Getting the Best Precision and Accuracy from Berger VLD bullets in Your Rifle

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Len Backus, Mar 17, 2009.

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  1. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

    May 2, 2001
    Berger Bullets' Eric Stecker has just made available a tech bulletin in Word format.

    You may download it here to save it one your own computer or read it online.

    Getting the Best Precision and Accuracy from VLD bullets in Your Rifle


    VLD bullets are designed with a secant ogive. This ogive shape allows bullets to be more efficient in flight (retain more velocity = less drop and wind deflection). While this result is desirable for many rifle shooters the secant ogive on the VLD bullets produces another result in many rifles. It can be difficult to get the VLD to group well (poor accuracy).

    For years we encouraged shooters to use a base of cartridge to end of bearing surface OAL (I will use the term COAL to represent this dimension) which allows the VLD to touch the rifling or to be jammed in the rifling. This provided excellent results for many shooters but there were others who did not achieve top performance with the VLD jammed in their rifling. These shooters were left with the belief that the VLD bullets just won’t shoot in their rifle.

    Other groups of shooters were discouraged by our recommendation to touch the rifling. Some of these shooters knew that at some point during a target competition they will be asked to remove a live round. With the bullet jammed in the rifling there was a good chance the bullet will stick in the barrel which could result in an action full of powder. This is hard on a shooter during a match.

    Yet another group of shooters who were discouraged by our recommendation to touch the rifling are those who feed through magazines or have long throats. Magazine length rounds loaded with VLDs could not touch the lands in most rifles (this is the specific reason that for years we said VLD bullets do not work well in a magazine). When a rifle could be single fed but was chambered with a long throat a loaded round that was as long as possible still would not touch the rifling.

    Until recently, shooters who suffered from these realities were believed to be unable to achieve success with VLD bullets. Admittedly, we would receive the occasional report that a rifle shot very well when jumping the VLD bullets but we discounted these reports as anomalies. It was not until the VLD became very popular as a game hunting bullet that we were then able to learn the truth about getting the VLD bullets to shoot well in a large majority of rifles.

    After we proved that the Berger VLD bullets are consistently and exceptionally capable of putting game down quickly we started promoting the VLD to hunters. We were nervous at first as we believe the VLD needed to be in the rifling to shoot well and we also knew that most hunters use a magazine and SAMMI chambers. Our ears were wide open as the feedback was received. It was surprising to hear that most shooters described precision results by saying “this is the best my rifle has ever shot.”

    We scratched our heads about this for awhile until we started getting feedback from hunters who were competition shooters as well. Many were the same guys who were telling us for years that the VLDs shoot great when jumped. Since a much larger number of shooters were using the VLD bullets with a jump we started comparing all the feedback and have discovered the common characteristics in successful reports which gave us the information needed to get VLD working in your rifle. We were able to relay these characteristics to several shooters who were struggling with VLD bullets. Each shooter reported success after applying our recommendation.

    Getting the Best Precision and Accuracy from VLD bullets in Your Rifle


    The following has been verified by numerous shooters in many rifles using bullets of different calibers and weights. It is consistent for all VLD bullets. What has been discovered is that VLD bullets shoot best when loaded to a COAL that puts the bullet in a “sweet spot”. This sweet spot is a band .030 to .040 wide and is located anywhere between jamming the bullets into the lands and .150 jump off the lands.

    Note: When discussing jam and jump I am referring to the distance from the area of the bearing surface that engages the rifling and the rifling itself. There are many products that allow you to measure these critical dimensions. Some are better than others. I won’t be going into the methods of measuring jam and jump. If you are not familiar with this aspect of reloading it is critically important that you understand this concept before you attempt this test.

    Many reloaders feel (and I tend to agree) that meaningful COAL adjustments are .002 to .005. Every once in a while I might adjust the COAL by .010 but this seems like I am moving the bullet the length of a football field. The only way a shooter will be able to benefit from this situation is to let go of this opinion that more than .010 change is too much (me included).

