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August 20, 2007

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The Miraculous Triple-X?

For the last year or so I’ve been shooting Barnes’ Triple-Shock X-Bullets (or Triple-Xs as their friends call them) and have gotten such remarkable groups that I’ve been hesitant to write about them for fear of developing a credibility gap, or Hansen’s disease, or something.

For example, the average group that 225-grain .338 XXXs print in an Ed Brown Savanna rifle average .630. And others groups, in other custom rifles, have been about the same. So I’ve held off, because these are not typical rifles, and accuracy of this order is not all that unusual—it’s what you pay all that money for.

However, I was out this morning working up a load for those same 225-grain XXXs in a .338 Remington Ultra Mag (known to its friends as a .333 RUM). This is a nearly off-the-rack factory rifle—a stainless 700 BDL whose 26-inch barrel was chopped back to 23.5 because a 26-barrel is fine for pole vaulting, but not hunting. Anyway, this thing burns enough powder to put a medium-sized satellite in orbit, and the first load I tried averaged .812-inch. (Its average with other loads is 1.02).

Now I don’t care what people write; sub-minute accuracy in an untweaked factory rifle that burns 90-plus grains of powder is pretty damned rare, and can only be attributed to the bullet. Has anyone else gotten the same results from XXXs?

We await your information.


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Smith Dewlen

I have a question on the tight groups you obtained.

What scope did you use for the testing and what power rating was it set for?

Thanks for the info.

Steve C

I was fine until I got to the part "...and can only be attributed to the bullet."

Even under the most charitable of circumstances, this is baloney. Shooting consistently tight groups is the proverbial three-legged stool. You seem to credit one leg as being is more important than the other two.


Keep me informed of things I cannot afford. It gives me hope. I usually scounge the gun shows for partial boxes of mundane bullets at closeout prices. Why not call these bullets X3? That three should have been a superscript, read X Cubed. This would keep the mathematicaly inclined hairsplitters happy.


How about their (Triple-Shock’s) performance on game? I understand they are suppose to retain nearly 100% of their weight which, I imagine, makes them penetrate nearly anything, but what about damage? In something moving at hyper-speed like a, 300 RUM, I imagine it does fine, but what about something more modest like a 270 Win or a 7mm-08? I am under the impression that a bullet that losses some weight will do more damage and, on deer size game, I am more concerned about a quick kill than losing a pound of summer sausage.

I am slowly but surely improving my socio-economic rank and would like to try an African Plains game hunt in the near future. Would this bullet in something like a 300 Win Mag. (180gr) be a good choice, or should I go with something that sheds some weight (does more damage?) like an Accubond?

Or…should I let this whole shed weight = more damage theory go, because I am ignorant and have no idea what I am talking about based on my paltry experience with whitetails.

Clay Cooper

a stainless 700 BDL whose 26-inch barrel was chopped back to 23.5 because a 26-barrel is fine for pole vaulting, but not hunting?

This article should be, How to destroy a rifle! I think I’m going to be sick! Chopping a 26-inch Magnum like the 338 RUM? That’s criminal!

Bigger boom and something around 80 to 100 fps loss.

My question about the XXX’s, how do they perform at 400 to 600 yards?

Chad Love

Hmmm, I thought Triple-Shock alluded to the price...

I have no experience with the XXX but back in college when I subsisted on ramen noodles, rabbits and venison I was rummaging through the bargain bin at a now-defunct gun store in Norman, Okla. and found a box of PMC .30/06 ammo loaded with 150-grain X bullets. They were cheap so I bought 'em, shot a few through the beat up old FN mauser that was my all-I-had-so-do-it-all gun back then and took it hunting that fall. I think I shot two deer and a few assorted coyotes with that box of ammo. Both deer were bang-flops. I never did recover a bullet but they apparently worked as advertised.
Don't know why I never used X bullets again, maybe because I was (and remain, for that matter) a bit low on the socio-economic ladder and was always scrounging for cheap ammo. I never did find any more cheap stuff loaded with X bullets.
A good reason to take up reloading, I know...

Chad Love

Geez, just looked on the Barnes website. Do they even make the X bullet in a 150-grain .30 caliber any more? I know those were 150 grainers in that PMC ammo. Of course, this was 1992 or thereabouts. Things change...

Dave Petzal

To Smith Dewlen: Bushnell Elite 4200 set on 10X.

To Steve C: If a rifle shoots five different bullets of weights ranging from 225 grains to 275 grains and never breaks a minute of angle, and then, with the sixth bullet does just that, it do make one wonder, don't it?

To Chris: 180-grain Swift A-Frames. I hear very good things about the XXXs, but I don't have the experience on game with them that I do with the Swifts.

