New Barnes Varmint Grenade Bullets

Barnes Bullets introduced several new bullets at the 2008 SHOT Show. In the company’s very popular Varmint Grenade line, Barnes showed the .204 caliber, 26-grain bullet for the .204 Ruger cartridge and a .224 caliber bullet in 50 grains for .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridges.

The .204 bullets and the 50-grain .224 were both developed specifically due to customer demand according to Jessica Brooks of Barnes Bullets. Barnes continues to produce the existing calibers of bullets. 

In other words, the new offerings expand the line – not replace any part of it.

Varmint Grenade Bullet Close Up

Developed for specialized military applications the Varmint Grenade bullet proved to be excellent for varmint hunting in the civilian market.

Made with a powdered copper and tin core with a gilded metal jacket, the bullet achieves high speeds and instantly fragments upon impact. 

Driving small bullets to very fast velocities is a difficult trick. Too often, the bullets tear themselves apart in flight. When your core is not a solid lead or copper, this becomes even more difficult to manage.

Nevertheless, this very difficult engineering feat seems to have been perfected by Barnes Bullets in this line. Many compressed powder core bullets will literally spin apart when driven to high speeds. In small caliber cartridges like the 204 and 223, it is very easy to attain high velocities.

Varmint ammunition is in demand. Other companies manufacture varmint hunting ammo. For example, Winchester has its Varmint X line of ammunition while Hornady offers the Varmint Express ammo.


Barnes has some spectacular videos of these bullets hitting and fragmenting in a seedless grape. Woodchucks and prairie dogs beware! This is the most recent video:

This video is the original one that Barnes published when the bullets were introduced:

Rumor was the second video had been pulled due to the graphic nature of the prairie dogs being eradicated. Truth be known, the scenes in the more recent video are about the same as far as I’m concerned. It’s not for the little kids, but it isn’t anything glorifying killing.

Both bullets are available immediately through Barnes’ website

Commercial Ammo Options

If you don’t load your own ammunition, fear not. Black Hills currently loads the .223 and .22-250 cartridges using the Varmint Grenade bullets.

Currently Black Hills offers the following loads:

.22-25036 grains4,250 fps
.223 Rem36 grains3,750 fps

CorBon once produced ammunition with the Varmint Grenade. However, the company pulled the line with no explanation.

Corbon Varmint Grenade

CorBon manufactured ammo in .204 Ruger, .22-250 and .223 Rem. With the company changing hands, I doubt we will see a return of these products.

Last update: May 31, 2021

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.