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Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

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Unread 02-16-2009, 04:22 PM
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Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

I was wandering if Berger have got any plans to make some heavy (230+ grain) bullets in .30 cal? It seems to me that only Sierra have got that part of the market with their 240MK.

I've got a 30-338 Lapua on the way and while I'd like to use Berger bullets, it looks like the only real options are the 208 A-MAX's or 240MK's. Any other bullets do not appear to have the BC to capitalise on the potential of this round.

So are there any new Berger bullets in the pipeline or any other high B.C. hunting bullets available?

Cheers Tiff
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Unread 02-16-2009, 04:54 PM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

Hi Tiff,

Being the "new kid" on the block (three days, as I write this) I can't say that Berger won't come up with anything heavier than the 210 VLD, I can point to some of the difficulties that would need to be considered before making such an intro. Aside from the problems that would be encountered in making such a deep draw for the jackets, the issue of suitable barrels also becomes an issue. A bit of "the chicken or the egg" conundrum here. There's a problem with bringing out bullets for which no barrel maker produces an adequate twist, and the barrel makers are usually hesitant to tool up for a barrel when it's not required for an existing bullet. The Sierra 240 was originally a custom bullet (they did a 250 originally, and reduced it to 240 after hitting some of the snags I mentioned earlier) for the Army AMU. Somehow, it managed to get dropped into the green box line, but it has a very small following. The requirement of a gun/barrel set-up built specifically for that combination can be a problem, as it can limit the systems versatility. We have .30 cal barrels in as quick as 1x8" twists readily available, but throating them for such long bullets usually means that they won't be able to handle lighter bullets as easily (long jump in the throat) as a barrel set up for a more "conventional" combination. I spent 21 years with Sierra before coming to Berger, and was there for the inital development and testing of the 240s and 250s, so my obsevations on the problems associated with them is of the "first hand" variety. Just some things to consider before diving into such a specialized field.

As an aside, Sierra specifically recommends against using their MK line for hunting appications,whereas Berger designs have given very good results in the game fields. I'm willing to bet that the 210 would do whatever the 240 will and then some.


Kevin Thomas
Berger Bullets
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Unread 02-16-2009, 10:55 PM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

I am not sure I would totally agree with your comments. One could make a 225 gr VLD that would easily work in a 1-9 barrel and would not require the need to be seated overly deep.

Hell, you ever look at the throat length on a 300 RUM factory rifle. If you seat a 180 gr Accubond to the lands you will be about 100 thou to long for the mag box....... Seat a 210 gr Berger to the lands and your WAY past the magazine length........

How many 308 Wins will allow you to seat a 168 gr VLD to the lands and still function through the mag box???? Not many.

Berger is going to come out with some 300 gr 338 bullets, Could you seat a 300 gr VLD to the lands and still have it fit in the mag box of a 338-378 or 340 Wby or even 338 RUM for that matter. Certainly not.

Take your 180 gr VLD and seat it into a 7mm STW or 7mm RUM and seat it to the lands and again, no chance it would fit into the mag box...... Still they are made and used by alot of shooters.

The 30 cal has dozens of fine bullet choices out there but very few high BC options and its really a mystery. Why we do not have a 220 gr bullet with a +.700 BC and a 240 gr bullet with a .800 BC is simply crazy and in my opinion, just an oversight by the bullet companies.

As far as seating a bullet so deep that it would not function properly, that is again silly. I have loaded and tested the 200 gr ULD RBBT 7mm, 240 gr SMK and 300 gr SMK in my 7mm AM, 300 AX and 338 AX to an overall length of 3.600", I have also tested them all the way out to 3.900". The end result was that accuracy was no different between either OAL as long as they were seated to similiar relationship to the lands.

Velocity output was slightly different being a bit lower for the shorter OAL but not by all that much, much less then many would think.

As far as a hunting bullet comparision between the Berger and SMK, I have used both extensively on big game. Both have advantages, both have disadvantages. THe Berger is very good for long range shooting, +600 yards they work very good for a HP bullet design.

