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:
- 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.)
|Bullet||G7 BC||G1 BC||G7 Form Factor||Sectional Density (lb/in²)|
|NEW Berger 6.5mm 130gr AR Hybrid||0.290||0.564||0.920||0.267|
|Berger 6.5mm 140gr Hybrid||0.319||0.622||0.899||0.287|
|Hornady 6.5mm 140gr A-Max||0.299||0.583||0.961||0.287|
|Lapua 6.5mm 136gr Lapua Scenar L||0.288||0.560||0.969||0.279|
|Lapua 6.5mm 139gr Lapua Scenar||0.290||0.564||0.983||0.285|
|Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid||0.279||0.545||0.909||0.254|
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!