Re-reading Torbeck’s quotes, “the writing was on the wall,” so to speak. FGI’s intentions were to leverage the might of its Remington ammunition manufacturing capability (at least initially) with Barnes’ renowned copper bullets to bring an all-new brand of ammunition into the marketplace.
No longer mere words, Barnes Bullets’ VOR-TX ammunition is a reality.
Barnes Bullets … And Again Ammunition
According to the company, the name of the new ammunition comes from “The whirling, destructive power of Barnes’ all-copper bullets,” i.e. the Triple-Shock X-Bullet (TSX) and the Tipped Triple-Shock X-Bullet (TTSX), along with the company’s signature “X,” a Barnes trademark for nearly 25 years, and “TX” being applicable as a moniker for many of the TTSX stock-keeping units (SKUs). Whether or not it’s akin to the natural phenomena its name closely resembles, though, remains questionable. Regardless, the field-proven performance of the TSX and the TTSX projectiles is undeniable.
Although VOR-TX is new, factory-production ammunition from Barnes Bullets isn’t. In the early 1980s, owners Randy and Coni Brooks introduced Barnes Supreme ammunition—the name followed suit with that of Barnes Bullets founder and prolific wildcatter Fred Barnes’ proprietary line of cartridges, “Barnes Supreme”—which offered consumers handgun and rifles lines in popular chamberings. In its rifle line, the company loaded a host of cartridges from .223 Rem. to .458 Lott, and in handgun ammunition, the .44 Rem. Mag. especially found favor with those living in, or destined for, Alaska.
According to Jessica Brooks, product manager for Barnes Bullets and daughter of Randy and Coni, “The lines did well for a number of years, but the company redirected its focus solely to bullets, and the ammunition line was discontinued.” Since then, consumers have been limited to those loads made available by ammunition manufacturers, both small- and large-scale, or have had to handload their preferred Barnes product. Now, with VOR-TX, the offerings are even more diverse.
“We are servicing a portion of the market that, for years now, has specifically requested Barnes projectiles be loaded in Barnes ammunition,” explained Brooks. “This is a great way to ensure that the consumers who don’t handload have access to our products … . It’s really all about giving the consumer what they want, and making sure they have access to what they need in as many options and configurations as possible.” A case in point: The company is offering 15 loadings this year alone, with more slated for 2011.
In many ways, Barnes Bullets’ procurement by FGI breathed new life, and certainly capital, into the forward-thinking company. “The acquisition of Barnes Bullets by FGI allowed Barnes once again to pursue this opportunity,” explained Brooks. “It is part of the business we were anxious to rebuild, while it strengthens the company’s brand and position in the marketplace.”
So, will the move affect the company’s sales of bullets to those in competition with its new ammunition? Not so, according to Brooks, who said, “Barnes will continue to build and strengthen relationships with current customers … and partner with them on initiatives to build their businesses.”
Although VOR-TX will be manufactured at Barnes Bullets’ Mona, Utah, plant once expansion and tooling requirements are completed in 2011, it is currently produced at Remington’s Lonoke, Ark., facility. “This is a great example of how FGI companies leverage resources and assist one another in their business initiatives,” Brooks said. Despite VOR-TX currently being manufactured by Remington, it will not replace the company’s Premier offerings; instead, it is a Barnes Bullets’ product. Interestingly, both Remington and Barnes are involved in load development and testing.
Foremost considerations in the production of VOR-TX are, as explained by Brooks, “accuracy, precision and performance.” To improve downrange results requires optimal component selection and assembly practices, and Barnes Bullets has responded accordingly. VOR-TX features Remington-produced and Barnes-headstamped brass that is cosmetically different and manufactured to Barnes’ specifications. Propellants are selected to meet desired performance objectives with TSX and TTSX projectiles, and naturally the ammunition features Remington primers. Additionally, VOR-TX is manufactured at a lower production rate, and each round is hand-inspected for consistency.
Weighing 10 random tumbled, de-primed, post-fired .308 Win. cases revealed an average weight of 165.3 grains, with the heaviest case weighing 1.4 grains more, and the lightest two 0.9 grains less. For comparison, 10 unfired pieces of Lapua .308 Win. brass—a popular choice for competition shooters—averaged 173.7 grains, with the heaviest being 174.8 (or 1.1 grains above average), while the lightest case was 173.0 grains (or 0.7 grains below mean). As such, the VOR-TX brass, at least with regard to case-to-case weight, had respectable consistency.
As for projectile selection, “Accuracy and terminal performance were the strongest criteria for bullet choice,” Brooks said. “However, we realize that there are certain bullet weights consumers just expect to see in a given cartridge, and Barnes listens to its consumers.”
Although Barnes Bullets also offers Originals, Multi-Purpose Green (MPG), Maximum Range X-Bullets (MRX), Banded Solids and Varmint Grenades in its rifle lines, only TSX and TTSX bullets will appear in loaded Barnes ammunition—for now. Which bullet is used depends on performance requirements and availability.