November 25, 2020
By Joseph von Benedikt
Berger’s new ultra-sleek long-range match bullet, the Long Range Hybrid Target (LRHT), aims to maximize ballistic consistency and minimize aerodynamic drag at extended distances. Further, its hybrid shoulder is engineered to be forgiving of seating depth—or, more accurately, bullet jump prior to engaging the rifling leade. None of this is particularly innovative, but taken together, these three factors provide a subtle but significant increase in performance. Let’s take a look at the engineering concepts behind the design.
Ballistic consistency is maximized by Berger’s new Meplat Reduction Technology (MRT). The meplat is the surface of the bullet’s tip that is perpendicular to the axis of the projectile. These inconsistencies affect ballistic coefficient, and at long range even tiny variations make a difference—to the point that some shooters true up the noses of their bullets with tiny lathes, swages and so on.
Traditionally, anything with a BC consistency of less than two percent variation is considered good. Berger’s MRT uses controlled pressure on the bullet nose to swage the tip closed and shape it exactly the same on every bullet, resulting in a variation of less than one percent in BC, a figure confirmed by Doppler radar. (One note: A lot of precision hunters like using Berger bullets on big game, but the LRHT is not suitable for that because its tightly swaged tip prevents consistent bullet expansion.)
The company says MRT also brings the projectiles closer to the rotational axis, which improves in-flight balance. Further, the smaller the meplat, the less it contributes to aerodynamic drag.
As I mentioned, the hybrid shoulder is designed to be forgiving on seating depth. Until not too many years ago, bullets had either a secant ogive (nose profile) or a tangent ogive. The secant is more aerodynamic but tends to be picky about seating depth.
Current Berger Long Range Hybrid Target Offerings
Because these bullets often must be seated to touch the rifling to shoot accurately, they can erode throats more quickly—forcing handloaders to frequently adjust seating depth to maintain contact with the rifle, a process called “chasing the lands.”
Tangent ogives, on the other hand, are very forgiving and will often shoot well whether seated near the rifling leade or a considerable distance from it. Unfortunately, tangent ogives are less aerodynamic.
Eventually, some bright soul blended the two, giving a bullet a long, sleek secant ogive that transitioned to a tangent-type curve just ahead of the projectile’s shoulder, where it engraves into the rifling when fired. This hybrid ogive is now common on cutting-edge long-range bullets.
As a result of the MRT tip and hybrid shoulder on the Long Range Hybrid Target, it possesses excellent ballistic consistency, minimal aerodynamic drag and forgiving accuracy across a broad spectrum of seating depths and chamber types. It is, some argue, the ultimate long-range match projectile.
Initially, the Long Range Hybrid Target is available in five different diameters and weights, ranging from .224 up to .30 caliber. All are relatively heavy for caliber, a necessity in order to achieve high ballistic coefficients. However, Berger kept bullet weights and profiles within parameters that will stabilize in standard rifling twist rates. Many competing bullets require special fast-twist bores.
To put the LRHT to the test, I handloaded four of the five different variations in five different cartridges. The first load consisted of the 85.5-grain .224/5.56mm version in .223 Rem. cases from Hornady. The load was 24 grains of Vihtavuori N140 ignited by Federal 205 Gold Medal primers.
The bullets were seated long to single-load for slow-fire stages in Service Rifle competition from my Rock River AR-15 National Match rifle. Because I fire 10- and 20-shot strings with it in competition, I tested the load via 10-shot groups.
With ammo it likes, the rifle will consistently produce sub-inch, 10-shot, 100-yard groups. The LRHT produced 10-shot groups averaging 1.17 inches. More testing with different propellants would be necessary before I’d switch to the LRHT for competition with this rifle.
Loading it in my Kimber 84M Classic .22 Nosler, however, provided splendid results. The handload consisted of 29.5 grains of H4350 in Nosler cases primed with Federal 205 Gold Medal primers. The 85.5-grain LRHT averaged a scant 0.38-inch average for three consecutive three-shot groups at 100 yards with this rifle—a gun that’s not a heavy-barreled varmint rifle but rather a walking-type predator gun.
Also, this gun has historically shown no liking for heavy-for-caliber, high-BC projectiles. I was delighted to find such excellent accuracy with the 85.5-grain LRHT. Even though it’s not an appropriate projectile for hunting, it gives the little Kimber spectacular capability out to 1,000 yards—a ton of fun.
Next, I loaded test batches in 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 PRC. The 6mm Creedmoor is a PRS competition rifle from G.A. Precision. I primed match-grade Petersen small-primer-pocket cases with Federal 205 Gold Medal caps, charged them with 41.0 grains of Reloder 16 and topped them with 109-grain LRHT bullets.
I like to seat handloads close to the rifling leade for this rifle, but the Berger LRHTs are not long enough. Seating them deeply enough to withstand the rigors of aggressive feeding through a magazine left them jumping .090 to the leade—a good test of how forgiving of seating depth these bullets are.
This is an accurate rifle that’s easy to shoot with precision because it’s quite heavy, but still I was thrilled to see one bullet after another land atop its predecessor. Without any load development at all, I had a bona fide quarter-m.o.a. handload. Three consecutive three-shot groups, fired without allowing the barrel to cool, measured 0.25 inch, 0.26 inch and 0.22 inch.
Next I tested the 144-grain Long Range Hybrid Target in a lightweight competition/hunting hybrid rifle built on a Defiance Deviant Hunter action. I used Lapua small-primer-pocket cases primed with Federal 205 Gold Medal primers and charged with 41.0 grains of H4350 powder, with the LRHT bullets lightly touching the rifling. The load averaged 0.56 inch over a similar series of three consecutive three-shot groups at 100 yards without allowing the barrel to cool—which is certainly excellent accuracy.
Berger Long Range Hybrid Target Accuracy Results
Finally, I ran the 220-grain LRHTs through a Proof Research Glacier Ti ultralight .300 PRC I had on loan for testing. I used Hornady cases primed with Federal 215 Gold Medal primers. I charged with 77.0 grains of Retumbo powder and seated the long, heavy LRHT bullets to kiss the rifling.
I’d learned that this is an accurate rifle, but due to its light weight and robust recoil, it’s not easy to shoot well. Still, my three consecutive three-shot groups averaged a respectable 0.71 inch at 100 yards—and that’s with no load development. This put the LRHT on par with Hornady’s recently introduced A-Tip and other similar space-age long-range projectiles.
It’s a testament to the new LRHT that it produced the best accuracy I’d ever achieved in two out of five rifles, and that’s without any handload tuning. Pretty impressive.
If you’re a long-range match shooter, you owe it to yourself to give them a go in your favorite rifle. You may be astonished at the level of accuracy they can provide.