Making My Way To BARNES

Discussion in 'Articles' started by BRICKBURN, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Making my way to BARNES.
    IMG_5220.jpg

    There was one person in my entire extended family who ever reloaded ammunition themselves and, in that case, it was only for a Shotgun and only target shooting to boot.


    Eventually, I started to shoot enough Sporting Clay targets that it became more economical to reload shotgun shells myself. I got some instruction from the manuals, found the basic supplies, purchased a simple MEC reloader and started reloading shotgun shells. I borrowed a chronograph to test the speeds and, thenceforth, set out to make various loads to ensure that I would increase my score and numbers of game in the bag each fall.


    I eventually became a proficient shotgunner on clay targets and wild birds and even managed to have won a Championship or two in Sporting Clays. How much the reloading played in that success I could not differentiate, beyond the confidence that I gained in the load I was made. Knowing that reload and the proper lead required on longer game-bird shots made a significant difference in the accuracy I enjoyed.


    I had never even considered reloading rifle ammunition, why would you? I had a perfectly good, inexpensive ammunition, that was a very accurate load, straight from the store. No muss or fuss and it worked in my rifle and was accurate on targets out to ridiculous ranges that you would likely never shoot at game animals. So why change anything?


    That change process was initiated with my hearing the advice of several PH’s in Africa. I kept getting feedback about “premium” bullets and “Heavy for caliber” bullets being required to hunt in Africa. I am not one for change for the sake of the exercise. I want to have a rational basis for all the effort to move me from my incredibly comfortable rut. What was a premium bullet?


    But first, I went to the local sporting goods store and started the search for factory ammunition and wanted to see what would work in my rifle. I was not married to any manufacturer at this point and spent a small fortune buying a large variety of factory ammunition with “premium” bullets. I wanted to see what might work in my rifle. I was working on the .270 Winchester platform at this point and ended up with 130 and 150 grain cartridges from all the likely suspects. Hornady, Winchester, Federal, etc. They were all taken to the range and it became evident that I was going to have to reload myself. Not one was providing the accuracy I required. With these poor results, the slow creeping progression to my new happy place had begun in earnest.

    A friend of mine reloaded his own rifle ammunition and was an accuracy junky. He loves to try to put one little round hole in targets at the range. I like to put three under a quarter and let’s go hunting. It was a rare day when I was gifted with the patience to try and shoot bullets into the same hole at the range.

    He has a few hobbies that he dabbles in and they all require being quite finicky. Finish Carpentry is one and another is reloading for his rifles. With the generous sharing of his significant experience and ongoing guidance, I was soon acquiring the tools to start down the path to reloading for my own rifles.
    First the equipment; the press, the dies, calipers, primer pocket cleaner, primer seater, powder scale, tumbler etc., etc.

    I had helped him get into shotgun-shell reloading a little while before this. He had avoided shotgun-shell reloading because he thought the process would require the same detail and diligence that rifle-reloading did. He did not know that, for shotgun shell reloading, you just “threw” powder into the shells and that was good enough.

    He explained that rifle-reloading would be a different game. Was he ever right on that count!
    COAL, grains, 1000ths of inches, pressures, twists, distance off the lands, etc. This would not be shotgun-shell-reloading, for sure.

    There is a lot to understand, and I can see why there are so many squabbles on little details on the internet, when it comes to rifle-cartridge-reloading. Sit back and think about it, what type of personality loves to get into so much detail? I was not interested in a squabble over anything and wanted to be able to accomplish some simple goals from the outset. I wanted an accurate load that mirrored what I already had, but would now include this “premium bullet”.


    I had more empty brass than I knew what to do with. Think decades of shooting the same ammunition. That small fact decided the brass for the recipe. Powder would just come from a recipe that was suggested by whomever was supplying the projectiles I was putting on the front end.

    Somewhere along the line, I recalled that this same finicky friend had also shown me these truly ugly blue bullets he used in his .338WM a few years back. I watched the result of one of those bullets on a very large Mule Deer buck and was shocked that a chest shot would make something drop like a stone. I had never witnessed that one before.

    I also remembered that they fouled the barrel something awful and, thankfully, they were no longer on the market.

    My friend told me to go get some of these “new” bullets; BARNES TSX, “they were great”. Being new to this reloading thing, I just did what I was told and made up some reloads with various recommended powder charges.

    I had read nothing but good things about this bullet, but the TSX bullet was so inaccurate out of my rifle, I compared it to throwing rocks. This was a repeat of all the factory ammunition purchases I had made earlier. It was starting to look like I was going to be out of luck.

