By Richard A. Mann II
The 115-grain Triple Shock X-Bullet recovered from this axis buck exhibited deep penetration, high weight retention and perfect expansion.
George Strait’s voice leaked from the speakers of the big Ford F-250 I was driving toward the San Antonio airport. All his exes live in Texas, and I was leaving a few there myself. Ol’ George was singing about women. I, on the other hand, was reminiscing about the performance of Barnes Triple Shock X-Bullets.
The hunt was held on the 700 Springs Ranch, which covers more than 22 square miles near the town of Telegraph. The ranch offers fabulous whitetail hunting, but this trip was in late May and was primarily for axis deer and other exotics like aoudad, mouflon, Corsican and Barbado sheep. Plus, the ranch was teeming with feral hogs, jackrabbits and other varmints. There are no high fences at 700 Springs and no shortage of game.
Like the standard X-Bullet, the new Triple Shock features all copper construction. Barnes claims the bullet delivers a triple impact: one when it first strikes game, another as the bullet begins opening, and a third when the bullet fully expands. Triple Shocks are easily distinguished from standard X-Bullets by the rings around the base end.
It was easy to get the Triple Shock X-Bullets to shoot accurately out of the Sisk .257 Roberts.
Prior to the hunt, I’d safely worked up a maximum load. Pushed by a generous supply of Ramshot Big Game powder, the 115-grain Triple Shock bullet left the 20-inch barrel of my .257 Roberts Sisk Rifle at just over 2,900 fps. That’s .25-06 performance!
Day one of the hunt found cameraman Bryant Hall from the TV show “Gone Hunting with Keith & Tony” and me in an elevated blind overlooking an open area along the South Llano River. We were watching several whitetails and axis does when an axis stag with high antlers appeared.
Unlike white-tailed deer, axis can have antlers at any time. This makes axis hunting attractive because it is available outside of traditional whitetail hunting seasons. Native to India, axis were introduced to Texas in the 1930s.
Hunting for TV is not easy. Animals refuse to follow any script, and the hunter is at the mercy of the camera. The deer spooked and headed for the trees. When the stag stopped and presented a quartering-away shot at about 170 yards, I let the X-Bullet go. It entered just in front of the hindquarter and stopped just under the hide on the opposite shoulder 30 inches away. I generally prefer a bullet to exit, but considering what the 115-grain bullet went through, it did just fine. The axis ran about 50 yards and collapsed.
On the second day, Adirondack Optics CEO Terry Gordon and I traveled the ranch shooting jackrabbits from up close to beyond 200 yards. I used a New Ultra Light Arms rifle in .223 Rem. Terry was armed with a unique rifle built by Lawrence Rifles chambered for a .14-caliber wildcat cartridge based on the .221 Fireball case. Both rifles were equipped with an Adirondack Optics’ SmartScope.
None of the jackrabbits stopped the 53-grain Triple Shocks from my .223, nor did any give more than a quiver after bullet impact. Some might argue the Triple Shock is too tough for jacks, but it was obvious these bullets opened quickly. Pushed by 26.5 grains of Ramshot X-Terminator, these miniature bullets exited the barrel at 3,300 fps and were very accurate. And one helped me eliminate a big feral hog. Wild pigs are considered nuisances at 700 Springs.
Day three found Adirondack’s Jim Armstrong and me seven miles from the lodge on the backside of the ranch, where we glassed an expanse of open country. After an hour or so, I quit counting the turkeys and whitetails. That’s when I spotted a Barbado ram through my 10x42 binoculars. Barbado originated in Texas from Barbados Blackbelly sheep, which were crossed with Rambouillet and mouflon sheep.
We started the stalk, but at about 200 yards, we spooked the ram. An hour later, we spotted some wild hogs and made a good stalk. Then, just as I centered the reticle of the Adirondack on the biggest pig’s shoulder, Jim spooked it trying to get the hunt on video. Strike two.
Right at dusk, another Barbado, two ewes and a young axis buck came out at 500 yards. We made a perfect stalk using the oaks, cedars and wind to hide our approach, all the time running a race against the sunlight. At 135 yards, I signaled to Jim that this was the spot. I was hunting with a MDM Buckwaka .50-caliber muzzleloader. Barnes had also provided some of its new Spit-Fire muzzleloading bullets but, true to form, I always forget something when I go on a hunt. I had left those Xes in West Virginia. Luckily, Craig Sanborn of MDM had plenty of Barnes bullets on hand.
I eased the hammer back on the MDM, touched the trigger and the 250-grain Barnes Expander, fueled by two 50-grain Triple Seven pellets, slapped the ram hard right behind the shoulder. He went down within 20 feet of where he stood, and the bullet buried deep in the Texas soil.
The X-Bullets simply Xed out everything they were thrown at in Texas. And unlike many of my past experiences with standard X-Bullets, developing loads with the Triple Shocks was easy. I never varied seating depth or primers searching for accuracy. The second powder I tried in the .257 Roberts, and the first with the .223 Rem, performed great on paper and in the field.
I am gearing up for an African hunt next March with Lyon Safaries out of Thabazimbi, South Africa. We will be hunting a variety of plains game. We have not settled on which rifles we will be using, but if I get my way, we will leave some Triple Shock X-Bullets in Africa, too.
Reprinted from the November 2004 issue of Buckmasters GunHunter Magazine