Pat’s Product Review: New Buffalo Bore Ammunition Loads

I’ve been shooting Buffalo Bore brand ammunition for about two years. The owner, Tim Sundles, never ceases to amaze me with all the new loads he comes out with – not just for self-defense, but great loads for hunting as well. What I also like about Buffalo Bore is that Sundles doesn’t use special pressure barrels to test his velocities, he uses his own guns, from his own collection, so you are getting real-world velocities. Additionally, Sundles lists the various firearms he tested his ammo in – I’m not aware of any other ammo maker that does this.

First up is the new .38 Super +P load, with the Barnes Lead Free 124-grain all copper hollow point. Now, I hate to admit this, but I had never fired a .38 Super before I got this load. Over the years, I had plenty of opportunity to buy a few 1911s chambered in .38 Super, but always passed – ammo wasn’t available in a lot of gun shops, and most of what was available were FMJ loads – not ideal for self-defense. I know many years ago, the .38 Super was really popular south of our border in Mexico – but those days are long gone, as legal private gun ownership is all but a thing of the past in Mexico. I understand that the .38 Super is still very popular down in Texas, though. So, I had to borrow a .38 Super 1911 from a friend to test this new Buffalo Bore load. Make no mistake, you can’t and shouldn’t attempt to fire the .38 Super in a .38 Auto chambered pistol – and especially a +P loaded 38 Super – you’re inviting trouble if you do.

Many folks believe that the .38 Super is nothing more than a slightly hotter 9mm round – well, not exactly. And when we are talking a .38 Super +P load – we’re talking a pretty hot-stepping load – it is in the same ballpark as the .357 SIG loads, in my opinion.  What we have in this newest loading from Buffalo Bore, is the very popular Barnes TAC-XP bullet, which is proving itself to be an excellent manstopper – this bullet stays together – there is no lead core – the bullet is a solid copper hollow point, that penetrates deeply and really expands.  Sundles also uses a flash retarding powder, to help prevent loss of your night vision when you fire this round. No one else is doing this to my knowledge. My chronograph gave-up the ghost sometime ago, and I never replaced it, so I’ll just give you the velocities Sundles gets from his handguns he used in his testing. In a Colt 1911 Government Model, he was getting 1,409 feet per second – that’s moving. In a Taurus PT 1911 – he was getting 1,288- feet per second, and in an EAA witness, with a 4.25-inch barrel, he was getting 1,228-feet per second. I fired this ammo into some water-filled milk jugs – I lined-up three just in a row, and the Barnes bullet easily penetrated all three milk jugs – so I had to add a fourth milk jug – and the Barnes bullet was caught in the fourth milk jug -and it expanded perfectly and retained 100% of it’s weight. What more can you ask for in a self-defense round? If you own a .38 Super chambered pistol, this is s round you need for self-defense – bar none!

Next up is the .454 Casull round, with a 250-grain XPB Barnes bullet – and the difference between the TAC-XP and the XPB is that, the XPB is designed for hunting purposes, it will penetrate a little deeper and not expand quite as much – and when hunting big game, you want deep penetration to reach the vital organs of big game. In Sundles testing, he found that this load will penetrate roughly 24-inches, depending on the impact velocity and the particular bones that may be struck in the game animal. Again, I had to borrow a .454 Casull chambered revolver to test this round. I placed 6 milk jugs in a row, and they didn’t stop this round – all I can say is, this one really penetrates. It would be ideal for large deer and black bear, and even bigger critters like elk if you stick to broad-side shots.

The XPB bullet is long-for-weight, and it crowds the case capacity, so Buffalo Bore wasn’t able to use their flash suppressed powder in this load. I don’t have a problem with this at all – I don’t hunt in the dark – it’s against the law, so I’m not worried about getting blinded by the flash. I barely noticed the flash in my own testing in daylight.  Sundles is getting close to 1,700-feet per second in a Freedom Arms 6-inch revolver, and that is really moving along a 250-grain bullet. If you own a .454 Casull chambered handgun, you need to check this round out for your next big game hunt.

