We’ve done a lot of work with the 6.5 PRC cartridge, including a lightweight rifle build, testing the Bergara Wilderness HMR, and a variety of other projects. This time, we took a closer look at the Berger 144 grain 6.5 mm Long Range Hybrid Target Bullet.
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About the Berger 144 gr. Long Range Hybrid Target Bullet
While still designated as “new” on Berger’s website, the 6.5mm 144 gr. Long range hybrid target bullet actually debuted in 2020.
From Berger Bullets:
The new 6.5mm 144 Grain Long Range Hybrid Target is the latest projectile offering in our highly anticipated Long Range Hybrid Target (LRHT) product line. The 6.5mm 144 Grain LRHT boasts a high BC, jump-tolerant hybrid ogive profile that is Doppler Radar verified with less than 1% BC variation. A high Ballistic Coefficient is important for competitive shooting, but shot-to-shot consistency is the most critical aspect when engaging targets out to 1,000 yards and beyond.
Our test gun is a Bergara Wilderness HMR 6.5 PRC. We’ve used this gun in a variety of stories, including testing Berger’s 156 gr. EOL hunting bullet and Berger’s factory 6.5 PRC ammunition. This time, we decided to look at a lighter bullet.
Here’s our full video on this rifle:
Gavin also thought it would be fun to push me a little bit out of my comfort zone – having me load using Triebel dies on an Area 419 Zero Press!
Triebel dies are Sold in the U.S. exclusively through Creedmoor Sports, these German-made dies are designed for precision reloading. To truly appreciate them, you must hold them in your hand. They can be likened to expensive jewelry but with more utility.
About Triebel Dies
If you are interested in Triebel dies, you’ll want to check out the complete story we published outlining the different offerings and options. Here’s the video from that story:
We combined these dies with a press from an American precision reloading company, Area 419. The Zero press wasn’t our only piece of Area 419 gear. We also employed their funnel kit, and loading block (magnum). Also on our bench was the Short Action Customs comparator kit for checking shoulder bump and base to ogive for bullet seating depth.
About the 6.5 PRC
I consider the 6.5 PRC a big brother to the 6.5 Creedmoor. The 6.5 PRC is a step up with a magnum bolt face and larger case capacity, allowing you to push the bullet faster without pressure issues. Keeping with the modern case design (short and fat), this cartridge was designed as a complete system of tight tolerances and longer, heavier, higher BC bullets. The recommended twist is 1:8, the same as the 6.5 Creedmoor. Our test rifle has a 1:8 twist barrel.
The 6.5 PRC was designed with some attention to competition shooters, but is also viable as a hunting cartridge. It is a great option for someone with a desire to shoot NRL Hunter. This cartridge is ideal for someone who wants good knockdown power out of a short action without moving up to a larger diameter bullet.
The 140 grain weight class for 6.5 bullets is well supported by manufacturers. The Berger 144 gr. Long Range Hybrid Target has a hybrid ogive, which is particularly forgiving in bullet seating depth and generally very accurate without being finicky. This design also has meplat reduction. The meplat is the hole at the top of the bullet. Some shooters choose to uniform them. The 144 gr. Berger Long Range Hybrid Target bullets we tested looked uniform to the naked eye. Gavin spoke with Berger Bullets ballistician Bryan Litz about this and he offered that while shooters traditionally look at velocity, consistency of the ballistic coefficient from bullet to bullet matters as well. This is where meplat comes in.
This bullet falls on the higher end of the BC spectrum for .264” diameter bullets with a 0.655 G1 BC and 0.336 G7 BC. Typical ranges for the 6.5 are .362 – .694 for G1 BC and 0.240 – 0.347 for G7 BC. Berger’s 144 grain 6.5 bullet requires a 1.8” minimum twist.
More on the Rifle
We combined the Berger 144 grain 6.5 LRHT with a Federal 210 Match primer and Vihtavuori N565 in once-fired Lapua cases. As a quick reminder, here are the specs on the Bergara B-14 Wilderness HMR:
- Action: Bergara B14
- Barrel: Threaded 24” #6 contour, 1:8 twist
- Trigger: Bergara Performance Trigger
- Stock: Bergara with “mini chassis”
- Optic: Nikon 6-24x
One feature Gavin and I both appreciated is the Bergara stock with adjustable cheekpiece. Just be certain to lower it before attempting to remove the bolt! It was incredibly comfortable and the “hook” on the rear of the stock made it easy to pull the gun into my shoulder. We also have a Salmon River Solutions Hunter’s rail installed with Picatinny on the front and ARCA on the back. If we were to hunt with this set-up, we would likely switch to a lighter weight optic. One thing we would certainly keep is the BANISH 30 suppressor. With several configurations, the user has the option to change between a 7” and 9” configuration. The lighter and shorter 7” configuration is a better fit for hunting and navigating terrain.
My first step was to dry tumble the once-fired brass in walnut media. With the aid of Hornady’s case lube/wax and some tips from Gavin on shoulder set-back, I resized the brass using Triebel dies on an AREA 419 Zero press. Short Action Customs’ comparator set revealed a thousandth and a half, perfect for precision rifle. Though I could have left the lube on, I opted to wipe off each case and throw them back in the dry tumbler to clean them up. I used Primal Rights’ competition primer seater for consistent priming.
I tried several different amounts of N565, working my way up half a grain at a time from 52.5 grains to 54.5 grains. This is in excess of Vihtavuori’s 54.2 grain published maximum load. We didn’t observe any pressure signs or scuff marks on the case head. We tested four rounds of each of the five different charge weights from the bench with a bipod and rear bag. I eventually abandoned the rear bag and settled the gun into my shoulder.
The second string group measured ⅝” MOA. This isn’t bad for a factory rifle, but we’ve seen better from it. Of the N565 charges tested, 54.5 grains had the lowest SD and extreme spread, 3.7 and 8 respectively. This is significantly lower than what we saw from the other charges.
After observing my velocities, Gavin opted to try Retumbo. He loaded 58.5 grains of Retumbo using the same exact procedure I used. He achieved a 2923.6 fps average velocity, approximately 100 fps of what we saw with the N565 and 200+ fps over what we’d expect to see from this weight bullet in the 6.5 Creedmoor. That 200 fps makes a significant difference when hunting. This load also yielded a 11.8 fps SD and 30 FPS extreme spread. Three shots made a sub-half MOA group. Keep in mind that he didn’t do any Retumbo load development. He doesn’t advise you do this, but he took the max load, loaded it, and shot it. He knows the rifle really well, so was comfortable doing this. He’s also confident based on the Bergara’s performance with Berger bullets before, with some more development, better stats could be achieved.
Overall, this bullet is versatile and of especial interest to NRL Hunter competitors due to its ability to make power factor. It could also be a good general purpose match bullet in a 6.5 Creedmoor.
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