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Berger 6.5mm 130gr Hybrid Bullet

New Berger 6.5mm Bullet for PRS Shooters

Berger recently released a new 6.5mm 130gr Hybrid bullet. Bryan Litz, Chief Ballistician at Berger Bullets, told me “This bullet was optimized for magazine length ammo based on the popularity of the 6.5mm cartridges in PRS competition.” 6.5mm cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 260 Remington are very popular in those types of competitions (see the full list of the most popular cartridges). In PRS events, multiple targets are engaged at each stage, often within a ridiculously short amount of time … so magazine feeding is a must. Bryan and the team at Berger created a bullet optimized for this particular application.

I wanted to share an article Bryan wrote explaining the design behind this new bullet, but here is a quick summary of the benefits:

Berger 130gr Hybrid vs 140gr Hybrid

  • Won’t have to partially push the nose below the case mouth to fit be able to fit in a magazine (can be an issue with longer 140gr bullets)
  • Doesn’t take up as much of the internal case volume as 140gr bullets, which gives room for more powder and can translate to higher muzzle velocities.
  • Minimal air gap in front of the nose for a shorter OAL
  • Hybrid design isn’t as sensitive to seating depth changes or jump between the bullet and rifling. This means you don’t have to tune your seating depth as much as your barrel wears.

Bryan tells us “A bullet weight of 130 grains is an optimal balance between external ballistic performance (BC) and internal case capacity considerations which translate into muzzle velocity. … Although this design is length constrained, the combination of a hybrid ogive and 7 degree Boat Tail produce a very respectable G7 form factor of 0.920 which is within 1% of the popular 6mm 105 grain Hybrid.”

Comparison to Popular Bullets

Here is a quick side-by-side comparison of this new bullet with other popular precision rifle bullets. (Note: All of these values came from Ballistic Performance of Rifle Bullets by Bryan Litz, which contains BC data based on live fire testing methods that are repeatable within +/- 1%. It’s an excellent reference for things like this.)

BulletG7 BCG1 BCG7 Form FactorSectional Density (lb/in²)
NEW Berger 6.5mm 130gr AR Hybrid0.2900.5640.9200.267
Berger 6.5mm 140gr Hybrid0.3190.6220.8990.287
Hornady 6.5mm 140gr A-Max0.2990.5830.9610.287
Lapua 6.5mm 136gr Lapua Scenar L0.2880.5600.9690.279
Lapua 6.5mm 139gr Lapua Scenar0.2900.5640.9830.285
Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid0.2790.5450.9090.254

Bullet BC Comparison

While most shooters aren’t as familiar with form factor as they are BC, form factor can be an invaluable tool when evaluating long-range bullets. Berger tells us “Going by BC alone can be deceptive since BC includes the weight and caliber of the bullet. … Unlike BC, knowledge of form factors is universal among all calibers and weights of bullets. A G7 form factor of 0.920 is excellent for any bullet, be it .22 cal, 6mm, or .338 caliber.” A G7 form factor below 0.95 is considered “Very Low Drag,” and that is always my goal when looking for a good long-range bullet. The lower the better!

Bullet Form Factor Comparison

Compared to the popular Berger 140gr Hybrid, the new 130gr bullet is almost 10% shorter and 7% lighter, but the form factor was only affected by 2%! Did you catch that? That’s a big deal. They were able to design a bullet that was shorter and lighter, but the drag was still within 2% of the 140gr Hybrid bullet. In fact, you can see that the 130gr Hybrid has even less drag than the Hornady 140gr A-Max and both Lapua Scenar bullets … by a fairly wide margin.

Long-Range Ballistics Comparison

Another good way to compare bullets is to look at their down-range ballistics. So I ran ballistics on all of these popular 6.5mm bullets, while essentially holding chamber pressure constant. Bryan shared this formula with me, which can help you estimate the change in muzzle velocity for bullets of a different weight.

