot. Where I hunt in thorn brush, a 50 yard run can mean an hour or more to crawl on the ground with the Texas earth worms to recover an animal. Anchor the critter and don’t worry about losing a pound of meat.

Hitting the high shoulder impacts the thoracic spine even if the bullets goes below it without contact. There is no “breaking down” doodly squat, it is the science of killing. The thoracic spine between the shoulder blades is like a master breaker switch. Impact that, the rear legs collapse with the rest of the body dropping straight down. A shot in the brain stem, not the head, but the brain stem, produces the same result if the rifle and driver nut are reliably capable.

fwiw - I am not a fan of TSX’s for deer and pigs and swore them and Barnes off long ago. Then about fifteen years ago, friend encouraged me to give the TTSX a try when they came out. I did and they have become my go to first choice. After hundreds of deer and pigs, the TTSX has provided uniformly consistent DRT results with the placement described above. With heart shots, they may make 30 - 50 yards. The same occurs with the handful of lung shots kids have made.

Use a lighter and faster TTSX for the cartridge compared to a lead bullet.

For .308 Win, I use a 130 @ 3100, a 150 at 2900, in .30-06 a 150 at 3,000, in .300 Win Mag the 165 @ 3100, and in .338 Lapua the 225 @ 3050
- 3100.

I have not used LRX’s enough to opine other than they are supposed to be softer to open at lower speeds. The TTSX are absolutely fine to 300 yards and much farther in the .338 Lapua.

Last, they typically do not make big exit holes because they remain intact, but they do tremendous damage and plow through and almost always exit. When they exit, even if they double in size, that means a 3/4” hole. If one wants a huge gaping exit hole, use a more frangible bullet, with the Partition being a unique combination of very frangible front end while the rear remains intact.

Here are a few videos taken with my wife and a nephew doing the shooting.




This is why I use Barnes TTSX’s and strive for DRT.



Here is .308 130 TTSX from a mature South Texas buck that was angled, not quite head on, at a nephew. The bullet was removed from the inside of the rear leg under the hide, more than 3 feet of penetration from a .308 Win and the little 130 grain TTSX.


Here is a wound from a .300 Win Mag with a 165 TTSX on a Scimitar Horned Oryx with an old school low behind the leg heart shot:

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This is 375H&H from a Redhartebeest recently hunted by one of our clients
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This was from 35Whelen on a Sable. Barnes is overall a very good bullet. As long as you can reach that avg speed of around 2400fps to allow for maximum expansion
 
I have not hunted Africa so I cant speak of the animals or terrain, but have hunted and guided in British Columbia Canada over the last 50 years, my hey days being the 70s-90s, Moose, Elk and Grizzley were the tougher animals, most of my harvest were with 30 cal. cartridges from 303 brit to 300 Weatherby mag.
In the beginning, I was shooting factory cartridges from the 60s, so was my extended hunting family (cup-in-core) no animal had a chance to disagree with these bullets, they worked, as I got older (lol 20 years old) I started hand loading! this is where the rabbit hole started, for me at least, but still in the beginning... cup-in-core bullets were the popular bullets to handload that what was available, they worked also!
Then comes along the "premium" bullet craze, the ultimate rabbit hole, right?

Marketing is an evil tool, but I must say I used every bullet for sale over 45 years of hand loading, they all kill, some just at little more spiracular than others it depends on what you are hunting as they will react differently, for me Elk although not dangerous, can soak up a bullet and run a marathon in the mountains, sheep and goats if not anchored can fall 400 feet into a rock canon, Big bears well.. those can be deadly danger if not handled properly and with respect for their capabilities!

I settled on three bullets in the last 20 years 1. TTSX, 2.Nosler partition, 3.Accubond.
Nosler partition being the most reliable in all conditions, Accubond being a very close second, the TTSX is what is loaded in most of my cartridges but, it has its limitations and satisfactions, this is related to the impact velocity! too slow (too far away) and it will sail through like a pencell, but it cant really be driven too fast! I load mine as fast as I can safely drive them and I keep my range well with in the FPS I like, a TTSX can kill the largest of game instantly with impacts driving the pedals back and break them off inside with the shank driving through, the carnage can be devastating.

Would I stop hunting if all that was available was, speer or Hornady cup-in-core bullets, no way, I would just use a heavy for caliber bullet and adjust my velocity, its always shot placement in any case.

