Most of my gun and gear testing tends to lean towards the tactical and self-defense realms. I hunt on occasion, but most of my experience and expertise revolves around firearms used for law enforcement and self-defense. That includes the accessories and ammunition being fielded and used. While marketing today can make just about anything appear flawless, even ammunition, I try to focus on what works, which can take some effort. This is one of the reasons I rarely test ammunition for effectiveness—only accuracy, function and reliability. Proven effectiveness takes real-world use and cannot be done properly in a day. Besides, it’s just not prudent to change ammunition without good reason. I’ve lived through the process as a police administrator, and it was a nightmare. So moving away from a proven bullet or ammunition for something new should never be taken lightly.

Attending training courses and media events throughout the country keeps me apprised of the ammunition currently being used for self-defense and professional use throughout the industry. While sales and marketing populate these arenas, reading between the lines and talking to the right people can garner some solid information. In talking to military and law enforcement professionals and reading a number of periodicals, one name just keeps coming up: Barnes Bullets.

Barnes Goes Tactical

Barnes Bullets is not new to the industry—just the tactical and self-defense worlds. It seemed every time I turned around someone was telling me how well a Barnes TAC-X or TAC-TX bullet was performing both in testing and in the field. The company’s 110-grain TAC-TX is loaded extensively in 300 Blackout ammunition by some of the best manufacturers on the market. Many agencies are moving to Barnes’ 62- and 70-grain TSX bullets in 5.56mm NATO. I recently tested a DoubleTap .223 Remington that used Barnes’ 55-grain TSX projectiles, and I was impressed with the results, especially out of an 8-inch-barreled entry rifle. Many agencies using .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO rifles are looking at the 150-grain TTSX.

These bullets are proving very effective when used through barriers, soft targets or anything else. They’re accurate and consistent. Designed to expand when necessary while retaining much of their initial weight, they fit perfectly into the current standard for self-defense and law enforcement use. Barnes recently introduced pistol bullets using the same technology, and they’re starting to gain some increased attention, too. Barnes’ TAC-XP bullets in 9mm, .357 Magnum, 10mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP are showing up in several custom and self-defense loads. Barnes’ 155-grain TAC-XP bullets are loaded in the 10mm 1911 I carry to this day. Just like the rifle bullets, the handgun rounds perform well under most any condition with proven weight retention and predictable expansion. So well in fact that Barnes is now offering these bullets in their own product lines, including the latest TAC-XPD self-defense ammunition.


Barnes’ TAC-XPD ammo uses the best possible components, including nickel-coated cases. Each round is gauged to ensure proper feeding. The packaging is completed by hand, adding another level of visual inspection to the process. Regular testing ensures the bullets are performing as designed. Each caliber is tested to provide the best possible penetration depths with complete expansion. The ammunition uses low-flash propellants while operating effectively at extreme temperatures. The most common self-defense chamberings are covered, with TAC-XPD loads in .380 ACP, 9mm +P, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W and .45 ACP +P. I’ve used the 115-grain TAC-XP in several pistol tests and can attest to its consistent accuracy and reliability across several pistol types. Designed for use in the harshest conditions, the TAC-XPD line meets the needs of professionals and CCW holders alike.

VOR-TX Rounds

Although it’s listed as hunting ammunition, much of Barnes’ VOR-TX line is well suited to self-defense and professional uses. Barnes’ 300 Blackout ammo uses either the 110- or 120-grain TAC-TX bullet, making these loads well suited to most applications. The company’s 5.56mm loads using 55-, 62- and 70-grain TSX bullets offer proven penetration, solid expansion and excellent quality. Barnes’ 150- and 168-grain TTSX loads in .308 Winchester have proven to be excellent performers at moderate ranges on medium-sized game and have caught the attention of tactical teams, police departments and smaller military units.

Precision Match

Military units are often restricted from using controlled expansion bullets. So they typically choose Open-Tipped Match, or OTM, ammo, especially for extended ranges. To this end, Barnes’ new Precision Match line is seeing significant success. Its 69- and 85-grain 5.56mm loads offer superb accuracy thanks to trajectory calculations in the development process generated using Doppler radar, the most accurate means to date.

Both the 175-grain .308 Winchester and 220-grain .300 Winchester Magnum loads offer greater energy on target at range. I recently tested Barnes’ 300-grain .338 Lapua OTM ammo, and the results were very impressive. Hits on a 12-inch steel target at 1,200 yards were almost boringly consistent. Moving out to just under a mile, I was able to get seven hits out of ten shots on a 36-by-36-inch steel target in less than 10 seconds using the Alexander Arms Ulfberht. Most hits clustered under 12 inches, with three closer to 6 inches. Loaded to precise standards with the best components, Barnes’ Precision Match ammo is exactly what it claims to be—precision ammunition loaded to match standards. It’s suitable for use by the most elite units, target shooters or competitors.

Going The Distance

Barnes Bullets has long been known as a premier maker of proven hunting bullets. Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat has been using these bullets for years at his premier hog-hunting ranch in Texas, with consistent performance across a broad range of calibers. I personally have taken large hogs at his ranch with 6.8 SPC, 7.62×40 WT and .458 SOCOM loads using Barnes’ TSX and TTSX bullets.

Barnes has taken its proven experience into the self- defense realm with the TAC-XP pistol bullets and TAC–X and TAC-TX rifle projectiles loaded in TAC-XPD or VOR-TX ammunition. Adding the new OTM line to the mix meets the needs of most anyone looking for ammunition for self- defense or professional use. Next time you are looking for the perfect carry round, make sure you add Barnes Bullets to the top of your list.

For more information, visit or call 435-856-1000.

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