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A-Max vs Berger Bullets

30 Apr 2011
@ 11:16 pm (GMT)

Jim Moseley

For long range hunting, which do you feel has the best performance, A-max or the Berger??


01 May 2011
@ 11:09 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: A-Max vs Berger Bullets
Hi Jim, Berger have recently toughened up their entire line of VLD projectiles due to complaints from shooters, regarding finnicky or erratic performance. Unfortunately, this has been detrimental to the terminal performance of the VLD and at longer ranges, where velocity is low, many of the VLD projectiles do not meet enough resistance on impact to initiate fragmentation. To this end, the A-Max is currently the more frangible, most humane killing projectile.

I believe that Berger were placed under an unfair level of pressure these last few years. Many long ranges shooters and cartridge designers have pushed cartridge design and configurations beyond reasonable limits. A basic example, would be building a 7mm RUM with the standard 400 thou (10mm) bullet jump along with a 1:8 twist barrel. Due to the long jump, the bullet enters the rifling slightly skewed which is further amplified by the 1:8 twist, resulting in extremely erratic groups. The faster the bullet is pushed, the worse the effect. I believe that a lot of this has gone unnoticed and instead, the blame for erratic accuracy has been placed on Berger. Berger, adopting the 'customer is always right' philosophy are, from what I can see, heading towards a situation where their projectiles will remain desirable for match, but not for hunting. The only way out of this is for them to either tip the hunting projectiles, or go back to a softer design and re-educate shooters.

There are some instances where the current VLD is a better hunting bullet than the A-Max. On tough animals, the VLD gives deeper penetration. Performance can be enhanced further by annealing the VLD (I need to make a video of this at some stage). Also, in such designs as the 7mm and .300 RUM, the Long VLD bullets are less prone to yaw (during engagement with the bore) than the shorter A-Max bullets therefore, in some instances, particularly the 7mm RUM, the 180gr VLD is sometimes the only bullet that actually shoots straight.

Just a quick look back in time- when Roy Weatherby designed his magnums, he used a long neck to ensure the bullet would be kept inline with the bore along with .250" freebore which is not too excessive. Dakota have done the same. Weatherby also avoided severe twist rates. These were all very subtle but immensely important factors in designing maximum velocity magnums.

Although the A-Max is currently the more frangible bullet, hunters do have to be careful when using this projectile on large or tough game, especially at close ranges. I cannot think of a better example than the Thar hunting in the South Island of NZ. Although hunters can expect long shots, it is not uncommon to have to take a snap shot at animals, at ranges of less than 150 yards. Few people like to dual load so the bullet chosen, must be able to cope with these extreme tasks. A Bull Thar, though it may look like a humble, medium sized goat, is nothing of the sort. Its joints are the size of sweet naval oranges, its muscle is dense, its skin is very thick. The VLD can perform very well under these conditions when utilized in high power magnums.

Cheers, Nathan.
04 May 2011
@ 09:13 pm (GMT)


Re: A-Max vs Berger Bullets
"Berger built me up then dropped me down"
I was fast becoming a Berger VLD fan, but when I ran out and purchased a new batch I was very dissapointed with them. The performance was nowhere near as spectacular as the old one's. No problem I just sourced some old batch VLD's...... but when I got them and measured the lenght from the Ogive they were all over the place. So I've lost faith in Berger and gone with the A-Max.
10 May 2011
@ 10:54 pm (GMT)

David Kelly

Re: A-Max vs Berger Bullets
Yeah I have exactly the same experience re Berger. I had, at the time, just purchased a 7mm mag (Sendero) and had heard a lot of good things about the VLD's especially the 180gr. So I purchased a batch and got stuck in with them.

I found myself having serious trouble dropping basic game that I would usually have no trouble with. Goats at various ranges were often just running away despite the fact that I was certain that I had placed my shots well.
For the first few shots I thought the rifle was off or my shooting had gone all to hell! But the rifle was shooting great groups on the range and I was sure my shooting was on.

I then managed to retrieve a goat which barely seemed to react to my shot but dropped dead about 30 secs later. Autopsied the wound and I found a small pin hole size entry wound and a pin sized exit wound on the other side ... very little internal damage. After further testing, I found very similar results with other kills on goats and even with some long range shots on pigs (~700yards).

Was extremely disappointed with the experience - especially because I had heard great things about the VLD's and they look great in the charts for long range hunting. Shortly afterwards I switched to A-Max and have never looked back!
18 Jun 2011
@ 09:38 am (GMT)

Jim Moseley

Re: A-Max vs Berger Bullets
Well, I just returned from the farm and let me say that the A-Max did an outstanding job. This was a depredation shot on a doe at 832 yds. High shoulder shot on the left and exit on the right shoulder. Exit wound measured 1.75 inches. Heart and lungs were turned into jello to say the least. Shooting a 7 mag with the 162gr a-max. MV is 2980. Say goodbye to the Bergers......just to finicky to load for me.


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