Barnes Buster Bullets

barnes_buster_bulletsBarnes has introduced their new Barnes Buster line of bullets designed specifically for hog, moose, bison and bear hunting.  The Buster bullets are “heavy-for-caliber” handgun and lever gun bullets that are designed to penetrate these notoriously tough animals.

The Buster line of bullets use a heavy lead core with a thick copper jacket for “minimal expansion, deep penetration and maximum weight retention.”  The bullets will track straight through dense muscle and heavy bone.  Barnes reported that using a T/C Encore, a .45-70 drove straight through a bison, which was anchored on the spot.

The bullets will be available for .44, .45, and .500 magnum revolvers and .45-70 rifles.  The .45-70 bullets (.458” @ 400 grains) are available at the Barnes site now.  The handgun bullets should be available sometime during the middle of the year.  The bullets are designed for deep penetration, especially on potentially dangerous game like bear.  The loads would also be good for other tough critters like feral hogs and the like.  I would expect that these rounds would do quite well against all of the feral hogs that we have here in the south eastern United States.  We seem to be overrun by the darn things.


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


Barnes Reloading Manual No. 4

Released in 2008, the Barnes Reloading Manual No. 4 hit the market at just the right time. A lot of new shooters were exploring the reloading hobby and the first great ammunition shortage of the 21st century was only months away.

While this book is not out of print, it is still available in the secondary market. Before you pick one up, make sure you know what it covers – and what it does not. There are some excellent alternatives.