Safety Warning for Berger 77 grain OTM Tactical Factory Loaded Ammunition

Greedmoor

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If you have the ammo and won't be shooting it, it might be worthwhile to weigh the individual rounds to see if anything comes in a few grains above average and pull/weigh that charge. Otherwise, poor gun! That looks crazy hot. If this was my 24.3 AA2520/85 RDF load, I'd expect to see this pressure somewhere around 26+ grain charge.
 
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Greedmoor

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Apparently Scott has signed himself up for round 2. I can’t believe he’s not blaming that dumbass that built that gun at all.
Pictures of the ammo show it was counterfeit. Some kind of homemade projectile copy and god knows what powder. The real ammo is extremely expensive, and some gun show grifter got the better of him and should be in prison. Serbu just happened to be the unlucky gun chosen.
 

seaflar

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This is a safety warning pertaining to Berger’s factory loaded ammunition.



Berger 223 Remington

77 grain OTM Tactical

Part # 65-23030

Lot # P002745-1




beger_kaboom_box-2018309.jpg






berger_kaboom_lot_number-2018317.jpg






While firing this ammunition from one of my Krieger barreled, semi-automatic, precision AR-15s, I experienced an uncharacteristic amount of recoil and muzzle blast. This occurred with the second round fired from the magazine and there were two bullet holes in the target, so there was no type of bore obstruction involved. (This AR-15 has functioned flawlessly for over one thousand rounds and has produced ½ MOA 10-shot groups at 100 yards.)



The action failed to cycle after firing this second round from the magazine and the trigger was dead. No amount pulling/pounding on the charging handle was able to free-up the bolt carrier group. As stated above, there were two bullet holes in the target so there was no type of bore instruction involved.



At home, I had to use a mallet and a Delrin rod to pound the bolt, carrier and case out of the barrel extension/upper receiver. Prior to pounding out the bolt carrier group, I took a quick look in the bore with a cheap borescope. It was clearly visible that the brass case (Lapua) was still tightly sealed to the walls of the chamber.






berger_kaboom_borescope-2018316.jpg






Upon examining the spent case, it was clearly visible that the primer pocket was greatly expanded and there was a large amount ejector and extractor brass-flow. The primer fell out of the bolt face when the case was removed with the pounding-out of the bolt carrier group.



berger_kaboom_03-2018310.jpg






berger_kaboom_04-2018311.jpg






The was a large “belt” of expanded brass just above the extractor groove. This belt had a diameter of 0.414” at the at the broadest section. The case was split on either side of the extractor brass flow. The case rim was split at the ejector brass flow.





berger_kaboom_05-2018312.jpg








berger_kaboom_07-2018314.jpg






berger_kaboom_06-2018313.jpg






berger_kaboom_08-2018315.jpg




I have not yet conducted a damage assessment of my AR15. A link to this thread has been sent to Berger and I’ll post their reply when I receive it. Until such time, I urge anyone who has also purchased this ammunition not to use it.





Never saw anything like that before in my life!!!
 

b6graham

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    Pictures of the ammo show it was counterfeit. Some kind of homemade projectile copy and god knows what powder. The real ammo is extremely expensive, and some gun show grifter got the better of him and should be in prison. Serbu just happened to be the unlucky gun chosen.
    What?!
     
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    Molon

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    @Molon do you have a way to measure distance to the lands/jam in your rifle?


    Using a bullet pulled from this lot of ammunition, the cartridge overall length was 2.322" with this bullet seated to the lands of this barrel.


    .

    Have you shot this particular load from Berger in this rifle before?

    No.

    and lastly, it’s now summer and hot, possible the box of ammo was sitting in the sun/trunk of a car before it went through the rifle?

    No.

    Do a bunch of shooting and let the runs sit in the chamber a while?

    Negative.


    ..
     

    Molon

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    @Molon - I would love to see one of your macro shots of the case head fired without issue? Did have even a hint of pressure indication?
    The above request is not to question you in anyway, but for the benefit of anyone reading this.


    berged_fired_case_head_01-2024078.jpg



    Did Berger ask for the blown case back to help with their investigation?