Formula To Scale Muzzle Velocity

For example, let’s say our 140gr bullet had a muzzle velocity of 2,800 fps. That is what the average muzzle velocity was for the top 50 shooters in the PRS using 140gr bullets, so it is a good assumption. Here is how we’d estimate what the muzzle velocity would be for our 130gr bullet to maintain relative chamber pressure.

Muzzle Velocity Calculation For 6.5mm Bullets

So we’ll estimate our lighter 130gr bullet to have a muzzle velocity of 2906 fps. We’d expect lighter bullets to have a higher muzzle velocity. I did this same calculation for the popular bullets, and then ran the ballistics on each of them out to 1200 yards. Here are the results:

Bullet Ballistics Comparison

You can see when it comes to drop, the new 130gr Hybrid bullet clearly wins out to 1200 yards. The higher BC bullets might eventually overtake it, but not within the supersonic range of the cartridges we’re talking about.

But, the 140gr Hybrid has less wind drift at 800 yards and beyond. It is just a couple of tenths of a mil, but it is there. The 130gr Hybrid did as well as any other bullet though, despite being a full 10 grains lighter than some of them. That is impressive.

What this tells me is if you are engaging unknown distance targets, or when you have some amount of range uncertainty … the flatter-shooting 130gr Hybrid may be the best choice.

Now let’s take look at a WEZ analysis of the top two bullets. For those of you that aren’t familiar with WEZ, it is an analysis tool developed by the team at Applied Ballistics. It runs a Monte Carlo simulation to evaluate your probability of getting a hit at long-range based on defined inputs and uncertainties. For more details on it, check out this post.

Berger 130gr Hybrid

Berger 140gr Hybrid

I also ran this analysis on a target at 1000 yards, and the results were very similar. The 140gr Hybrid just gives you a slight advantage in ballistics, which translates to a slightly better hit probability.

It seems like if you are having problems loading your 140gr bullets to magazine length, then you might check out the new 130gr bullet. It does have less drop within the supersonic range of the popular mid-size 6.5mm cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 260 Rem, which can be an advantage. But as the wind chart and WEZ analysis showed, the 140gr Hybrid still provides slightly more performance when it comes to wind drift and overall hit percentage.

To learn more about the 130gr Hybrid, check out this article that Bryan wrote on the why behind the design choices: http://www.bergerbullets.com/new-65-130gr-ar-hybrid-otm-tactical/

More New Bullets to Come

One of the most exciting parts of this whole release, is the fact that Berger is once again producing new bullets. Berger says:

“For the past few years the Berger Bullets team has had to put all new product projects on hold due to overwhelming demand for our existing product lines exceeding our production capacity. The 6.5mm 130gr Match AR Hybrid OTM Tactical bullet was one such project. Tooling was made for this new design just before the industry surge took place in late 2012. Finally, thanks to new machinery coming online and the industry surge beginning to calm down, we are able to release designs that have been in the works for several years now. This is the first of many new designs that will be introduced in the coming years.

That gets me excited! I’ve noticed over the years that cartridge popularity is largely driven by bullet selection. So new bullets tend to shake things up and open new possibilities … especially new Berger bullets. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next!

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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20 comments

  1. I am thinking that this would not work well for for an AR platform round (short semi-auto action size) like 6.5 Grendel (6.5 x 39 mm)? 6.5 Lapua 144 gr FMJBTs can be pushed to 2,450 fps but the small powder capacity will likely put lighter bullets (more around 100 gr.) in the “sweet spot” for 6.5x39mm right? Just asking but I’ll run a calculator on it later.

    • Actually, the full (long-winded) name of this new bullet according to Berger is the “6.5mm 130gr Match AR Hybrid OTM Tactical” bullet. That’s a mouthful! (That’s what she said. 😉 ) But since “AR” is in the name of the bullet, I’d guess it might have been designed with that application in mind as well. I’ve never owned a 6.5 Grendel, so unfortunately I can’t speak to that. You might be able to ask Berger what their experience has been. I’d bet someone there has tried that bullet in a 6.5 Grendel. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  2. Seems like one possible downside is faster barrel wear since it requires a significantly higher MV (i.e. 2906 fps) to get an equivalent chamber pressure when compared to a 140 gr Hybrid (2800 fps)?

