Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

History Of The Match Grade Berger Hunting VLD
For decades our bullets have been growing very popular among target competition shooters. The vast majority of those who used our bullets were happy with the results. On a few occasions a competition shooter would be shooting a string, doing very well and unexpectedly a fired shot would come up as a miss. When a top level shooter is pouring bullets into the 10 ring and for no obvious reason the next shot is a miss it is clear that something bad just happened.

As it turns out the bullets were heating up to the point where the cores would actually melt. Once a bullet leaves the barrel with a melted core it is certain that the melted lead will burst through the jacket under such high RPM. Obviously this was a problem that we needed to solve, so we decided to test a thicker jacket. Making the jacket thicker did not make it strong enough to contain molten lead, but rather it moved the lead away from the source of the heat, which is the friction between the bearing surface and the rifling as the bullet goes down the barrel.

The thicker jacket was a huge success, and since its introduction we have received no reports of a bullet failing to reach the target unless extreme circumstances were present (very rough bore, excessively high velocity case far beyond even the largest standard case, or poor loading practices which damaged the bullet before it was fired). This successful solution to one issue presented us with another problem. Now that we are making bullets on thicker jackets do we need to make the original thickness jacket anymore?

To answer this question we went back to testing in media. The results were consistent and are the reason why we have the two different lines today (Target and Hunting). The standard jacket had been thoroughly tested and proved to expand wide, creating primary and secondary wound channels in a large portion of the animal’s internals. The thicker jackets acted similarly with one key difference. The area in which the fragmentation is distributed is narrower and the amount of fragmentation is less. Sure it is true that this result can kill game, but it is clear that the standard jacket consistently performs much better in its ability to spread as wide a primary and secondary wound channel as is possible, making it a more quickly lethal bullet.

It was this consistent difference that led us to the decision to keep making both jackets. The standard jacket produces the most lethal wound channel deep inside the organs, and the thicker jacket keeps competition target shooters from losing 10 points with a miss. Now we had to figure out how to explain this to the shooters. Since everything is match grade we had difficulty in figuring out how we would distinguish one from the other.

Our first attempt was to label the bullets made with the thicker jacket simply with the word THICK. Wow, was that a mistake. No one understood what THICK meant. When asked, we would explain that the thick jackets were to keep the bullets from blowing up before they hit the target. Nearly every time the shooters response was, “What do you mean the bullets blow up before they hit the target?!” This result had happened infrequently enough that many shooters were not aware of the situation at all. Clearly we were creating more confusion rather than helping people understand the difference, so we took another look at the situation.

We needed a way to quickly and simply tell shooters something that would help them understand the difference in a way that lets them know which bullet is best for them. That is when we decided to separate them into application based lines; Target, Hunting and of course Varmint (which was not affected by any of these situations). Instead of trying to explain what the difference was between the bullets, which took some time and didn’t always sink in, we decided instead to tell shooters what the bullet should be used for (application).

Thus was born the Match Grade Berger Hunting VLD, which is the same bullet that we have been making since Bill Davis came to Walt asking him to make the innovative design. The Match Grade Berger Target VLD (and other designs in the Target line like the BT and Hybrid) are the newest member of the Berger family which started production in 2007 with a thicker jacket. The Match Grade Berger Varmint bullets have remained unchanged, but have earned the Varmint designation for the same reasons as the Target and Hunting groups. These are the applications we recommend the bullets be used for. What the shooter decides to do with them is entirely up to each shooter (which in a way is why the different lines exist at all).

An Arizona native, Eric Stecker started working for Walt Berger as Range Officer for the benchrest matches held in Phoenix. Several months later Walt asked Eric if he was interested in making Berger Bullets. After a few days in the shop Eric knew he had found his passion. 19 years later he is the Executive Vice President in charge of operation at their Fullerton CA plant.

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