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

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bigngreen

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wild weasel

My dad loaded some 210 Bergers in his 300 Weatherby and he has so much freebore that he can't get them to the lands so he loaded them to fit and cycle through the mag and they shot the best groups that gun has shot.
 

grit

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I'll respond to this.

An open query...

This thread has generated an important question for me. As a designer who is somewhat unclear about your needs as long range hunters, I need feedback.

Assume the following projectile performance parameters;

- 338 caliber sub-minute accuracy at 1,000+ yards
- Reliably controlled expansion to 2.5 calibers
- Ninety percent+ weight retention, with minimal fragmentation

Is it necessary, within these constraints, to still generate a >7"x 8" diameter lead cloud within soft tissue to achieve a "humane kill"?

NO, IT'S NOT NECESSARY. IT IS, HOWEVER, UNDENIABLY EFFECTIVE.

The reason I ask, is that it is easy to construct a solid bullet that will explode like a grenade when it passes through bone, and to achieve this with material which is entirely non-toxic. My working assumption, and one that presents the greatest engineering challenge, has been more along the lines of what Barnes has pursued (minus the marginal accuracy, and poor long range performance).

SOUNDS LIKE A SUPERB BULLET

Are you collectively accepting the complete fragmentation properties, of the Berger-type projectile as a desirable, or an unavoidable, consequence of high accuracy (or both)?

I WOULD HAVE TO SAY "ACCEPTABLE" IS CLOSEST TO THE TRUTH. BERGERS COMBINE SUPERB ACCURACY, VERY HIGH BC, AND EFFECTIVE TERMINAL PERFORMANCE, AT A HARD TO BEAT PRICE.

ACCURACY AND BC ARE MEASURABLE, KNOWN QUANTITIES. TERMINAL PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED ALSO. I HAVE PERSONALLY FOUND THEM 100% EFFECTIVE, EVEN IMPRESSIVE. I HAVE NOT HAD A PROBLEM WITH FRAGMENTS BEING WHERE THEY DIDN'T BELONG.

ALL THAT SAID, IF THE ACCUBONDS OFFERED EQUAL ACCURACY, BC, AND PRICE I WOULD LIKELY USE THEM, BECAUSE I PREFER AN EXIT WOUND. MEANWHILE, BERGER IS PRODUCING A PRODUCT I AM VERY HAPPY WITH. THIER PR AND CUSTOMER SERVICE IS TOP NOTCH ALSO.
Best,
Noel
 

Shawn Carlock

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A bullets terminal performance is a subject that will be argued over forever "around the campfire". Erik, a well written rebutal to what is obviously an attempt by Barnes to regain some of the ground it is loosing to the high BC, long range and match bullet market. I like most everyone else have my own opinions about bullet performance and here is what I teach in my long range hunting classes:

1. First and most important is a bullets ability to hit the "X". All other things being the same a higher BC will allow you to do this better in field first shot hunting conditions.

2. After placing the bullet on the "X", you must have at least minimum amount of penetration, again all other things being the same more BC allows more impact velocity and tends to accomplish this better.

3. After hitting the "X" and penetrating the required amount the more perminate and temporary wound channel the better. The more multiple projectiles the better (both bone and bullet pieces).

4. I prefer full penetration and an exit wound for tracking purposes if required, but would not make this requirement manditory from a bullet.

5. There is no magic bullet yet, if a bullet expands well at lower impact velocities it will come apart violently at close range, if it retains weight well at higher impact velocities it will not reliably expand at the lower impact velocities. Given this, I give the advantage toward the expandable bullets in the heaviest for caliber catagory. I have had very good results in the 210 grain 30 cal Berger bullets and am patiently waiting for the 300 gr .338 bullet.

In summary my thoughts are that bullet terminal performance aside from achieving the required penetration, makes alot less difference when the shot is spot on. It is the less than perfect shot (commonly known as a poor shot) where good terminal performance can save the day. I am not going to base my bullet selection on how a bullet performs if I screw up the shot. I am going to base my selection on the bullet that allows me to place the bullet the best in field conditions and good terminal performance is a bonus. I have a pretty fair amount of video to back this position up with hits from a couple hundred yards to over 1000 yards. I think that a bullet with the BC of a bowling ball but having 100% weight retention blah, blah, blah (like the Barnes and others) are a waste of time for the serious long range hunter. I believe that the serious LRH guys are about hitting the "X" and won't shoot unless they can.

