My grandfather would’ve liked Tim Sundles, partly because of his strong back, but mostly because of his character. Sundles is serious about his word; if he tells you there’s a dinosaur in the street; you best get your gun—your really big gun. Tim is politically incorrect and a little rough on the edges. He’s also a gentleman who expects the same from those he meets. I’d advise against knocking his hat off, insulting his lady, or spilling your martini on his flannel shirt.
Tim grew up on the wild side of Idaho and Oregon. His stepfather taught him to handload at age 12. 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 — you gotta be a moron to cite a 12-year-old boy for not properly cutting the tag for his first deer — Tim became a committed hunter and conservationist. And, because of their illegal dumping of wolves, Tim became embroiled in a long running feud with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. So committed was Tim to the cause, he did jail time for a misdemeanor offense.
Sundles started Buffalo Bore in 1997 and his first commercial loads were for the 475 and 500 Linebaughs—serious big bore cartridges by any measure. I first became acquainted with him 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 they’ll push a 220-grain Speer bullet to just the other side of 2200 fps.
Since then, Sundles has vastly expanded his line, and Buffalo Bore has evolved from a small, boutique-like ammo company, to full-fledged ammunition manufacturing powerhouse. I turn to Buffalo Bore anytime I needed to really knock the snot out of something. I used his 430-grain 45-70 Magnum load to stop a charging African buffalo at about 20 feet. Last year four other hunters and I took buffalo with the same load. I’ve also taken several whitetail deer with his 327 Federal Magnum Hard Cast load.
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. Sundles saddles up and rides into parts unknown after griz, elk, sheep, and other critters. He uses the same ammo he offers for sale, and knows you can trust it because he’s seen it work. If there’s such thing as a modern-day mountain man, it just might be Tim Sundles. He just might be, “…blood kin to the grizzer that bit Jim Bridger’s ass!”1
Not just a big man, Tim is a big believer in flat nosed, hard cast bullets too. Because he’s used those projectiles on game, he’s not a Jell-O junkie who bases his claims on hypothetical pontification. Of course, he has lots of customers making the case for him too. Like 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 the shoulder, shattered the hip on exit, and might still be going.
Not all Buffalo Bore success stories involve four-legged critters though. A Marine clearing buildings in Iraq ran his rifle dry, and during an ensuing hand-to-hand fight, the butt of the insurgent’s rifle knocked him to the ground. On his back — trying to keep from being beat into a blood puddle — the Marine drew a compact 380 from his cargo pocket, and fired one shot. The 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 the camel jockey immediately.
You may not need to crumple a Cape buffalo, or fight it out with a big bear, like the Alaskan guide who, using a 9mm, stopped a 900-pound grizzly — hell bent on turning him into a chew toy — with Buffalo Bore’s Outdoorsman load. However, if you want ammunition that’s as serious and badass as 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. Man up! This is serious stuff!
1Bear Claw Chris Lapp, Jeremiah Johnson, Warner Brothers, 1972.