TESTED: NEW Berger 156 grain 6.5mm Elite Hunter Bullets

It’s that time of year again: big game hunting season! Bear season started just a week ago where I live, and I’m hoping for success in the coming weeks! And then there’s Deer season, lots to look forward to. And that means it’s time to get hunting ammunition sorted out, and perhaps try something new. If you hunt with a 6.5mm cartridge like 6.5 Creedmoor, the new bullet from Berger could be just what you’ve been waiting for! I’m talking about the all-new Berger 156 grain EOL Elite Hunter 6.5mm bullet.

Note: this is the first “data-driven bullet review” i’ve published to date, but have been working on this concept for a while. If you like the format, and/or would like to see more data included, just let me know by dropping a comment below!

Specs and Ballistics

From the Berger Product Page, here’s the specs for this new bullet:

And here’s an up-close picture of the bullet from the same page:

I was curious to run some ballistics calculations to see how this bullet will perform for long-range applications. So I ran a quick calculation using Berger’s Ballistics Calculator, It’s handy that with this calculator you can select the bullet and have all of the properties pre-populated!

Here’s the range card that I produced for the Berger 156 grain bullet for 6.5 Creedmoor from the page: (click/tap to enlarge)

Berger 156 grain 6.5 Creedmoor Range Card

Here’s the data in table form:

Range (y) Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lbs) Elevation (inches)
100 2520 2200 0
200 2394 1985 -3.97
300 2271 1787 -14
400 2152 1605 -30.77
500 2037 1437 -55.04
600 1925 1284 -87.69
700 1816 1143 -129.72
800 1710 1013 -182.28
900 1607 895 -246.73
1000 1507 787 -324.63

With a G7 BC of 0.347, it’s pretty impressive how this bullet retains velocity at long ranges. Almost 2000 fps at 600 yards, and 1607 fps at 900. Given that this bullet requires 1600 fps or more for reliable expansion, that means that with 6.5 Creedmoor you’d have enough energy to get the job done at 900 yards! Note: I’m not advocating that anyone take a shot at an animal at 600 yards, you have to make an honest assessment your skills and your equipment to decide how far to go.

Lab Consistency Tests

A big part of analyzing the quality of a bullet is to look at the consistency of some key measurements. I’ve decided to focus on caliber diameter (bearing surface) consistency, bullet overall length consistency, and weight consistency. Here’s the data!

Diameter Data (inches)
Average 0.2638
SD 0.0001
ES 0.0003

The above diameter data is impressive! Diameter averaged 0.2638″, which is only 0.0002″ off from the 0.264″ nominal diameter for 6.5mm bullets. Consistency was also quite good: with an Standard Deviation of 0.0001″, that’s tight. An Extreme Spread of 0.0003″ is also quite good!

Length Data (inches)
Average 1.5147
SD 0.0018
ES 0.0067

Here the average length (0.1547″) was just about 0.002″ different from the published OAL number. Length consistency was what I would expect from high-quality hollow-point bullets (more variance compared to solid tip bullets).

Weight Data (grains)
Average 156.0130
SD 0.0516
ES 0.2000

With a Standard Deviation on weight of only 0.05 grains, that variation is only 0.03% of the weight of these bullets. And an average weight within .01 grains is very “exact” as well!

Loading the 156 grain EOL Elite Hunter

I only had one box of bullets (100) to work with: that’s the cost of being an “early adopter”. I was just glad to be one of the first people to get my hands on some of these bullets to try! So I had to be selective about loading and shooting strategy. I worked with two powders: H-4350, and Vihtavuori N560- I found N650 to give slightly better results for velocity variation (SD), while giving similar accuracy results. I think either powder would work well with a proper load development work-up.

Pictured above from left to right:

And here’s the load that I worked with: (use at your own risk, not from published data, consider this experimental)

  • New Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor case
  • Federal 205 Small rifle primer
  • 42.5 grains Vihtavuori N560 (~95% load level, about 100% case capacity)
  • 2.800″ COL (6.5 Creedmoor max)

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

Sneak Peek: Uintah Precision Bolt-Action Upper in 6.5 Creedmoor

I recently made connections with a company called Uintah Precision– they make bolt action uppers for both AR-15 lowers (the UPR-15) and AR-10 style lowers (the UPR-10). For this article, I’m showing my UPR-10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor for the very first time! I really love the Unitah Precision uppers because they are very accurate (I’ve shot sub 1/2 MOA already), work with my existing AR lowers, magazines, etc. And they are fun! More info coming up shortly on these products (I also have a 6.5 Grendel UPR-15). Stay tuned!

Shooting the Berger 156 grain Elite Hunter Bullets

With only 100 bullets, I didn’t have the opportunity to work up loads (I had to save a bunch for testing and analysis). But I was able to shoot a handful of groups to get an idea of the ballistic performance for these bullets. Here’s a screenshot from ShotMarker (an e-target system with integrated chronograph) showing one of the groups I shot:

I should multiple groups where the first three shots went into about 0.35″, and I believe that with the right kind of load development, these bullets could produce 1/2 MOA accuracy or thereabouts.

