Berger Meplats - Improved Uniformity

phorwath

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I puchased a Meplat Uniforming tool from Kevin Cram, Montour County Rifles in the fall of 2010. That fall I meplat trimmed/uniformed approximately 400 Berger VLD bullets. ~1/2 were 168gr 7mm VLDs, and ~1/2 were 210gr .308 VLDs. Of those bullets, I encountered maybe 10 with no hollow in the tip of the bullet jackets. The tips had beem sealed (pinched) shut during manufacture in their bullet forming dies. I reported this to Erik Stecker on this forum, and my suspicion that these closed tip bullets were a cause of non-expansion on game. Erik said he was interested in investigating this. That they might cull some closed tip bullets from their production line and expansion test them to see if the closed tip bullets expanded less reliably than open tipped bullets. I've never heard or read anything further on this matter.

Four plus years later (about 7 days ago) I meplat uniformed ~175 of the 215gr .308 Berger Hybrid target bullets. None of those bullets had sealed tips. Every bullet had a hollow tip. Nice. I also noted the meplats were more uniform in length than the meplats on the VLDs from the fall of 2010.

Today I meplat uniformed 250 of the 300gr .338 Berger OTMs. Again, not a single bullet tip was sealed off. None of the jacket tips on these bullets were pinched closed. All bullets had a hollow opening in the point of the jackets. And the meplats from the factory were exceptionally uniform. Less than 10 bullets had meplats that were notably slanted, or uneven in length. I was way impressed.

When using the meplat uniforming tool, each bullet meplat gets a quick inspection prior to trimming, and the meplat trimming process allows for a good evaluation of the uniformity of the meplats. This type of improvement doesn't happen by accident. I don't know if Berger is culling some bullets that have sealed tips prior to packaging, or if they've refined their jacket preparation process prior to running these bullets into their bullet forming dies. I know what I've observed, and the uniformity of the meplats on these recent production bullets were much improved compared to the VLDs from 4 1/2 years ago. My 215gr .308s and the 300gr .338s were purchased in December, 2014.

The meplat uniforming of the 300gr .338 bullets wouldn't have been worth the effort, simply to improve meplat uniformity. That's how good the meplats were right out of the box. However, in addition to improving meplat uniformity and consistency from bullet to bullet, I meplat uniform these style bullets to increase the diameter of the meplats slightly, in an effort to improve the certainty of expansion on game animals. I believe the larger meplats reduce the odds of a bullet failing to expand on game. Other knowledgeable hunters that have experimented with this seem to agree. I sacrifice a little BC value due to the increased meplat diameter, but I gain consistency of BC value from bullet to bullet, and improve the odds that every bullet will expand.

I understand that Berger cautions against modifying the tips fo their bullets, but I'd rather have my bullets expand too aggessively than not expand at all, especially at longer yardages and reduced impact velocities.
 

gillettehunter

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Nice to hear about the consistency of a factory product. Be nice if we could hear from Eric on the subject. I have not yet got to the point of me plat uniforming. Might be something to look into. Bruce
 

phorwath

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One correction to my post. While hollowpointing the 250 300gr 338 OTMs, I did encounter one bullet with a tip completely pinched shut with copper jacket material. Really sealed. I didn't notice the closed tip while trimming it back with the first step of meplat uniforming. Only when running the hollow-pointing end mill into the tip of the jacket did I notice the resistance. When the jacket tips are pinched together into a solid mass of copper jacket material, obvious resistance is felt with the hollow pointing tool. I got out a small drill bit to see how far in the jacket was pinched together and it was simply solid copper - way down in there. In my opinion, this bullet would have acted like a FMJ on game. It would not have expanded. This bullet will be used for barrel break-in and/or bore fouling.
 

phorwath

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Fail to expand? Yes, if that's your question. I've posted about it on this Forum. The 210gr .308VLD. I have also corresponded with others that had the same experience with the 210gr hunting VLD. It's not the most common thing, but its not uncommon either.

It was the primary reason I began meplat trimming and hollow-pointing the Berger bullets. Meplat trimming and hollow-pointing with the Kevin Cram tool is when I identified a number of VLDs with closed tips 4 1/2 years ago. I posted about these closed tip bullets on this Forum, which is when Eric Stecker sounded in and showed an interest in testing my theory. I never heard anything more from Berger, so I don't know if they tested this on ballistic gelatin or not. Knowledgable Berger users will commonly inspect their bullet tips and cull any with closed tips. Set them aside and use them for target practice. Avoid using them on game animals.

I surmise that the closed tips are likely a contributing cause of the occasional VLD failure to expand on game animals. By far and away, the majority of the hunting VLDs seem to expand. However they fail to expand periodically, and in my opinion, the sealed jacket tips are a contributing cause.

The other thing a guy can do is aneal the tips of the VLDs/Hybrids,OTMs in order to soften the jacket in front of the lead core, which also assists in jacket upset and bullet expansion on game animals. I've never annealed the jacket tips. I've only been Meplat trimming to enlarge the meplat diameters slightly, and hollow-pointing the tips. This makes the tip of the bullets a tad larger in diameter, and notably thinner at the leading edge. It only stands to reason that this should help increase the odds of bullet expansion. Any jacket that begins to upset upon impact in the slightest, with surely then peel on back in full fashion. So my practice is to enlarge the tip diameter, and thin down the jacket at its tip by hollow-pointing.

As I stated in my initial post, my preference is to error on having the bullet expand over-aggresively, than not expand at all.
 
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marshal

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You are 100% correct on the closed meplat. Sad part is if they're
made with a larger meplat guys start calling them jet nozzles.
Sometimes there is just no winning.
 

jrock

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I've been looking into the 300 grain VLD's and was wondering if expansion improvement is needed on such a large hunk of lead. Do you have some data on expansion improvement or is trimming the meplat just to make the bullet have 100% reliable expansion? I've also wondered if annealing the jacket would cause accuracy issues or not?
 

phorwath

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I haven't shot the 300gr .338 OTMs yet, so I have no personal experiences. All I've done is prep a box of 250 bullets, to date. I've made the decision to meplat trim and hollow-point all of my Bergers, be they VLDs, OTMs, or Hybrids. Now that I own the tools, it's time I'm willing to invest in the effort to avoid a closed tip bullet yielding FMJ type performance on game.

My theory is the slightly larger meplat with the thin leading jacket edge, will help ensure expansion, particularly as velocity drops at long range.

My purpose in creating this Thead was to share my findings that the Berger Hybrid Target and OTM bullets I purchased 4 months ago have way fewer closed tips than the Berger VLDs I purchased 5 - 6 years ago. The evidence is pretty clear, IMO, that closed tips on these style bullets will increase the odds of disappointing terminal performance on game animals.
 

phorwath

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I've been looking into the 300 grain VLD's and was wondering if expansion improvement is needed on such a large hunk of lead. Do you have some data on expansion improvement or is trimming the meplat just to make the bullet have 100% reliable expansion? I've also wondered if annealing the jacket would cause accuracy issues or not?

I can speak with first hand experience, that a 200gr .338 Nosler Ballistic Tip fired thru the ribs of a black bear at 200yds from a .338 Win Mag - with no bullet expansion - didn't do much more than tickle the black bear. We fired another 6 rounds at a running bear before stopping him, just before he reached the brush line.
 

jrock

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so what you are saying is anything I can do to help expansion on a 300 grain 338 bullet is a good idea and worth doing?
 

phorwath

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Do you have some data on expansion improvement or is trimming the meplat just to make the bullet have 100% reliable expansion? I've also wondered if annealing the jacket would cause accuracy issues or not?

Realize I didn't answer your question, directly. Yes I have some limited first hand experience that meplat trimmed and hollow-pointed Berger 210gr .308 VLD and 168gr 7mm VLD bullet expansion is enhanced with the modified bullet tips. Two dall sheep and one caribou.

Based on reports from others, IMO, there is no longer any doubt that larger meplats help ensure expansion of the Berger style bullets on game animals. 'marshal', who posted earlier in this Thread, manufactures and sells this style of bullet. He hears from a lot of customers. Back up a few posts and read his comments.
 

phorwath

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so what you are saying is anything I can do to help expansion on a 300 grain 338 bullet is a good idea and worth doing?

I feel confident is stating that a pointed, 300gr .338 bullet that neither expands nor tumbles inside a game animal will not provide a quick, lethal blow to the animal, unless you brain it or spine it.

If you fired a flat nosed, non-expanding .338 caliber bullet into game animals, I think they'll kill well even if they don't expand or tumble. But long range hunters don't use flat-faced wad cutter style bullets. Pointed .338 caliber bullets that simply drive thru a game animals lungs, torso, or body will disappoint you, and can result in a lost animal, if there's any cover nearby that prevents additional finishing, killing shots.
 
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