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Barnes' Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful

Barnes’ Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful

By Eric Stecker

Other important and potentially dangerous facts revealed in Barnes’ tests that every game hunting reloader needs to know.

Barnes recently published test results on their website at the following url:


I encourage you to read their report before you continue reading this article. They shot Berger, Nosler and Barnes bullets into bone encased in ballistic gelatin at impact velocities consistent with (according to Barnes) 100 yard and 1,000 yard shots using a 7mm WSM and a 300 Weatherby. They also list accuracy results which I will address later.

Based on the opening text at the top of the report it seems that Barnes is working to provide the hunter with reasons why he should use Barnes instead of Berger or Nosler. The opening text says that “(Barnes is) finding that more hunters are choosing one bullet and discounting another simply because of a BC value. For hunting applications, frankly, this is unethical and careless for many reasons.”

Publisher's Note:
Barnes has changed part of their web site report as described here in this LRH thread:

Edited Barnes Report
Since Berger’s have the highest BCs among all bullets used for hunting we believe they are referring to hunters who are choosing Berger Hunting VLD and we couldn’t disagree more with their comment. In truth, Barnes’ comments and test results have not been able to provide any factual evidence supporting their opinion that it is “unethical and careless” to choose the high BC, highly successful Berger Hunting VLD. Instead they have proven with their test results why Berger Hunting VLDs work so well on game. They also published some very unsafe information but I will get to that later.

Marketing Hype at Work

Regarding their opinion that it is “unethical and careless” to choose a bullet based on BC we disagree completely (of course) but not just because our bullets have high BCs. The fact is one of the most significant aspects of ethical hunting is the ability for a hunter to achieve proper shot placement. There is no arguing that terminal performance is important however if you can’t put the bullet in the right spot construction means very little.

A bullet with a high BC provides a hunter with less drop and drift along with higher impact velocity. Combine increased velocity retention (better drop and drift performance) with Match Grade quality (not Made for Match Shooting which is different) and you get a bullet that is easier to put in the right spot. To ignore this important aspect of a hunting bullet’s performance is “unethical and careless”.

Another important consideration in choosing a bullet that is ethical for hunting is, of course, terminal performance (how the bullet performs upon impact with the animal). Barnes states that “not nearly enough focus is on the proper construction and function of the bullet.” The reality is most hunters don’t have the time, facilities or materials needed to focus their attention on the construction and function of hunting bullets. Hunters rely on bullet makers to provide products that work properly for their listed purpose. Hunters then use these bullets in the field and each product (like all products) develops a performance reputation.

Berger’s rapid growth as a popular game hunting bullet is due to producing consistently repeatable, successful results in the field. Why it works so well is hardly worth focusing on if you are a satisfied hunter with better things to do with your time. I believe that what Barnes wanted to say is “not nearly enough focus is on the proper construction and function of the (Barnes) bullet.”

Barnes marketing hype continues with the opinion that “a match bullet is designed to punch paper, NOT to take down big game at close or even longer distances.” To me this is one of the most ridiculous and insulting statements a bullet maker can say out loud to hunters. Has no one ever considered that you can make hunting bullets using Match Grade quality materials, procedures and tolerance!? Of course you can! Any bullet maker can if they want to but they choose not too because either they don’t know how or it is easier to make bullets of less than Match Grade quality.

Personally, I believe that bullet makers who believe that hunters don’t want Match Grade quality in their hunting bullets are out of touch with the advancements in hunting rifle manufacturing quality. With both improved factory hunting rifles and the ever increasing number of custom built hunting rifles we are seeing Match quality performance becoming the expected result. Many hunting rifles are capable of sub ½ MOA and even ¼ MOA accuracy. This level of performance is unlikely with anything less than Match Grade quality hunting bullets.

I still shake my head when I hear someone say “Match Grade bullets are for punching paper”. Not anymore! To be clear many Match Grade bullets are only for targets and not suitable for hunting. We make several bullets that are meant for target only. They say “Target” right on the label. What I am saying is that “Hunting” and “Match Grade” can and do coexist. Berger Hunting VLDs say “Hunting” on the label and the color of the box (blaze orange) makes the intended purpose of these bullets very clear even though the label also says Match Grade.

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