I know everyone has their opinions, but I am not real wild about Barnes coming out with an article that tells me my choices and methods for hunting are unethical as I have seen more animals lost to poorly placed shots than any other factors combined. It is my observation that using components that, allow the highest first round hit % on the given target, have plenty of mass and impact velocity will win the day.
 

Eric Stecker

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Wow.

I read both articles carefully. Learned something from both. However, there was one big difference. To my perception, the Barnes article came across as information with some opinion and artisctic license BUT completely professional and left the reader to decide for themselves. I did not get the sense of personal or corporate attack like I did the second article. The tone definitely dropped my high opinion of the Berger name down a couple of notches. Great product, just a step backwards in company image.

And here I thought shooting, reloading and ballistics were pure science where emotions and passions got checked at the door.
Joep17,

I've reread both articles and admittedly am struggling to understand how you come to your conclusions. How can the use of artistic license be justified in an article which uses support data based on tests (scientific facts)? You can't have it both ways. Barnes' comments are not an interpretation of the observed test results but are almost entirely based on opinions (marketing hype) which are loosely related to the facts they present in their data.

To summarize their article, what they say is using Barnes is good, using Nosler and Berger is bad (even unethical and careless) and we have some cool pictures too. These pictures show how each bullet works on impact and they don't support our conclusion that choosing high BC bullets is bad but they sure look cool. Oh and we'll add some long range velocity data that is purely fictitious. Plus we'll show that we can make our bullets shoot much better than we can make Noslers and Bergers shoot.

If my interpretation of their article is inaccurate I encourage someone to show me how. One of my strongest motivations for writing this article is that for years I have watched various manufacturers and self proclaimed experts spew forth inaccurate information that they expect the general shooting public to take as gospel. I strongly believe that this is among the most destructive acts to come from within the shooting sports. Enough outside forces are working against shooting that we should do everything we can to prevent the weakening of our sport from within.

If you have read both articles and in having no bias for either bullet are left with the impression that I am the one who has acted inappropriately then I apologize as this was not my intension. At Berger we are committed to the rifle shooter's successful experience and the growth and strengthening of the shooting sports.

I believe strongly that this goal can be reached by understanding and committing to the facts produced by science based evaluations. If there is factual information readily available that is not diluted by those taking "artistic license" the shooting experience is improved. Improving shooting experiences is a powerful way to strengthen the shooting sports. Any comments I made that seemed emotionally charged are the result of my passionate pursuit and defense of this position.

Regards,
Eric
 
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noel carlson

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Shawn,

You are hitting upon a point which I was leaving unspoken, thanks. The emphasis on making the "perfect shot" would obviate much of the discussion on explosive terminal property benefits, which come to the fore only in consequence to the "poor shot" (and sometimes not even then based on Paul's experience).

I am trying to make a synthesis of qualities which would go into your "ideal" projectile, and am still unclear. Assume a BC in excess of 1.0, and high accuracy. As I understand your post, you desire both maximum fragmentation (bone, and bullet), and an exit wound. This sounds like a move away from the "magic bullet" (which does exist), torwards a very long bullet which has adequate material to provide alot of schrapnel, and still preserve a solid plug for an exit. Am I understanding you correctly?

Eric,

Without reference to external ballistic deficiencies of the Barnes product, I believe, as Bryan has pointed out, that there is some "artistic license" involved in the interpretation of terminal ballistic assessment. At least part of the "carelessness or ethics" of ELR hunting embrace this feature of a bullet's performance. There is a very nice promotional video clip on the Berger home page which presents the Berger VLD as "the only ethical choice" for long range hunting. I watch that for what it is... a sales promotion. Perhaps cutting Barnes that slack in relation to their own interpretation is what Joep 17 is alluding to. I am not suggesting your article was inaccurate in any other aspect.

Best,
Noel
 

phorwath

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My description of the ideal bullet in my first post allowed for the possibility of "magic" - that a bullet can be made to perform as described - with boring consistency - over and over again.

My current selection and use of two separate bullets - one for shorter range and one for long ranges - is based on the reality of the bullet offerings available to me at this time. I could just as well go with the Barnes TSX as the Nosler Accubonds for closer range shots. They get the job done very well from the muzzle out to normal typical hunting ranges with any sort of lethal hit. However the Barnes TSX do suffer from a greater BC efficiency handicap at long range compared to the Nosler Accubond and Berger VLDs.

