Berger 6.5 MM 130 Grain AR Hybrid: Deadly Accuracy
As the sun rose on Wyoming’s 2015 pronghorn opener, conditions were ideal for testing Berger’s new 6.5 MM 130 grain AR Hybrid bullet.
With barely an hour of legal light behind us, we spotted our first animal. While Jessica settled in behind the 6.5-284, I called out the corrections needed for the 867 yard shot. As the shot broke, I watched the trace from the 130 grain AR Hybrid bear down on the antelope. With a perfect high-shoulder impact, the doe dropped in place. We went on to fill two more pronghorn tags with the 130 grain Hybrids. Impact velocities ranged from 1900 to 2400 feet per second. All three bullets expanded and exited the animals, leaving impressive wound channels. No follow-up shots were needed. Here’s a video of our 130 grain Hybrid field test.
Although it seems to work well, Berger didn’t design the 6.5 MM 130 grain AR Hybrid for long range hunting.
Berger’s targeted consumer is the precision rifle match shooter. A quick look at the statistics compiled by Precision Rifle Blog shows that 40 percent of the top 50 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) competed with 6.5MM caliber rifles in 2014. In 2015, that number rose to 47 percent. The majority of those shooters used Berger’s 140 grain Hybrid bullet. The Berger 6.5MM 140 grain Hybrid is a great bullet, but takes up a lot of space in cartridges feeding from a detachable magazine and doesn’t allow much leeway for seating depth.
The Berger 6.5MM 130 grain AR Hybrid was designed around the constraints of cartridge overall length (COAL) in detachable magazine-fed rifles.
The majority of PRS competitors use bolt action rifles that feed from high-capacity detachable magazines, such as Accuracy International’s 10-shot AI-3902. A quick measurement of one of my AI mags shows a maximum capacity (without modifications) of 2.890” inside the magazine body. To accommodate bullet nose deformities and ensure reliable feeding, 2.850” is generally accepted as the maximum cartridge overall length (COAL) of an AI magazine. Now let’s take a look at a popular PRS round, the 260 Remington.
Seated at a COAL of 2.850”, the Berger 140 grain Hybrid protrudes into a 260 Remington case approximately .350” past the neck/shoulder junction. A big chunk of that is the bearing surface of the bullet, as the boat tail portion is only .197”. The 130 grain AR Hybrid is .113” shorter than the 140 Hybrid, which places the intersection of the boat tail and bearing surface close to the shoulder of the case. That means more powder can fit in the case, and the position of the 130’s bearing surface in the neck allows more seating depth adjustment.
The Berger 130 grain AR Hybrid shot very well in several different rifles.
For this review, I fired approximately 700 of the 130 grain Hybrids through my 260 Remington. I also tested them in a 6.5-284. Both rifles produced sub-.5 MOA groups with them, with some groups much smaller. The Hybrid design of the bullet, with the combination of a secant and tangent ogive, proved tolerant of a wide range of seating depths. I tested it to .130” off the lands in both rifles. I was able to drive the 130 Hybrids to 2950 fps from my 260 Remington with excellent accuracy and low extreme spread in velocity. With a G7 ballistic coefficient of .288, that offered me a one MOA elevation advantage over my 140 grain Hybrid load at 500 yards, while matching the wind correction of the heavier, higher B.C. bullet. The excellent wind resistance of the 140 grain Hybrid will eventually overcome the 130’s velocity advantage, but it takes its time doing it!
Two of my friends tested the 130 grain Hybrids in another 260 Remington and a 6.5×55 with similar results. These bullets were easy to get shooting well.
The final stage of testing the Berger 130 grain AR Hybrids began in mid-November with Idaho’s whitetail rut.
I’ve always considered the 260 Remington an ideal deer hunting round. I have two rifles chambered in it that I use for hunting. One is a 13 ½ pound tactical rifle, the other an eight pound sporter. My normal hunting load is a Berger 140 grain Hunting VLD at 2800 fps. That bullet has performed consistently on deer out to 600 yards. Based on our success in Wyoming, I had high confidence that the 130 Hybrids would work as well.
Both of my kids tagged whitetails with the 260 Remington/130 grain Hybrid combination. The distances were 284 and 292 yards, with impact velocities of around 2500 feet per second. Both shots were classic “in the crease” impacts, with the bullet entering soft tissue before expanding in the heart and exiting the chest cavity. Not surprisingly, both bucks ran about 40 yards before collapsing. I was a very proud dad! The 130 grain Hybrid performed much like the 140 grain HVLD, causing massive internal tissue damage and a reliable exit wound for tracking.