Just my 2cents, stay safe and enjoy.
 
250 gr TTSX is the most accurate bullet I can shoot in my 375 but it appeared to blowup on a perfect broadside shoulder shot on an impala that required a follow up shot.
What do you mean by "blow up"? I've never heard of a mono performing that way, if anything, under expansion is the issue.

I'm not calling you a liar, I would really like to see a picture of a fragmented TTSX if you have it.
 
The key to getting the Barnes X to perform on game is a combination of velocity and twist rate. It totally mystifies me why nobody has mentioned this.

On most PG sized animals and deer, light for caliber mono bullets are best, just as Tex.416 stated above. I'd also add that a faster than normal twist works better. If most factory .308 rifles are available in a slowest twist of 1/14 and a fastest twist of 1/8, the 1/10 is usually the best for the mono bullets, while still giving good performance with lead core projectiles. If I were to build a rifle in .308 specifically for mono bullets, I'd opt for a 1/8 twist barrel and shoot 130 or 150 grain TSX's.

Steve of Hammer bullets has studied this at length, and so have many others who build mono type bullets. The RPM provided by the faster twist rate is essential for the petals on the mono bullets to expand rapidly, and to keep the bullet point forward adding to deep penetration. The old Greenhill formula was fine for lead core bullets, but the Miller formula is more appropriate for the mono type projectiles.

To quote Steve:
"Terminal performance is more dependent on rpm than that. The same bullet fired at the same velocity from a faster twist will out penetrate the slower twist. There is terminal stability that is different than ballistic stability. As a bullet penetrates the rpm's degrade rapidly. At some point during penetrtion the retained shank will run out of rpm. When that happens it will get to a point of instability and then tumble. Same bullet fired with higher stability will straight line penetrate farther before it tumbles. If a bullet is fired with just enough stability to fly ballistically but not enough for proper terminal performance you will see a bullet failure. If the bullet has a bit of yaw or wobble on impact and the nose is not point on at impact then it will not get fluid into the hollow point and expand properly. This is when you see bullets recovered that look like a banana. This can result in pretty destructive results if the bullet tumbles through on the line of travel. It can also result in a bullet that turns drastically and never getsc to the vitals. It can also result in a bullet that does nothing and pencils. We learned this when we first started impact testing bullets in the beginning of marketing Hammers. We were low velocity testing to confirm proper performance at 1800 fps. Launched a bullet at 1800 fps and recovered it looking like it could be loaded again. The only distortion was engraving from the rifling. Very disappointing as this is our advertised min. We decided to increase the vel to find out the min for this particular bullet, but could not get any more powder in the case. We had another rifle of the same caliber with a larger case so we grabbed it. First launch was right at 1800 fps. I remember thinking " That was a wasted shot". Went and dug the bullet out of the media to find a perfectly deformed shank. Hmmm... The only diff was barrel twist. Lots of lightbulbs went on at that moment. Ran the stability numbers and the first bullet was about 1.2 sg and the second bullet was over 1.5 sg.
Just because you can get a bullet to an animal accurately does not mean the bullet will perform properly. Marginally stable for ballistics can shoot extremely accurately but significantly increase the odds of failure to expand."


What all of this should really be telling us is that we need to change our thinking when it comes to lead core vs mono bullets. The old formula of using heavy for caliber bullets from rifles with just enough twist to make the bullet accurate is a formula for failure. This is not me saying this, but the men that design, test and manufacture these bullets.

Many on this forum are old enough to remember lead shot loads for waterfowl hunting. Every year Sporting Goods store would fill their shelves with lead duck and pheasant loads. Then steel shot became mandatory and the entire Waterfowl world was turned on it's head. It took quite a while for hunters to figure out that T shot through a fine Browning A-5 with a full choke was not the way to go. Barrels, chokes, wads all had to change, and it didn't happen overnight. Now we have Bismuth, Tungsten and the entire process has started all over again. In this same way, we need to figure out what works with the mono bullets and learn to live with the possibilities that present themselves for increased performance.
 
The key to getting the Barnes X to perform on game is a combination of velocity and twist rate. It totally mystifies me why nobody has mentioned this.

On most PG sized animals and deer, light for caliber mono bullets are best, just as Tex.416 stated above. I'd also add that a faster than normal twist works better. If most factory .308 rifles are available in a slowest twist of 1/14 and a fastest twist of 1/8, the 1/10 is usually the best for the mono bullets, while still giving good performance with lead core projectiles. If I were to build a rifle in .308 specifically for mono bullets, I'd opt for a 1/8 twist barrel and shoot 130 or 150 grain TSX's.