Let me see some magic.
 

Ackley Man

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This is a thread for discussion of the article, Barnes's Tests Prove Why Berger Hunting VLDs Are So Successful, By Eric Stecker. Here you can ask questions or make comments about the article.
Eric,

I have been utilizing Berger VLDs for hunting purposes for many years following a discussion with Walt back when his operation was here in Phoenix. Prior to using the VLDs for hunting a cursory penetration and performance test was conducted to ascertain actual results. Predicated on the jackets used I was surprised by the positive test results. Needless to say I started using the VLDs for hunting long before there was any public discussion or advertised suggestions concerning their use for hunting purposes. I have found that they perform exactly as discribed in your article. I have experienced excellent results on thin skinned animals in the deer family consistently producing clean kills.

Upon close scrutiny of the Barnes article I find the author to be not only misinformed but several of his insinuations are unquestionably downright misleading and contradictory. It is unfortunate that a company must stoop to such a low level in an effort to bolster sales of their products. In closing I would like to advise that in my log book I have a target with a 3 shot group from a .300 RUM that printed a .243 group at 300 yards. We have never experience such extreme accuracy from any of the Barnes bullets that we have tested - I would suspect that an elaboration concerning accuracy of VLD bullets for medium to long range shooting in something intentially left out of the Barnes article!

DSW - Independent Ballistitian
 
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noel carlson

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Paul,

In order to be certail we are talking about the same "magic";

The .338 bullet in question would retain it's weight (>90% mass & >2.0 caliber mushroom) in high-velocity impacts, and open reliably at low velocity (> 1.5 calibers in 99.8% of impacts @ ~1,400 fps), with an average expansion of 2.5 calibers, correct?

If these numbers need revision, based on a concensus of the requirement, I will adjust the physicals.

Best,
Noel
 

Eric Stecker

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Noel,

I except and appreciate your comments. Certainly there are interpretations that will vary related to the best option regarding terminal performance. I agree with many who have posted on this forum that the application needs to be considered when a bullet is selected and that one bullet cannot fit all hunting applications.

For the sake of clarity, the exact quote in our video is that the Berger VLD "is the only bullet to use for ethical performance in extreme distance shooting". It is preceded by specific performance characteristics that support this statement. Additionally, our video emphasizes long range hunting which frankly, is where the Berger Hunting VLD clearly separates itself from the other bullet options. I encourage everyone to watch this video and see how many references are made to long range hunting performance and then consider if this statement is marketing hype or based on factual performance results.

Berger Bullets

It is an interpretation on my part; however I believe that this statement is in keeping with our bullets performance in this application. The producers of this video making this statement have used every brand for this applicaton. They back this statement up by using Berger VLDs to produce more consistently successful results than they were able to get from every other brand. This is further supported by results reported by hunters in the field.

Barnes' states that hunters who choose bullets based on BC are "unethical and careless". I believe this statement is completely inaccurate. They have no evidence to support this statement and it is in fact contrary to a very important aspect of choosing the best hunting bullet. BC plays a significant role in shot placement on targets at unknown and changing distances.

I am not suggesting that we do not play to our strengths but we do so factually. I state in my article the following; "If you feel you need a deep penetrating, high weight retaining bullet to have the best experience then by all means please shoot Barnes or any of the many others brands that produce the same result." My article was born from a frustration that misinformation was presented in a misleading way. It was not the result of my interest in how Barnes' article will affect our sales.

Having said all this, I am certain that I am guilty of providing inaccurate information from time to time. I do not claim to be perfect but am committed to seeking the truth and communicating it as accurately as possible. I will be the first to admit publicly when I make an error and will correct it as quickly as I am able.

Regards,
Eric
 

Ackley Man

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Wow.

I read both articles carefully. Learned something from both. However, there was one big difference. To my perception, the Barnes article came across as information with some opinion and artisctic license BUT completely professional and left the reader to decide for themselves. I did not get the sense of personal or corporate attack like I did the second article. The tone definitely dropped my high opinion of the Berger name down a couple of notches. Great product, just a step backwards in company image.

