Safety Warning for Berger 77 grain OTM Tactical Factory Loaded Ammunition

Sparkeytj

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I'm not as experienced as most on here but is it also possible something fell into the case on the line before it was loaded. If something did it could take up enough case volume to create a compressed load. In my mind the extra volume wouldn't necessarily have to come from a larger projectile
 

Downtown

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    That's a interesting idea. I don't know of a pressure calculator that can accommodate the degree of compression. If it was the correct charge, but the charge was compressed to perhaps 60% of its original volume because a large bug crawled into the case. Or something.
     

    Downtown

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    Of course in the case of a heavier projectile, the increased pressure comes from more than just the smaller case volume.
     

    DocRDS

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    I got nothing to add just a big thanks for taking the time for the updates showing us all the work you did researching this. Very well documented and explained.
     

    BlkGnsRCool

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    I've run into problems with the same lot # (p002745-1). Although my problems were on the other end. I had two rounds, during a match, with 200fps less in velocity than the others. Not counting those two rounds, my SD was in the teens. The two rounds were almost off paper.
     

    GreenGO Juan

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    1.Maybe a problem with the brass? I know Lapua makes good brass, but nobody is perfect.

    2. Any chance when the round was chambered it was pushed back into the case, raising pressure? I have set a couple bullets about too deep and the difference between the other rounds with the same charge weight was noticeably louder and more recoil. But I don't think it would be enough to cause that bulge.
     

    Annex Defense

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    I've benefited so much from @Molon 's posts over the years that I'd be willing to help fund a new barrel / upper for him if Berger doesn't make it right. Keep up the good work and don't be discouraged by the naysayers here.
     

    sinister

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    Molon, thanks for the data -- and thank God you're still upright and airtight with all fingers, toes, and eyeballs!

    My experience with Berger bullets and Krieger barrels has always been good. Reading folks' experience here that their standard factory match ammo loads run warm gives me pause.

    Absolutely no idea what may have caused this without just spit-balling guesses. A few National Match shooters are tending to 8208 for the pressures and velocities with lower bulk (compression) than Varget. A compressed load of a double-base (like VV N540) and a tight Krieger bore could also up your pressures some. The smaller grained powder (against the grid) than N140 -- could it be 8208 or N135?

    Berger said they changed powder (or charge) between previous runs and yours. Maybe there are clues there? Dunno.

    I've used Sierra blems from the outlet store that had mixed bullets in the box (77 cannelure Match Kings in 77 boxes, and 40-cal bullets in boxes of 9mm), so an errant 80 is a rare possibility, but would make a very different-looking cartridge (at the case mouth to seat to magazine-length).
     
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    excess

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    9088A0BE-948C-4BCE-81C0-836FA28ED7A4.jpeg
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Molon's shot fine until the moment it didn't....you willing to chance it?
    I wouldn't in an AR for sure, but obviously I'm not all that sure about shooting it in my bolt gun. I guess you're right, not something to take a risk on. I guess I will need to make arrangements to have it replaced.
     

    308sako

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    Lot's of knowledge being shown here, and thanks to all the serious posters.

    I suspect a detonation with an under charged case. This is an extremely rare but known possibility with centerfire ammunition. I have also read that it is difficult to recreate even in ballistic labs.

    That said if I had any of these cartridges I would be weighing each and every one of them, for curiosity's sake.

    Molon, please do not let the occasional anal pore wear you down.
     
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    msgriff

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    The recall states not to use in AR's, but it's safe in bolts. Does that point to any clues as to the primary cause of the malfunction? Or are they simply saying that a bolt action can handle the malfunction without damage/injury?
     

    dms416

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    The recall states not to use in AR's, but it's safe in bolts. Does that point to any clues as to the primary cause of the malfunction? Or are they simply saying that a bolt action can handle the malfunction without damage/injury?


