Compiling load data

Berger 130 AR Hybrid Load Data & Performance Evaluation


After two seasons of shooting the Berger 130 grain AR Hybrid bullet, I’ve compiled quite a bit of load data on it. This article will include specific load recipes, accuracy and velocity results, and terminal performance observations from long range hunting with it.

This is a follow-up to my initial review, Berger 6.5 MM 130 AR Hybrid: Deadly Accuracy, published in February, 2016. I encourage you to check out that article to see how we tested the bullet in 2015. Due to the volume of questions concerning load data, this installment will include comprehensive handloading recipes for five rifles I used to test it. I’ll also cover some of our wound channel observations from long range hunting with it over the course of two seasons.

Jake 2016 X Doe 2

Jake with a doe shot at 280 yards using a 260 Remington.

The 130 AR Hybrid uses the same blended ogive geometry as Berger’s 140-grain Hybrid bullet– a sleek secant nose combined with an easy-to-load-for tangent ogive design. The G7 B.C. listed on the box reads .287, which I’ve found to be accurate from my barrels to at least the transonic range.

The two lots tested had excellent consistency. To check this, I measured and compared bullet weight and bearing surface length variations. I’m not sure how important those measurements are for determining how well a bullet within a given lot will shoot. I’m also not one to crack the seal on a box of bullets and weigh each one before firing them. I prefer to shoot them and let the on-target results speak for themselves. However, I do think bearing surface deviations can influence velocity and ballistic coefficient (BC) consistency, both of which are important for long range precision. As part of my load data, I make it a habit to take a sample of every lot used and record base-to-ogive length and bearing surface length.

I used two comparator bodies with 6.5mm inserts to measure bearing surfaces and a RCBS Chargemaster 1500 scale to weigh them.

130 AR Hybrid load data weight testing

Weighing a sample from a 500-count box.

The lot I tested in 2015 was #7543. Those bullets came in the standard 100-count boxes, of which we shot through the better part of ten of them. In 2016, Berger added 500-count boxes of the 130 AR Hybrid to their catalog. We used a couple of those from Lot # 9702.

The sample size from each lot was 100 bullets. The base-to-ogive length of Lot #7542 was .564”, Lot #9702 came in at .568”. Average bearing surface length for #7542 measured .301”, # 9702 was .310”. The .009” difference in bearing surface length between the two lots didn’t surprise me. I’ve seen that much and more from different lots of Berger bullets, as well as from other manufacturers. The important variable for me is the consistency of bearing surface length within a given lot number. The total spread across each lot of bullets was .003”, and a big chunk within the lots (> 70) were the same length.

The weight spread was zero. Every bullet from both lots weighed 130 grains.

Once again, I don’t know how important these variables are. Theory doesn’t always correlate with reality, but it certainly can’t hurt to know what you’re working with.

My first rule for handloading is to keep everything as simple as possible. The results on target are the only things that matter to me. I’ll share some of my process in general here, then outline the specific load data with each rifle.

Work up powder charges to what I list, especially if any component or process deviates from what I used. My loads most likely won’t match what you’ll find in a reloading manual. I would encourage you to question everything, including what I’m sharing with you. I rarely run a load that I have determined to be at max pressure in my rifle. I will provide as much detail as I can in the recipes.

  • I don’t neck turn, but sometimes I check new brass for excessive neck thickness variation. I weigh a sample from each new lot to compare to other lots from the same manufacturer. If I weigh an entire lot of cases, I cull the pieces that weigh more, or less than 1-2% of the median weight.
  • I use Redding Type S FL bushing dies to size brass. I full-length size the case and bump the shoulder back .001-.002” every time. I’ll provide the bushing size I used with each load. If you aren’t familiar with this process, see this VIDEO.
  • All new brass is neck-sized to the diameter I want to start with. Sometimes that requires a mandrel, especially with Lapua
  • I never seat bullets to jam into the rifling. I start at .010” off and adjust from there. I check every one for zero variation in seating depth.
  • I record everything I think might be important in a notebook, or on sticky notes and targets.
  • All velocity data came from a Gen 2 Magnetospeed chronograph.
  • I anneal brass after every firing, just before sizing.
  • All load development testing is done at 100 yards.
The first rifle I fired a Berger 130 AR Hybrid from was also my first 260 Remington. It wore a 26” Hart barrel with a 1-8” twist.