    • Possibly, but I bet it would be negligible. My theory is that barrel life is primarily related to the weight of the powder charge and bore diameter that you are sending it down. I’ve seen a few things that seem to support that, but haven’t done an in-depth test on it. If that theory is true, then it wouldn’t have less barrel life, because it would be the same charge in the same bore diameter. The only difference would be the powder would be able to accelerate the lighter bullet to a faster speed before it exited the bullet. The overall energy out of the muzzle would be identical. That is all theory, but I just say it to point out that we don’t know for sure. Barrel wear isn’t an exact science, so it might be presumptuous to draw a conclusion either way. It’s definitely something to think about though. I appreciate the feedback.
      Thanks,
      Cal

      • OK thanks – that makes sense and would be consistent with the overbore theory i.e. the same case/powder and not pushing a bullet of different caliber.

  3. Yes!!! That IS what she said!!!

  4. Coincidentally I just picked up a Fulton 6.5 Creedmoor barrel for my AR 10, now I am wondering what powder these 130’s would like as I only shoot the 140’s AMAX/Hybrids with H4350 and 129 SMK’s wih Varget through my bolt guns. I tried the 260 Rem AR and found it very hard to tune so I am trying the 6.5 now as it seemed a lot esier than the 260 on my bolt rifles. Any thoughts?

    • Well, Jerry … I’d personally stick with those two powders: H4350 and Varget. With that additional powder capacity, I’d probably try H4350 first to try to get a 100% full case. I’ve heard people say a full case is more consistent, and that seems to make sense because there wouldn’t be as big of chance for the air gap to be at different places and affect the burn rate/pattern. That is just my theory though! I bet you could get either of them to shoot. I’m in a habit of only using Hodgdon Extreme Powders, because I’ve personally found them to be less temperature sensitive than anything else I’ve tried. That is a big deal to me. Having major swings in muzzle velocity as the temperature changes can be a nightmare to manage. So I think you’re on the right track, but sorry I can’t give more direction.

      I’ll ask Berger if they can provide any reloading data for that bullet yet, and if they have any I’ll pass it on in this post.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Actually, I forgot that Berger already made a 6.5mm 130gr VLD bullet. I bet they’d suggest to follow that same reloading data for this new Hybrid bullet.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  5. Cal,

    As usual I ‘thoroughly’ enjoy reading your articles because you ‘thoroughly’ analyze the material (geeks alike!).

    But seriously; when I read these articles about the 6.5mm bullets, my mind flashes back to your “What the Prose Use” series and sure enough I remembered correctly that the Pros were using the 6mm bullets more??????

    So now I’m wondering if my new predeliction for 6mm’s is misplaced? I can’t afford to build rifles in every caliber ? Or hopefully, Bryan will invent a new 6mm hybrid. Then hopefully, you and Bryan will do another article like this on the 6mm bullet. And then I can continue on my journey to emulate the Pro’s.

    • Hey, Dave. Thanks! Glad you appreciate my over-the-top approach to every post. I can’t just “post something.” I really have to go to the Nth degree. It’s a character flaw really, but I’m glad you appreciate it. 😉

      And yes, more pros use a 6mm than 6.5mm … although both are very popular. I personally run a 6mm, and this bullet isn’t going to convince me that I should switch. I actually include the Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid in the charts and tables for comparison. You can see it actually has a better form factor (i.e. less drag) than this new 130gr Hybrid. That is especially impressive for it’s weight. The 105gr Hybrid form factor is 0.909, this new bullet is 0.920, and the 140gr Hybrid remains the best at 0.899. So no need to panic … I don’t think this bullet is reason to switch, although it’s a good option for those shooting a 6.5mm who might be having problems loading the 140gr Hybrid to magazine length.

      I would be shocked if Berger doesn’t release a new 6mm bullet. I bet they sell a ton of those, and will continue to innovate around their top sellers. It does seem like it would hard to top their 105gr Hybrid, because it is exceptional. There don’t seem to be any other bullets that compare to that BC when you take the weight into consideration. But, I’d love to be surprised with something better.