Okay, I was never all that interested in the .45 Colt round, until my friend–and fellow gun writer–Sheriff Jim Wilson turned me onto this load in a Ruger revolver many years ago. You can load the .45 Colt to power levels above a .44 Mag if you handload, and you can do it safely, too. Buffalo Bore came out with a 255-grain soft cast hollow point, gas check load, which was designed for self-defense. Yes, this load is hotter than other factory loads, which are a bit sedate if you ask me, but it is perfectly safe to shoot in any .45 Colt chambered handgun according to Sundles.

This new .45 Colt self-defense load with this particular bullet, was designed to mushroom at speeds as low as 750-feet per second, but it will still penetrate about 18-inches, depending on the angle of the shot and whether or not bone is hit. Many .45 Colt factory loads have a round nose bullet, and they just slip right through tissue and bone without really imparting the energy needed to put an end to a dangerous self-defense situation. Additionally, this bullet was designed with a special crimp groove and the case mouth is heavily crimped so the bullet will not jump the crimp and tie-up your revolver. Also, a flash suppressant powder was used in this load.

I tried this load through a S&W Mountain Gun, and it wasn’t bad in the recoil department at all. I note that Tim Sundles was getting 983-feet per second from the same gun. This round is much more pleasant to fire than any .357 Magnum load – and it will penetrate deeper that a .357 Mag JHP load and probably be a better manstopper. While many folks don’t carry single-action revolvers for self-defense these days, this would be a great load to stoke in any single-action revolver or a S&W Mountain Gun. Many folks in the Southwest still carry single-action revolvers when they are out backpacking or on horseback, and this is the round they should have if they expect to face two-legged critters – and it wouldn’t be a half bad round for medium sized game, which brings us to the next Buffalo Bore load.

The .45 Colt HEAVY +P “Deer Grenade” round is a massive hollow nosed 260-grain cast bullet with a gas check, traveling a velocities from 1,449-feet per second up to almost 1,900-feet per second, depending on the handgun or rifle you are firing it through. What’s nice with this bullet is that it won’t lead your barrel because it is gas checked – and if you fire a lot of cast bullets, you know how quickly a barrel can lead and what a pain it is to clean your barrel. Buffalo Bore designed this .45 Colt load to be the world’s premier deer load – and I’m sure not going to pick a fight with Sundles over this – I believe him!

At an impact velocity of 1,100-feet this bullet will mushroom to about .80 caliber and should punch right through any deer with a broadside shot – that’s great in the mushrooming area – that is serious expansion. At the 1,500-feet per second velocity, the bullet will still mushroom and some of the mushroom will fragment and send those pieces flying through the deer. At the 1,900-feet per second velocity, the entire mushroomed bullet will turn to shrapnel and send bullet particles throughout the deer doing horrific damage and probably push right through the deer. This load wasn’t designed just for deer hunting, it can also be used on black beer or wild hogs and if you’ve ever hunting hogs, you know how hard they are to put down.

Now, a word of warning, and be take this advice to heart: This load is not designed for use in all .45 Colt chambered firearms. Use this round ONLY in the following firearms:

All Ruger large frame revolvers chambered in .45 Colt or .454 Casull, but don’t use it in a smaller framed New Model Vaquero.
All 1892 Winchesters and all copies of such made after 1920.
All Winchester and Marlin 1894 models.
Any break-open action like a T/C or Handi-rifle.
Any falling block action such as the Sharps or Winchester 1895.
Any Freedom Army Model 83 or 97.

So, take this to heart, and do NOT use this round in any other firearms!!!!

No one else is making a round that can compare to this one from Buffalo Bore, if you have one of the aforementioned firearms, do yourself a favor and get some of this ammo and give it a try. This isn’t plinking ammo. This is serious, +P hunting ammo.