Built on a Remington 700 action, it shot every 140-grain bullet I tried into < .5 MOA, and usually much better than that. I started shooting the 130s through it when the barrel had about 2300 rounds through it. I started with my Berger 140 Hybrid load and worked up from there. I recorded several 5-shot groups with this load that measured in the .2s and .3s.

  • Lapua brass sized with a .293 Redding steel neck bushing.
  • CCI 250 primer.
  • 43.8 grains H4350.
  • Berger 130 AR Hybrid seated @ .130” off the lands. (2.810” COAL)
  • 2950 fps MV.

Next up is a Cooper Firearms Model 52 Long Range chambered in 6.5-284 Norma. Cooper used a 26” Wilson barrel for this rifle, with a 1-8” twist. I was in the process of reviewing this rifle and it flat out wouldn’t shoot the 140-grain bullet I wanted to use. A few days before an antelope hunt, I seated three 130 AR Hybrids over the same powder charge. Those three shots made a nice, tight cloverleaf that measured .325”. I’m sure there was plenty of room to increase velocity, but I left it alone because it shot so well. Every 3-shot group I fired with this load measured < .5 MOA.

  • Lapua brass sized with a .293 Redding steel neck bushing.
  • CCI 250 primer.
  • 56.0 grains H1000
  • Berger 130 AR Hybrid seated @ .010” off the lands (3.025” COAL)
  • 3000 fps MV.
The next round of load data collected on the 130 AR Hybrid comes from the 260 Terminator.

This little 6.5 hot rod spent the first 715 rounds of its life launching Berger 140-grain VLDs at 3000 fps. It’s still going strong with over 500 130 AR Hybrids through it now. It wears a Krieger 26” tube with a 1-8” twist. Two powders were used during testing; H4350 and RL-26. I’ll include the best loads for each, but RL-26 beat out H4350 slightly in raw accuracy, consistency, and muzzle velocity.

Please note that the 260 Terminator is not a 260 AI. The case is similar, but the throat design allows changes in peak chamber pressure. DO NOT use these loads in a 260 AI. If you want to learn more about the 260 Terminator, see my initial review of it HERE.

  • Lapua 260 Remington brass formed to 260 Terminator, .293 Redding steel neck bushing.
  • CCI 250 or CCI BR-2 primer. Slight decrease in velocity extreme spread with the CCI 250.
  • 47.0 grains H4350 or 51.0 grains RL-26
  • Berger 130 AR Hybrid seated @ “0” (2.810” COAL)
  • 3075 fps MV (H4350)/ 3100 fps MV (RL-26)
The last two rifles used during the testing are both chambered in 260 Remington.

The first is a Savage Model 12 LRP that I’ve been tinkering with for the last several years. It has a heavy 26” barrel with a 1-8” twist. The rifle has not been altered from its factory configuration. It has a background of shooting 140-grain Berger Hybrid, Sierra MatchKing, and Hornady AMAX bullets very well. It’s also proven to be the fastest barrel in my collection, regularly producing velocity figures 30-50 fps higher than other barrels with the same loads. My go-to powder for 260 Remington is Hodgdon’s H4350, but IMR 4451 was also tried for the first time in this rifle. Both powders produced < .5 MOA groups, but H4350 did slightly better with MV and ES.

130 AR Hybrid group

Sample group fired from a Savage Model 12 LRP.

  • Remington brass sized with a .288 Redding steel neck bushing.
  • CCI BR-2 primer.
  • 44.0 H4350 or 43.5 IMR 4451
  • Berger 130 AR Hybrid seated @ .010” off the lands (2.867” COAL)
  • 3020 fps MV (H4350) or 2960 fps MV (IMR 4451)

My Defensive Edge Sheep Hunter is the latest rifle used to collect load data on the 130s. Wearing a 24” Hart barrel with a 1-8” twist, it’s standard accuracy load is a 140-grain Hornady AMAX @ 2775 fps. This little 260 took an instant liking to the Hybrids, printing half-inch groups at just under 2900 fps MV.

