TEST 1, Gen 2 Berger 300 gr Hybrid VLD

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Fiftydriver, May 5, 2011.

  1. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    Admittedly, over the past several years I have been pretty hard on Berger bullets. They simply were not good matches for most of my Allen Magnum wildcats because they operate at velocity levels beyond what the Berger bullets are designed to be driven to.

    Again, I have been quite vocal about this.

    Recently I was contacted by Eric Stecker who everyone knows is the VP of Berger bullets. He asked me if I would be willing to put his new 338 bullet design to the test, I jumped all over the chance. A box from Berger arrived Tuesday but I was unable to do any testing with them until yesterday.

    I will be testing these new Berger 338 bullets in my 338 Ulta Maxx, 338 Allen Xpress, 338 Raptor and of course the big boy, the 338 Allen Magnum. The limitation of the Berger bullets all along has been the velocity ceiling so I decided the first test I would do would be a torture test to see what would happen to these new bullets. I was pulling no punches and the test would intentionally make life VERY hard on these new bullets. TO do this, I started with the ultimate 338 bullet destroyer, my 338 Allen Magnum.

    This test rifle has a 32", 1-10 twist Lilja barrel. Not overly fast on average, very tight bore and proven very accurate with both the 300 gr SMK and 265 gr Barnes TTSX.

    Because I wanted to push these bullets as hard as I could, I would have preferred to have a 36" barreled version of the 338 Allen Magnum but my 32" was as long as I had in shop so it would have to do. The 338 Allen Magnum with a 32" barrel has the potential to push a 300 gr SMK to well over 3400 fps but this is hard on the Jamison brass. Old TTI brass would allow us to get close to 3450 fps in a 32" barrel length but those were the old days. The Jamison brass works very well, just need to keep off the throttle slightly.

    Weather conditions were warm but EXTREMELY windy on Wednesday so I decided to just do some simple velocity testing at the shop and then the next day I would try to get out and see what the new bullets did. I started with my standard accuracy load of 142.0 gr H-50BMG and worked up from there, again, looking for the most velocity I could get, even if that ment spoiling some brass for the sake of testing.

    I topped out at 148.0 gr which produced 3420 fps. This load lossened the primer pockets on my test cases in one firing. Enough that on the second firing, the case would likely be used up but again, I did not care, I was not looking to load 100 of these rounds, I just wanted to see what this bullet did in an extreme test.

    I loaded up 15 rounds at this point in some old, blank headstamped brass which I did not feel quite so bad about ruining for testing.

    Combined with the velocity, I intentionally seated the bullets nearly 0.200" off the lands. Why do this, well, seating a bullet to touch the lands creates a situation where the bullet will start rotating the instant the bullets starts to travel down the barrel. Seating the bullet deep allows it to gain velocity before it engages the rifling, then when it slams into the origins of the lands which generally is very hard on match bullets with thin jackets.

    Again, I wanted to make life very hard for these bullets, intentionally trying to rip them apart. The bullets had made it though the chrono at these velocity levels and into the back stop but that did not tell me if the bullets were really surviving the launch from the 338 AM.

    This morning, I was able to head to the range with a couple customers to test their rifles so I brought the 338 Allen Magnum along. When we got the the range, I was sorry to see a 35 mph wind so there was really no point in doing any long range accuracy testing. This is not really what I wanted to do anyway. I knew that the test loads I had made up were likely NOT the most accurate loads I could have made, that was not their purpose, if this new Berger bullet would survive these velocity levels with good bullet integrity, they would have no problem with the 3250-3300 fps of my accuracy load velocity and certainly nothing from a conventional 338 magnum would give them any problems at all.

    So, in the wind, we set up at 400 yards. I simply picked out a small rock on a flat face of the valley wall. Again, this was a torture test, my plan was to start shooting and keep shooting. Intentionally heating the barrel up to again make life hard on the bullets. A hot barrel is hard on a bullet, the hotter the barrel, the harder it is for the bullet passing through the bore to survive the launch.

    I dialed the rifle in for 400 yards and sent the first shot down range. The first impact landed 1 moa above the target rock and made a very dramatic dust cloud from the impact and a nice dark impact crater. Again, I am not overly worried about accuracy, I just want to see that every bullet lands and lands were it should.

    I ran though all 15 rounds, probably with 15-20 seconds between each shot. Very hard on the barrel, by round 7-8, the barrel was to hot to touch, by shot 12-13, I could smell the heat of the barrel.