    No.
    ..
     
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    Lapua6547

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    I know there are a lot of experts on here, I'm not one of them, but I wanted to share my personal experience with .223 Lapua brass. I run a handloaded .223 bolt action trainer with 82 grain Bergers (Now 85.5 gr). The first time I took it to the range I had a casing and the bolt get stuck. One of the "experts" I was with grabbed his power drill and "tapped" on the bolt handle with the butt of the drill to try to get it free (Brilliant!). That ended up splitting the bolt shroud and my rifle was done before it even started...My friends who continued running the .223 trainers for PRS experienced this same problem with Lapua brass. The feedback I received was the brass was too soft and too thin. They all switched over to Lake City for that caliber. Lapua brass is money for every other caliber I've tried, but perhaps their .223 needs improvement. I have 6.5X47 Lapua brass I've reloaded 10+ times but my buddies were only able to get 3-4 reloads per piece of .223 brass before the primer pockets stretched out.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Glad they will replace the ammo. It is concerning that they have had a couple reports. Normally that would trigger a recall in most industries.

    I have lot #: P002745-3. I don't know how Berger uses the -1 or -3. I think I'll hold off on shooting this for a bit. Thanks for the report!
    Yeah I have some of that lot too. It's all been completely fine in my 223 Wylde. Bolt gun. Both lots 1 and 3
     

    TreyMeTrey

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    I have the very same experience about 5 months ago with my ar15 9mm carbine during a USPSA/IPSC match. It looks almost Identical.. It even blew my magazine out and on the ground.;Im glad you were not seriously hurt.Thanks for the Heads Up on the ammo..My ammo was Monarch Brass Cased 9mm box of 50.
     

    seanh

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    Pictures of the ammo show it was counterfeit. Some kind of homemade projectile copy and god knows what powder. The real ammo is extremely expensive, and some gun show grifter got the better of him and should be in prison. Serbu just happened to be the unlucky gun chosen.
    Did know that, thought it was just somebody's reloads
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    The Krieger barrel that this incident occurred with has a true 223 Remington chamber.


    ...
    Hmmmm. Of course, the ammo is 223 Rem ammo. It isn't. "223wylde". So that's not an excuse, but Id think that figures into it. What do you think?
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    223 Wylde chambers can safely fire 5.56mm pressure rounds.
    Yeah. Had to be 80+ though or at least more than 65 to do what it did though... wonder if a difference in the chamber free bore effected it ?

    Aren't those bullets seated long or something?

    Of course 223 ammo should be safe for a 223 chamber, period.
     

    ma smith

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    wonder if its possible berger put a 556 nato "recipe" inside that round
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    This Berger factory loaded ammunition is loaded to magazine length. The longest rounds that I sampled are 2.262"; that's a jump of approximately 0.060" to the lands in this Krieger barrel.
    I thought I remembered something about it being a little different but I couldn't remember what it was.
     

    Molon

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    berger_kaboom_casehead_letters_01-2021963.jpg




    The blown case has a weight of 99.0 grains. The neck diameter of this case is 0.254”. The diameter of the “belt” above the extractor groove is 0.414” at the broadest section.

    The diameter of the case rim across the extractor and ejector brass flow is 0.423” and the diameter of the case rim rotated to 90 degrees of that position is 0.382”. The primer pocket has a diameter of approximately 0.222” at the broadest section.

    I pulled-down 20 of the unfired cartridges from this lot of ammunition. Here’s the compiled data.




    berger_factory_ammunition_data_sheet_02_-2025493.jpg




    You can down-load a larger view of the above data sheet here. (or just click on the pic above.)

    ....
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Wow. Thats an absolutely impressive compilation sir.

    I'm pretty surprised at some of the data honestly. That ammo has shot so well and been so consistent in my gun, I'm a little surprised at that info. Not sure what to say about this honestly, but I've seen some of your posts before, so I was kind of wondering if you were going to dive into this.