      But, will the 6mm always be what people are using? That’s very unlikely. When Berger releases new bullet designs, it is disruptive to cartridge choice. It can open up new possibilities that weren’t there before. For example, you may have heard of the 300 Norma. It’s been gaining popularity, with people like Todd Hodnett getting behind it. It is a 30 caliber magnum with really impressive ballistics … even better than the legendary 338 Lapua. But what really put it into the spotlight was when Berger released the 230gr Hybrid bullet. It had a huge BC, and people started looking for cases that could push it … and the 300 Norma began to pick up some steam. Even the reason guys are shooting 6mm and 6.5mm is driven by the great bullet selection for those calibers. I don’t think those calibers are magical. The 25 caliber or 27 caliber might be equally good options, and maybe even better for particular applications. But there are such great bullets right now available in 6mm and 6.5mm … so that is what people are shooting. It seems to me that bullet selection drives cartridges selection.

      So, knowing Berger is about to release a bunch of new designs gets me excited. It’s like Ford coming out with a new body style of the F150. If you have one that is a couple years old, it doesn’t make what you have any worse … it just means there is something new available. You might want the new one, because you like the way it looks or you like some of the features … but you don’t have to buy one. There will always be new things coming out, and often times they’ll give better performance. So eventually, yes … there will be something better. I know that can be frustrating right after you commit to something, but it is coming. The question is just how long. And contentment is a big deal. It’s unlikely that anything will come out that will revolutionize the industry overnight. It will likely be incremental improvements and you can decide if/when to make the switch. Every time I burn out a barrel, it’s not just a cost … it’s an opportunity to keep doing what I’m doing or try something new.

      Sorry for the long-winded response. I just see a lot of guys disappointed when something new comes out. That is a good thing. You don’t have to adopt it. Don’t let it change your happiness with what you have. That is just the industry moving forward, which is good for everyone.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Late here on the East Coast so I’ll keep it short. I copied all in your response and am happy with the detail. I’m thankful that I will have the time soon and the GI Bill to fund it – I’m glad I will get to go to Gunsmithing school so I can build all of these myriad rifles ?

  6. As always, I enjoy reading your posts, but I would like to call out a slight error:

    Twice (once in the body of the post, and once in the comments) you’ve used the Form factor as a measure of drag. It’s not. The new 130 is not within 2% of the drag of the 140 hybrid. The 140 is ~10% lower drag.

    • John, the way I understand it … form factor is a measurement of drag. Bryan Litz wrote a great article for Berger that explains Form Factor. Here are a few excerpts:

      Form factor is the tricky part because it requires a measurement of the bullets drag, which is related to the bullets profile. In particular, the form factor is the bullets drag divided by the drag of a standard bullet.

      The following table will broaden the application of form factor to several other bullets that have different profiles with different amounts of drag.
      Bullet Form Factor Chart
      The first bullet that appears at the top of the chart has a very short boat tail, and a short ogive with a wide blunt tip. This bullet has a form factor 1.286, or 28.6% more drag than the G7 standard shown in the middle of the chart.

      The next bullet down has a longer nose (lowers drag), with a smaller diameter tip (also lowers drag), but still has a relatively short boat tail. This bullet has a form factor of 1.036, or 3.6% more drag than the G7 standard.

      [Also included is a] bullet with a long nose and BT with a G7 form factor of 0.993, again very close to 1.000, but just a little bit less drag than the G7 standard (0.7% less drag to be exact).

      Next is a bullet with a very long secant nose, small meplat and long boat tail. This bullet has a G7 form factor of 0.933, which is really very low drag. The last bullet has a nose and boat tail very similar to the bullet just above it, but has a form factor of 0.923. That’s 7.7% less drag than the G7 standard and is considered very good.