Steve of Hammer bullets has studied this at length, and so have many others who build mono type bullets. The RPM provided by the faster twist rate is essential for the petals on the mono bullets to expand rapidly, and to keep the bullet point forward adding to deep penetration. The old Greenhill formula was fine for lead core bullets, but the Miller formula is more appropriate for the mono type projectiles.

To quote Steve:
"Terminal performance is more dependent on rpm than that. The same bullet fired at the same velocity from a faster twist will out penetrate the slower twist. There is terminal stability that is different than ballistic stability. As a bullet penetrates the rpm's degrade rapidly. At some point during penetrtion the retained shank will run out of rpm. When that happens it will get to a point of instability and then tumble. Same bullet fired with higher stability will straight line penetrate farther before it tumbles. If a bullet is fired with just enough stability to fly ballistically but not enough for proper terminal performance you will see a bullet failure. If the bullet has a bit of yaw or wobble on impact and the nose is not point on at impact then it will not get fluid into the hollow point and expand properly. This is when you see bullets recovered that look like a banana. This can result in pretty destructive results if the bullet tumbles through on the line of travel. It can also result in a bullet that turns drastically and never getsc to the vitals. It can also result in a bullet that does nothing and pencils. We learned this when we first started impact testing bullets in the beginning of marketing Hammers. We were low velocity testing to confirm proper performance at 1800 fps. Launched a bullet at 1800 fps and recovered it looking like it could be loaded again. The only distortion was engraving from the rifling. Very disappointing as this is our advertised min. We decided to increase the vel to find out the min for this particular bullet, but could not get any more powder in the case. We had another rifle of the same caliber with a larger case so we grabbed it. First launch was right at 1800 fps. I remember thinking " That was a wasted shot". Went and dug the bullet out of the media to find a perfectly deformed shank. Hmmm... The only diff was barrel twist. Lots of lightbulbs went on at that moment. Ran the stability numbers and the first bullet was about 1.2 sg and the second bullet was over 1.5 sg.
Just because you can get a bullet to an animal accurately does not mean the bullet will perform properly. Marginally stable for ballistics can shoot extremely accurately but significantly increase the odds of failure to expand."


What all of this should really be telling us is that we need to change our thinking when it comes to lead core vs mono bullets. The old formula of using heavy for caliber bullets from rifles with just enough twist to make the bullet accurate is a formula for failure. This is not me saying this, but the men that design, test and manufacture these bullets.

Many on this forum are old enough to remember lead shot loads for waterfowl hunting. Every year Sporting Goods store would fill their shelves with lead duck and pheasant loads. Then steel shot became mandatory and the entire Waterfowl world was turned on it's head. It took quite a while for hunters to figure out that T shot through a fine Browning A-5 with a full choke was not the way to go. Barrels, chokes, wads all had to change, and it didn't happen overnight. Now we have Bismuth, Tungsten and the entire process has started all over again. In this same way, we need to figure out what works with the mono bullets and learn to live with the possibilities that present themselves for increased performance.
You're talking to .5 of the people on this forum. Not being condescending but 99.5% of the shooting world isn't in this place
 
What do you mean by "blow up"? I've never heard of a mono performing that way, if anything, under expansion is the issue.

I'm not calling you a liar, I would really like to see a picture of a fragmented TTSX if you have it.
I wish I had taken a photo of the wound because it was very strange. The impala was taken at about 200 yards on an open floodplain, so a clear shot no brush. The bullet impacted for a perfect shoulder shot but it just made a big flesh wound and required a second shot after we found it on a brush island. There was no penetration or bullet to recover from either bullet but the second bullet performed as expected. I do not know where the bullet went but that one incident is enough to make me question that particular bullet. Here is a photo of a 375 250 gr TTSX from an eland at around 20 yards on a follow up shot. I wouldn’t call it a failure but the petals broke off.
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I used 100 grain CEB FB raptors from my .308 Winchester with proof research barrel, with 1-10 twist.

For my recent trip to Zim. It was used for 6 of the 8 Impala I shot for my wife’s leopard hunt. And the leopard hunt.