Specifically, here’s what I would do to work up a load for this bullet:

  1. Evaluate speed nodes (looking for low SD numbers in ladder)
  2. Shoot an OCW style ladder measuring groups to look for accuracy nodes
  3. Experiment with different bullet seating depths (touching lands, 0.010″ off lands, 0.020″, etc)

It could take 200 or so rounds just to work out all of those variables (esp. when you consider trying different powders as well).

This particular load (see load data above) would be great for bear hunting out to 500-ish yards as-is!

What do you all think? Would you hunt with this bullet? Tell me your thoughts! What cartridge are you loading, what are you hunting, and why would you consider this bullet? I’m all ears!

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Thanks,
Gavin

7 thoughts on “TESTED: NEW Berger 156 grain 6.5mm Elite Hunter Bullets”

  1. Very interesting thanks for sharing. The one problem I see is factory twist rates stuck 2 decades in the past. Example: Ruger American in 243 Win factory twist 1:9 so very limited even though it is a 6mm cartridge. Same rifle in 6mm Creedmoor twist 1:7.7 . Even if you ask them nicely to rebarrel your RAR in 243 to a twist rate of 1:7.7 the answer is no and they have no intention of doing it any time soon either.

    Never mind they are both 6mm cartridges and David Tubb many decades ago put heavy for caliber 6mm on the map in Silhouette and X-Course. Since I almost always have to re-barrel a rifle to shoot what I want in it even in non-proprietary cartridges I seldom buy a new rifle and until OEM’s start building rifles with twist rates inline with what is available on the market and has been for the last 20 years! The only guys worried about having too fast of a twist rate are BR guys and for decades heavy for caliber bullets have been gaining popularity. The biggest problem with the 243 Win, 25-06 Remington and 270 Win has always been lack of variety in bullet weights and construction and factory barrel twist rates. The biggest problem with the 260 Rem was lack of quality brass and again lack of variety in the 6.5mm bullet selections.

    People should not need to re-barrel an otherwise perfectly good rifle especialy if new just so they can shoot available ammunition and bullet weights. The factory twist rates should be suffcient to shoot anything in the market place and anything that might come out in the next 10 years. Again David Tubs was doing DTAC what 20 years ago?

  2. Appreciate all the data! Please keep it up! Will be interested in more info and data for the boltaction AR’s as well.

  3. Gavin, I like this new review format. Your data makes me want to test this out myself for hunting as well as 600 yrd friendly competition. I am very curious to see how much better it performs in mild wind conditions compared to Sierra’s 142 grain BTHP.
    I do have one question, is there a barrel twist other than 1:8 that Berger recommends for optimal performance??

  4. I would love to see some load development using Hodgdon H4350, or Alliant Reloader 16. I have never used Vihtavuori N560 powder, but I need a temperature insensitive powder for the area in which I hunt. Please get us some more good data. I already ordered, and will be testing as well.

  5. I’m confused by your load data: “42.5 grains Vihtavuori N560 (~95% load level, about 100% case capacity).” I also load Lapua cases, and my average case capacity is 51.3 grains of water.

    I also recently loaded N560 in 6.5 CM for the first time, using Berger 156 EOLs, with some excellent preliminary results up to 45.5 grains N560 at a chronographed 2,773 fps muzzle velocity, from a 26.3″ barrel, and with no visible indications of excess pressure. My QuickLoad program indicated below-max pressure and a case fill of 104.7% at that point, so I stopped there. But I noted that the top load did not appear to be compressed when I seated the bullets. Next time, I eyeballed that load and saw that the powder only came up about halfway up the case shoulder. I went back to Quickload and saw that I might be able to load 46.4 grains N560 (at a calculated106.8% fill) without reaching maximum pressure. So I loaded 46.0 and 46.4 grain tests to chronograph next, and the bullets seated fine, without any indications of powder compression. I did use a longish Forster drop tube and tapped on the cases to settle the powder a bit more. I also loaded to a 3.011″ COAL, which is .0015″ off my barrel lands. I mainly wanted to comment on some confusion surrounding the capacity of Lapua 6.5 CM brass and the fill and suitability of N560 powder. The word on the web is that N560 is too slow for 6.5 CM. I’m not so sure about that. I’m able to safely and easily load to near-100% case fill and near-maximum chamber pressure and velocity in my rifle, with very promising results. I shot six 3-shot groups in .1 grain increments from 45.0 to 45.5 grains N560, and had five out of the six groups group .30″ or less at 100 yards. The best was 45.4 grains at 2,764 fps MV and .15″. The worst was .65″. Average muzzle velocities ranged from 2,726 to 2,773 fps.

    At the same time I also got another .15″ group with the 156 EOL using 44.3 grains of H4831SC, at 2,663 fps MV, and similarly, I was able to safely load up to 44.8 grains at 2,668 fps with no apparent powder compression, and no excess pressure signs. I subsequently loaded from 44.9 to 45.1 grains, with no compression/seating issues, to chrongraph and group next. Again, the common wisdom on the web has this excellent powder as too slow and compressed for the 6.5 CM. Apparently not.

    By the way, my barrel has a left-hand gain twist from 1:8.25″ to 1:7.5″.

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