Browning has long been known as a manufacturer of fine firearms, and you can find the distinctive Buckmark logo on everything from knives and trail cameras to crossbows and clothing. One product notably missing from this inventory, however, has been ammunition.
That changed with the company’s 2016 announcement of a new line of Browning-branded ammo, and I didn’t have to think twice when offered an opportunity to expend large quantities of the stuff during a couple of days of shooting at the excellent facilities of the JL Bar Ranch and Resort in Texas. I’ve been working with the new ammo ever since and have formed some solid first impressions—all positive.
The new line of rifle, handgun, shotgun and rimfire ammo is designed to deliver premium ammo performance at a price that’s often less than you’ll pay for competitive premium ammo.
Folks already shooting premium ammo will find themselves actually saving money without compromise.
“If you typically buy the cheapest stuff you can find, Browning ammo gives you an affordable option to step it up, in terms of performance, without completely emptying your wallet,” says Ben Frank, Browning Ammunition brand manager. “Folks already shooting premium ammo will find themselves actually saving money without compromise.”
It’s no secret that the ammo is produced by Olin Corp.—the manufacturer of Winchester ammo—but the design is all Browning. It is not just repackaged Winchester ammo, but it does come packaged with that famous Buckmark logo; and on that basis alone, I suspect sales will be brisk.
Here’s a closer look at the individual products.
The new Browning lineup includes two new rifle rounds with different bullet designs for optimal performance on either deer or big game.
The BXR Rapid Expansion Matrix Tip load is specifically for use on deer-sized game. This bullet has a tip constructed of 85 percent copper and 15 percent polymer. It’s designed to fragment upon impact while initiating rapid expansion of the bullet, thereby creating large wound channels and transferring maximum energy.
During testing at the JL Bar Ranch, it worked as advertised when I shot a .30-06 BXR 155-grain round into ballistic gelatin from a Browning BAR MK3 rifle with a 22-inch barrel at 100 yards. The round mushroomed beautifully, creating a large wound cavity and penetrating approximately 24 inches. The core and jacket remained intact.
“We like to call it ‘rapid expansion, rapid recovery,’ because deer don’t go far after being hit with BXR,” Frank says.
I used the BXR loads in testing two new rifles chambered in .270 Win. and .30-06 Springfield. In both cases, the Browning loads produced the best 100-yard groups of all tested ammo, with 1-inch average groups and sub-MOA best groups.
Clearly, Browning is doing something right with this deer load. Available BXR loads include .243 Win. 97 grain, .270 Win. 134 grain, .30-30 Win. 155 grain, .308 Win. 155 grain, .30-06 Springfield 155 grain, .300 Win. Mag. 155 grain and .300 WSM 155 grain.
BXC Controlled Expansion Terminal Tip ammo is built to take on larger, tougher animals, such as elk, moose and bear. The copper jacket and lead core are bonded through a proprietary process to help the bullet retain weight and achieve deep penetration. A solid metal tip, made of anodized aluminum, helps punch through tough hide and bone. BXC is available in .270 Win. 145 grain, .7mm Rem. Mag 155 grain, .308 Win. 168 grain, .30-06 Springfield 185 grain, .300 Win. Mag. 185 grain and .300 WSM 185-grain loads.
While Browning doesn’t set the MSRP for its ammo, the company says BXR ammo should sell for about $28 to $30 per box of 20, and BXC loads should retail for $35 to $37 per box of 20.
Like the rifle ammo, Browning’s handgun ammo is split into two offerings for different applications.
BXP Personal Defense, designed for optimal expansion and penetration, has a unique X-Point design. Browning says this design helps the bullet shed any material it might encounter, ensuring reliable and consistent expansion and penetration. The rounds have a distinctive look, with nickel-plated bullets and black nickel-plated cases that increase corrosion resistance and assist with smooth feeding.
“It’s designed to be an everyday-carry product, and it’s offered at a very affordable price point for such premium performance,” Frank points out.
In testing, the .380 Auto round—one of the meekest of the selfdefense cartridges—delivered surprisingly good performance. A 95-grain BXP round was fired into ballistic gelatin at a range of 7 yards with a Browning 1911-380 Black Label pistol with a 4¼-inch barrel. The round penetrated more than 11 inches, which is pretty good for a .380, and showed textbook-perfect expansion and good weight retention. This leads me to expect even better terminal performance from BXP ammo in larger cartridges.
