Some years ago, long time hunter, handloader, and experimenter Tim Sundles founded Buffalo Bore Ammunition. At first, he concentrated on big bore loads with the slogan Strictly Big Bore Strictly Business. Along the way, Buffalo Bore’s line has expanded to include standard calibers such as the .32 ACP, .38 Special, and .38 Super. He has also offered first-quality loads in 9mm Luger and .44 Special. Some of these calibers were in need of help, and he has supplied quality through well thought out loadings that offer superior performance.
Buffalo Bore still offers the hard hitting .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, and other calibers. I have not tested every offering, but I have tested many. While my opinions of the viability of a certain caliber and load combination may differ from yours, my opinions are actually conclusions based on research and field experience. The single most important criteria for a hunting load or personal defense load is penetration. We do not need the same penetration for home defense as for hunting bear of course, but we need adequate penetration for the task at hand.
As an example, many years ago, I was involved in an incident in which a .45 ACP 200-grain JHP—that was the darling of the gun writing crowd at the time—penetrated perhaps three inches of tough shoulder muscle and bone and expanded to 1.00 inch. The effect was not immediate and a planting shot was needed. This had not happened with 230-grain FMJ loads in my experience. In another case, an officer was attacked by a pit bull. A touch of irony—he had just transitioned from the four-inch barrel .357 Magnum to a high capacity 9mm handgun. He fired two rounds into the dog’s shoulder attempting a heart shot. (You cannot use a human aiming point on animals.) The 115-grain JHP bullets flattened out and stopped in two inches of muscle. The officer was bitten below the groin and ended up enduring surgery and lost six months of work.
In another case, a good friend dropped a large deer with a black powder rifle. When he made his way to the deer, the animal was still alive but down. Jan drew his 9mm Makarov loaded with JHP loads and fired into the animals neck. He noted little effect. The animal expired in a few minutes. When the deer was skinned, the bullets fell out of the neck on the floor of the abattoir.
Another example was when a friend got into a fight with a coyote intent on raiding his hen house. This friend carried a three inch barrel .45 Colt SAA on the farm. He emptied the gun, and finally killed the coyote with the fifth hit. We later clocked the JHP loads at 750 fps.
In another case a local judge survived an assassination attempt by holding his hand in front of his face. The .380 ACP FMJ bullet struck the edge of his hand and stopped in his wrist. I could go on…
I have used Buffalo Bore loads with excellent results in several calibers. Here is something you must understand. These loads are designed for specific handguns. The .45 Colt +P is designed for Ruger revolvers. They are not suitable for cowboy-type revolvers. However, Buffalo Bore offers standard loads for every .45 Colt revolver as well.
By the same token, the good hot .38 Smith and Wesson load is ideal for the solid frame Smith and Wesson Terrier revolver but not a turn of the previous century Iver Johnson revolver. There are excellent loads for the .44 Special but some are plainly marked NOT FOR THE CHARTER ARMS BULLDOG. All handguns are not created equal.
By the same token, Buffalo Bore offers a line of Tactical Loads in .357 Magnum that are loaded to a lower velocity which gives them excellent control and makes them viable for light revolvers such as the Ruger SP101. Another piece of information. Do not confuse lead bullets with the hard cast bullets used by Buffalo Bore. Hard cast bullets are a special alloy that does not lead the barrel and which exhibit excellent accuracy and penetration. They are not swaged lead bullets, which are useful primarily for low velocity practice loads.
Let’s look at some of the standouts—.32 ACP. This is a hard cast flat point bullet at 1100 fps from my Colt 1903. I have used the .32 ACP as a small game load and enjoy plinking with the piece. This load maximizes the caliber and offers excellent accuracy. If you must carry the .32 ACP this is the load.
.32 Smith and Wesson Long
I have handloaded this accurate and inoffensive caliber for some time. I have taken squirrel and rabbit with the caliber. Buffalo Bore offers a 100-grain wadcutter and a 100-grain SWC, each at over 800 fps from my two-inch barrel Smith and Wesson. For dispatching reptiles and taking game, it is accurate and offers excellent accuracy. The average 98-grain RNL factory load breaks 600-650 fps from the same revolver.
.32 H&R Magnum 100-grain JHP
This load really gets the .32 Magnum off its knees. At 1150 fps in my Ruger SP101, this load is 100 fps faster than competing factory loads in the 85-grain weight. This brings shooters a factory load that equals our handloads. This makes the .32 Magnum a crackerjack small game load. If you must deploy a low recoil revolver for personal defense this one has promise.
Buffalo Bore offers several good quality JHP loads including a standard pressure low flash load and also a superb .38-44 Outdoorsman load using a hard cast bullet. Many are suitable for personal defense. The +P 158-grain Semi wad cutter hollow point expands well and breaks over 900 fps from a 2-inch barrel. This load is recommended only for a snub nose with a steel frame and hand filling grips. From a four-inch barrel, velocity is well over 1,000 fps. There isn’t a better performer in .38 Special for defense use. I use the standard pressure low flash 125-grain JHP in my airweight revolver due to heavy recoil with the 158-grain load. For a home defense revolver, even a .357 Magnum caliber, the Buffalo Bore LSWCHP is a great option.
Author’s Note: Buffalo Bore doesn’t use test barrels for advertising purposes but catalogs actual velocity from specific handgun barrel lengths on the website. You can take these figures to the bank.
The sometimes problematical 9mm Luger offers excellent performance when loaded to true +P and +P+ pressure. All handguns are not rated for a steady diet of +P+ loads. The Glock 19 will exhibit 1350 fps on average with the Buffalo Bore 115-grain +P+ load. The 124-grain load offers greater penetration and may be an ideal 9mm service load. These loads maximize the 9mm.
Buffalo Bore offers fast loads in both 115- and 124-grain weights but the heavy bruiser is a 147-grain JHP at 1100 fps. This is 200 fps faster than the average 9mm load in this weight. This gives one pause if you have not regarded the 147-grain weight as useful in the 9mm. Performance is much different with the Super’s supercharged velocity.
Buffalo Bore offers a number of personal defense and hunting loads including a special Tactical Line that offers good expansion and control. A standout I often carry in my revolver when hiking is the Buffalo Bore 180-grain hard cast. At 1335 fps from a four-inch barrel, this load offers excellent penetration for animal defense and hunting thin skinned game.
My primary focus is personal defense. There is a need for viable defense loads in .44 Special and .45 Colt that split the difference between the weak-kneed cowboy-action loads (they are fun and serve a purpose, but powerhouses they are not) and full-power hunting loads. Buffalo Bore offers both full wadcutter and semi wadcutter bullet loads for these calibers. Let’s consider this, a flat nose bullet isn’t deflected easily and doesn’t push flesh aside; it cuts right through. Such a bullet will break bone and penetrate to the vitals.
A 200-grain SWC at 1000 fps isn’t difficult to control in the Ruger GP100 .44 Special in double-action pairs but offers good power. A full power .44 Special load that is an excellent choice for medium-sized game at moderate range, or for defense in the field or against animals, is the 255-grain SWC at 1000 fps. This bullet features a long nose and thick driving band that is accurate and penetrates deep. This load shows us what the .44 Special is capable of. There is also a lead hollow point 190-grain load at 1100 fps that offers excellent wound potential.
There is more to Buffalo Bore loads than just power. They are carefully loaded, accurate, and feature a clean powder burn. They are well worth their price.
What’s your favorite Big Bore gun? Have you tried Buffalo Bore? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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