It was my first experience with the bullet on live game. At 3200 fps they were devastating on Impala. If I hit them in the shoulder or chest they kinda of rose up and flipped over. Or just dropped dead.

I shot two Impala with .375 H&H and a 300 TSX because the .308 was back on the truck. they worked well but the Impala often ran a little distance. Which was fine. One was squarely facing me at approximately 120 yards. The 300 grain TSX impacted him square in the front of his chest and he surprisingly ran 50 yards. The 300 grain TSX did not seem to hit them with the shock that the little 100 grain raptor did. The TSX did work of course. But it didn’t shed all of its energy in a small animal

One of the few Impala that I got a shot broadside on was out past 150 yards. I got on the sticks quickly and told the PH there is another Ram right behind him perhaps only 1 foot apart. He said shoot we need the bait.
(because they are super spooky and don’t stand around long.) I didn’t debate.

The first Ram dropped dead with the bullet impacting straight up the leg center shoulder. The second ran into the bush. When we walked up, there were two Impala shot. The second would have died if we gave him more time before walking up. But we followed up with a a killing shot.

There are three Impala laying in the back of the cruiser in the picture below. This shows the exit at the right rear leg from a left chest impact on a quartering too angle. These 100 grain FB Raptors are devastating on thin skinned game.

Probably not best if you want the hide or cape, but if you want instant DRT and insurance on gut shots
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I’ll throw in my two bits.

First, for the record, for every bullet performance thread/post, there should be 10 on shot placement. Second, anecdotes are interesting, but it’s pretty easy to find examples of exceptionally good or exceptionally poor performance from any bullet ever made. Sometimes weird stuff just happens.

I’ve had great luck with TTSX, but as others have said, they like to be driven fast. IMO, these are great choices for .300 Wby, .300 RUM, .338 Win and similar. At long range or with heavy bullets in slow calibers (.308 Win) they wouldn’t be my first choice on plains game.

There‘s a world of difference between impala and zebra. All critters can be amazingly tough at times, but all other things being equal, small critters have small vital zones. I’m sure that a few so-called bullet failures on little critters are due to this fact. Zebra can take a lot of killing and TTSX or TSX is perfect medicine for them. For some reason I‘m a bit leery of LRX. By reputation they seem to be a bit particular about impact velocity, but I haven’t ever tried them.

From something like 30 or African animals taken with Barnes, I’ve only recovered two bullets. One was an 180 gr TTSX from an .300 WBY under the hide on the far side shoulder of an eland. Broke the shoulder going in, penetrated the heart, and was perfectly X-mushroomed. The second was a 400 gr TSX in .416 from a buffalo. That one shed 3 of 4 petals, but seemed to do the job. Again, it was a quartering toward shot, breaking the near-side shoulder and penetrating well. Both were one-shot kills with a 30-40 yard run. Everything else was a pass-through. One animal was lost despite two days of looking - a waterbuck that was probably hit a bit low in the shoulder, but I’ll never know for sure. I’ve had to shoot a few things more than once, but I wouldn’t attribute any of those to bullet failure, just initial shot placement. I used a 400gr .416 banded-solid on elephant with astonishingly rapid success from a broadside heart shot.

Got home from trip #7 a couple days ago. Lots of culling, some trophy hunting. This time I used the PHs gun and a huge hodgepodge of bullets, but no monolithics. One solid from an .375 H&H for the klippie. Everything (kudu, sable, springbok, klippie) went down quickly except for one duiker that escaped with a hole in his ear. With Barnes, the audible “whack” you get at impact will sometimes be silent, so keep that in mind.

Finally, with TTSX, I’m a big fan of shooting directly through the front shoulder, not behind. The bullet will hold up, even through bone on elk, eland, or other big critters. I like partitions (and accubonds) too, but when they hit bone at velocity, the amount of meat destruction is tremendous.
 
I wish I had taken a photo of the wound because it was very strange. The impala was taken at about 200 yards on an open floodplain, so a clear shot no brush. The bullet impacted for a perfect shoulder shot but it just made a big flesh wound and required a second shot after we found it on a brush island. There was no penetration or bullet to recover from either bullet but the second bullet performed as expected. I do not know where the bullet went but that one incident is enough to make me question that particular bullet. Here is a photo of a 375 250 gr TTSX from an eland at around 20 yards on a follow up shot. I wouldn’t call it a failure but the petals broke off.
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Interesting that there was no penetration, there’s no doubt the velocity was still there.
 

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