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Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

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Unread 12-23-2010, 08:15 PM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker


I tend to agree with Airgunner 7. Most premium bullets tend to get the job done. I killed my mule deer this year with a Ballsitic Tip, and it totally fragmented, and ruined at least 5 pounds of edible meat, but the deer dropped dead in its tracks and I am eating the remaining meat, which is most of it.

I haven't tried Berger bullets, but I probably will. It will only be for long range shots if I do. The performance seems to mimic Ballsitic Tip performance with a delayed reaction if it hits bone. My big beef is that I hardly ever see them on the shelf. Nosler and Hornady are by far the most popular bullets for reloading around here. It would be hard to improve on the accuracy I get with them....so what do we have left to consider?

Price? No improvement there. Availability? Nosler and Hornady seem to be the most available. "Drop Dead Immediately"? Nosler, Hornady, Federal, Remington, Winchester......if I get a hit, they all seem to make things drop dead. I have no doubt Berger bullets would drop them dead as well. More accurate? If Berger bullets are more accurate, you would have to be able to realize the improvement. I am already shooting sub MOA accuracy with other bullets. I shoot an FAL, a holdover from hunting in the woods where firepower trumps accuracy in most cases. The plastic tips Nosler puts on their bullets works really well for feeding reliability in semiauto rifles, with no tip deformation. Since the manageable recoil of the FAL causes zero pain when firing, and therefore no flinching even after a 200-round afternoon at the shooting range, and faster 2nd shot followup, I will keep using what works best in it. What works best in a .308 Winchester bolt gun could be another story.

Lot's of guys use Nosler bullets in their semiauto rifles down South, where I came from. Semiauto and lever rifles were preferred to bolt guns by most experienced "meat" hunters there, because they simply brought home more game. Are you saying that Berger puts a similar amount of effort into making my semiauto rifle as deadly and accurate as it is as Nosler has done? Seems to me that mostly guys with bolt guns are using VLD's. If you can convince me that Berger VLD shoots as well or better in an FN FAL as a Ballistic Tip or Accubond or E-Tip, then I am all for it. Is the Berger VLD made to slide off the feed ramps of an FN FAL into the chamber without tip damage or feeding reliability issues? Does Berger routinely test bullets in popular semiauto rifles? After seating bullets just off the chamber lands, will the cartridge still fit in my magazine?

A person with a bolt gun shooting VLD's can probably beat my average group of 1.8" at 200 yards using Ballsitic Tips and common military brass. But does it matter in the field? Do I have the choice of terminal performance that a Balllistic Tip, Accubond, E-Tip or Partition will give me? That's 4 choices. Does the VLD cover as many situations as well?

Like I said, I'll probably give the Berger VLD a try someday just to see what it will do. If it is the hot ticket in an FN FAL, then I have been negligent in my research.

Unread 12-26-2010, 11:53 PM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

I haven't shot Bergers yet, but have a box of 243/ 95 gr vld's on my bench. Seems Berger has a few things rite . Make bullets and specify the twist. I 'm glade to see the redesigned the 105 gr to accomadate Remington 1:9 1/8 twist. How many Remington in 243 are out there ? Much to my surprise , VLD's don't really shine till 500 yds and beyond. I still have high expectations .
Unread 12-27-2010, 04:13 AM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

I know a guy who went on a deer culling hunt in Idaho. He killed 32 of the 40 deer he killed with a .204 Ruger.

Every shot was a neck or head shot. Every one of the deer shot with the .204 Ruger was a bang-flop kill. There is no such thing as a "big game" bullet in .204 Ruger that I am aware. The bullets he used would have to be rated as "varmint" bullets.

If the .204 Ruger were inadequate for killing deer, as some claim, at least one of the 32 kills would have been something other than a bang-flop.

The guy is an expert shot who owns Kimber, Cooper and CZ rifles, and he knows where to put the bullet.

