Gun Digest

Behind The Brass At Buffalo Bore Ammunition

Buffalo Bore is known for its seriously bad-ass ammunition and Tim Sundles is the man who made it come to fruition.

My grandfather would’ve liked Tim Sundles, partly because of his strong back, but mostly because of his character.

Tim is serious about his word: If he tells you there’s a dinosaur on Main Street, you’d best get your gun—your really big gun—and get ready for a gunfight. Tim is “politically incorrect” and a little rough around the edges. He’s also a gentleman who expects the same from those he meets. I’d advise against knocking off his hat, insulting his lady or spilling your martini on his flannel shirt.

At common-sense lever-action rifle ranges, this Heavy .35 Remington load from Buffalo Bore is suitable for anything in North America.

Tim grew up on the wild side of Idaho and Oregon. His stepfather taught him to handload when he was only 12 years old. That same year, Tim shot his first deer and had a run-in with a game warden, who cited him for not properly cutting his tag. Unfrazzled by his encounter with a moron opossum cop (you’ve got to be a moron to write a ticket to a 12-year-old boy for not properly cutting the tag for the first deer he ever killed), Tim became a committed hunter and conservationist. He also became embroiled in a long-running feud with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service because of its illegal dumping of wolves. So committed was Tim to the cause that he did jail time for a misdemeanor offense.

Buffalo Bore Start-Up

Tim started the Buffalo Bore ammunition company in 1997. His first commercial loads were for the .475 and .500 Linebaugh—serious big-bore cartridges by any measure.

Buffalo Bore offers a full line of lead-free Buffalo Barnes ammunition for handguns and rifles.

I first became acquainted with Tim in 2002, when I was looking to try his Heavy .35 Remington loads. “Heavy” is a good name for this stuff: Out of a Marlin lever gun, this load will push a 220-grain Speer bullet to just the other side of 2,200 fps, making it a load suitable for anything in North America … at least at any distance anyone has business shooting at stuff with a lever gun.

Since then, Tim has vastly expanded his line, and Buffalo Bore has evolved from a small, boutique-like ammo company into a full-fledged ammunition manufacturing powerhouse. I turn to Buffalo Bore anytime I need to really knock the snot out of something. In fact, I used the Buffalo Bore 430-grain .45-70 Magnum load on my first African buffalo hunt and ended up stopping the charging bull at about 20 feet. I used the same load on my second buffalo hunt and have also since taken several whitetail deer and a javelina with the company’s .327 Federal Magnum Hard Cast load.

Trust the Man, Trust His Ammo

It’s easy to trust ammunition from a man who uses what he makes in the wilderness backcountry—where you have to be serious about every shot taken. Tim saddles up and rides into parts unknown after griz, elk, sheep and other critters. He uses the same ammo he offers for sale, and he knows you can trust it—because he’s seen it work.

Hard-cast loads for little guns, such as this .380 Auto, turn them into deep-penetrating man-stoppers.

If there’s such thing as a modern-day mountain man, it just might be Tim Sundles. He could be, as described by Bear Claw Chris Lapp in the 1972 movie, Jeremiah Johnson, “ … blood kin to the grizzer that bit Jim Bridger’s ass!”

Tim is also a big believer in flat-nosed, hard-cast bullets, because he’s used those projectiles on game. He’s not a Jell-O junkie who bases his assertions on hypothetical pontification or on how well a bullet busts the hell out of a block of ordnance gelatin. Outside of his personal experience, he has lots of customers making the case for his ammunition; for example, the Montana Highway patrolman who was fishing the Clark Fork River when a big black bear decided an off-duty cop was more appetizing than a trout. When the bear rushed, the officer shot him in the shoulder with a Smith & Wesson Model .65. The 180-grain hard-cast bullet broke its shoulder, shattered its hip on exit and … might still be going.

You can expect this Buffalo Bore .327 Federal hard-cast load to penetrate—just like all the other hard-cast handgun loads from Buffalo Bore. It’ll drive to 3 feet or more in ordnance gelatin.

However, not all of Buffalo Bore’s success stories involve four legged critters:
A Marine clearing buildings in Iraq ran his rifle dry. During an ensuing hand-to-hand, life-or-death fight, the butt of the insurgent’s rifle knocked the Marine to the ground. On his back—and trying to keep from being beaten into a blood puddle—the Marine drew a compact .380 from his cargo pocket and fired one shot. The Buffalo Bore 100-grain hard-cast bullet struck his attacker just above the hip, angled through his torso, pierced his scapula and stopped under the skin, incapacitating him immediately.

Ever-Expanding Ammo Offerings

Today, Buffalo Bore has vastly expanded its catalog. No longer does it only make ammunition for big-bore stoppers. Although that’s still a big part of what Buffalo Bore offers, there’s currently a host of other interesting loads for very popular and even old-school cartridges.

The company offers sniper-quality .223 Remington ammunition, full-power-plus jacketed .30 Carbine loads that include a jacketed hollow-point, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum hard-cast loads, “heavy loads,” .30-30, .308, .348 Winchester and even ammunition for the .38-55, .375 and 9X23 Winchester. There’s even a Buffalo Bore load for the .45 Raptor, which is a .45-caliber rimless cartridge developed for the AR-10 that will launch a 250-grain bullet at 2,500 fps. Buffalo Bore now even offers a lead-free line of ammunition loaded with bullets from Barnes and Lehigh Defense.

Buffalo Bore’s Tim Sundles inspects a recent run of the company’s ammunition.

The most recent additions to the Buffalo Bore line of ammunition include a selection of dangerous-game loads for cartridges such as .375 Ruger, .416 Remington Magnum, .500 Smith & Wesson, 10mm Auto, .454 Casull, .44 Magnum, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70 Government and even .45 Colt+P. As a matter of fact, last summer, I watched a hunter take a massive African buffalo with a single shot using the .45-70 load at about 25 yards.

You might not need to crumple a Cape buffalo or fight it out with a big bear (as did the Alaskan guide who used a 9mm pistol loaded with the Buffalo Bore 9mm Outdoorsman load to stop a 900-pound grizzly). However, if you want ammunition that’s as serious and bad-ass as anything you’ll ever need—or the man who builds it—now you know where to get it. Just don’t call Tim Sundles (or me) if the recoil is a bit too much for your delicate, little hands.
Hey—man-up: This is serious stuff!

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2021 Concealed Carry issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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