And here I thought shooting, reloading and ballistics were pure science where emotions and passions got checked at the door.
joep17,

Couldn't disagree with you more. The Barnes article was littered with inaccuracies. Unquestionably Barnes additionally attempting to influence the readers with their skewed opinions. Berger has every right to defent their product and address the inaccuracies and unfounded opinions set forth in the Barnes article. You really shouldn't lower your opinion of Berger for their rebutal. Should the Barnes article been forthright, completely factual and less opinionated I am sure you would not have seen Berger address the issues as strongly.
 
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noel carlson

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Eric,

I readily agree that your article provided valid criticism of the Barnes data. The "danger" component to that misinformation would seem to be somewhat self-correcting, but this is no excuse for the fact that Barnes knew, or should have known better than to publish it. The problem I am having is with non-scientific value judgements being presented as "factual performance results".

Reference was made to a "spiritual" facet of the hunt in your article. If it is not glaringly obvious to anyone following my posts, I am here to learn from hunters... but I think I understand what you mean. Taking life, to sustain life, is a godlike act that should be taken seriously regardless of the prey... man, or animal.

"Ethical performance in extreme distance shooting" can mean only "ethical" kills in ELR hunting of animals. As a hunting projectile, it is not difficult for me to envision numerous scenarios in which the Berger VLD would be unethical for use by that standard, and in this context. I sense that you can also based on your observation that "one bullet cannot fill all hunting applications". As good as the Berger VLD is, I believe the video statement to be factually erroneous, and am left with either imputing dark motives, or chalking it up to sales shorthand. I prefer the latter, not only because I believe it is a healthier assumption, but also more likely to be true.

I have no direct experience with Berger as a company, or you personally Eric. I have had contact with Bryan, and if a person can be judged by the company he keeps, then a Company can be judged on the team it assembles. On that basis, I have a good opinion of both you, and your company.

Best,
Noel

P.S.; I empathize with your frustration.
 
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phorwath

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Paul,

In order to be certain we are talking about the same "magic";

The .338 bullet in question would retain it's weight (>90% mass & >2.0 caliber mushroom) in high-velocity impacts, and open reliably at low velocity (> 1.5 calibers in 99.8% of impacts @ ~1,400 fps), with an average expansion of 2.5 calibers, correct?

If these numbers need revision, based on a concensus of the requirement, I will adjust the physicals.

Best,
Noel
Noel,

That performance would be impressive. Significant & reliable expansion down to 1400 fps, yet high weight retention at high impact velocities. Getting that quality performance in both high and low velocity extremes would be close to magical, in light of the currently offered selection of bullets. Include a high BC and good accuracy for long range delivery - then yes, we're communicating in common. Bullets like that would be breaking new ground, to my knowledge and understanding.
 

BryanLitz

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Noel,
I understand the problem of interpreting literally the phrase: "ethical performance in extreme distance shooting". Just the words: "ethical performance" themselves don't really go together. Ethical implies a judgment of morals, while performance implies something that should be able to be quantified.

Although the literal interpretation of the words themselves may not be perfect from a scientific point of view, I think the message is clearly conveyed. The real message being: When shooting at extreme distance, a precise and high BC bullet with good terminal performance will be optimal for accomplishing the following objectives.
A. Make it easy to achieve good shot placement, and
B. Dispatch an animal as quickly and with as little suffering as possible.

Part A addresses those measures of ballistic performance that can be quantified (drop, drift, energy, etc).
Part B is assumed to be commensurate with what most would consider 'ethical' taking of game.

Although I'm not in the 'sales' part of the business, I've come to understand the realities of presenting information. Promotional materials have to be factual and informative while connecting to the greatest number of people as possible. As much as you and I would like to see and hear information that's only 100% scientifically, technically, and literally accurate, we have to understand that it would be unwise to tailor promotional material to such a small audience. The result in the case of Berger's promotional video is a message that is somewhat compromised in presentation, but captures a very factual and important reality that we can explain at length if the shorthand is not understood.

By contrary, Barnes promotional material puts forth very specific information that is simply skewed in their favor. If I were them (to echo a previous poster) I would stick to emphasizing how well Barnes bullets do what they actually do best, which is penetration and weight retention. To those who believe that is the key to lethality, they will be convinced. Those who have other ideas about how bullets should perform on impact will not be fooled with Barnes interpretation of the pictures. I think it was a huge mistake for them to enter the arena of external ballistic performance (retained velocity).

I think we're all on the same page here guys, at least with the big stuff.

-Bryan
 
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