Every serious hunter not living in a cave with an address ending in “stan” knows about Barnes Bullets. The X-Bullet and its various offspring have attained legendary status throughout the world as one of the best big-game bullet designs ever conceived. Old gray beards like me remember when the only way to get these bullets in cartridges for hunting was to put them in ourselves. Then, a few decades back, Federal freed Barnes bullets from the tyranny of handloaders and brought them to the masses by putting the bullets in its Premium line of ammo. Later, a few more companies like Norma, Black Hills and Weatherby followed suit.
Now we have yet another option. This time it’s right from the source. Barnes Bullets has introduced a line of rifle ammunition called VOR-TX. The initial 12-load lineup includes the usual suspects in hunting cartridges, ranging from the .223 Rem. to the .338 Win. Mag., each topped with TSX or TTSX bullets. Except, of course, the .30-30, which has a flatnose (TS) bullet.
When I asked president Randy Brooks if they planned to load their other Barnes rifle bullets like the Varmint Grenade, MPG or Buster he said, “Yes, absolutely!”
Randy and his wife, Coni, have owned Barnes Bullets for decades, but recently sold it to the Freedom Group, the same folks who bought Remington.
“We had grown about as much as we could as a private company,” Randy told me. “To take the next step would require more capital and that helped make the decision to sell. It enabled us to move into the ammo business.”
Currently ammo is being loaded by Remington in their Lonoke, Ark., plant. The people from Barnes worked closely with them to ensure that the quality is up to the high Barnes standards. The plans are to move the full manufacturing of the ammo to Barnes’ Utah plant by early 2011.
I tested some early samples of the .308 Win. and .30-06 Springfield VOR-TX ammo. I really liked what I found. Accuracy was outstanding, rivaling the best ammo ever tested from any of the rifles I used. Better still, the velocity was very close to what is printed on the box. The uniformity of velocity was also excellent, indicating attention to quality control.
The brass wears the Barnes headstamp, and all the cartridges are polished and perfect. While a cartridge doesn’t have to be pretty to work well, this is an indication of the Barnes commitment to quality. In recent years Barnes bullets have come to represent the gold standard for quality, accuracy and terminal performance. From what I have seen so far, the new Barnes VOR-TX ammo will continue to carry that banner. My samples are some of the finest factory ammo I have ever tested.