Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Barnes' Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful
Bryan found through his extensive testing that Barnes published BCs are typically 5% higher than actual. This is likely due to the fact that Barnes’ BCs are tested over 300 yards; Bryan’s are tested over 600 yards. In other words, Barnes published BCs may be perfectly accurate for the speed range they are tested, and the 5% discrepancy is likely due to the velocity dependence of BC. In this case I left the BC at .450 since I do not have scientific evidence that this particular BC is incorrect.

Berger Barnes Bullet Performance


Using this data there are several facts that reveal themselves. The most important regarding hunter safety is Barnes’ published 1,000 yard velocities. These velocities are not achievable using the velocities reported for the 100 yard gelatin test. More importantly, the muzzle velocities needed to achieve the reported 1,000 yard velocities are so high that they are at best not achievable at all and at worst extremely unsafe should a hunter attempt to achieve their published 1,000 yard velocities for any of the bullets listed.


Another fact that reveals itself related to down range velocity is Barnes’ focus on 1,000 yards. If you achieve the muzzle velocities needed to match their 100 yard reported velocities (which are hotter than most manuals list but are not out of reach by those who work up their loads safely) the point at which the bullet’s velocity falls below 1,800 fps is at distances less than 1,000 yards.

All Berger Hunting VLDs perform effectively at 1,800 fps impact velocity or faster. On my chart I list the yardage where each bullet’s velocity is slightly faster than 1,800 fps in the “Suggested Lethal Range” column. You can clearly see that none of the bullets listed are going 1,800 fps or faster at 1,000 yards. (I accept that the other brands may have slower velocities at which they can still work but if impact velocity is much slower than 1,800 fps kinetic energy falls below generally recommended levels)

Unethical and Careless?

Based on the results from their testing Barnes’ focus on 1,000 yards is frankly confusing. First, they report impact velocities at 1,000 yards for all the bullets tested that are not safely achievable in the cartridges used. Then they ignore entirely that none of these bullets are suitable for 1,000 yard game hunting. They are all too light and are going too slow for this application. Berger Hunting VLDs are able to effectively reach farther than the other brands but even we don’t recommend game hunting at 1,000 yards.

I suggest that those who seriously consider trying to hit an animal with a Barnes bullet at 1,000 yards based on the provided data should reconsider this decision. Ask any serious 1,000 yard competitive target shooter if they would use any Barnes bullets in a match and see what they say. Keep in mind they are shooting at a known 1,000 yard range that will not change and on a target that won’t move and they still won’t do it during a match.

Highly experienced hunters who take shots at 1,000 yards do so fully aware of the risk and after much experience at that distance with the right gear that they know works. I am not suggesting above that hunting at 1,000 yards isn’t done successfully but those who do it are on the extreme edge of the game hunting bell curve. Long range hunting for most hunters is at a range less than 1,000 yards at which they know for sure they can make the shot. For some hunters, long range hunting is done at 300 yards. For others long range hunting is at 600 yards. Hunting at these long ranges is ethical if the hunter uses the right bullet, is practiced using their gear and certain they will make the shot. So I must ask the question, based entirely on what Barnes’ report suggests, who is being unethical and careless?

Barnes Proves Why Berger Hunting VLDs Work on Game

Setting aside the “who is acting ethically” question for a moment the Barnes’ bone in gelatin test is meant to show terminal performance on impact with bone and tissue. Barnes specializes in deep penetration and high weight retention bullets. This is something they have been doing for a long time. They don’t want to consider that there are other ways hunting bullets can be successful. Instead of evolving, Barnes will stay focused on convincing hunters that their way is the best and only way hunting bullets should work.

It is our position at Berger that an enhanced alternative option to this type of bullet is a bullet that penetrates the first inches of tissue and bone and then dumps its energy through fragmentation into the vital area of the animal. Barnes’ tests prove that their bullets still work the same as they always have and that our bullets perform exactly as we describe.

You can clearly see from Barnes’ images of their bone in ballistic gelatin that the Berger Hunting VLD penetrates through bone and then fragments into the area of the animal’s vital organs. This action cuts through tissue (internal organs) and transfers the bullets energy as this fragmentation occurs. This transfer of energy produces tremendous hydrostatic shock (much more so than a lower BC bullet that arrives on target with a reduced velocity). When the hydrostatic shock and the torn tissue (from the fragments) combine it creates a consistently lethal and larger wound cavity deep inside the animal’s vital organs area.

The extensive tissue and organ destruction along with higher levels of energy dumped into the internal tissue usually puts the animal immediately into shock which drops them in their tracks. They quickly succumb to blood pressure loss and/or multiple organ failure. Those animals that manage to stay on their feet after impact from a Berger Hunting VLD will not last long with this amount of internal destruction. This is why we say that “They won’t run away from a Berger.” Some might can this slogan marketing hype but it is in fact a brief description of the actual results you can depend on when using a Berger Hunting VLD.

From the beginning we have promoted Berger Hunting VLD as an alternative option. Bergers do not act like Barnes or Swift or any other deep penetrating and high weight retaining bullet. A Berger Hunting VLD does not dump its energy into the ground or tree on the other side of the animal. Our bullets do not create an exit wound (exit wounds can occur depending on animal size and impact velocity) for the specific purpose of creating a blood trail so a hunter can track their wounded game. We prefer that hunters enjoy their results immediately by watching the animal go to the ground when it is shot. We also prefer that the animal die quickly with a minimal amount of needless suffering.

Final Thoughts

Game hunting is done by an individual or with a few close friends. We understand that it is a very personal and frankly spiritual experience. Each hunter knows what type of experience they are looking for and each hunter should go into the field completely confident that their gear will get the job done the way they expect it to work. We understand that every hunt has the potential to be a once in a lifetime experience.

If you feel you need a deep penetrating, high weight retaining bullet to have the best experience then by all means please shoot Barnes or any of the many others brands that produce the same result. If you understand how the Bergers work differently and this performance appeals to you then give the Berger Hunting VLD a try. Based on the overwhelming number of positive feedback we are getting from hunters who already use them on game I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.


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