    Bullet setback during feeding maybe?…
    Insufficient neck tension?
    Just a guess
     

    GreenGO Juan

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    Bullet setback during feeding maybe?…
    Insufficient neck tension?
    Just a guess
    Thats what I was wondering, as a bolt gun is not nearly as violent as a gas gun? Pure speculation.
    I suspect a detonation with an under charged case. This is an extremely rare but known possibility with centerfire ammunition. I have also read that it is difficult to recreate even in ballistic labs.
    Could you explain this a little further in detail or link any literature relating to this. I am new to reloading and have wondered. In a low charged case the powder can move around especially in the violent bolt cycle of a semi auto and how the position of powder and air pocket inside would effect the burn/ pressure.
     

    Crosswind

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    Doesn't look like any crimp on the unfired cartridge?
    Whats the throat length?
    I used to shoot 223 semi and it would some times close the bolt so hard the bullet would stay in the throat when I would clear the chamber.
    Think, second round fired .
    Okay in bolt rifles.
    Hmmm?
     

    dms416

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    Molon

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    The info is at TFB as well.

    https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2021/08/20/berger-safety-recall-223-otm-tactical/

    I wonder.. since it is mentioned that it is ok in bolt guns, but not gas guns... if bullet setback was an issue ?

    Pure speculation on my half.


    This ammunition is a heavily compressed load, so bullet set-back is highly improbable. Since it was a compressed load, I was unable to use my custom K&M compression gauge to obtain an accurate measure of neck tension, however, it required quite a bit of force to pull the bullets from the cases using a press-mounted, collet bullet-puller. Also, using the custom K&M compression gauge, I applied 90 pounds of force to one of the factory-loaded cartridges that had a cartridge overall length of 2.253". After applying the 90 pounds of force, I again measured the COAL. It was still 2.253".


    ...



    Crosswind: What's the throat length?

    Using a bullet pulled from this lot of ammunition, I determined the cartridge overall length that would be necessary for the bullet to be seated to the lands of this barrel. That distance was 2.322" and since the factory loaded ammunition was loaded to magazine length, the bullet was nowhere near the lands of my barrel.


     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    This ammunition is a heavily compressed load, so bullet set-back is highly improbable. Since it was a compressed load, I was unable to use my custom K&M compression gauge to obtain an accurate measure of neck tension, however, it required quite a bit of force to pull the bullets from the cases using a press-mounted, collet bullet-puller. Also, using the custom K&M compression gauge, I applied 90 pounds of force to one of the factory-loaded cartridges that had a cartridge overall length of 2.253". After applying the 90 pounds of force, I again measured the COAL. It was still 2.253".


    ...
    Wow. Well, I guess I am going to get my rounds swapped out.
     

    Molon

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    This is the latest email that I've sent to Berger . . .


    "Dear Mr Praslick,

    I assume that you’ve seen the pictures of the blown case that I’ve posted on-line, but on the off-chance that you haven’t, here’s a few of them.


    pic_01-2076594.jpg



    pic_02-2076595.jpg




    pic_03-2076596.jpg



    The case head of the blown case flowed into the recess in the barrel extension between the barrel and the bolt. Here’s a cutaway picture of an AR-15 chamber for comparison.


    pic_04-2076597.jpg




    Notice how the brass flow of the blown case matches the recess in between the barrel and the bolt. It would have taken a chamber pressure of over 70,000 PSI to cause that kind of deformation.

    The nominal case-head/web diameter of the Lapua brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.3750”. The diameter just above the extractor groove for the blown case is 0.414”. That’s an expansion of 0.039”. That didn’t happen because of a mis-matched pressure curve at the gas-port.

    The average rim diameter for the brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.376”. The diameter of the case rim of the blown case is 0.423” at the broadest diameter. That’s an expansion of 0.047” and that didn’t happen because of a high gas-port pressure.

    The nominal diameter of the primer pockets for the brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.173”. The primer pocket of the blown case has a diameter of 0.222” at the broadest diameter. That’s an expansion of 0.049” and that didn’t happen because of a progressive propellent producing a larger volume of gas “under the curve” at a different rate than standard powders.

    The graph below shows the weights of the Lapua cases from 20 rounds of this ammunition plus the case that blew-out.



    pic_o5-2076599.jpg



    Notice the case weights of 98.5 grains and 99.0 grains at the far right of the graph. Those are the heaviest Lapua Match cases that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been using 223 Remington Lapua Match brass since it first became available on the commercial market. The 99.0 grain case is the one that blew-out in my rifle.