    Trying to find the COAL that puts you in the sweet spot by moving .002 to .010 will take so long the barrel may be worn out by the time you sort it out if you don’t give up first. Since the sweet spot is .030 to .040 wide we recommend that you conduct the following test to find your rifles VLD sweet spot.

    Load 24 rounds at the following COAL if you are a target competition shooter who does not worry about jamming a bullet:
    1. .010 into (touching) the lands (jam) 6 rounds
    2. .040 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds
    3. .080 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds
    4. .120 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds

    Load 24 rounds at the following COAL if you are a hunter (pulling a bullet out of the case with your rifling while in the field can be a hunt ending event which must be avoided) or a competition shooter who worries about pulling a bullet during a match:
    1. .010 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds
    2. .050 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds
    3. .090 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds
    4. .130 off the lands (jump) 6 rounds

    Shoot 2 (separate) 3 shot groups in fair conditions to see how they group. The remarkable reality of this test is that one of these 4 COALs will outperform the other three by a considerable margin. Once you know which one of these 4 COAL shoots best then you can tweak the COAL +/- .002 or .005. Taking the time to set this test up will pay off when you find that your rifle is capable of shooting the VLD bullets very well (even at 100 yards).

    Eric Stecker
    Master Bulletsmith

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  2. JEREMY logan

    JEREMY logan Guest

    Thanks for the vld info. It will help
    RICHARD PERRETT likes this.
  3. jmason

    jmason Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2008
    Thanks len. You should sticky this or something.
  4. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2008
    I hope they include that as a chapter in the someday-coming reloading manual.
  5. Limbic

    Limbic Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    That is one of the most helpful things I've seen on the net in a while. He gives a clear path to follow. There are clear objectives and expectations. There are even follow up instructions. I wish there were more post like this. Most post are full of anctedotal stories and pseudoscience with a heavy dose of hypothesis.

    By no means am I knocking the other members of our forum it is just few of us have the time or $ to lay out a plan like berger has for us. I know this is a similar way that many of us workup a load but it is nice to see it in print.
  6. kstrick

    kstrick Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    I can say nothing but good things about the folks at Berger. They have been a great help to me. Kevin at Berger sent me some info for my .243 and .300WSM. I am on the Send To list for their new manual.
    I just completed a new stock and bedding/pillar job on my .243 (Remington SPS varmint) and loaded up Berger 105 gr hunting VLDs. I started with 36gr of 4350 and went up to 39 gr in .5 gr increments. I kept the bullet COAL at 2.710. The 36.5 grain charge gave 2 sets of clover leaf groups at 100yards in pretty stiff winds. 36.5 gr chronographed at just under 2700fps.
    I would like to get more velocity and based on what I just read I may need to do some more work. Well...can't really call it work.
    BTW..I shot a coyote with a 95gr Berger VLD a few weeks ago. It went down so hard - just disapeared in the grass so fast I thought I missed. Nope just DRT no kicking or squirming. Never knew what hit him.
  7. Limbic

    Limbic Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    I've tried the above method with different amounts of powder.
    66g RL22 with a OAL 3.745, 3.695, 3.655
    64g RL22 with the same OAL

    The 66g/3.745 produced a pretty good group of .430 Other groups were unremarkable until the last group I shot.

    7mm RM
    Shilen Barrel
    Jewell Trigger
    HS stock
    168g Berger 66gRL22 lit with 215. OAL with hornady comparator 3.655
    MV 2960

  8. cdn shooter

    cdn shooter Active Member

    Jan 28, 2009
    Thanks len this was great article but now you have me wondering if I can get more from the vld's. I've been working out loads for my 300wsm using the 168 vld. my best 3shot groups are .5 moa with 66gr. H4350 I started loading .020 off the lands
    and have never changed it. Should I bother adjusting this and if I use this plan do I need to start over with load development. I should mention 67gr was just flatning primers and bolt was a bit heavy. What I'm really asking here is am I going to get my face blown off when I jam this load into the lands.
  9. jmason

    jmason Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2008

    You will increase pressure so you should back off the powder a bit to test:).
  10. Mr Humble