      We’ve discussed what the G7 form factor is: a factor that relates the drag of any bullet to the drag of the G7 standard projectile. So why is it so important to have an awareness and understanding of form factor? Isn’t this what BC’s are for; to be able to make comparisons between bullets using a single number? It’s true that BC is a useful measure of merit for ballistic performance, but there’s a problem with using BC’s alone to assess ballistic performance. The problem with BC’s is that they combine the effects of mass and drag into one number. So if a bullet has a high BC, you don’t know if it’s a medium weight bullet with very low drag, or a heavy bullet with high drag. The reason this is important is because if a bullet has a high BC just because it’s heavy, it will suffer from having a depressed muzzle velocity, and performance will not be as good as the high BC implies.

      Hope this clears things up. Let me know if I overlooked something here.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • I just pulled out the Applied Ballistics book (best reference I’ve found on these kinds of subjects), and in that Litz defines form factor like this (page 14):

        “The form factor is a multiple that compares a bullet’s unique drag to that of a standard bullet. As it is drag-based, a high value means the bullet is less aerodynamically effecient than the standard bullet and conversely, a low form factor represents an efficient shape that has less drag in flight.”

        I thought that was more concise and clear than the other references, so I wanted to share it.

        Thanks again,
        Cal

  7. Cal, here’s an interesting perspective from my field. Form factor can be thought of as the bullet is like the hull of a boat or the shape of a plane. The more sleek the hull or fuselage (plus some other variables) traveling through the water or the air (both a form of fluid mediums just with relative dynamics) the less the object has to overcome the drag.

    On a side note but similar vein, you have probably heard of the interesting work done on the supersonic/supercavitating torpedo. The extrapolations to other fluid dynamics applications is amazing. I’m waiting for someone to model a bullet after the “Shkval” and subsequent variants, supercavitating planform.

    • I’m not familiar with the supercavitating torpedo, but I’ll certainly look it up! In related news, I got in a book on Essential Computational Fluid Dynamics last week, because I thought the same thing. I think there are some similarities we can pull from other fields and apply to wind and ballistics. At least that’s my hope!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Yeah, I was going to pulse Bryan about his relationship with Fluid Dynamics and see if I could stir up a brainstorming session. I know he’s busy but you know us geeks, we love talking about this stuff.

        Basically the supercavitating process is that the supersonic shockwave off of the bow (this is where I need you or Bryan) or maybe the ogive in the case of a projectile ,creates an extreme low pressure area where the drag is reduced to the point where the energy to overcome the drag gets greatly (insanely) reduced almost as if the shockwave sucks the projectile along. Like when Dark Helmet foolishly orders the ship to “ludicrous speed” in Space Balls.

  8. Cal,

    Thanks for this write-up on 6.5 pills. I am ready to order a die set, likely from Neil Jones Precision Products.

    And I’m also in the market for a new reloading press. I like the reviews and recommendations from reloading stores I get on Hornady’s Lock-N-Load press, even for weighed powder loading.

    ** Could you take a poll on PRS and other tactical competitive shooters (not bench resters) to see what presses and dies they use? Your poll graphs are always helpful.

    • Eric, I appreciate the suggestion, but I’ve already finalized the survey for this year’s PRS shooters. I try to be very conscious about the amount of time it takes those guys to complete the survey. My goal is for the average to be under 5 minutes. I’d love to ask them a million questions, but I know most of them are really busy people. I do have a few questions that will always be on there, but I also have started rotating in a couple new questions each year. For example, last year I asked about bipods and slings, but I likely won’t ask about those again this year, but will fill those spots with other questions people have been wanting to know (I’m really excited about the couple new questions this year). That might be one of those things I ask about one year. I think it’s a good idea.

      I’m a data-driven guy, so I’m sure you aren’t hoping that I speculate on this … but I’d bet the old RCBS Rockchucker was still one of the most popular among precision shooters. It seems to be what most of the precision rifle shooters I know use. I’d expect Redding competition dies to be at the top of the list as well, but there are a lot of good custom die makers out there. Whidden Gunworks is a respected name in the reloading dies world. Maybe that will give you a little direction. Wish I could help more. I’ll make a note to think about adding that question next year.

      Thanks,
      Cal