    I'd be interested to hear your interpretation of the data.
     

    celltech

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    I pulled-down 20 of the unfired cartridges from this lot of ammunition. Here’s the compiled data.

    The spread in those charges is...wow...shitty. 1.5gr extra of H4895 is almost 12,000 PSI difference. Remind me to never buy Berger .223 ammo...
     

    Snuby642

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    And people make fun of my +/- 0.1g equipment.

    Supprised they have not published a recoll on that lott.
     
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    Mk32784

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    The spread in those charges is...wow...shitty. 1.5gr extra of H4895 is almost 12,000 PSI difference. Remind me to never buy Berger .223 ammo...

    You think that's bad? lol... others are much worse. Every company can slip up.. still shoot Berger ammo any day over a lot of other stuff.
     

    Badshot308

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    berger_kaboom_casehead_letters_01-2021963.jpg




    The blown case has a weight of 99.0 grains. The neck diameter of this case is 0.254”. The diameter of the “belt” above the extractor groove is 0.414” at the broadest section.

    The diameter of the case rim across the extractor and ejector brass flow is 0.423” and the diameter of the case rim rotated to 90 degrees of that position is 0.382”. The primer pocket has a diameter of approximately 0.222” at the broadest section.

    I pulled-down 20 of the unfired cartridges from this lot of ammunition. Here’s the compiled data.




    berger_factory_ammunition_data_sheet_02_-2025493.jpg




    You can down-load a larger view of the above data sheet here. (or just click on the pic above.)

    ....
    Has Berger disclosed to you what powder they're using in these loads?
     

    S197

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    I believe some of these comments perhaps are from people who haven't read many of Molon's previous posts and don't realize he gathers tremendous amounts of very meticulous data on the ammunition he tests. I mean, he uses a custom K&M compression gauge to measure neck tension. I would say he's one of the most experienced ammunition researchers on this site.
    YUP! ive Been reading his post for years and I have learned a lot from him on ammo and ARs
     
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    Lefty1121

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    Thanks for the heads up. All that data is really awesome. I have some Berger 6.5 that has been discontinued. I'll be taking a closer look at it.
     

    FCS

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    I pulled-down 20 of the unfired cartridges from this lot of ammunition. Here’s the compiled data.



    berger_factory_ammunition_data_sheet_02_-2025493.jpg


    Those charge weights would indicate to me that powder used was closer to N530 or N-135.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    That's well over my pay grade but could you speculate as to the pressure increase or total pressure that would result or provide any insight into what kind of pressure could be possible with say "the max charge that OP found 23.3" with those powders?
     

    FCS

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    Means you are working with a powder that with a heavier bullet is going to be more peaky, more sensitive and with powder charge varying that much, can get you into a high(er) pressure situation.

    Krieger bbls then do run tight on land and groove diameters, not crazy tighter but tighter. That bumps up pressure.

    Shorter freebore chamber (223 vs Wylde vs NATO), tighter barrel, powder charge variation on high side, add that maybe round sat in chamber for a longer period of time....all adds up to pressure increase. Maybe a case that was a bit softer than should be due to a process error or ???.

    Pressure isn't linear, especially on higher side of curve. Gets even more interesting if running a double base powder and running it on high side of pressure.
    I prefer single base, extruded powders but see appeal to double base. Sometimes the only way to get "there" is to run a double base. One just has to keep in mind that it isn't good to push double base hard, then use that same ammo when 30-40 degrees warmer.

    Case #Charge weight - grainsAbs Deviation - grains
    721.8
    0.555​
    421.9
    0.455​
    621.9
    0.455​
    1021.9
    0.455​
    822
    0.355​
    922
    0.355​
    522.2
    0.155​
    322.3
    0.055​
    1322.3
    0.055​
    1822.4
    0.045​
    1522.5
    0.145​
    1722.5
    0.145​
    2022.5
    0.145​
    122.6
    0.245​
    222.6
    0.245​
    1222.6
    0.245​
    1422.6
    0.245​
    1622.6
    0.245​
    1922.6
    0.245​
    1123.3
    0.945​
    Average - grains
    22.355​
    ES - grains
    1.5​
    Standard Deviation - grains
    0.355633238​
    Mean Average Deviation - grains
    0.206554472​


    Name of precision (ammo, optics, shooting, etc) is to have it be the same each time, when precision isn't there, "interesting" things can happen.
    Pressure wise, that's really hard to guesstimate as it would depend heavily upon where you are on curve for the average charge.

