Short answer is I don't have the answers to Scott's great questions for several reasons. I've shot custom bullets that elkaholic
has manufactured the past two hunting seasons. So my chronograph work, load development, and testing turned to those bullets and loads shortly after I meplat uniformed and hollow-pointed these VLDs. I plan to shoot the meplat tricked-out VLDs through my triplicate chronograph setup at 1000 yds to determine % reduction in BC, but haven't done that yet. And in general, a move within the local area has reduced my hobby time over the past 12 months.
I can say the Kevin Cram tools produce sweet looking bullet tips. I did this because I had an intuitive expectation that if I created the slightly enlarged V-shaped hollow point on the tips of the bullets, that I might be able to reduce or eliminate those instances of non-expansion, and that the bullets might be even more apt to expand at long range, low velocity impacts on game. The hollow-pointing tool thins the leading edge of the jacket and creates a picture perfect V down into the hollow of the tip of the bullets. It seemed to me that a V shape would be more apt to disrupt when impacting game than a thicker, blunter leading edge on the jackets.
It does take a fair amount of time and effort to meplat uniform and hollow-point 450 bullets. If Berger did this, they'd have to charge a premium for the extra time and labor. And if you decide to do it yourself, you'll value the bullets more than before due to the investment of your labor.
My thoughts: I will
be able to determine any reduced BC value after I chronograph at 1000 yards. I may
be able to discern some affect on accuracy, but I don't expect that. Otherwise ALL benchrest shooters would be doing this. I won't
be able to determine if the hollow-pointing improves the odds of expansion any time soon, because the vast majority of VLDs seem to expand as intended. And I don't kill enough animals to reach a confident conclusion any time soon. Going about it on my own WILL require a large
number of game animals killed to determine if the hollow-pointing eliminates the incidents of non-expanding bullets.
Eric's approach will be much more time-efficient to determine if the closed tips are a causative factor in failures to expand. Identify a potential cause and then focus on thoroughly testing that specific cause. In this case, shoot only the closed-tip bullets to determine if those bullets with no hole in the tips fail to expand a significantly increased percentage of the time. I appreciate the challenge. When the vast majority of VLDs do expand, it will be difficult to finger a primary cause for the limited number of non-expanding incidents.
A hunters, we may have to accept the fact that just about any bullet design may fail to perform 100% of the time. I had a 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip fail to expand on a dall ram at a distance of 12 yards about 20 years ago. Shot the ram through the ribs, just behind the shoulders. Completely broadside shot. The ram acted like he'd not been hit. He jumped and reversed position 180 degrees and then stood there looking around until I saw a small tiny red spot on the white hair in the middle of the ribs where the bullet exited on the off side. So I continued to wait and watch thinking the animal would collapse very soon. Long story short, he was still alive 20 minutes later when I finally shot him a second time. This experience is why I stated earlier, perhaps only God will know why bullets sometimes fail to perform to standards of expectation.
An even more bizarre incident. Locally, and about 8 years ago, an older man shot his neighbor with a .338 Win Mag at point blank range (less than 15 feet). He was tying to kill his neighbor following some sort of disagreement. The gunshot victim did fall to the ground, but continued to talk. Was asking the neighbor why the h_ll he shot him? Another long story short. The gunshot man survived being hardly any worse for the wear. EMTs and paramedics were all dumbfounded and reported that the bullet struck close to the heart, and thru and thru'd the torso above the diaphram. Same type of report later from the hospital. Obviously that bullet didn't expand. I would have loved to have seen the look on the shooter's face after the shot, which produced very minimal affect. I'd guess he may have decided he'd picked a fight with the wrong fella!
For the unbelieving, this incident was reported in the local Peninsula Clarion, Kenai, Alaska. Might be able to find it with a Google search. Last piece of gossip... The shooter was an occasional customer at my brother's gun shop. My brother said the customer always seemed like a nice guy. Never imagined he'd have done something like this.
I'll report on my findings with the meplat trimmed and hollow-pointed VLDs, but only after I've reached some fairly confident conclusions. I think I'll be able to discern and calculate a reduced BC. But the reduction in BC has already been fairly closely determined in the past from other shooters' reports (~2%, but it's dependent on how much tip is shaved off the bullets). I'm not confident I'll be able to reach conclusions on the other items of interest anytime soon...