    The two guys with me watched closely for each impact. EVERY one landed in the same basic impact crater and kicking up a solid impact dust cloud. It was obvious that every bullet had clearly survived the launch, even in the VERY hot barrel.

    I likely used up 200 rounds worth of barrel life in those 15 shots but the Berger proved that it could handle these high velocities, the long jump into the lands and very hot bore temps, something that the original 300 gr VLDs would never have been able to do with this consistancy.

    Very impressed with those simple test results, now its time to do some precision work. I headed back to the shop and got some customer work done but then at lunch I loaded up another 15 rounds of test ammo. Instead of pushing things to the limit, this time, I loaded the Gen 2 bergers over my go to accuracy load for the SMK. 142.0 gr of H-50BMG. I also seated the bullets out to just off the lands.

    Knowing that these bullets will survive velocities far over what my accuracy loads produce if a comforting thought. This load in this barrel length should produce around 3280 to 3320 fps. I will chrono them when I shoot them. Hoping the weather holds out and wind dies down tomorrow and if so, first thing in the morning, I will be looking to set up at 1500 yards and see how these bullets shoot.

    Before loading these accuracy test loads today, I did some looking into the new berger bullets themselves. I took 100 bullets, two boxes. measured every one for weigth consistancy. Out of the 100 bullets, three of them weighed 301.1 grains. Two of them weighted 300.8 grains. The other 95 bullets weighed between 300.9 and 301.0 grains. Extremely impressed with this. This % of bullet weight consistancy extremely good.

    I then measured all 100 bullets for baring surface consistancy. When I short the 300 gr SMK, I will sort them into lots that vary by no more then 0.001". These 100 Bergers had 92 bullets that were easily within 0.001" variation in baring surface length. 5 were 1/2 thou short, 3 were 1/2 thou long. In all honesty, you would NEVER know which were out of range with this minute variation in baring surface length, even shooting at extreme range would be impossible to tell which was which as human error will impose much more group variation then this amount of baring surface variation. Again, most impressive.

    For all the comments I have made about Berger bullets over the years, I fully admit, what I have seen so far impresses the hell out of me. Today, the total size of the impact crater made by those 15 shots was far less then 4" across and thats measuring the entire diameter of the impact crater. Certainly no scientific method to measure accuracy but I would bet that those shots pushed 1/2 moa very hard for all 15 shots. First chance I get, hopefully tomorrow morning I will be able to prove that for the first time, the 300 gr Berger bullet is fully capable of anything the 338 Allen Magnum can throw at it and do so accurately and consistantly.

    This barrel is a relatively fresh barrel. Time will tell what happens when these bullets are pushed through a barrel with several hundred rounds down the tube but compared to early tests with the original 300 gr Berger VLD, there is a stark improvement in bullet integrity at these very high muzzle velocities.

    More testing to come!!! So far, very impressed.
  2. Rocky Mountain

    Rocky Mountain Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2010
    Very interesting results, look forward to the rest of the testing
    keep us posted:)
  3. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    That is encouraging. I have been hoping Berger would get the 300 to withstand the 338 AM. Now that you are testing them for Berger it will save me a little load development time and barrel life here in a few months when that bad boy you are working on leaves your shop and heads south east to it's new home.:D
  4. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

    Nov 2, 2003
    Thanks for the work there and the update, Kirby. I'll be following this closely especially when you get to the 338 AX...
  5. B23

    B23 Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Kirby, all this sounds very promising for sure. I'm glad I listened to you and saved all my new Gen2's for myself. :D
  6. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2009
    Thanks for the update.

    Considering these for the 338-378. I'm glad that the new ones are here and look forward to more info.
  7. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Thanks for sharing Kirby, definitively great information.

    Has Berger released the BC, BC7 info. for the 300 gr. Gen II? Any one?
  8. BryanLitz

    BryanLitz <b>Official LRH Sponsor</b>

    Mar 8, 2007
    The BC's are the same for the Gen 2 bullet as Gen 1:
    G1 BC: .818 (average from 3000 to 1500 fps)
    G7 BC: .419 good for all speeds

  9. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    The G1 is listed at .818 on the box. There is a G7 listed as well but its not popping in my head right now and I do not have any boxes here at home.

    Funny thing, the original berger was listed at .891 BC and then they later revised it down to the 0.818 BC that we now see on the boxes. When I was using the original version in my 338 Allen Xpress at 2950 fps, I started with the .891 BC and it was dead on the money from 0 to 1500 yards....... THis was out of a new barreled 338 AX. My old barreled 338 AX chewed the original bullet up no matter what the velocity was adjusted to.

