When I started handloading my ammunition, one of the immediate attractions was the diverse array of projectiles that were unavailable to those who were limited by factory ammunition.
Not only could I control the velocity and accuracy of my hand loaded ammunition, but I could choose those bullets that gave the best terminal performance as well. That was a long time ago and the Barnes X bullet was relatively new on the market.
I loved the concept: an all-copper hollowpoint bullet, which had neither jacket nor core to separate. The hollowpoint opened up into four petals, and the resulting expanded bullet made a sort of “X” when you recovered them, as pass-throughs and deep penetration were part of the package.
I eagerly bought a couple boxes for every caliber I shot, and set out to create the ultimate handloads.
There was one small problem: No matter what I did, I couldn’t get them to shoot. The design – with a solid shank – gave all sorts of wonderful copper fouling, which required an aromatic ammonia-based solvent and plenty of elbow grease to remove.
Hunters who were fortunate enough to get good accuracy – or those who lived with what they had – reported mixed terminal results from the field.
If the Barnes X opened up as it was intended to, the animals went down quickly, though there were many reports of the bullet failing to open and zipping through like a solid.
Improvements were attempted – including a variant that had a baby blue coating to reduce drag and fouling – yet the accuracy and terminal results were still mixed.
JUST ABOUT THE TIME I had completely given up on the concept, Barnes announced that they had completely revolutionized the bullet design. I was immediately intrigued, as there were two versions: the hollow point TSX (or Triple Shock X bullet) and the TTSX (the Tipped Triple Shock X). I like them both, but based on the early designs and their occasional failure to expand, I took a shine to the Tipped version.
Not only do I appreciate the polymer tip for the increase in ballistic coefficient, but it acts like a wedge upon impact, and in my experience it greatly aids in guaranteeing expansion.
Now the revision in both design and name comes from the grooves cut into the shank; most bullets have three grooves (hence the Triple moniker) cut into the shank, but the longer bullets will have four.
The inspiration came from the projectiles for the big naval guns; those bands reduce pressure and bearing service, as well as offer a great reduction in copper fouling.
Or, as I prefer to look at it, the new design requires less time scrubbing with that stinking potion. And, perhaps most importantly, the accuracy issue has been resolved, and for that I am most grateful.
The TTSX is an accurate bullet, and the terminal ballistics are among the best in the business. I have loaded the TTSX for a number of clients, for hunts ranging from the common whitetail hunts we all enjoy to the tough plains game species of Africa, and I’m happy to report that the TTSX has yet to disappoint.
It works at all sorts of velocities as well, and I feel that signature blue polymer tip plays an important role in opening the bullet at lower velocities.
With wonderfully high weight retention – often into the 90- to 95-percent range – the bullet certainly delivers a quick kill.
As I said earlier, most of the shots on game animals will exit, and two holes through vital organs are certainly better than one.
I have loaded the TTSX in many different calibers, from the docile .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, up through the benchmark .30-06 Springfield and continuing to the .30 Nosler and .300 Winchester Magnum.
It has shot very well in my 6.5-284 Norma, as well as the 6.5×55 Swede.
I have found that the TTSX – like many lead-free bullets – prefers to be well off the lands and given a bit of bullet jump. Most factory loads featuring the TTSX are set at an overall length matching SAAMI specifications, so they will function properly through the magazine, but I know more than one hand loader who will experiment with slight changes in seating depth to help enhance the accuracy of their handloads.
I load many different types and brands of bullets for both clients and friends; some perform as advertised, and others do not. I can honestly say that anyone who has taken the TTSX on their hunt has nothing to complain about. While I hunt with many different bullets, including other Barnes products, for some reason I’ve yet to take the TTSX afield. I fully intend to remedy that soon.
Editor’s note: For more information, visit barnesbullets.com.
Story by Phil Massarro