    One last chance. I would only be reloading for my .270 and knew what worked in that rifle. Instead of buying entire stores full of projectiles, reloading all these different recipes I decided to take the 130 grain Core-lokt bullet with me to the store for simple comparison. This cartridge worked in my rifle and there had to be something similar out there.

    This is when I truly discovered Ogive. I just picked up bullets and put them beside the Remington Core-lokt bullet I brought along with me to the store. The one that most closely matched it would be the winner.
    I looked at and compared plenty of options. I finally put the 130 Grain TTSX BT up beside my old faithful and did my Sesame Street science experiment. There it was!

    The TTSX the TSX are incredibly different shapes. The TTSX looked so similar to the Core-lokt bullet that I could not tell them apart; the curve I mean. The designs of these two projectiles are so vastly different that they are not even comparable when you look at the details. Core-lokt are made of a thin copper jacket cup with a lead core and the TTSX are a solid piece of copper with a small central cavity and a plastic tip, a “Premium bullet”.

    I chose TTSX Boat Tail (BT) with a very sophisticated methodology. It came down to a voodoo belief that BT are better than flat bottom bullets. Even though the Core-lokt bullets are flat bottom, I chose the TTSX BT. The BT had to be more accurate, right?

    I did not care about more accurate, matching accuracy to Old Faithful would be fine, given all my recent failures. We would soon find out.


    Recipes researched, primers and powder gathered, and we were off to the press.
    Mr. Finicky suggested that I do 5 cartridges each, in half grain increments, down from maximum load, and see what worked.

    I was also told about this “jumping to the lands” idea.
    How many thousandths off the lands, can make a difference, etc. I decided to take the Core-lokt cartridge and figure out what distance it was from the lands on my rifle. I used an empty case, made a dummy cartridge, and made a duplicate of Old Faithful. The same dummy, with a TTSX, was created. The process was finalized when we discovered that 3 thousandths off the lands seemed to be the magic number.


    At that point, I was wondering if this development process would ever end. It seemed to be “just” one more detail to play around with; and they kept adding up. No wonder all the reloaders on the internet get so grouchy about their loads being questioned. They have invested so much of their life in raising this small child, they have to love them.


    Finally, I was off to the range with five possibilities to test. All the same length, same type of powder, same primer, same casing, same projectile.



    A few of the more mature folks might have heard, “What a difference a day makes” - Esther Phillips


    I discovered, “What a difference a grain makes”.

    All shots were cold or cool barrel and I cleaned the barrel between each different recipe (powder weight included). It was 8 degrees C, at an elevation of 4100 feet above sea level (ASL), taken at 100 yards, with no wind to speak of.

    Those five sets of shells were loaded from 55 to 52.5 grains of powder. I did wonder what those tiny differences would do.
    I started shooting with the 55 grain of H4350 loads and they provided a useless result; 3-inch group. Uh, oh.
    I worked my way down the list and the magic finally happened. A ¾ inch group with bullets coming out of the barrel at 3057 fps. One small grain of powder lower and the accuracy improvement was astonishing. It is all in the littlest details, which was proved further when I progressed down the list and had groups opening back up again.


    On to the next suggestion, where I began to work on that “heavy for caliber” load.

    I had some 150 grain BARNES MRX to try out. For some reason, I could not get them to tighten up beyond 1.5 inches. I decided that would be good enough for the shorter ranges that I would be encountering in Africa and left it at that.

    At that point in time, if I am being honest, I must say I had lost the desire to continue. The fact that the 130 grain BARNES TTSX BT was grouping so well without very much work, sank the battle ship “Experiment”.
    In Africa, I ended up abandoning the MRX out of confidence in the TTSX BT. Nothing wrong with the MRX, I just can’t bother to fight the incredible accuracy of the TTSX BT from this rifle.


    Now that I have found my groove, I have reloaded these bullets into every caliber I regularly hunt with, including 375H&H, .300 Win Mag, .270 Win.

    I am no Sniper, I am a decent shot, nothing extraordinary beyond long years of shooting practice. I have done some target shooting with this ammunition, just for fun, out to 720 yards and realized six-inch grouping out of my .300 Win Mag hunting rifle.

    I am very happy with the performance of this “premium bullet”.


    The TTSX BT has shown itself to be accurate and effective in the field, in both North America and Africa, from each of these rifle calibers. Anything I have shot in the proper place, has gone down quickly and cleanly with one shot. In the end, a great bullet cannot overcome poor shooting. If you do your job, this bullet will do its job.


