Handgun ammunition loaded with Barnes TAC-XP bullets is nothing new. A variety of ammunition manufacturers including Black Hills, Buffalo Bore and Double Tap currently load them. Until now, the only option shooters had if they wanted Barnes TAC-XP bullets was to buy from one of these manufacturers or handload.
For 2013, a slightly enhanced version of the TAC-XP bullet will be available, already loaded in factory ammunition directly from Barnes Bullets.
What is it about these bullets that make them so desirable? Several things. For starters, all Barnes TAC-XP bullets are manufactured from solid copper; they contain no lead. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those folks who believe lead bullets poison the environment or make game animals inedible. However, some locals and even some firing ranges prohibit the use of lead projectiles.
All copper projectiles have another advantage: The exclusion of a lead core makes these bullets tough. By "tough" I mean they don't shed weight when they impact things. Non-bonded bullets with a lead core such as common traditional hollow points can come apart during expansion and this can negatively impact penetration. Defensive handgun cartridges, being what they are, are not all that great at penetrating unless the bullet is designed not to expand. The problem with a non-expanding bullet is it damages very little tissue. The last thing you want is a defensive handgun that damages very little tissue. Tissue damage causes blood loss and pain, and those are what allow bullets to stop bad guys and bad things.
Barnes TAC-XPD 185-grain .45 ACP ammunition and three fully
expanded bullets that were shot through denim into 10-percent ordnance gelatin.
The other advantage TAC-XP bullets offer is also related to their all-copper construction. If lead or a lead alloy is used as a bullet core, the result is a bullet with a narrow expansion window—a small velocity window in which the bullet will expand because the bullet has to be engineered around the lead or lead-alloy core. Bonding the core to the jacket doesn't really solve this problem, though it does prevent the bullet from coming apart.
The TAC-XP bullet can be engineered to work over a wide range of impact velocities by controlling the size of the hollow-point cavity. This helps to eliminate concerns when bullets are fired from short- or long-barreled handguns. Short barrels rob velocity and long barrels increase velocity. With conventional lead-core bullets, it's not uncommon for them to fail at high-end or low-end velocities. My testing has shown Barnes TAC-XP bullets can be counted on to expand with a velocity variance as wide as 500 fps. In some handgun cartridges, this is half the muzzle velocity.
These bullets can also be counted on to expand even if they have to pass through heavy clothing. This is important when you consider the chance of getting attacked by a naked bad guy is unlikely unless you spend a lot of time in brothels.
If you rely on a .380, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 for personal protection, you now have another—and probably better—option for ammunition loaded with Barnes TAC-XP bullets.
The TAC-XPD line of defense ammunition from Barnes will be packed in 20-round boxes and will use cartridge cases and bullets that have been plated with Techni-Crom to ensure smooth feeding. It also gives the ammo a no-nonsense, business-like appearance. Barnes chose light- to moderate-weight bullets to keep recoil at a controllable level. Since the TAC-XP bullet retains 100 percent of its weight, the lighter bullet choice is not a negative.
Initial offerings will include an 80-grain .380 Auto, a 115-grain 9mm Luger, a 140-grain .40 S&W and a 185-grain .45 ACP load. In 10-percent ordnance gelatin you can expect all these bullets to expand to .60 caliber or larger. The .380 load will penetrate about 10 inches and the others will penetrate a foot or deeper.
I've always thought it wise to choose the best bullet for the task at hand. I don't use Barnes bullets for everything, but would hardly ever consider them a bad choice. And, when it comes to defensive handguns, most of mine are indeed loaded with ammo topped off with a TAC-XP.
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of Barnes TAC-XPD ammunition being fired through denim into 10-percent ordnance gelatin. Notice the deep penetration.
Editor's note: If you're unable to view the video, click here.