  • Lapua brass sized with a .293 Redding steel neck bushing.
  • CCI 250 primer.
  • 43.8 H4350.
  • Berger 130 AR Hybrid seated @ .010” off the lands (2.800” COAL)
  • 2880 fps MV
I continue to be impressed with how well the 130 AR Hybrid performs as a long range hunting bullet.

Berger designed this bullet for tactical-style shooting, not hunting. Like many target bullets, it works well for both. In 2015, the kids and I used it to punch tags on three antelope and two whitetail deer. We added five whitetails to the list in 2016, bringing the total to 10 big game animals killed with the 130 AR Hybrid. We also hunted ground squirrels with it both years, scoring hits out to 600 yards several times. There were no lost animals.

130 AR Hybrid testing

The 260 Terminator with a pile of long range ground squirrels.

Shot distances ranged from 186 to 867 yards, with an average impact velocity of 2423 fps. The lowest impact velocity was 1890 fps. The shot with the highest impact velocity hit a whitetail deer’s shoulder at 2747 fps. In all cases, the bullet penetrated completely and exited the animal. No bullets or large fragments were recovered. That’s not to say there weren’t fragments in the body cavity, just that I didn’t recover any.

130 AR Hybrid 292 Yard Exit

The heart from a whitetail buck shot at 292 yards with a 130 AR Hybrid.

We tend to kill deer within the last 30 minutes of daylight. I try to document every impact and exit wound before opening the chest cavity to inspect internal damage. I haven’t had much luck taking flash photos of bloodshot lungs, and I’m simply not interested in picking through them looking for fragments. We took photos of the hearts of two bucks my kids killed last November. After inspecting those two hearts, I can only speculate that the bullet is either expanding or deforming after it enters the chest cavity. It then continues to travel along the same path before exiting.

In all cases, the entry to exit wound angle lined up with the shot. The bullet didn’t deviate from its path when it hit the animal.

130 AR Hybrid Exit Wound

Exit wound from a 130 AR Hybrid fired through both shoulders of a deer. Impact velocity was 2747 fps.

Exit wounds tended to be 1-2” on the deer we shot, regardless of distance or bullet path through the animal, including one shot through both shoulders.

Two of the three antelope had 3-4” exit wounds. One of them was a doe shot at 867 yards with the 6.5-284. It was a classic high-shoulder hit, hitting the top of the scapula before travelling through the spine and exiting. I purposely shot the other one while heavily quartered toward me, hitting the buck just in front of the left scapula to catch both lungs. The third antelope was taken with an almost identical shot, with a 1” exit wound.

erger 130 Hybrid Exit 420 Yards Nov 5

Exit wound on a whitetail shot at 420 yards with a 130 AR Hybrid.

Our first three deer this year were taken on a depredation hunt over an alfalfa field. The local whitetail population was eating more alfalfa than the rancher was putting away for the winter.

We climbed up on a stack of hay bales and went to work. Due to the proximity of neighboring houses to the field, I opted to use the 260 Terminator with a suppressor. When the dust settled, we shot three whitetail does at 306, 530, and 186 yards. We helped the rancher out a little bit and put 150 pounds of venison burger in the freezer. The precision and accuracy of the 260 Terminator with a 130 AR Hybrid ensured quick, clean kills. That’s all I ask for.

Jessica with a depredation hunt doe.

Jessica with a whitetail doe taken from the haystack hide. Shot distance was 530 yards with the 260 Terminator.

The Berger 130 AR Hybrid is a bullet I’ll continue to use and recommend. It’s capable of extreme precision at distances near and far.  Feel free to use my load data if you wish, but please approach it with as much caution as I would yours. If you hunt with it, have confidence, but realize that shot placement in long range hunting is everything, especially with the lighter calibers. Please subscribe to the site and leave a comment below. I can be contacted at sam@panhandleprecision.com

 

 

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Sam

As an Idaho native, avid hunter, and long range shooter, Sam has written numerous articles and gear reviews for various online publications. Specializing in long range hunting in the mountains of northern Idaho, Sam founded Panhandle Precision as a way to continue sharing his passions.