    Three TTSX.jpg P1010387.jpg
    The proof in the pudding:

    With the 130 grain BARNES TTSXBT .270 Win: Blue Wildebeest (520 yds.) and in close on Zebra (100 yds.), Kudu (80 yds.), Common Reedbuck (100yds), Bushbuck (40yds), Mtn Reedbuck (60 yds.), Impala (120 yds.), Nyala (200 yds.), Ostrich (200yds), Steenbok 90 yds.), Red Duiker (60 yds.), Warthog (80, 120 yds.), Vallies (200 to 420yds) and Giraffe (30yds) (injured).
    kudu 130.jpg vallie 130.jpg zebra 130.jpg comn reedbuck 130.jpg watrhog 130.jpg nyala 130.jpg

    With the 180 grain BARNES TTSX .300 Win Mag: Giraffe (240 yds.), Eland (60 to 140 yds.), Blue Wildebeest (200 yds.), Red Hartebeest (40 to 80 yds.), Kudu (250 yds.), Impala (80 to 250 yds.), Gemsbok (60 to 220 yds.), Steenbok (30 yds.), Waterbuck (80yds), Spotted Hyena (90 yds.)

    RHB 180.jpg Hyena 180.jpg Eland 180.jpg Bushpig.jpg Kudu 180.jpg

    With the 250 grain BARNES TTSX .375 H&H to take Vaalies (380 yds.), Oribi (220 yds.), Bushbuck (300 yds.), Black Wildebeest (320 yds.) and Bushpig (80 yds.).

    Vaalie 250.jpg Grouse 250.jpg Bushbuck 250.jpg Oribi 250.jpg Bushpig.jpg





    Some of the load development and penetration results posts:


    https://www.africahunting.com/threads/i-blame-all-of-you.17339/page-3#post-145276

    https://www.africahunting.com/threads/i-blame-all-of-you.17339/page-5
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  2. Powdermaker

    Powdermaker AH Member

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    Well, you can't argue with success. I like Barnes. Some would say you shouldn't shoot them at slower speeds but I have had excellent performance with 220 grain TSX in my .358 Win. on elk and moose.
     
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  3. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Interesting post. And great pictures. Seems like once you hit 15,000 posts, you decided to dedicate yourself to the "textbook" posts - for which I applaud you!
     
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  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    "Textbook posts" :LOL:
     
  5. Hank2211

    Hank2211 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Textbook: long, comprehensive, all encompassing, etc.
     
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  6. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Not me. :ROFLMAO:
     
  7. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Definitely a great post!

    I really don't consider myself a TTSX fan boy, but dang it they just work in my rifles.

    Factory Vor-Tx ammo was accurate when I used it, and handloads even more so. And as @BRICKBURN states, they drop animals. The damage is always impressive as is the penetration.

    I've mentioned here before but when I was really impressed was on a kudu at 165 range finder measured yards with a 30/06 and 180 grain TTSX. First shot was through the lungs and he turned dead away from me and stood. Second shot entered the right ham and went the length of the animal and rested under the skin left brisket. That's a lot of penetration....

    I will use other premium bullets if they shoot better from a particular rifle, but I've never had a reason too yet. If only the banded solid would be allowed by ATF.... Perhaps it will be with the new administration.
     
  8. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Elite

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    I have used the TTSX bullets in the past. Great bullets at a proper speed for them to expand. I saw one from a .270 WSM go through more than 30 inched of mule deer. Rare to find one on my animals. Need to get back to them again for some hunting. Bruce
     
  9. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Fanatic

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    I have done a lot of research/testing of Barnes bullets and we have taken quite a number of animals. I have load data/testing/chrono results for a number of cartridges.
    This is what I have learned:
    Use TTSX and not TSX. They start opening sooner and are more reliable for expansion.

    Select a lighter bullet as a Barnes bullet acts like a lead core bullet 30% heavier. This is very important.

    Barnes bullets like speed and the faster you push them the more accurate they get. See above.

    They give better terminal performance when pushed fast---Another reason to select a lighter bullet.

    Seat the DEEP. Look at any box or Barnes factory loads and you will see the top relief groove just showing and they usually give excellent accuracy if you do the one other important thing before shooting them. I started measuring distance off the rifling(and having it close) and as I seated the bullet deeper accuracy improved. The deeper seating will also allow for a hotter load without pressure problems. I have a 257W with .250"+ jump and it will put 5-10 shots into one hole when I do my job. Other rifles do not have that much jump but .080"+ is not uncommon for great accuracy.............Start by seating the bullets so the top relief groove is showing and you will probably find no need to change it.

    One important thing to do to avoid fouling and often better accuracy is to super clean your barrel. That means not using old #9! I use wipe-out foaming cleaner followed by Sweets 7.62 or Barnes CR-10. Then a finely I use Butches Bore Shine or another good regular cleaner. If you really think #9 does anything use it last. NOW that you have a super clean barrel ONLY shoot Barnes bullets. If I am testing different bullets I shoot the non-Barnes After shooting the Barnes NOT before. Any "fouling shots" need to be Barnes.

