Well, I woke up this morning at 5:00 am and there was no wind at all out, which made be get a bit excited to shoot the new berger 300 gr VLD at some range and see what they would do.
However, by the time it got light and I got up to the shop and packed everything up and headed to the range the wind had started up a bit. Not bad at all but not dead calm. When I got to the range and set my gong up it was blowing noticably harder, at the location of the gong it was around 10 mph but I decided this was not all that bad and set up anyway.
Drove around and set up at my shooting location and got the rifle ready for testing. At the shooting location, conditions were similiar but the wind was from my 4:00 position. At the gong the wind was coming from a 7:00 location, FUN!!!
The load I was using was as follows:
300 gr Berger VLD Gen 2
142.0 gr H-50BMG
Freshly formed 338 Allen Magnum brass
Velocity average 3300 fps
Much lower velocity then the loads I tested yesterday but this load offers very good brass life and has proven to be quite accurate as well with the 300 gr SMK so I was hoping for some good results with the new Berger as well.
My shooting position is nothing fancy, when I accuracy test a bullet, its tested the same way I test every one of my rifles, in the dirt, on my belly with a harris bipod on front and a rabbit ear rear sand bag. Exactly how I would shoot in a hunting situation. Yes, shooting from a solid bench would offer more consistancy mainly from a shooters comfort stand point but my rifles are not bench rifles, they are hunting rifles and they get tested as if they were being hunted with. Any bullets I test will be used for big game hunting as well so I will test them as if I were hunting also. Just my stance on the subject.
I ranged the gong several times to get an accurate measurement. The three ranges averaged out to 1527 yards. My gong is 20" diameter round painted black with a 5" white target dot painted in the middle.
Before slapping steel, I dialed in on a target rock I had positioned 10 yards to the left of the gong. First shot was a bit low and far to the left. More wind then I was expecting to see. Made an adjustment and it became clear these wind conditions were going to be a bit tricky. It took 5 shots to get close to the very small target rock and to where I felt contacting steel would be a given.
I let the barrel cool for 10 minutes, would have preferred more time but the wind did start to kick up.
Got behind the rifle and settled in. The first shot impacted at what appeared to be low and to the left of center on the gong. A little to close to the edge for me so I gave the scope 2 clicks up and two clicks to the right.
Settled in again and the lead smear appeared on the top edge of the white target dot on the gong. In business. Ran the third round down and the lead smear just got a bit larger!!! Very happy.
Still I wanted to keep going even though those two shots had landed within 2.5" of each other and even counting the first shot, there was a nice 5" triangle on the gong at over 1500 yards.
Racked in round number 4 but did not realize or was not paying close enough attention to the slight change in wind direction. This shot impacted on the top right edge of the white target dot as the wind had tailed me more and was not from my 6 o'clock position instead of 4.
I then ran through the remaining four rounds as quickly as I could. Again, this is something I strongly do not recommend with this class of rifle as I recommend only three shot strings but in this test, I am looking to make sure this bullet stays consistant even in worst conditions which means a hot barrel. The last 4 shots were ran down as quickly as I could accurately pull them off. I could see two distinct lead smears on the surface of the gong. One on the top left edge of the gong, one on the top right edge from the shift in wind. Had I been paying attention I could have corrected for this easily.
When I got up to the gong, I was not unhappy at all.
All 8 shots landed in a sub 11" ctc group, even counting the one shot that I made a 1/2 x 1/2 moa scope adjustment after to better position the group on the gong.
The last 7 shots taken after the scope adjustment made a respectable 7 3/4" ctc cluster with two sub clusters. The last five shots that impacted high and right of the target dot measured right at 5" ctc. Now had I been paying more attention to the wind, that likely would have been a 7 shot group in this same 1/3 moa class size.
For the conditions, I was very happy with the bullets performance, not overly impressed with mine from a wind doping standpoint but all in all, very impressive, especially considering a couple things.
1. The brass used on these loads was fresh from the corn meal fireforming jig so they are around 95% formed cases. No real prepping was done to them, FL size, debur inside and outside, prime, powder, seat bullet and go. Consistancy in velocity always gets better after the first high pressure loading just as it does with any commercial brass after its first firing.
2. Variable winds. Not dramatic but enough to make a difference on target.
3. 17 lb rifle fired from true field position.
4. exceptional grouping throughout barrel temp ranges.
5. First accuracy load put through any 338 AM with the berger bullets so to say this is a taylored load would be dramatically exaggerated.
Looking at the target, every one of these shots would have EASILY landed in the vital zone of any game the size of pronghorn up even including the first shot on the gong and all after that scope adjustment, possibly even coyote size and up. The last 7 shots, now we are talking about the consistancy to hit rock chuck sized critters with very high consistancy and at +1520 yards!!!
Elk size targets, not even a challange, big northern deer, Sizable margin for error in the vital zone sized target.
To that point, let me state a bit about expansion. Whenever you thicken a bullet jacket and close the meplat a bit, you have to be a bit concerned about bullet expansion. I will not go into this much now because the impact location where I started to dial the rifle into the target rock before moving to the gong was sand mixed with sand stone and harder gravel so it is VERY hard on bullets. I will say expansion is more so then a SMK fired into this type of ground but I am not ready to say the bullet will blow up by any means. Need to do much more testing.
It may come to be that the 1-10 twist is spinning these bullets fast enough that even though they are holding together with the new design, when they impact, the high RPM levels cause these bullets to expand very quickly. Again, until some real expansion test are done, I can not give a meaningful discription of expansion only to say that they expand more then the SMK at this same range.
This is not a bad thing at all, infact, at 1500 yards, even out of the 338 Allen Magnum, the 338 SMK can at times be a little inconsistant with expansion. That likely will not be the problem with this Gen 2 Berger.
In lesser chamberings, I beleive, from the limited shooting I have done so far that this bullet will expand better then the SMK but should still retain plenty of bullet weight for good penetration.
Again, much more testing to do before this fall where the big test comes!!!
Review so far:
Test 1. Torture test, passed with flying colors
Test 2. Accuracy test, Could not be happier
Test to come will be testing in my lesser wildcats and also doing ballistic testing to come up with accurate drop charts and also expansion testing as well. Close and long range. As always you guys will be first to read about the results.
So far, Berger has DONE GOOD! with their new bullet design!!!! Can not ask for alot more, well, if I had to ask for something more, it would be a bonded core option!!! How about that Eric and Bryan???
I would certainly pay more for a bonded core Gen 2 VLD!!!