To Clay Cooper: The average velocity loss, with bullets ranging from 225 grains to 275 grains, is 38 fps. I wouldn't care if I lost 100 fps. In the real world it's a meaningless amount. 200 fps and I start to worry. As for how XXXs perform at 400 to 600 yards, I don't know. I'm not a big fan of shooting at those distances.

Clay Cooper

The biggest problem with hunting bullets what happens from ignition to final rest. So why are those finding me so offensive on the super magnums, here’s why? The problem is that the average shot is less than 175 yards, more likely less than 100 actually. Pushing the bullet at such a velocity, upon impact it starts to self-distruct just like a varmint bullet. I’ve witnessed this several times on Moose were hunters shooting 30-06 vs 300 Magnums. I find that at close distance using lead bullets, 30-06’s would have deeper penetration. Using the XXX’s, this will solve this problem. The only problem I do see at shooting at close range is the bullets ability to stabilize before impact. Referencing Colonel Hatchers notebook, if you took two identical 30-06 rounds loaded with a full metal jacketed bullet and fire both into oak planks, one at 50 feet and one at 200 yards. Although the round at 200 yards lost velocity, it penetrated far deeper (30+ inches) than the one at 50 feet (13 inches). 200 yards you can see the bullet path is a straight line. The round at 50 feet the bullet tumbled upon impact, just like stories of the Vietnam M16 bullet 55-grain fmj with a barrel with a 1-14 twist.

I would like to see XXX’s 130 grain bullet in 308 cal. I Talk about outing your 30 cal on steroids! WOW!

Clay Cooper

I would like to see XXX’s 130-grain bullet in 308 cal. Talk about putting your 30 cal on steroids! WOW!

Clay Cooper

Dave Petzal

Are you using Walkers Game ears to protect your hearing? That shorter barrel and all that powder must really hurt the eardrums! The 24 inch barrel 300 Win Mag I had was bad enough.

Muzzle Velocity Range (ft./sec.) Approx. Change in Muzzle Velocity per 1" Change in Barrel Length (ft./sec.)
2000-2500 10
2500-3000 20
3000-3500 30
3500-4000 40

Clay Cooper

If your shooting less than 1 MOA, I quess a 23.5 inch barrel, 338 RUM is great.

My ears hurt just thinking about it!

Clay Cooper

Looks like Dave Petzal is ready to drill some holes in 1 inch thick plate steal with his 338 RUM!

Steve C

"To Steve C: If a rifle shoots five different bullets of weights ranging from 225 grains to 275 grains and never breaks a minute of angle, and then, with the sixth bullet does just that, it do make one wonder, don't it?"

Yep. What's causing that may depends on the seventh, eighth, ninth, or ninth bullets. Or you may open a new box of shells and find a new, tight group elsewhere on the target.

It was the set-in-concrete, "can only be attributed to..." conclusion that chafes me. You sound like those guys on Myth Busters you disparage so much.

Clay Cooper

To Steve C, Posted by: Steve C

Man you got us confused their brother. If the 7th 8th, 90th or 900th round would fly, explain to me how come all the rounds I’ve shot in high power competition, the fliers was all to operator error, and not the gun or ammo? Barrel or chamber warming would cause the group to wide at times. But with today’s ammunition manufacturing, they duplicate every lot practically to no noticeable degree.

If the 1st, 4th, 7th 8th, 90th or 900th round would fly, I would have lost a many events!

Dr. Ralph

My best groups always come from Nosler Ballistic Tips. I have not tried the Barnes XXX bullet and am not sure if any factory loads are available in many calibers. Federal Premium always seems to be the most accurate factory load in my guns but my Ruger No.1 7mm Mauser only likes Norma, which are discontinued but luckily I have several hundred. Remington factory loads have never impressed me but those Win. .22 Lubalox coated ? bullets only available in boxes of fifty for around $2.50 will out shoot federal Gold Medal Match and Eley TenX in my 10/22 Deluxe Sporter with .920 etc...


My Remington 700 CDL in .35 Whelen doesn't like the triple shocks at all. Not only did I get poor groups, but I saw signs of excessive pressure early on while working up the load. Now to be fair, this rifle also dislikes any Nosler bullet. Hornady seems to be its one true love, and with these it is an excellent shooter. As for performance on game I can only offer my "instance of one" experience using Barnes X-bullets in out of a shotgun. At about 50-60 yards I shot a large deer through the chest, hitting a bit higher up in the lungs than I would have preferred. None the less, 75 yards later he was down and out with a 12 gauge hole in one side, and a 12 gauge hole out the other. Tissue damage indicated the bullet expanded and did its job. Conclusion; the bullet did what is was made to do, nothing more and nothing less.