In the larger magnums, at less then 300 yards, they are pretty iffy on heavy bone but generally still get the work done. PLus, pretty much any velocity over 3250 fps will result in a dramatic drop in accuracy. Push them over 3300 fps and in most cases you will see some bullet failure in flight depending on what barrel your using. THey are certainly not high velocity friendly.

THe SMK will hold together at higher velocity ranges. It will also hold up better with higher impact velocities at closer ranges because of its heavier jacket. At long range however, it will not expand quite as easily as the thinner jacketed berger. Still it will outpenetrate the Berger at every range.

In my experience, if you have a chambering that will produce less then 3200 fps, I would go with the Berger. If you will be hunting at ranges past 600 yards, again, the Berger would be very hard to beat.

If you are able to drive a bullet over 3300 fps, the SMK would be a better choice. If there is a chance of closer range shooting on heavier game, the SMK would be better again.

Just my opinion.
Kirby Allen(50)

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Unread 02-17-2009, 01:58 AM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

I agree with you Fiftydriver. Since Berger is assembling a new machine with a longer stroke to manufacture the 338 cal 300 gr VLD bullets, then a bullet longer than the 30 cal 210 gr. VLD should be doable from a manufacturing standpoint.

As to twist rates available and what might be necessary for a 30 cal 220-225 gr. VLD bullet, I don't believe a 1-8" would be required. The 185-190 gr. VLD's only require a 1-12" while the 210 gr. VLD needs a 1-11". That's 20 gr. bullet difference for a 1" difference in twist rate. A 30 cal 230 gr. VLD (20 gr. heavier than the 210) might only require a 1-10" if its based off a lengthened 210 gr. VLD and not a total bullet re-design. But it could require a 1-9" as Fiftydriver mentioned. One never knows until bullets are actually produced and tested.

From a factory rifle standpoint, a bullet only needing a 1-10" would be a more popular bullet than one needing a 1-9" since the fastest twist rate used in 30 cal factory rifles is 1-10". But many of the long range shooters tend to re-barrel factory rifles or build a rifle from scratch for long range hunting/target anyway and can specify whatever twist rate they desire.

What problems would be encountered in making such a deep draw for the jackets (30 cal) if its being done (or soon to be) for the 338 cal 300 gr.? Would a 30 cal 225-230 gr. VLD be any longer than the 338 cal 300 gr. coming out in the near future?

I agree with Fiftydriver that there is a market for a heavy 30 cal, 225-230 gr. VLD, bullet with a fairly high BC. I know of several people who shoot your 210 gr. VLD but prefer something heavier in a VLD, high BC style bullet and don't like Sierra's 220 or 240 gr. bullet offerings. Basically, I was told they had settled on the 208-210 gr. weight class because there wasn't anything any heavier that gave enough of a BC advantage to make up for the loss in velocity and increase in recoil, including the 240 gr. Sierra MK.

Put my vote in for a 30 cal 225-230 gr. VLD that would work in either a 1-9" or 1-10" twist barrel. I own barrels in both twist rates.

Just my observation.
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Unread 02-17-2009, 09:30 AM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

There are 230 grain bullets on the drawing board as we speak. I'm working on designs for VLD's and BT's (tangent ogives). The designs will be stable in a 1:10" twist. These bullets will be second in line after the 338's on the new machine, so it's going to be a while. The need has been clearly identified, and we're working on it.

As Kevin stated, there will be challenges associated with making bullets of this size, but we'll do our best to overcome them.

The problem I see with ours and Sierras existing heavy 30 cal bullets is that we use the same short ogive on our heaviest bullets as the lighter (shorter) ones. The ogives are too short for such long bullets. The bullets are left with very long bearing surfaces which causes problems and drag isn't reduced as much as it could be with an ogive that's proportionally longer. Hornady didn't make that mistake. Their Amax's from 155-178 all have the same ogive but their heaviest one, the 208, has a much longer ogive which makes it a better bullet than the 220-240 SMK and the 210 VLD.