    Mr Humble Active Member

    May 17, 2009
    Hi, this may be a bit off subject but it does relate to Berger VLDs. I am being told that the highest BC 6mm Berger launched from a 243 Winchester will outrange, shoot flatter and be more accurate that the highest 6.5mm Berger (that has a higher BC) shot from a 260 Remington. Assume identical 26" barrel rifles with the proper twist for each bullet.
    I thought BC ruled but am I wrong? Thanks.
  11. WRG

    WRG Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    I am about to put together some rounds for my M700P - .308 BR using the Berger 155 gr VLD J4 Jacketed match grade PN# 308155V. I have never used this bullet in any rifle so I could use the advise from someone who has. Maybe you have a better way to approach this.

    My question is should I start with it jammed to the lands as you suggest and here's why I ask?

    I will be using two powders in this work up, Varget & IMR4007ssc that consist of 25 rounds for each powder using CCI BR2 primers & Federal GM match cases. That is 5 rounds for each 5 gr increment from min to max.

    I guess my problem is I'm just afraid I will miss the better powder if it's not seated correctly. One powder may work better if it's seating say .020 off the lands where the other may like it jammed. Should I start out jamming them and take the best group from "both powders" and then mess with the seating depth?

    I think this makes sense! Actually it sounds like I should be doing it this way with any bullet / powder combo I'm working a load up for. I guess I have been just plain lucky all this time and never had to. I would just find the powder that gave me the best group and work the seating depth from there. I wouldn't even consider the other powders in the work up and try changing the seating depth to see if it would improve, I would just drop them from the work up all together.

    Hope this makes sense!

  12. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2005
    That's what I would do with the VLDs. Jam then into the lands about .010" and vary the powder charges. Then you could take the best powder charge and try 0.010" off the lands, 0.020" off the lands, etc. out to 0.070" off the lands. Many times they will shoot just fine slightly jammed into the lands.

    With non-VLD style bullets, start with the bullet 0.015-0.020" off the lands rather than jammed into the lands. Non-VLDs are typically kept off the lands to avoid pressure variations that could result if some touch the lands and some don't. 0.015" off the lands should keep them all off the lands.
  13. kstrick

    kstrick Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    Read this thread which is on the LRH home page.

    Optimizing Precision And Accuracy From VLD Bullets

    I am a big fan of Berger bullets. Go to their web site and ask for some loading advice for the .308. They have always sent me loading data. They are really some great guys. Also, they are coming out with their own loading manual...hopefully in August.
    Good luck.
  14. garyk

    garyk Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Thanks guys, for your postings.. I'm currently waiting for some Berger VLD's to arrive so I can give them a try. I've got a Tika t3 270 wsm that I'm trying to find an accurate load for. Walt Berger sent me some load suggestions but there are 14 different powder options with the usual range of grains for each. I've got AA3100, RL19 & IMR 4350 on hand so thot I'd start with those but I've been trying to figure out just where to start with the OAL as I work up thru the various grains of powder for each product. The max OAL that will fit in the clip is not much over the 2.86 max OAL listed in Lymans 48th Ed Manual. As stated the 140Gr VLD's are on order. But if I load the 140gr Accubonds I currently have to 2.86 OAL, I am about .240 off the lands. If I go closer to the lands, the cartridge won't fit in the clip. Is that often the situation? I'm relatively new to rifle reloading so any and all comments would be appreciated. Most people say Tika's shoot pretty well, but I've gotten only one group just barely under an inch thus far, and that was with Remington 130gr Coreloks. I've had a couple of other guys shoot it also with same results. I'd send it back to Tika for a checkup, but backlog is 8 weeks, and I'm supposed to head out on a sheep hunt in August which would be cutting it close. Thanks for your input