    The next graph shows the weights of the powder charges from 22 rounds of this ammunition.



    pic_06-2076598.jpg




    That’s a powder charge variation of 1.8 grains. You and I both know that is abysmal quality-control for “match grade” ammunition with a price tag of over $1.60 per round. More importantly, the heaviest charge of 23.6 grains is 1.2 grains heavier than the mean powder charge of 22.4 grains. I doubt that you would have let your soldiers in the AMU shoot an important match with ammunition that had such poor quality-control.

    I’m not looking for compensation from you/Berger, but I do appreciate the fact that you are the first person from your company that has had enough integrity to express a concern for my rifle. I’m just looking for the truth of what happened with your ammunition in my rifle.

    Why don’t you guys give this a try. Find 10 cases of the Lapua Match brass that weigh 99.0 grains. Charge those cases with 23.6 grains of the same lot of powder that was used in this ammunition Seat your 77 grain OTM bullet to a length of 2.254” and fire those rounds in a new, minimum spec, SAAMI 223 Remington barrel and let me know what the pressures were. (My Krieger barrel has a true 223 Remington chamber, not a 223 Wylde chamber that was designed to handle NATO pressure ammunition.)

    Have a good evening,"



    ...
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    This is the latest email that I've sent to Berger . . .


    "Dear Mr Praslick,

    I assume that you’ve seen the pictures of the blown case that I’ve posted on-line, but on the off-chance that you haven’t, here’s a few of them.


    pic_01-2076594.jpg



    pic_02-2076595.jpg




    pic_03-2076596.jpg



    The case head of the blown case flowed into the recess in the barrel extension between the barrel and the bolt. Here’s a cutaway picture of an AR-15 chamber for comparison.


    pic_04-2076597.jpg




    Notice how the brass flow of the blown case matches the recess in between the barrel and the bolt. It would have taken a chamber pressure of over 70,000 PSI to cause that kind of deformation.

    The nominal case-head/web diameter of the Lapua brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.3750”. The diameter just above the extractor groove for the blown case is 0.414”. That’s an expansion of 0.039”. That didn’t happen because of a mis-matched pressure curve at the gas-port.

    The average rim diameter for the brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.376”. The diameter of the case rim of the blown case is 0.423” at the broadest diameter. That’s an expansion of 0.047” and that didn’t happen because of a high gas-port pressure.

    The nominal diameter of the primer pockets for the brass from this lot of ammunition is 0.173”. The primer pocket of the blown case has a diameter of 0.222” at the broadest diameter. That’s an expansion of 0.049” and that didn’t happen because of a progressive propellent producing a larger volume of gas “under the curve” at a different rate than standard powders.

    The graph below shows the weights of the Lapua cases from 20 rounds of this ammunition plus the case that blew-out.



    pic_o5-2076599.jpg



    Notice the case weights of 98.5 grains and 99.0 grains at the far right of the graph. Those are the heaviest Lapua Match cases that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been using 223 Remington Lapua Match brass since it first became available on the commercial market. The 99.0 grain case is the one that blew-out in my rifle.

    The next graph shows the weights of the powder charges from 22 rounds of this ammunition.



    pic_06-2076598.jpg




    That’s a powder charge variation of 1.8 grains. You and I both know that is abysmal quality-control for “match grade” ammunition with a price tag of over $1.60 per round. More importantly, the heaviest charge of 23.6 grains is 1.2 grains heavier than the mean powder charge of 22.4 grains. I doubt that you would have let your soldiers in the AMU shoot an important match with ammunition that had such poor quality-control.

    I’m not looking for compensation from you/Berger, but I do appreciate the fact that you are the first person from your company that has had enough integrity to express a concern for my rifle. I’m just looking for the truth of what happened with your ammunition in my rifle.

    Why don’t you guys give this a try. Find 10 cases of the Lapua Match brass that weigh 99.0 grains. Charge those cases with 23.6 grains of the same lot of powder that was used in this ammunition Seat your 77 grain OTM bullet to a length of 2.254” and fire those rounds in a new, minimum spec, SAAMI 223 Remington barrel and let me know what the pressures were. (My Krieger barrel has a true 223 Remington chamber, not a 223 Wylde chamber that was designed to handle NATO pressure ammunition.)