The 230 grain designs I'm working on will be a departure from the standard .30 cal VLD ogive used on all other weights. Think of a scaled up 7mm 180 VLD. BC ought to be around ~0.71.

I think 230 is just the right weight because it's the extension of the trendline from other calibers. For example, the heaviest bullet in .224 cal is 90 gr, .244 is 115 gr, .264 is 140 gr, .284 is 180 gr, if you extend that trendline up to .30 cal, it hits 230 grains. In other words, 230 grains is exactly what we should expect a heavy .30 caliber bullet to weigh, based on the heaviest bullets in other calibers. By the way, if this trendline is extended to .338 caliber, it goes right to 300 grains. There's no reason why a 230 grain .30 caliber bullet should be a big problem.

You make a good point about mag length issues. A long nosed bullet certainly challenges mag length requirements. I used to see that as a fault or problem with our bullets. Now I see it as a fault of the magazine length! The bottom line is that ballistic performance is tied very strongly to the length of the bullet's nose. The longer the nose, the lower the drag, higher the BC, etc. If the length of the magazine limits the performance of a rifle because it can only work with short nosed, high drag bullets, then I see that as a fault of the magazine design. As you said, many shooters are willing to single load the rounds in order to enjoy the superior ballistic performance of better bullets.
It's the same kind of issue with barrel twist. If the 'standard' barrel twist in .30 cal is (for example) 1:12", it won't be able to take advantage of the best (highest BC) bullets in that caliber. Likewise, if a rifle has a 'standard' magazine length that's too short to accommodate the best bullets, then it's limiting the performance of the system.
I find your comments about the accuracy of Berger bullets being limited to below 3200-3300 fps interesting. Do you find this to be true in all calibers, or only the larger calibers? You have some unique insight into pushing heavier bullets faster than normal so I'm very interested in your observations. I would be interested to know if that observation is true of both our thick jacketed target bullets as well as the thin jacketed hunting bullets. If you have specifics about bullets and velocities that you've seen a clear fall off in accuracy, I'm interested to hear more about it.

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Unread 02-17-2009, 09:57 AM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?


I fully agree, the magazine lengths are the problem with most of our factory rifles. With custom rifles, well, obviously that is not a problem and actually the rule of thumb for long range rifles, that or single shots.

My experience which led me to the comments I made about your bullets and velocity limits were with the following rifle combos:

22-250 AI with Krieger 1-8 and your 80 gr VLD
22-6mm AI with Krieger 1-8 and your 80 gr VLD
6mm-284 with 1-8 Lilja and your 105 gr VLD
6mm-06 with 1-8 and 1-9 Lilja, 105 gr VLD
6.5mm STW with 1-9 Lilja, 140 gr VLD
6.5mm Allen Magnum with PacNor 1-8 and Lilja 1-8 & 1-9, 140 gr VLD
7mm RUM with Rock 1-8.7, 168 and 180 gr VLD
7mm Allen Magnum with Lilja 1-9, Rock 1-8.7, 180 gr VLD

In every case, all rifles shot WELL under 1/2 moa up to 3250 fps. In fact many combos were in the 1/4 moa range but right at that velocity limit, almost to the exact FPS, accuracy would jump to 1 to 1.5 moa at 3300-3350 fps and anything over that there were several bullet failures to reach target.

This happened most often with the 3 groove barrels but it did happen to some degree in all barrels that could reach +3350 fps. Enough that they would not be usible in the field "just in case" it happened there as well.

Again, accuracy at 3250 fps or less, amazing!!! but many of these rounds will easily top this.

To be honest, if you would make a 195 to 200 gr 7mm bullet, I think you would be amazed at the demand you would have for such a bullet and in many cases, a 1-9 barrel would stabilize it in the larger capacity magnums.
Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

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Unread 02-17-2009, 10:32 AM
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Re: Heavy .30cal Berger bullets - Any chance of some?

Thank you very much for your specific answers. I will make this the focus of a study to try and determine the cause of the accuracy drop off at some speed limit.
I'll keep you posted, and may come back with some more questions along the way.
Thanks again,
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