Berger Bulletin

April 8, 2009

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

Filed under: VLDs — Michelle Gallagher @ 12:22 pm

Background

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 rifle. 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.

Solution

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).

Regards,
Eric Stecker
Master Bulletsmith

6 Comments »

  1. I read the recent information on the VLD bullets and decided to give your test a try. I had already set the 69 gr LD on the lands and .003 into a few times and found they shoot very good up to 200yds. 3 in a dime was fairly easy — 5 I had to earned them. I have never measured groups quite as accurate as I should so I use a spare quater, nickle and a dime. If the wind wasn’t blowing much over 5 MPH a quater was pretty consistant for 200 yds. The only problem seating the bullet .003 into the lands didn’t leave a alot in the case but it worked. Anyway I loaded 6 at .120, 6 at .080 and 6 at .040. I shot them at 100yds on two different days and was hoping to see 1 of the loads clearly as a place to start. Well all 6 groups can be covered with a dime so now where do I go. I know you probably have alot of other questions to answer so I guess I wait for a calm day and move to 200yds and see what happens.
    Thank you for reading
    Bill.

    Comment by Bill — April 27, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

  2. Hello Bill,

    Your situation is a bit different than what is addressed in the original article. The article is directed at those who shoot the VLD bullets and acheive accuracy around 3/4 MOA or worse.

    You are shooting our High BC FB which does have the same nose shape as a VLD but it is a flat base. Those who are struggling are shooting the heavier BT bullets designated on the box as VLD.

    I’ll admit that the difference between what we call the VLD and the High BC FB is slight (heavier weight and BT vs. lighter weight and FB). I can’t say for sure why but reports of poor accuracy when using the High BC FB are few and far between.

    The level of accuracy you are reporting is very good. If you desire to get them to shoot even tighter I suggest trying minor tweaks of your load such as +/- 0.1 to 0.2 grain powder chart changes (watch for pressure). You could try neck tension changes or even +/- .002 to .005 COAL changes (although you have shown no changes to larger adjustments so this may not matter).

    Another alternative for even tighter precision is to try a couple different bullet sizes and shapes. If you are consistently shooting groups that can be covered with a dime improved performance comes in minor tweaks as you don’t have much further to go before you are putting one shot on top of the other.

    Regards,
    Eric

    Comment by Eric Stecker — April 28, 2009 @ 7:23 am

  3. Eric,
    I tried your bullet jump recommendation on 155 VLD’s and settled on .060
    jump after very brief testing, three 5-shot groups at 100 yds. At an any- rifle any-sight prone match the following weekend at Bailey, Colo, my last string at 600 yds was 100-9X. I am a believer!
    Thanks!
    Jim Monserud

    Comment by Jim Monserud — May 11, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  4. Eric,
    I live in Cody Wy and the guys at Best of the West have turned me on to your bullets and the need to find “the sweet spot” for my 30.06. Your post has given me a good start but im wondering what load I should use, will a different load change the “sweet spot”. I also know that the guys at Gun Werks are loading theirs with 59 gns of H4350 and getting around 2900 fps.

    Thanks
    Shane Larsen

    Comment by slarsen — December 14, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  5. Shane,

    There will be an ideal combination of powder charge and seating depth for each bullet in your rifle. The charge will be more or less depending on the type of powder and bullet. If you’d like to get our reloading data for 30-06, please email me at:
    bryan.litz@bergerbullets.com
    and I’ll email you the load data we have for that cartridge.

    Take care,
    -Bryan

    Comment by BryanLitz — January 6, 2010 @ 5:01 am

  6. Been looking for this on your web site, very glad it’s still here! I’ll be forwarding it to some of my customers. Thanks Again, Ted

    Comment by Teds Custom Shop — October 1, 2011 @ 5:14 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress