The Better Muzzleloading Bullets: Barnes



Bullets used in muzzleloading rifles for hunting rifles have progressed, albeit slowly over the years. When Tony Knight ignited the inline revolution with his MK-85, the first bullets used in saboted applications were what were available and affordable. The most common bullet in use was the “44 Magnum” bullet, actually a .429 in. diameter bullet in the thick, green MMP sabot. While a giant leap forward in downrange terminal performance from the roundball, excessively thick sabots do little for accuracy. In fact, Hodgdon Powder Company that sells no bullets warned of the generally poor accuracy of the .429 inch saboted projectile in their printed Pyrodex Manual.

Slowly, it dawned on everyone that flying ashtray type pistol bullets, designed for handgun velocities, often failed miserably at 2000 fps (or higher) modern muzzleloading velocities. Modern muzzleloading velocities start where the .45-70 rifle cartridges drop off. The cartridge that drove the American Bison and the grizzly bear to extinction in large measure was the old U.S. Government .45-70 load, throwing a 405 grain bullet at 1305 fps.

Barnes Bullets has put together a revealing comparison of muzzleloading bullets blowing through three inches of ballistic gelatin at typical 100 yard impact velocities.

The uppermost bullet, a Powerbelt, zips through the ballistic gelatin with no visible deformation and sadly little tissue disruption. The middle bullet, apparently a T/C Shockwave / SST, has already popped its core and is starting to fragment. This is just through simulated soft tissue, so it if your hunting style is of the "double shoulder" genre, it should come as little surprise that you may be in deep trouble using a fragile core-popper like this. I've never recovered a Barnes all-copper bullet from a big game animal; they have always blown right through creating tremendous wounds . . . and that includes large hogs and extremely fat Minnesota Black Bears. The current Spitfire T-EZ 250 Flat Base and the T-EZ 290 Flat Base are both superb bullets for most anything you'll hunt, from muskrat to moose, from groundhog to grizzly. As supplied, they come with a blue HPH-24 MMP sabot, ideal for tighter bores, but you can sub in the HPH-12 sabot to get the ideal .003-004 inch interference fit for best accuracy. Thankfully, they are available in bulk as mentioned here: .

For the Savage 10ML-II in particular, the Barnes Original has been a superbly accurate load for many, many years, as mentioned here: . Going with the bullet / sabot combination that groups the best out of your individual muzzleloader is never bad advice, and naturally you'll need to practice at the ranges you intend to hunt at. Finally, for more suggestions based on your muzzleloader's bore inside diameter, please see: .



Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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