Fred Barnes founded his company, Barnes Bullets, in 1932. The company has since earned a solid reputation as a leader within the ammunition industry with its rifle ammo. Barnes manufactures bullets for practically every caliber in production, and they sell their fair share of custom creations, ideal for hunters and serious shooters in any situation.
The Long and Winding History of Barnes Ammunition Company
Like many American ammunition innovators, Fred Barnes began his business looking for a better way to do things. To that end, he started making ammunition in his basement in Bayfield, Colorado. He sold the company to Burford Corporation, which was based in Mayfield, Oklahoma. They then sold the company, which relocated once again to Montrose, Colorado, a bit of a homecoming for Barnes (which was eventually renamed Colorado Custom Bulles). The company expanded to more than 100 employees by the 1940s, but lost its momentum through the 60s, and shrank to only two employees.
This led the company to be purchased in 1974 by Randy and Coni Brooks (a couple of newlyweds who had previously been in the jewelry business), who then moved it to American Fork, Utah. Unhappy with the quality of ammunition being produced by the company and wanting to see it revitalized, it was Fred Barnes himself who urged the Brooks couple to purchase the company that once bore his name. Barnes saw in the Brooks an attention to quality and detail, so they bought the company on his urging and went back to its roots – making rounds in their basement, with two young daughters drafted to stuff bullet cores into jackets.
Fred Barnes was eventually hired by the couple as a consultant and the manufacturing facilities were moved to a 40,000-square-foot area in Lindon, Utah. They reverted to the Barnes Bullets name and – with the help of Fred Barnes – began rebuilding the brand.
The introduction of a copper jacketed bullet was Fred Barnes' first innovation. This bullet performed better in tests for both penetration and expansion when compared to other 1930s ammo in production. He began large-scale manufacturing soon after these tests, and Barnes grew to be the biggest custom bullet manufacturer in the U.S.
Through contacts in Safari Club International, Randy was committed to having firsthand experience with the performance of his products in the field and was intent to demonstrate to global hunters that his bullets were the best on the market. He spent 100 days per year hunting with his bullets and shared the testimonials of satisfied Safari Club members who had used his bullets for hunting, which eventually led Barnes Bullets to grow once again into a major name in the ammunition industry by the late 1980s.
While Barnes is primarily known for ammunition, this is not the only product line they offer. The company also offers shooting accessories such as dummy rounds, gun cases, rifle bore cleaners, reloading manuals and hunting apparel.
Barnes Bullet Company
In 1985, Randy Brooks developed his idea of an expanding bullet made entirely of copper. This bullet came to be called the "X-bullet," as it splits into the shape of an X upon impact. Many bullets of the Barnes line today are based on this design from 30 years ago. Today, Barnes bullets are manufactured in nearly every caliber for rifles in use, and the company continues to improve their products year after year. They have won world records for their accuracy, and many major manufacturers – including PMC, Sako and Lazzeroni – use their bullets. The groundbreaking X-bullet is available to shooters in many different configurations, the three most popular designs being Triple Shock, Tipped Triple Shock, and XPB.
The Barnes X-Bullet quickly became the gold standard for big game hunters in the United States and around the world. Weight retention, penetration and expansion were brought to new levels by this round introduced by the Barnes company after Brooks wanted a better way to put down Alaskan brown bear. Indeed, the first animal ever bagged with this round was the Alaskan brown bear that inspired Brooks to go back to the drawing board for a better way to hunt big game. The rounds promise quick, humane kills with small blood trails. And you’ll be amazed at how few (if any) lost or wounded animals you leave with these rounds.
Looking forward, Barnes is developing their ammo lines for personal defense, police and military applications. The TAC-XPD line is renowned for deep penetration, excellent expansion and great weight retention. Barnes provides a variety of bullet types for the military, which are classified, but the public does know about the Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration (RRLP) bullet – designed for warfare in urban environments.
In 2010, the sale of Barnes to Remington Outdoor sent shockwaves through the ammunition industry. Randy Brooks continued to work for the company after the buyout, helping Remington to continue the long-standing tradition of innovation associated with Barnes. Brooks can do anything anyone on the manufacturing line can do and often arrives for his workday while the graveyard shift is still on the job. He insisted on maintaining seniority benefits for his employees as part of the Remington deal.
Coni Brooks also continued to work for Remington, though she didn’t wear quite as many hats as she did when it was a family-owned organization. She primarily acts as an assistant to her daughter Jessica Brooks-Stevens, who is the brand manager. Both women display their big game trophies onsite at Barnes headquarters. The couple finally retired from the business at the beginning of 2015.
While the core of the company’s market is and always has been big game hunters, Barnes has lately expanded into the defense and self-defense markets. Indeed, X-bullet technology is ideal for embassy security defending against suicide bombers and other attacks. Its unique profile means it can penetrate straight through windshields. And the frangible-core round from Barnes holds its integrity while cycling through automatic weapons, despite expanding significantly when hitting a soft target. Randy claims if you get hit by one of these, “there’s nothing left but a pair of smoking boots.”
Bulk Barnes Bullets
These are some of the more popular Barnes rounds, which can often be found in bulk quantities:
- Barnes 380 ACP Ammo: Barnes .380 ACP ammo is an American-made self-defense round employing the TAC-XP HP bullet Barnes is known for around the world. It’s a jacketed hollow point round with a nickel-plated brass casing and a boxer primer.
- Barnes 9mm Ammo: Barnes 9mm ammo boasts a jacketed hollow point, a nickel-plated brass casing and a boxer primer. Those seeking out American-made rounds for self-defense should look no further than this Barnes ammo.
- Barnes 357 Magnum Ammo: The Barnes Bullet Company .357 Magnum round is a brass-cased, jacketed hollow point round with a boxer primer. This round is part of the XPB HP line, which is popular with reloaders.
Today, Barnes continues to be an innovator by growing their product line while maintaining the quality for which they're known. Shooters around the globe appreciate and value Barnes' excellent products and commitment to providing superior ammo, which is why Barnes Bullets will remain a premier manufacturer for years to come.