Barnes Bulk Packs: Great News for Inline Muzzleloading Enthusiasts

By Randy Wakeman

One of the eternal issues surrounding bullet selection for inline muzzleloading hunters is the variability not of saboted bullets, but of the inside diameter of an individual muzzleloader. Just because a muzzleloader is designated "Fifty Caliber" doesn't tell you anything specifically. The actual land-to-land diameter of your inline might measure .497 inches and I've had them as loose as .508 inches. "Fifty caliber" doesn't mean anything, until you try to load it with any old prepackaged saboted projectile that is. Now we have sabots that we cuss at because they are hard to load. Or, they literally drop down the barrel making poor accuracy a virtual certainty. The very same saboted bullet is either tight or loose, depending on what we are trying to load it into.


An interference fit of .003 - .004 inches is considered ideal for smooth yet firm loading while yielding good accuracy. To achieve that, bullet manufacturers are forced to guess. It is an impossible task, as saboted bullets have no idea if they are going to be loaded into a tight-barreled Thompson or a loosey-goosey White and other examples in-between.


No bullet manufacturer can possibly know what propellant is being used. It might be corrosive Pyrodex or Triple Se7en, a propellant that requires licking a patch and going up and down your bore a couple of times to get the crud out from a previous shot so a sabot can be loaded without having to plow through the garbage from the previous shot. Or, you might be using Blackhorn 209 that requires no swabbing between shots. There are countless variables.


Sabots try to be all things to all rifles all the time. They can't, but sometimes we luck out and a prepackaged sabot / bullet fits. If it doesn't, we have dozens of different "45 / 50" sabots to choose from. Not too many people like the idea of paying for sabots that end up in the garbage can. Barnes has responded to this, so now you can get Barnes muzzleloading bullets and fine-tune the bullet to your application.


Two of my favorite big-game hunting bullets are the T-EZ 250 and 290 grain Barnes. They've never been available before in bulk, but they are now. They offer the performance of the classic tube-type "MZ-Expanders," but with significantly improved aerodynamics. Have a tighter barreled gun? The MMP HPH-24 sabot is likely the best sabot for you for either the 250 or the 290. Have a more open bore diameter? Use an MMP HPH-12.


The Barnes 290 T-EZ has, for practical purposes, no velocity limitation when fired out of an inline muzzleloader and expansion initiates at strike velocities as low as 1200 fps. The 290 T-EZ is as close to as a "if you can hit it, you can eat it" type of projectile as can be obtained and does not fragment like a varmint bullet when crushing bone. An ideal 200 yard plus projectile, I can personally attest to how well it performs on a 6-1/2 foot long black bear at close range.


The combination was 100 grains by volume Blackhorn 209, Barnes T-EZ 290, MMP HPH-12 sabot and a very quick one-shot bag of a Minnesota black bear. A complete pass-through, taking out both lungs and the top of the heart, with a blood trail Stevie Wonder could follow. My eighty-two year old father used the same combination on his black bear, using the sabot supplied with the prepackaged T-EZ 290 and the result was the same: one shot, one quick kill with a complete passthrough and an impressive wound channel. Two beautiful rugs from prime hides and truly delicious bear steaks you can cut with a spoon were the results.


In a few short days, we will again head north in search of the 600 pounders that we know are out there. Dad is using the same load. I'm changing it up in favor of the .458" 300 grain Barnes Original Semi-Spitzer FB #457010 with the Orange .458 / 50 MMP sabot. This is another all-time favorite out of my frontloaders that has never let me down. Another Barnes bulk-pack offering, it is available solely in 50 round boxes without sabots from Barnes Bullets.

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Copyright 2010, 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.