Monday, May 12, 2014

Buffalo Barnes Lead Free 10mm 155 Grain Barnes TAC-XP Multi Shot Test

Buffalo Barnes is a specialized line of ammunition from Buffalo Bore.  The Buffalo Barnes line is loaded with the Barnes all copper TAC-XP hollow point bullet.  I've tested Buffalo Barnes in 380 Auto and 9mm previously and they performed well.  The ammo is expensive, but always appeared to be well made and flawless in appearance.  From previous tests, the Buffalo Barnes line has always performed as well, or better, than the loads from other manufacturers who also load the Barnes TAC-XP bullets.

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 2 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.

Test Results:

Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:

My Thoughts on This Load:
The box of ammunition used in this test was purchased in March, 2014 from MidwayUSA.  Based on how quickly and frequently Midway turns over their ammunition inventory, I'm assuming this was current production from Buffalo Bore.  As I mentioned above, Buffalo Bore ammunition is typically nice looking ammo.  The brass and bullets from this box were so full of finger prints, I had to use creative placement to get the lead photo for this blog post.  The photo below shows some good examples of the partial prints all over the brass and bullets.  The prints don't wipe off.

The other problem with this box was inconsistent weights from cartridge to cartridge.  I never weigh loaded rounds unless I see anomalies like a 900 fps shot mixed in with 1300 fps shots.  After the test, I weighed the remaining 15 cartridges and they ranged from 242.9 grains to 248.2 grains.  Aside from these outliers, most of the other cartridges were right around 245 grains + or - a few tenths of a grain.

In addition to the appearance and cartridge weight concerns, we didn't achieve the 1400 fps published velocity with any of our test shots.

Terminal performance was good with all test shots.  All bullets expanded as expected.  Penetration fell short with the 900 fps shot, but even that shot expanded fully.

Pick or Pan:
In general, I liked the terminal performance of this load.  I am put off by the quality assurance lapses with consistency and appearance.  I wouldn't rule this one out for future consideration, but I won't be buying more until after the Buffalo Bore Idaho relocation is complete and they've had a chance to settle in at their new location.  

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested.  All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media.  Terminal performance in all other media will show different results.  It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs.  It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.

Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.


  1. Your reviews are always excellent. I am currently coveting a Kimber Eclipse in 10 mm, so this is very timely. Looking through the selection of ammo inothing strikes me as ideal and I am somewhat concerned about hollow points expanding in the denim gel test. Please do a test of the Buffalo Bore JHP and Hornady XTPs.

    1. I've done a few more 10mm tests than I've published so far. Still have much to learn, but my gut tells me the TAC-XPs are going to be fantastic choices for defensive loads. I'm afraid traditional JHP bullet designs will exceed 18" of penetration more often than not.