Next up is the new .460 S&W lead free, 275-gr Barnes XPB load – and again, I don’t have a revolver chambered in this caliber – but I’d sure love to have one – maybe one of these days, when funds permit, so I had to borrow this S&W revolver to test this load. As mentioned above, this is the XPB bullet from Barnes, an all-copper hollow point, but it was designed to penetrate deeper and expand a little bit less – great for reaching the vitals on big game animals. S&W advertises this round as the flattest shooting handgun round in the world, and I have no reason to doubt this claim.

This load at 275-grains, doesn’t recoil nearly as much as some of the heavier loads in this caliber, and that’s a nice thing. However, there is a lot of muzzle blast coming out of the sides of this revolver, so don’t fire it with someone standing next to you. Tim Sundles has this round at 1,946-feet per second from his S&W Performance Center 10.5-inch revolver, and that is really moving. This round would be great for elk, moose or some of the bigger bears. And, when hunting those types of big game, you really want a load that penetrates. Again, I lined-up 8 water-filled milk jugs and fired this round into them – never did find the bullet – it’s buried in a mountainside. So, we’re looking at some deep penetration. 

Last up, for this article (and there are more new loadings from Buffalo Bore, but I’ll save them for another article) is the .45-70 +P 350-grain Barnes TSX FN. This is really a hot-stepping .45-70 load. Pay attention that this is a +P load , and it is NOT safe to shoot in just any old firearm chambered in this caliber. So, here’s a list of the guns it is safe to shoot in:

All Marlin 1895 made since 1972.
All Browning 1885 and 1886 copies,
Rossi Rio Grande.
New England Arms Handi-Rifle.
T/C Encore.
All falling block actions made of modern steel such as the Ruger #1 and #3, Shiloh, Christian and Pedersoli Sharps
All Winchester 1886 iterations made since 1915 and all Siamese Mauser bolt actions.

Now, if in doubt, go over this list again, before firing this +P .45-70 load in your firearms…and if you have any questions, contact Buffalo Bore Ammunition before ordering this ammo. This load is identical in exterior dimensions – but it is rated as +P – so be advised.

This Barnes all-copper, expanding 350-grain TSX-FN (flat nose) bullet will penetrate about as deeply as a typical 400-grain load core partition expanding bullet, yet gives the benefit of a lighter bullet, which means less recoil. Plus, it will shooter flatter. Out of Sundles’ 1985 Marlin 22-inch lever-action rifle, he was getting 1,931-feet per second. I tested this load, and although I couldn’t chronograph it, I have no reason to doubt the velocity Sundles was getting. I fired this round into a dirt mound, and I dug and dug – and never could find the round – it must be on the way to China because it penetrated so deeply.

With this +P .45-70 round from Buffalo Bore, you can have a “one-gun, one round” that will be capable of taking any and all big-game in the USA – including bison and brown bears. I have no doubt about this.

There are plenty of other newly developed loadings from Buffalo Bore that I’ll cover in another article. Tim Sundles does not sit on his past accomplishments – he is constantly developing new loads and he actually tests his loads in the field when he goes hunting. As of late, he’s been hard to catch in the office because he’s been out hunting and testing his newest loads on game.

I’ve had some SurvivalBlog readers e-mail me and ask, how is it that I can test all these different loads in one day? Well, let’s be realistic here, I don’t test these loads in one day, this is over three months or longer – Buffalo Bore doesn’t develop all these loads and send them to me at one time – it’s a process that takes a lot of time. I have to actually get out in the field and fire these loads – and in some cases, I have to borrow firearms in some of these calibers so I can test the loads – it is a time-consuming process. I also have to take notes on all the calibers I test, and refer to my notes for articles like this.

If you aren’t satisfied with standard factory loadings, and you want a little more velocity, penetration and knock-down power, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Buffalo Bore web site to see what they have to offer. They truly do have a huge offering on some of the most popular calibers around. And Tim Sundles tells me that SurvivalBlog readers are some of his best customers, as well as some of his most loyal repeat customers. Similarly, I’ve found that SurvivalBlog readers are a very intelligent bunch of folks who know what they like and don’t like. Be sure to check out the Buffalo Bore web site, I’m betting you’ll find something there for your self-defense, hunting and survival needs. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio