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Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

I’ve managed to get quite a bit of ammo testing done in the last few months. I have reviewed several products from Buffalo Bore and each has been strikingly different in terms of materials, purpose, and chambering. Today we are taking a look at a round with both bark and bite, but not much kick, the Buffalo-Barnes 9mm 95gr +P+ .

General Background
Not too long ago, big-bore ammo maker Buffalo Bore began using lead-free Barnes bullets in their products. These bullets are known for their tough construction and ability to expand under harsh conditions. There are lots of loads in the Buffalo-Barnes line including .44 Mag, .357 Mag, .45-70 among others.

The load featured here consists of a lead-free Barnes expanding bullet and a brass case. The bullet’s point is deep and hollow-looking compared to traditional ammo.

Buffalo Bore Buffalo-Barnes TAC-XP 95gr +P+ Lead Free/Low Flash is available in a 20 round box for about $36.

Accuracy and Performance
I tested this load in a Ruger SR1911 9mm Officer pistol. I have reviewed this gun previously on TTAG and it was a solid performer. I knew what kind of accuracy this gun was capable of and it didn’t disappoint with this ammo. Average accuracy of three five-shot groups at 15 yards was 2”.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

Recoil was low and easy to control. I fired the bullets at both paper targets and against steel plates.

To my surprise, the bullets proved to be remarkably tough. The following photo is a bullet that left the muzzle at 1501fps (average of five shots over my Oehler 35P chronograph) and hit steel fifteen feet away. The bullet stayed together and looks incredible. This is a testament to how durable some modern projectiles are.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

Ballistic Performance
I received a 10% FBI gel block from Clear Ballistics for this section of my testing. The rounds were fired into the gel at a self-defense distance of twenty feet.

In the course of my testing, the load amazingly did not have any overpenetration. This surprised me at first considering their speed, but it was a welcome cherry on top for this already great round.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

Average penetration in bare gel was exactly 15”. You can clearly see two bullets right next to each other in the photo below. The picture was taken from the back of the block and the bullets were about 1″ away from end. That is great performance and it’s hard to get that from many small guns or short barrels.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

The bullets easily passed through denim, leather, and normal fabric and expanded reliably. I noticed no significant deviation in terms of expansion, clogging, or damage to the projectiles.

Wounding Capacity
This is very durable and powerful round that displays excellent self-defense characteristics. The wound channels in the gel were narrower than I’d have liked, but the expansion was certainly there, opening consistently. The expansion was immediate and the wound channel displayed this.

The best part of this load is that over-penetration wasn’t an issue. This has been a serious concern of mine with other personal defense ammo I’ve tested, including some from Buffalo Bore, but this one starts fast from the muzzle and stops fast in tissue. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry this in a compact 9mm.

Ammo Review: Buffalo Bore 9mm 95gr +P+ Lead Free

Overall Impressions
Buffalo Bore’s execution of this load is nothing short of stellar. The +P+ rating will scare some people away, but it sounds like more of a wrist-wrencher than it really is. Recoil was low, very similar to a regular 115gr standard ball target loads, but the bark was much, much louder and the target reacted in a manner that reflected that speed and expansion. The round is excellent for carry and cuts no corners in any department.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
Excellent performance considering I was firing a compact carry gun.

Handling: * * * * *
Recoil was negligible considering the extreme velocity. Follow-ups were easy and fast.

Reliability: * * * * *
No issues to report here.

Terminal Performance: * * * * *
The bullets showed remarkable durability, especially going through materials. The penetration was just right for a self-defense load and the wound channels were excellent.

Overall: * * * * *
Powerful, tough, and reliable, but easy on the hands, even in a compact gun. You can absolutely carry this round with confidence.

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  1. I use Barnes .44 mag copper bullets for deer hunting. 225 grains at around 1450 is devastating. And they retain their weight as well.
    We can thank the people who demanded lead free bullets. Lead dominated all rounds until a need arose for alternative materials

    • I think the devastating part is due to the fact that you are shooting .44 Magnum.

      I shot a 95 pound doe in the shoulder at 60 yards with a 240 grain soft point. The impact broke the deer’s shoulder and the caused such severe whiplash that it spun the deer half way around and BROKE ITS NECK.

      If I am hunting deer in environments where my longest shot is 100 yards or less, I will ALWAYS choose my single-shot .44 Magnum rifle.

      • During deer season, I carry a .44 Magnum in my glovebox loaded with 240gr XTPs.

        I have a very long driveway, you never know…

      • At 50 to 75 yards the copper slug really shines because it still expands fully in a 130 to 150 lb deer.
        Caught one in the armpit and it blew a 2 inch hole out the other side. He didn’t make 3 steps.

  2. Total copper bullet designs are useful.. I wonder if Buffalo Bore would kindly consider a 124 grain loading of a similar type? Perhaps even one for those of us not worried about overpenetration… such a load has much utility for it across the weight spectrum.

    • OMG stop worrying about over penetration. Worry about under penetration. Find me one FBI case where over penetration was an issue! There aren’t any.

  3. “Recoil was low, very similar to a regular 115gr standard ball target loads, but the bark was much, much louder and the target reacted in a manner that reflected that speed and expansion.”

    So, if you value your hearing, this might not be ideal in a carry gun…

    • The FBI Miami shootout was incorrectly blamed on ammo failures. What really happened is the FBI encountered two psychos—and one of them was just a hardcase who refused to die or stop despite being struck with several lethal wounds.

      If the agents had been armed with .357 Magnums with 125 grain hollowpoints, the result would have been the same. If they’d been armed with .308 battle rifles, it would have been different.

      The FBI went to 10mm, then .40, and now to an inferior 147 grain slow moving 9mm.

      They will change again in the future.

  4. Its counterintuitive, but often +P or +P+ JHP loads penetrate LESS than standard pressure loads. The reason for this is that the extra speed causes them to expand faster and to a larger diameter, doing more initial damage, but resulting in less penetration.

  5. I call BS on this. You do not give any info on the results. Where are they? Bullet expansion, weight retention and a host of other criteria to be met.

  6. You lost me at $36 for a box of 20 rounds. No way can I justify that price, because I’d want at least 200 rounds to see if my gun “likes” the ammo and sight-in and fill 2 mags.


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