Clay Cooper

If your rifle loves Hornady bullets and you not shooting Cape buffalo, I’d stick with that load. Because of the solid copper design, a tighter bore may be a problem that would result in higher pressure. I don’t know folks; Hornady and Nosler bullets always delivered clean one shot kills including my Moose (Hornady 225) and phenomenal accuracy with my Kool-Aid budget. I just like to shoot too much to switch over to $$$’s. I’m thinking hard and looking at Remington’s 264 Win Mag! A 140 Hornady SST would work great for me. Besides I’ll always have my Browning 338 Win Mag on standby!

dillonaero 134d

dave, seems everybody got off the question you asked. i shoot the XXX 150grBT in a "factory" remington 7mmSTW 88.7gr H1000 and shoot 3/4 to 1 inch 5 shoot groups at 100yds. A little more powder or a little less goes all to hell, same with my headspacing. the barnes seem to be good bullets, just have to have them RIGHT where they want to be. they are not very forgiving.


HAVE NOT TRIED TRIPLE X'S/you may want to try the XLC's, my 264 win. prints best group's ever with old 3x9 leupold mod. 700 BDL of 70's vintage. I also am able to load to max. powder load with no sign af pressure problem I had with all other bullets I have used. Near one hole group and deadly on game without the usual horrendous tissue damage. Very spendy, I use only for game! By the way, this rifle has astounded many with out of box accuracy, maybe you have a reason? Has been suggested rifle barrel made on new tooling, ect.



I think that ANY bullet that is in current "mass" production when hand loaded by a competent person can shoot it well with minimal effort (this is like comparing Ford to Chevy). The true test is what it does when it hits its planned mark. At magnum pressures with the right fuel and powder quantity, we can get them ALL to shoot well.

Lets cut the BS……..There is a huge difference between the “off the shelf deer hunter” and people who live for ballistics and hunting. I understand that the mainstream reader at F&S (80%) is a whitetail/elk hunter who has a good gun, with a good scope and goes out and kills their game and pays their annual subscription……..The other 20% which participate in this Blog are the hand loaders and perfectionist who know how to make a bullet hit its mark and shoot sub moa.

I know that you are not a BS artist, tell us about your upcoming hunts and what gun you are going to carry when it comes time to shit or get off the pot. That is what we find interesting.

Sorry for the rant, I just think that the people in this Blog are on another level and we would like to learn from the real knowledge that you are capable of.

I write this with all due respect to your knowledge and character.



Bullet talk always fascinates me. It’s where the butter comes to the bread in this hunting and shooting game. However, I believe the most big game field shooting I did was 13-rounds one year in the same rifle. I, of course, shot considerably more from a rest in that same year.

Dave found remarkable accuracy in a new bullet and asked the Bloggers if they had the same results. 90% missed that question! I’m interested in the feedback because maybe I should modernize my hunting bullets. For 25-years I’ve used Speer and Serria’s for my big game rifles, and settled on Hornady’s for varmints. I’ve yet to find .45-cal bullets better than Hornady 500-grain solids or there 500-grain softpoints to handle these BIG New York Woodchucks and T-Rex’s. I do load Speer 350-grain bullets in .45-caliber, but haven’t used them on game yet. I have to have Faith in Speer propaganda.

Sooo…..guys and gals, How about answering the Dave’s question.

O, Yes. Chad Love: Good to see your prose. Where've you been? Hunting, I hope.

Clay Cooper

What I have read about reloading Barnes X bullets and the problems associated with them. I’m going to step out on this one.

Have fun!

Steve Rapalyea
August 18th, 2007 at 7:26 pm
I started using your “X” bullets circa 1995 and wish I had known about them sooner. All velocities mentioned are actual chronograph velocities at 15′. The first rifle I used them in was a Browning Stainless Stalker .270. With little effort I got 5 shot 7/8″ groups @ 3100 fps with the 130 gr. “X”. A great long range load but the deer I have killed with it were at close range and none of the bullets were recoverd. Performance was excellent.

I did recover a 165 gr .308 bullet @ 2600fps. I made a bad shot hitting the buck in the left rear ball socket. The bullet went forward the full length and was recovered between hide and meat between the neck and opposite front shoulder. The buck was only about 80 yds. The cleaned bullet was still 165 grns. and measured .607.

Two cow elk hit through the front shoulders circa 75 yds. with the previous load dropped at the shot. Neither bullet was recovered.

This year I’m using the 7mm 140 gr. Triple Shock @ 3225 from my 7WSM. I’m expecting the same outstanding results!

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