I guess I have been friends with Coni and Randy Brooks for more than 20 years. They are the folks who owned and ran Barnes Bullets for the past several decades.
My wife and I have stayed in their home and have vacationed with them on their houseboat in Utah. We have hunted together a few times, I have visited the Barnes plant multiple times and I can tell you they are some of the finest people in the gun industry. Or that used to be in the gun industry. They have both “retired” from the company, although they are still the most active people I know. Randy is old enough for social security and he is competing at the top level in national rodeo team roping. As full of energy and as busy as he is, Coni makes him look like a slacker!
Barnes is now in the hands of their daughter Jessica and her husband, Thad Stevens. Both are also good friends as well. We have attended shooting matches and hunted together for years. Jessica is a world class hunter with a lot of international experience. Thad is a hard core hunter and a competition rifle shooter. He and I shot mountain lions a day apart in Utah a few years back. His was bigger, but not by much! He runs the R&D and has one of the finest ballistic minds in the business. When I am stumped with a question, I ask Thad.
Although he will probably be pissed that I mention it, Thad is a patriot who served several tours in the Middle East with the Army. He was right out there in the action and has been shot at and blown up more than anybody I know. He recently told me he would go back in a heartbeat if his country needed him. They are that kind of people and it shows in their products.
The Barnes Vortex line of hunting ammo is some of the best stuff on earth. I am a huge fan of their bullets and I have used them on everything from elephants to whitetails. But for every shot I fire hunting, I fire a thousand at the range. Much of that shooting these days is with tactical rifles. Barnes recognized that I am not unique here and has introduced a new line of ammo.
Two new lines actually.
Barnes Range AR
This ammo is designed specifically for AR-15 rifles. Barnes advertises it for “target, training and competition.”
They use new, high quality brass (important to those of us who reload) and they load the ammo with a lead-free, copper-jacketed, zinc core, open tip, flat base bullet. They say its fine even in quick twist barrels. Barnes uses propellants that are optimized for AR-15s with their shorter barrels.
I have been shooting some of this ammo for practice and training this year and it’s been 100% reliable in multiple rifles. To be honest, I have not done any formal accuracy testing yet; I will, but so far it seems to shoot very well in my rifles.
If you use an internet connected device to scan the QR code located on the back of each box it will take you to a site that shows drop tables for a variety of barrel lengths specific to each load.
Initially, this ammo is offered in 5.56 X 45MM 52 grain and 300 AAC Blackout 90 grain.
Barnes Precision Match
It’s a well-kept secret that Barnes has been loading precision ammo for military snipers for some time. They decided to take what they learned and put it into ammo for civilian shooters, pretty much the same stuff in a different box.
Barnes Precision Match Ammunition is designed for the best accuracy and long range performance. They use bullets with the highest ballistic coefficient and keep the quality high with special attention to the loading practice.
Barnes is the only ammo company I know that uses Doppler radar to plot the trajectory of their ammo. This cutting edge technology actually measures the flight of the bullet, every inch of the way. Most ballistic information is simply an educated guess, but Barnes is unique in that theirs is a map of the actual bullet flight. You can scan the QR code located on the back of each box to view Doppler radar generated drop tables specific to each load, or go to their web site for the info.
It’s been a very busy year with trying to finish a book and shoot a few matches, so I have not yet tested it all for accuracy. But I will, and I’ll report on it here later. I can say that the 69 grain 5.56 load shot ½ MOA groups from an AR-15 rifle I built for long range shooting. Not just one group, but group after 5-shot group. That’s as good as anything I have tried in this rifle, including handloads and it might well be the most accurate factory load I have used.
I might also note that I have some buddies who are serious competition shooters both in 3-gun and precision long range. Those who have been using this ammo this year are singing its praises. For them it’s all about winning, so they don’t cut anybody any slack; the ammo works or it’s gone. One shooting buddy, James Darst, lives in Texas and loves to shoot long range. Most people know him as a top, open-class 3-gun shooter, but he also is a hard core rifle guy. James lives to shoot and he has probably forgotten more about guns, ammo and shooting than most experts ever knew. He told me that he really loves this ammo. That’s about as high praise possible.
It’s offered in:
5.56 69 grain.
5.56 85 grain
.308 Win 175 grain
.300 Win Mag 220 grain
.338 Lapua Mag 300 grain