    Have a good evening,"



    ...
    Hmmm. I like Berger stuff and bullets a lot, but this whole thing just isn't looking good... I also talked to Berger when @Molon started this thread or the day after because I have a lot of this ammo. I have not had a problem in my bolt gun but I have a .223 wylde chamber. The ammo is 223 Winchester ammo. With such a large amount of specific information given to them, I would expect a little more out of Berger honestly. This isn't some small thing imo.
     

    Molon

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    With such a large amount of specific information given to them, I would expect a little more out of Berger honestly. This isn't some small thing imo.


    This week, Mr Praslick did offer to compensate me for any damage that may have occured to my rifle from this ammunition. As I stated in the above email, I'm not looking for compensation, but I am looking for the truth of what happened with their ammunition in my rifle. To date, the other employees that I've communicated with at Berger have refused to provide me with any of the specific data that I've requested pertaining to the powder, intended powder charge, chamber pressures etc. used in this lot of ammunition.


    ...
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    This week, Mr Praslick did offer to compensate me for any damage that may have occured to my rifle from this ammunition. As I stated in the above email, I'm not looking for compensation, but I am looking for the truth of what happened with their ammunition in my rifle. To date, the other employees that I've communicated with at Berger have refused to provide me with any of the specific data that I've requested pertaining to the powder, intended powder charge, chamber pressures etc. used in this lot of ammunition.


    ...
    I understand why they are kind of closed lipped with this because every business is constantly afraid of getting sued by some fast talking lawyer. If ya say anything, it can be used for a big settlement. I own a business and I really do get it.

    That said, there has to be some transparency when it comes to gun powder and ammunition manufacturing issues. In the current climate that we have in this nation, it's a very difficult thing to navigate for sure. At minimum, it seems to me that some berger would provide the data of what that ammo is supposed to be, especially since its extremely obvious that they are talking to someone who knows what they are looking at, and has extensive equipment and ability to do so. "The b.s. stuff isn't going to work here"
     

    bfoosh006

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    This week, Mr Praslick did offer to compensate me for any damage that may have occured to my rifle from this ammunition. As I stated in the above email, I'm not looking for compensation, but I am looking for the truth of what happened with their ammunition in my rifle. To date, the other employees that I've communicated with at Berger have refused to provide me with any of the specific data that I've requested pertaining to the powder, intended powder charge, chamber pressures etc. used in this lot of ammunition.


    ...
    I would like answers as well.

    I would appreciate the repaired firearm... but some kind of answers, would be preferred as well.

    Frankly, the various powder charge weights you recorded, doesn't say anything good to me concerning QC in "high quality" ammo manufacturer.

    Thank you for re-stating about the lack of room for bullet setback... I was grasping at anything pertaining to self loading , since Berger says it is still ok in a bolt gun.
     

    Molon

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    I was hoping that Mr. Praslick was going to do the right thing and provide us all some transparency on this issue. Alas, it's been over a month since I sent him that last email posted above and I haven't heard a single word from him.

    Without notifying me Berger just delivered 5 new boxes of this ammunition to my residence. It looks like Berger is just going to stick with their BS story about semi-automatic cycling issues.


    ...
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    I was hoping that Mr. Praslick was going to do the right thing and provide us all some transparency on this issue. Alas, it's been over a month since I sent him that last email posted above and I haven't heard a single word from him.

    Without notifying me Berger just delivered 5 new boxes of this ammunition to my residence. It looks like Berger is just going to stick with their BS story about semi-automatic cycling issues.


    ...
    That's really disappointing to hear. I had hoped that more information would have been given about this. Given that they put out a notice about the ammo but still believe it to be 100% safe in bolt guns (and my experience has supported that), Berger obviously doesn't think they a serious issue here. I am certainly not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I can't see any scenario concerning operation of a semi auto that would create that level of pressure without some issue with the ammo.

    There may not be any way to get further information about what happened. I really don't know what other info could be had to help determine the cause but some transparency and communication can be done and should have. Honestly I expected more from Berger
     
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    Im2bent

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    Berger is not going to admit to anything that might expose them to a potential lawsuit.