This proves that knowing where to put the bullet is more important than ballistic gelatin test results or hydrostatic shock, or foot pounds of energy, or YADDA YADDA YADDA. Of course, TROPHY HUNTERS don't want to spoil the neck or head of the deer they intend to have mounted. This limits them to "boiler room" shots, and deep penetration and massive wounding is necessary in that case. If you are just a meat hunter like me, interested in younger animals that are fit to eat by health conscious individuals, you can throw a lot of hunting bullet and minimum caliber recommendations out the window. The proof of this is that down south, the number one caliber and rifle of pro deer poachers has been .22WMR fired from a semi-auto rifle. It is realtively quiet, it's light for constant carry, it has high firepower almost like a machine gun, the ammo and rifle is cheap and expendable, and it flat out works if you know what you are doing. Karamojo Bell used a 6.5x54mm Mannlicher on elephants in Africa, and it worked (using FMJ bullets no less, not expanding hunting bullets), and it was weaker by comparison than using a .22WMR for whitetail deer, if you figure the foot pounds of energy vs. live game weight ratio. Both bullets give horrible ballistic gelatin test results compared to "big game" bullets.

If "boiler room" shots are what you have to go for, then stay with hunting bullets. A Berger bullet, or anything similar, would have a real advantage if it were more accurate on target, because bullet placement is more important than anything else, especially at long range. It looks like the Barnes bullet lost because of causing the least tissue damage, but there are guys who would choose it over the rest just for that reason, as it ruins less meat and the animal will be dead anyway since they will put the bullet in a vital area and it would probably drop just as dead if they used cheap military surplus FMJ.

Doing an accuracy test at long range with each of the above bullets in YOUR rifle says more about which bullet you should choose than the ballistic gelatin tests ever will, if long range hunting is involved.

As far as deadly goes, an F-350 traveling at 90 MPH (normal speed in Montana) kills any big game animal quicker than any bullet ever could. We have the dead animals by the road to prove it.

Of course, some people prefer a Silverado, and others a Ram, and there will be endless debate on the issue that is as valid as anything spoken here so far. I'm a small caliber guy, and I do my death dealing with an F-150. Gasoline powered no less, and usually below 70 MPH.
Unread 12-28-2010, 04:09 PM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

Thanks Eric, for posting those tests.
Why are the target Bergers not suitable for hunting? Do you have a gell test for those?

FAL Shot, I don't think VDL's were intended for the average shooter/hunter. They are all the things you say....and more.
-Tough to reach the lands
-Hard time fitting in a mag
-Not a great semi auto choice with the tips.
-Slower out of the gate because, they are so aerodynamic.

With all that said VDL's still have a place, right here in long range hunting.
More down range energy and reduced drift-making them more accurate at crazy distances.

Give em a try at some long ranges, it impressed me.

Your F-150 may be able to do everything but, try jumping in a GT500 Mustang and tell me it's not good at what it was built for too.
Unread 12-29-2010, 09:36 AM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

I just have to wade in on this one. I spent the day reading with interest the posts of the last four years on all 16 pages of this thread. It is obvious that the test is very twisted in favor of the barnes bullets . The 1000 yard tests are the most amazing piece of work I've ever seen. Muzzle velocities to get the terminal velosities shown on the 168 30 cal would have to 3800 fps for the nosler bullet. My ballistic program is fun to play with, but I had to go to 5000' altitude and highly improbable speeds to make the numbers work. I shoot alot of bergers mostly for the high BC but am very satisfied with the expansion and fragmentation. I got my muley at 787 yards with a high shoulder shot with 7MM 168 berger. The deer dropped in his tracks. The bullet did not exit but was under the hide on the off shoulder and the piece weighed 54 grains. The berger penetrates about 4 inches and then expands. For 22 calaber for ground hogs , the 80 grain bergers don't expand fast enough and I shoot 75 graid A-Max Hornadys. I agree that high BC is very important moslly for delivered energy and less wind . The name of the game at long range is doping the wind!
Unread 12-29-2010, 10:50 AM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

FAL Shot,

You ask a lot of questions but instead of responding to each of them I'll respond to what I take to be the gist of your point which I believe is a good one from your point of view. You are correct that most Berger bullets are not commonly successful in a magazine fed situation. This is a characteristic that has come under some specific focus lately but more on that in a moment.

We were born from benchrest competition shooting which dictates that you do whatever it takes to get the most performance out of every aspect of the shooting system. So when we are designing a bullet, in most cases we say "limitations be damned". We will customize anything in the shooting system from the trigger guard to the scope rings and from the butt plate to the barrel crown if we believe it will enhance performance. Even a little bit.

