Thursday, November 14, 2013

Buffalo Barnes 9mm +P+ 115 Grain TAC-XP Denim and Clear Gel Test

I want to thank blog reader Ben S. for donating the box of ammunition used in this test.  If you didn't know, Buffalo Barnes ammo is really expensive and a box of 20 will run you about $37.00 plus shipping.  Ben was nice enough to send along an entire box for testing.

Buffalo Bore has an extensive line of Lead Free ammunition that replaces traditional lead and lead core bullets with solid copper projectiles manufactured by Barnes Bullets.  Buffalo Bore labels this ammunition line as Buffalo Barnes.  The Barnes bullet used in this load is the TAC-XP bullet which Barnes describes as; "Designed for law enforcement and personal defense, 100-percent copper TAC-XP™ pistol bullets meet the requirements of lead-free practice environments. They maintain their original weight and track straight after being fired through intermediate barriers like car doors, plywood and automobile windshield glass."

The specific load tested is Buffalo Barnes Item 24H.  I made an error on the data sheets and listed the bullet as DPX.  As mentioned above, it's actually the Barnes TAC-XP bullet.  Corbon uses the Barnes TAC-XP bullet in their DPX ammunition line.  I'm actually surprised I don't make errors like this more frequently. 

Test Pistol:

Test Protocol:
Step 1)  Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2)  Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3)  Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4)  Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim.  Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 5)  Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.

Test Results:

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

My Thoughts on This Load:
In general, I'm not a big fan of +P+ loadings because they don't fit neatly in the SAAMI specification and can be unsuitable or dangerous for use in many pistols.  If you decide to try some of this ammunition, please be sure your pistol is capable of handling the high chamber pressures generated by this load, or any load designated as +P+.  It's always best to consult your owner's manual or contact the firearm manufacturer if you are unsure.

I was actually surprised by the velocity numbers recorded during this test since they were quite a bit lower than those published by Buffalo Bore on their website.  It could be that the Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrels I used in the test pistols were the cause of the difference, or maybe this load has been dialed down a bit on velocity and pressure since the information went up on the website.

Overall, I thought the terminal performance was outstanding with full expansion and penetration between 15 and 16 inches on all test shots.  The 4 layers of heavy denim barrier had no significant impact on terminal performance.

Pick or Pan:
Based on terminal performance, this load is one of the best performing 9mm rounds I've tested.  If it was loaded within SAAMI pressure specifications, and priced so I could afford to practice with my carry ammo, I would add this load to my short list of 9mm picks.   

Bonus Bare Gel Blitz Test with 4 Inch Barrel:

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. Eeeeeeeexcccccellent smithers. Eeeeeeeexcccellent. They need to drop the price of their ammo by at least 50% tho

    1. No DOUBT!
      My Son bought some for his 10mm and it was the same price for 20- Buffalo Bore as 50- Underwood...