    I also have several customers using the original 0.891 BC and their drop charts are also matching up with trajectory using this BC but again, they are also shooting this bullet in the 2900 to 3000 fps level out of fresh barrels.

    Have not yet had time to get a BC developed but that will happen soon. I am going to start with the original .891 and go from there as it worked so well for me in the past. At lower velocity, the BC may be lower, not sure. I can not tell an external dimension difference between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 bullets. There may be some but I can not measure it. In fact the Gen 2 are longer by around 30 thou then the Gen 1 bullets I have with all other dimensions seeming to be identical so that can not hurt BC. Also the meplat is tighter on the Gen 2 bullets then the Gen 1, again, should improve BC over the original. Curious to see how this effects expansion but at the velocities I will be driving them to in my wildcats, which will be 2900 to 3400 fps, this will likely be a good thing if expansion is retarded slightly!!!

    I did notice that the Gen 2 bullets seems to build pressure slightly more quickly then the Gen 1s. This makes perfect sense if the Gen 2s have a heavier jacket. Velocity results for a given powder charge are much more similiar to the SMK now then the original bullets seemed to me. I could get 50-60 fps more velocity with the Gen 1 bullets over the SMK with same apparent chamber pressures. These new bullets seem to be running right along with the SMK for pressures for a given powder charge.

    Admittedly, I have put a very limited amount of these new bullets in the air to date but more testing will be coming soon.
  10. B23

    B23 Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2008
    Kirby, what did you get for a bullet overall length on the Gen 2's ??? My Gen 1's all fell in the 1.818 - 1.825 OAL and my new Gen 2's are a tick shorter as they were 1.795 - 1.809
  11. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    My Gen 1s average around 1.785". The Gen 2s I have measured average 1.805".
  12. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver Official LRH Sponsor

    Jun 12, 2004
    Test 2 Accuracy, Gen 2 Berger 300 gr Hybrid VLD

    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
    Fed-215 primers
    Freshly formed 338 Allen Magnum brass
    4.285" OAL
    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??? :D I would certainly pay more for a bonded core Gen 2 VLD!!! :rolleyes:
  13. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Thanks Kirby and good shooting by the way. You may not consider it up to your best, but still pretty impressive for 1500+ yards! Looks like I'm going to have get order going on the Bergers as soon as they get them into mass production. I have quite a stock of the Gen1's as they shoot real well out of my WBY action Khan at 2900 fps. Looks like I can push the Gen2's to 3000+ in the Khan now.
  14. Eric Stecker

    Eric Stecker <b>SPONSOR</b>

    Jul 27, 2007
    Re: Test 2 Accuracy, Gen 2 Berger 300 gr Hybrid VLD

    First, let me relay how pleased I am that Kirby is putting these bullets through the ringer. As I've said, our goal was to make a bullet strong enough to handle the most abusive 338 Lapua Mag. The fact that they are working in a 338 Allen Magnum is far beyond our expectations.

    I'll add for clarity that the bullet Kirby is testing is the Hybrid not the VLD (the Hybrid is the only 338 cal made by Berger so far). This distinction is only important because we do have plans to make a true VLD. The Hybrid is designed to be less sensitive to seating depth changes than the VLD but a true 338 cal VLD will have a higher BC (but will need more effort to be tuned).

    Given Kirby's results in both tests it appears that the Hybrid design is living up to its expectations. I'm sure there is more to come on that point and will refresh everyone following all the 300 gr Gen 2 testing that Shawn Carlock found his best results after tinkering with seating depth a bit.

    Since Kirby brought it up I will relay our position on bonded bullets. We have tested several bonding options and was not able to produce good precision which is a requirement with Bergers. We did this testing some years ago so it is reasonable for us to revisit bonding if for no other reason than to confirm that nothing has changed.

    I will say that a bonded hunting bullet is on our "to do" list and it has been for some time. As long as bonded bullets (we make) are not capable of 1/4 MOA in an equally capable rifle (we'd probably accept consistently better than 1/2 MOA) Berger won't make them. That is not because we don't see the value in bonding but because with every bullet our highest priority is precision.

    I am looking forward to learning more from Kirby about this bullet. I'll add that the copper we need to make our next run that will cover all backorders and put the 338 cal on the shelf permanently has arrived. I expect that these bullet will be readily available to everyone by June (shipping will start in May).

    Last edited: May 6, 2011