    Use Barnes data ONLY for Barnes bullets. Sometimes Hodgdons has data for Barnes but be sure it is for TSX or TTSX(Data can be used interchangeably) and not the old X-Bullet or coated bullet. Sometimes Accurate has Barnes data. Barnes has data on their website and the newer manual has TSX/TTSX data. I have also gotten some data from mags and such.

    I do not like to waste bullets so I pick the 2-4 powders with the top speeds and just load the max in the Barnes data. Not accepted method but never had a problem. Note some of the Barnes data is over 100% fill and I usually will not try the ones with 103%+ just because it is very hard(even with long drop tubes) to get it all in the case. Also I have spoke with(face to face) the Barnes people about starting at max loads and they told me there room to go above it. I do not do so usually but it shows that the max load is safe to shoot------Especially if you seat the bullets deep.

    Follow these simple(but backwards from common wisdom) rules and you will have great ammo that is accurate and really puts down game.

    I have data for 257R/25-06/257W/6.5X55/264Win mag/7-08/308win/30-06/300win mag/338win mag. I also have data for the Barnes VG in 204Ruger and 223. All data is over my Chrono and for accuracy........well as good as I can shoot on a given day :) If anyone wants data for these cartridges I have Barnes/Swift/Nosler/Hornady data and I have data minus the Barnes for other cartridges. PM me with an email and I can scan it to you.
     
  10. Ryan

    Ryan AH Veteran

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    168 TTSX out of my 30-06 did the trick nicely on 8 animals in Namibia and 270 grain TSX out of a 375 Ruger worked nicely on a giraffe for me. This post sold me on.
     
  11. Ryan

    Ryan AH Veteran

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    And the tip of the TTSX may really help things for proper expansion. I emailed Barnes on the minimal speed for full expansion of 7mm 150's for possibly working with them in my new 7mm-08. They claimed only 1300 fps. I should get that past 400 yards and I have no plans to shoot that far in the field. Loads I worked up were sub-MOA without a lot of work.
     
  12. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Ambassador

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    @Divernhunter,

    You definitely have more experience with the Barnes than do I. I've used them on one hunt only, and they did a fine job. But since that hunt with the rifle spree I've been on over the last 7 years, I've gone away from the Barnes offerings. Simple reason is the copper fouling that builds up quickly in many of my rifles. Perhaps this is because I didn't follow your procedure of only shooting Barnes bullets and not others. May have to give that a go.

    But I am somewhat confused by your statement about seating the bullets deep. I've heard/read that with the Barnes it is best to do this for accuracy. But the last thing I'd be inclined to do is go right to max loading "Especially" if I sat the bullets deep. This is counter intuitive to me. The deeper you seat the less room there is for powder, the more powder you pack into that, the more pressure. I'd be more inclined, though I don't, to go straight to max loading if the bullets were seated less deep.

    Am I missing something?
     
  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Case in point! :)



    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
     
  14. Pheroze

    Pheroze SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    It was very cool to read your journey of discovery all together in one post! Thanks. It's fun to look back on things now and again.
     
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  15. CAustin

    CAustin BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    One of these days I am going to reload!
     
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  16. MizzouAg

    MizzouAg New Member

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    What load and bullet weight would you all suggest starting with for a .300 win mag? 168s or 180s?
     
  17. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Fanatic

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    150gr TTSX is all you need.
     
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  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    You saw where I started and ended.

    Which one shoots best from your rifle?
     
  19. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Fanatic

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    As far as seating deep with max loads:
    Most of the time the case is filled with powder so air space is not a concern.
    The extra jump lowers pressures. Weatherby has a lot of "freebore" AKA jump in their rifles to be able to have more powder and thus more speed without excessive pressures.

    Yes I understand it goes against common wisdom BUT as I have said before when loading Barnes forget all the accepted procedures and rules. It is a almost completely different game.

    I have no fouling troubles with the TTSX bullets. I have a 7-08 with over 200 rounds thru it and still gets super accuracy. The 110gr TTSX is the only bullet I will shot out of it as it is the most accurate(compared to other bullets) and fastest. Deer, pigs and elk have been taken with this combo.

    Yes you MUST not shoot normal bullets before or intermixed with Barnes for best accuracy. If you shot regular bullets shot them after the Barnes......THEN super clean the barrel before shooting again. She above comment.

    Believe me about using max loads and seating deep. I have been doing so and with a bunch of different cartridges.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  20. MizzouAg

    MizzouAg New Member

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    Some how I missed that (y)

    Shooting 150 gr core lokts now and they shoot okay.
     

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