    Depends on what barrel and chamber the ammo was tested / developed in also. Lotta variables to account for to be able to say much of anything useful.

    Powder charge variation is bad. Powder charge variation with faster burn rate powder, combined with bullet that is "heavy" for cartridge is even worse.

    Internal ballistics - it'll give you a headache, one way or another.
     

    ma smith

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    Heres an attempt at distribution by frequency,
    done in .2gr buckets

    Interesting to note that 22.5±.2grains is 22.3x to 22.7
    would account for 10x of the sample units.

    Almost suggesting much of the variance is under-charges ,
    but there is defintely a significant OVERCHARGE outlier:

    Note how 23.3 sits two empty buckets to the right...🧐


    Untitled Image-1.png

    (please double check if my math is off)
    Note: what shows up in x= "22.7"
    is 22.5<X<= to 22.7
     
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    Molon

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    Almost suggesting much of the variance is under-charges ,
    but there is defintely a significant OVERCHARGE outlier:

    Note how 23.3 sits two empty buckets to the right...🧐

    Also notice that the 23.3 grain powder charge happens to be randomly paired with the lowest case weight of 96.2 grains.

    powder charge
    sample_standard_deviaiton_of_powder_char-2026901.jpg



    case weight
    sample_standard_deviaiton_of_case_weight-2026909.jpg



    ...
     

    357Max

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    And the over pressure case was the heaviest of all weighed. Probably missing some brass in the flash hole area as well.

    Since I'm about to tumble 223 brass I'll mark & weigh a few before and after carbon removal. Doubt it's even 1 full gr for carbon.
     

    Molon

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    Since I'm about to tumble 223 brass I'll mark & weigh a few before and after carbon removal. Doubt it's even 1 full gr for carbon.

    The inside of the blown case was brushed and then scrubbed with Q-Tips to remove fouling. I then borescoped the inside of the case to confirm almost all of the fouling was removed. The casehead was then vigoruously scrubbed with a nylon brush.

    There were small bits of brass on the bolt when I first pounded it out of the barrel extension/upper receiver.

    ...
     

    Snuby642

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    I am intrested to see this but figure carbon is about 0.1 kinda like a piece of wood burnt to ash.
    And the over pressure case was the heaviest of all weighed. Probably missing some brass in the flash hole area as well.

    Since I'm about to tumble 223 brass I'll mark & weigh a few before and after carbon removal. Doubt it's even 1 full gr for carbon.
     

    oldiephrt

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    Molon Even if 530 was used, that kind of pressure doesn't seem reasonable for an over charge based on what you pulled. Impossible to tell now, could it have been excessive case length with overcharge? I may have missed your post on this is the chamber now enlarged?
     

    357Max

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    Figures I marked 4 piece's and the very last piece of 223 I pulled out was #1 (out of 450).

    Exactly .1 less after clean. This was with SS pins. Inside is spotless.

    IMG_6372.jpg
    IMG_6374.jpg
     
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    MontanaMan

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    I've shot a lot of the Berger 77 gr OTM bullets, & compared to SMK's, Nosler CC's & 75 Hornadys, the same charges of a given powder with the Berger definitely shows higher pressure signs, hence my loads with that bullet are dropped down a touch.

    The grains of powder report in the pulled cases falls pretty close to what might be used with 8208 or AR-Comp with the Berger bullet in handloads.

    We'll probably never get a definitive answer, but with both of those powders or something slightly faster,say like VV-133 or 134, it's definitely possible to get enough into the case to get that result, IMO.