When I say "limitations" I am referring to such things as SAAMI specs, magazine sizes and existing or factory barrel twist rates. The first VLD ever made was the 6mm 105 gr. This bullet requires a 1:8" twist which was not readily available in 6mm barrels at the time. If you seat the bullet at SAAMI spec COAL you had roughly .010 of the nose down in the neck resulting in a long jump to the rifling.

Needless to say this bullet was made for rifles that had not been built yet. Today, even though most (if not all) factory rifles still hold to the performance limiting SAAMI specs configurations, you will find the vast majority of 6mm competition rifles and a large portion of custom hunting rifles are set up to shoot this type of bullets.

In fact, when we first made the 6mm 105 gr VLD bullet, its performance was so far beyond anything else in both trajectory performance and recoil fatigue management that Walt had made the decision not to make the VLD design in any other caliber. In his opinion, for optimal performance and based on his history in benchrest shooting, shooters should switch from whatever they were shooting to 6mm.

Well, even though many shooters have done this, it turned out that it was impractical to expect all shooters to switch to the 6mm so we started making VLD bullets in all the other calibers as well.

My point in relaying this information is to say that we recognize that most of our bullets are not built to suit many rifles. This is because we recognize that many rifles are not optimized for peak performance but we do not let this fact influence our bullet designs. Why SAAMI remains the standard when it is clearly one of the most limiting factors of rifle performance remains a mystery to me.

Having said that, you make another point that deserves a reply. Your comments that Hornady and Nosler are more readily available and "popular" speak in part to our approach in this area. Those who use Bergers and enjoy their performance are typically shooting custom rifles or customized factory rifles. They have overcome the limitations presented by the factory rifles adherence to SAAMI.

This group of people is smaller than those who are reloading for factory rifles or are using factory spec COAL to influence their loading practices. This makes it difficult to get some dealers to commit to carrying our bullets. Those dealers who have a strong following do extremely well with our bullets but those who sell mostly to those who stick with SAAMI spec limitations don't do as well.

Hornady and Nosler have designed their bullets to work in the more commonly available factory rifles. This is a wise decision if you are primarily interesting in selling the most bullets not necessarily the best bullets. I don't fault them for this as they serve a highly demanded purpose if you look at things from a size of a market point of view. In our case, Walt decided we will make the best performance bullet regardless of whether there are 10,000 rifles that can shoot this bullet or 10.

Let me be clear that to speak to your point I am making some generalities. We have several bullets that work well in SAAMI spec situations but the majority of our line works best under conditions that are outside of SAAMI specifications.

Having said this we are actually considering adding a line that will go in a new direction (for Berger). Since it is clear that the firearm's builders are not likely to depart from the performance limiting restrictions of SAAMI specs anytime soon, we are looking at adding a line of bullets that are optimized as much as they can be under these restrictions. This is a recent development so it will be a long while before these bullets become available.

Until then I'll close with the statement that we are both right. You had not shot Bergers before and that your comments were based on opinion rather than observed results. On the other hand, your rifle is not set up to get the most out of the Berger bullets so your reasons for trying them are few and not tremendously significant.

To strengthen your shooting skills go to the range.
To strengthen the shooting sports take a new shooter with you.

Berger Bullets

Last edited by Eric Stecker; 12-29-2010 at 11:24 AM. Reason: Clarification
Unread 02-16-2011, 10:05 AM
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Re: Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful By Eric Stecker

I agree with Leupold308. Barnes will make a weak load and a light bullet perform. I shot a Barbary sheep at 230 yards with a 120 gr TTSX from a 7-30 Waters last year. Perfect, dropped in its tracks, performance with full pentetration. I had less luck with more expansive bullets. The other place Barnes shines is when you have very high velocity at close range, the controlled expansion minimizes meat damage. A 7mm Mag and 140 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip at 70 yards ruined both front shoulders of my son's deer.

I've always gotten good accuracy from Barnes, but for load development and checking accuracy potential, I've always shot Hornady Amax 160 grs. For my rifle, they shot to the same point of aim, but the match bullets were more accurate.

I watched the Berger video, and loaded some 168 gr. VLD Bergers up before my backpack elk hunt this year. This wasn't even a very hot load. Chronographed at 2700 fps. I got a 350 yard shot at a bedded elk. He never made it more than 5 feet from his bed. The performance was as advertised, and the cost was significantly less. I also hate boxes of 50. Hornady and Berger still sell boxes of 100.
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