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17 Comments

  • Carl Harper
    December 15, 2016 at 11:32

    Hello Sam, These have been shooting great in my .260. We didn’t get a chance to take any game with one, and our only real shot was on the awkward side. I was glad the kid chose not to take the shot, but it raised the question of was the bullet suitable. Good solid rest, 75-80 yards, very last light, raining, medium size doe, facing directly away. Your thoughts appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Carl

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      December 15, 2016 at 11:37

      Carl, I’m glad the shot wasn’t taken. There’s a lot of potential for a bad experience with a facing away shot, regardless of the bullet used.

      • Carl Harper
        December 16, 2016 at 07:59

        I was too! We spend a lot of time on game targets, discussing anatomy-probable results. I had quietly encouraged him to wait for a turn that didn’t come. H was patient and disciplined. Not shooting was the absolute best choice.
        I was just thinking in more abstract conversation than changing my mind, or wishing it different..
        Thanks,
        Carl

  • Paul Fakenbridge
    December 24, 2016 at 06:12

    Sam,
    Another great and fact filled article. This is a bullet that I have considered using for hunting. Sounds like this bullet will work great for my needs. Thanks and Happy Holidays to you and yours.
    Regards, Paul

  • Devin Hawley
    January 3, 2017 at 17:42

    Sam, I have my own wildcat called 6.5 OHC (optimum hunting cartridge). It shoots the Nosler 129 ABLR @3280-3310 depending on the particular lot of powder. Was wondering if you or anyone you know have shot the 130 AR Hybrid that fast and would you still recommend it for deer and antelope???? Don’t want to unnecessarily waste any meat. I have not killed anything with that bullet because I thought it would be too soft. This year I was shooting the Nosler 142 ABLR @ 3185 @ 15 ft from the muzzle and took a whitetail doe at 245 yds and went for a broadside shoulder shot. It broke the onside shoulder, left a fist sized hole in the sternum and broke the offside leg. Deer didn’t make it 30 yds but it was pretty messy.
    Any advice would be appreciated!!
    Thanks
    Devin

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      January 4, 2017 at 06:41

      Devin, I don’t know how they will work at that muzzle velocity. I wouldn’t hesitate to try them, though. I would go for a crease shot to minimize meat loss. Antelope are pretty soft, so rib shots are all I’ll take on them with any caliber/bullet.

      • Devin Hawley
        January 4, 2017 at 06:48

        Thanks for the input Sam, I appreciate you getting back to me. May you and your family have a great New Year.
        Devin

  • Brent
    February 27, 2017 at 18:52

    Sam,
    Great information here ! I am working on a load for a new .260 rem with the Berger 130 hybrid and Hornaday 143 eld-x. Following the Hornaday manual on the eld-x I started to get a compressed load. What are your thoughts on compressed loads , good or bad ?
    Thanks, Brent from the Magic Valley

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      February 27, 2017 at 19:48

      Compressed loads can be a real PIA! I try to avoid them because of the difficulty in seating bullets consistently. With H4831sc in my 260 Remington, it liked to run with a full case under a 140 AMAX. Luckily, it also liked to run a little faster with less H4350. If you stick with that load, you might want to try a drop tube. I use one with the 260 Terminator for loading 51.0 RL26 under the 140 VLDs. It definitely makes a difference in how the powder fills the case. The one I use has a 12″ drop.

      • Brent
        February 27, 2017 at 20:43

        Thanks for your input , Being new to reloading I never new about drop tubes .
        Thanks again

  • Steven Carnes
    July 26, 2017 at 17:17

    I would like to know how well this bullet does in the 6.5 Grendel with slower velocitys and if it will still have the same expansion.

  • Marshall
    December 21, 2017 at 18:24

    I’m just finding this article, and was curious if you had shot it out of a 6.5 Grendel?

  • michael kelton= middle tennessee.
    February 15, 2018 at 15:43

    sam what are you doing with the two bullet compareters on one set of calipers in a picture on one of your sites.

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      February 15, 2018 at 15:49

      Measuring bullet bearing surface. Both comparators have the same caliber inserts in them.

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