    MM
     

    FCS

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    Molon Even if 530 was used, that kind of pressure doesn't seem reasonable for an over charge based on what you pulled. Impossible to tell now, could it have been excessive case length with overcharge? I may have missed your post on this is the chamber now enlarged?
    What are you basing your opinion upon?
     

    oldiephrt

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    I was looking thru the VV reloading and if I was reading correctly The max 530 is 22.3-22.1 depending on which 77 grain bullet you use. I have always found their charts very conservative . Anyhow that is the hypothesis on powder charge. Case length might put the neck in the throat not releasing the bullet, then when the case expanded in the bolt face just enough brass was withdrawn to shrink case length. My guess having read of brass not trimmed properly.
     

    Molon

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    The spread in those charges is...wow...shitty. 1.5gr

    It was quite disappointing since this is supposed to be "match grade" ammunition and it cost more than a $1.60 a round, not counting shipping costs. Also, since I only pulled-down 20 rounds, the probability is that the spread would be even greater with a larger sample size.

    ...
     
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    Molon

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    I was looking thru the VV reloading and if I was reading correctly The max 530 is 22.3-22.1 depending on which 77 grain bullet you use. I have always found their charts very conservative . Anyhow that is the hypothesis on powder charge. Case length might put the neck in the throat not releasing the bullet, then when the case expanded in the bolt face just enough brass was withdrawn to shrink case length. My guess having read of brass not trimmed properly.

    Berger has not disclosed what powder was used in this lot of ammunition. The case lengths for the 20 rounds that I pulled-down were all less than 1.760".


    berger_factory_ammunition_data_sheet_02_-2025493.jpg



    ...
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    It was quite disappointing since this is supposed to be "match grade" ammunition and it cost more than a $1.60 a round, not counting shipping costs. Also, since I only pulled-down 20 rounds, who knows how much bigger that spread would be with a larger sample.

    ...
    It's so weird because I've shot probably 4-5 boxes of it and at least 2 were that same lot#. They were so consistent and grouped at .35moa on the regular in my bolt gun. Obviously you have the facts laid out and the powder charge variation sucks, I just don't understand how it could be that the same lot shot so well for me?
     

    whatsupdoc

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    It's so weird because I've shot probably 4-5 boxes of it and at least 2 were that same lot#. They were so consistent and grouped at .35moa on the regular in my bolt gun. Obviously you have the facts laid out and the powder charge variation sucks, I just don't understand how it could be that the same lot shot so well for me?
    Not so weird, many times testing loads at 100 yards the smallest group will have the highest extreme spread.
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Not so weird, many times testing loads at 100 yards the smallest group will have the highest extreme spread.
    The spread in fps from 1.5 grains seems like it would be a lot more than the ES from hand loading, and especially so with 5 shot groups but yeah I see your point shooting at 100yds
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    Frightening that a factory round would be overcharged that much. I'm looking forward to what Berger says, especially considering the meticulous data that Molon usually gathers.
    It might not take “that” much extra powder to really up the pressure. It’s non-linear with charge weight.

    This is a very interesting thread and Molon’s notes and documentation are superb.

    I find it rather amazing that in all the rounds we fire here, there are not more incidents like this. Factory or not. The QC in modern ammo making is off the charts in a lot of ways. But when it does happen, it is bad bad news.

    I’ll be interested to see if the manufacturer responds. They should, even (especially?) in private. If this happened to a round that I manufactured, damn straight I’d want to know. Especially when the info is being so meticulously documented.

    Great thread!

    Sirhr
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    It might not take “that” much extra powder to really up the pressure. It’s non-linear with charge weight.

    This is a very interesting thread and Molon’s notes and documentation are superb.

    I find it rather amazing that in all the rounds we fire here, there are not more incidents like this. Factory or not. The QC in modern ammo making is off the charts in a lot of ways. But when it does happen, it is bad bad news.

    I’ll be interested to see if the manufacturer responds. They should, even (especially?) in private. If this happened to a round that I manufactured, damn straight I’d want to know. Especially when the info is being so meticulously documented.

    Great thread!

    Sirhr
    I'm really surprised they didn't ask for the round and rest of that box back honestly. I'd want it back to look at it if I made it.
     
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