I clocked the 180-grain 40 S&W load at 1,028 fps out of an H&K P2000 pistol with a 3 5/8-inch barrel, while the 147-grain 9mm load stepped out at 935 fps out of a S&W Shield with a 3.1-inch barrel. Accuracy was good on both counts. BXP ammo is also available in a 230-grain 45 ACP load.
The other handgun load, BPT Performance Target FMJ ammo, is loaded in bullet weights to match the personal defense ammo. I found the BPT ammo to be loaded slightly milder than the personal defense rounds, with the 40 S&W ammo running 110 fps slower and the 9mm load running 27 fps slower out of the guns used for testing.
You should be able to find BXP Personal Defense ammo for $16 to $18 per box of 20 rounds, while the BPT target loads should sell for approximately $15 to $20 per box of 50 rounds.
Browning’s shotshell offerings include loads tailored for waterfowl, upland game and target shooting.
BXD Waterfowl Extra Distance loads are designed to send steel shot downrange at high velocities using an “aerodynamically stabilized” long-range wad. Available loads (in 12 gauge) include 3-inch and 3.5inch #2 shot and BB loads, as well as a 3-inch #4 shot load. There’s also a 3-inch 20-gauge #2 shot load.
“Our goal on all of the shotshell products is to keep the shot as round as possible,” Frank explains. “On our Extra Distance Waterfowl loads, we achieve this by starting with premium round steel. We then plate the steel with blue zinc chromate. This plating provides corrosion and rust resistance.”
BXD Upland Extra Distance shotshells make use of nickel-plated shot (to reduce deformation) launched at high velocities to deliver tighter downrange patterns. In 20 gauge, there’s a 2¾-inch #5 shot load and 3-inch loads with #5 and #6 shot. One 2¾-inch 16-gauge load is offered with #6 shot, along with 2¾-inch 12-gauge loads with #5 and #6 shot. There’s also a 3-inch 12-gauge load with #5 shot.
BPT Performance Target shotshells are made with high-antimony shot to reduce deformation and maintain tight patterns. They have a slick outer hull surface to help ensure consistent ejection. Available loads include a 2¾-inch 20-gauge load with #7.5 shot and a 2¾-inch 16-gauge load with #8 shot. There are two 12-gauge 2¾-inch loads with #7.5 shot. One is loaded to a muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps, while a hotter load launches shot at 1,300 fps. A 2¾-inch 12-gauge load with #8 shot rounds out the selection.
I tested the new shotshells on the challenging JL Bar Ranch sporting clays course and did about as well as I ever do at sporting clays: I missed some easy shots and connected on some difficult ones, such as a long-range rising-teal simulation using a 20-gauge load. In my defense, I’m one of those dinosaurs who learned to (and prefers to) shoot shotguns on live birds, not clay ones. Nevertheless, the performance of the Browning shotshells left no doubt that they would be deadly in the field.
Prices should be in the range of $20 to $21 per box for the BXD waterfowl load, $17 to $18 per box for the BXD Upland load and $7.75 to $8.50 per box for the target loads.
BPR Rimfire offerings include a 40-grain blackened lead round-nose load in a 400-round bulk pack that is designed for use in semiauto guns. Also offered is a high-velocity, 40-grain, hollow-point round in 100-count packs. These are meant for hunting or target shooting.
There’s also a high-velocity, 37-grain, fragmenting hollowpoint load with a bullet designed to break into four pieces upon impact.
Pricing for the BPR Performance Rimfire ammo should be $23 to $26 for the 400-round bulk pack and $10 to $12 per 100-round packs.
|RIFLE LOAD||Avg. Muzzle Velocity
|Avg. 100-yard Group
|Best 100-yard Group
|Browning 270 Win. BXR 134-grain Matrix Tip (shot from a rifle with 22-inch barrel)||2896||1.02||0.89|
|Browning 30-06 BXR 155-grain Matrix Tip (shot from a rifle with 22-inch barrel)||2856||0.96||0.92|
|HANDGUN LOAD||Avg. Muzzle Velocity
|Avg. 25-yard Group
|Best 25-yard Group
|BPX X-Point 40 S&W 180-grain from 30-inch barrel (Groups measured as best five of eight shots)||1028||3.26||2.58|
|BPX X-Point 9mm 147-grain 9mm from 3.1-inch barrel (Groups measured as best five of eight shots)||935.6||3.18||2.77|
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.