Review: Federal Premium Barnes TSX Ammo

posted on January 15, 2020

Calling coyotes in the state of Oklahoma, a pair of dogs winded us and cut diagonally across the ravine. The duo stopped to look back at 200 yards, and I squeezed the trigger on my Savage 110 Predator. The yote disappeared into the grass and rolled down the hill.

I was happy with the accuracy and knockdown power of the Federal Premium Barnes TSX ammo. I had used it in the past, but since being discontinued in 2013, I forgot how deadly the bullet was on game.

The diminutive .223 barked again late in the evening when we ran across a sounder of hogs in the dry bed of a wetland. The tall grass provided brief glimpses of the swine, as they sauntered in and out of view like apparitions. My hunting partner and I lined up on the two largest pigs, which didn’t have a clue we were perched on a hill 230 yards away. Our elevated position allowed us to see into the grass where the pigs had been rooting. When the two mature hogs turned broadside at the same time, we squeezed the triggers. The hog I had in my scope dropped like a bag of concrete. It was dead on impact. 

A hog is a stout critter and often requires serious knockdown power from a larger caliber rifle, but the .223 Rem. did just fine with the performance of the Barnes TSX. We repeated our performance the next evening when a large sounder of hogs appeared below us, wandering a creek bottom just before sunset. We knocked down three pigs and caused the rest to scramble in a matter of seconds.

Solid copper bullets are nothing new. Federal loads several varieties of copper bullets, including Trophy Copper and Power-Shok Copper. I’ve used them on everything from bears to elk and love the terminal performance the bullets provide.

The name says it all, as the TSX stands for Triple-Shock X. The TSX was introduced in 2003 and is Barnes' most popular hunting bullet. Barnes claims, “The TSX has gained worldwide recognition as one of the deadliest, most dependable bullets you can buy. Try these all-copper bullets and realize the added benefits of improved accuracy, reduced barrel fouling and increased velocity.”

Instead of trying to describe why hunters should consider the TSX bullet, I asked Barnes engineers what makes the Triple-Shock X so popular, and its engineers said, “The Barnes TSX, TTSX and LRX bullets are all a monolithic design. They are manufactured using a solid copper slug. They are a controlled expansion projectile. This gives high weight retention due to the fact that there is not a core and jacket to separate. They have a cavity formed into the nose which allows rapid expansion upon impact when fluid enters the cavity. The ‘TSX’ grooves cut into the shank reduce bearing surface [pressure] and fouling. The grooves also increase accuracy. Proprietary design, tooling and manufacturing processes allow us to produce accurate and consistent projectiles. They are very popular among hunters because of their excellent terminal performance and accuracy. Being a controlled expansion bullet, we are able to ‘optimize’ the function window for a given cartridge and velocity range. This aids in superior terminal performance.”

From elk and moose to coyotes and hogs, the Barnes TSX works. The bullet stays intact to deliver maximum energy at any range. The consistent expansion of the bullet is what hunters will appreciate.

Federal Brings Back Fan Favorites
The notion of using top-quality components to build superior cartridges started 42 years ago when Federal produced its Premium line of centerfire rifle ammunition. The Sierra MatchKing bullet was one of the first, grabbing the attention of hunters looking for optimal performance. No other company considered using another company’s bullets, but Barnes, Nosler, Sierra and Berger are but a few of the premium-class bullets loaded by Federal over the years to create a market demand for better performance. Does anyone remember the introduction of Trophy Bonded Bear Claw or Nosler Partition?

Over the years, there have been many variations of premium ammunition produced. Some were popular but discontinued in an attempt to bring something new to the market and keep up with demands like specialty cartridges for dangerous game, or long-range hunters. It has been over six years since Federal used the Barnes TSX bullet in its Premium line, but in 2019 it was brought back by popular demand. The offerings in the line from 2013 will be back in virtually the same form as before.

The good news is that powders and components like nickel-plated cases have seen advancements since the Barnes TSX was discontinued, so hunters will benefit from the short hiatus. The Federal Premium Barnes TSX loads will be very close to the same velocities and accuracy specifications as before, and will also be available in 6.5 Creedmoor and .224 Valkyrie, which have gained popularity in the short time Federal didn’t load the Barnes TSX.

The all-copper hollow point projectiles, known for tight groups at long range, and consistent downrange expansion are available in 17 loads from .223 Rem. to .300 Win. Mag. and have an MSRP of $33.95 to $52.95.

The senior communications manager from Federal said, “Anyone can load the Barnes TSX bullets, but it’s the premium components that set our cartridges above the rest.”

A short 42 years ago Federal made an effort to have its ammunition stand out, and continues to do so today. Look for new packaging as part of the marketing to separate Premium ammunition from others to make it emerge on the shelf and in the field.


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