Field Test: VLR-4 Bullets in 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 WM.
This article was originally published in ON TARGET AFRICA Magazine. Thanks to Louise Taylor for letting me post it here.
In September I received Peregrine VLR-4 bullets in 6.5mm and .308 caliber from Alliwyn Oberholster of Peregrine Bullets to test. I am part of the management team of a 33 000 ha private game reserve in the Southern Free State and Northern Cape. We run a breeding project for endangered predators on the reserve, and carry out a lot of hunting to feed all those hungry feline mouths.
The VLR-4 series of bullets replace Peregrine’s VRG-4 series with which I have considerable experience in the 6.5×55, 7×57 and .300 win mag. The VLR-4s I tested consisted of 118 gr 6.5 mm and 183 gr .308″ bullets.
The 118 gr 6.5mm bullets were tested in my heavy-barreled Howa 1500 chambered in 6.5 mm Creedmoor. Apart from a Timney trigger and a homemade cheek piece , the rifle is standard. The Creedmoor wears a Leupold VX-6 3-18×44 scope with Darrell Holland’s custom reticle and elevation and windage turrets.
My Howa 1500 .300 win mag, a veteran of 18 years of hard hunting, served as the test platform for the 183 gr .308″ bullets. The .300 wears a Leupold VX-2 3-9×40 scope with Leupold’s long-range Duplex reticle.
I used my Viper Flex Journey shooting sticks for support on most of the shots, while a Leica Geovid 10×42 was used for glassing and ranging.
Not much time was spent on load development. I wanted to use as many bullets as possible for hunting, and also needed to determine bullet drop out to 400 m. While I do have a reliable ballistic program, I prefer to do empirical tests at hunting ranges to determine bullet drop.
Launched at 2 820 fps, the 118 gr 6.5mm bullets shot into 12 mm at 100 m. The 183 gr .308″ bullets at 2 900 fps shot MOA groups at 100 m.
The terrain I hunted in varied from wide-open grass plains to riverine bush and mountainous areas. Shooting distances ranged from 50 m to 354 m. A total of 13 animals, four springbok, five blesbuck, three warthog and a sub-adult eland bull were shot with the 6.5 Creedmoor.
A total of 18 animals, two springbok, four blesbuck, three warthog, three blue wildebeest, four eland, a gemsbok and a red hartebeest were hunted with the .300 win mag. I spent more time on the range with the Creedmoor than with the .300 win mag, thus had less 6.5 mm bullets for hunting.
All animals were taken with heart/lung shots. Penetration was excellent, as is to be expected from monolithic bullets. Only three bullets were recovered (see below). I examined all wound channels myself. All exhibited good expansion even the +300 m shots, of which there were three for the Creedmoor and seven for the .300 win mag.
Three warthog were shot at ranges of 50 m, one with the .300 win mag, and two with the Creedmoor. Meat damage on these shots was modest, considering the relatively high impact velocities.
Three warthog and a springbok were dropped in their tracks with the 6.5 Creedmoor. With the exception of the eland, which ran about 100 m, and a springbok, which I shot too far back (it ran about 200 m before lying down) and had to finish with a headshot, all other animals went down within 50m.
Eight animals, two blesbuck, a springbok, three warthog, an eland and a red hartebeest shot with the .300 win mag dropped in their tracks. A blue wildebeest, shot at 332 m across a valley, also went straight down. I am very nervous about blue wildebeest that go straight down from heart/lung shots, so I shot it again.
This turned out to be unnecessary, as the first shot had broken the spine. Another wildebeest ran 70 m after receiving a shot on the shoulder, and then stopped. I shot it again just to be sure, and it dropped. again the second shot turned out to be unnecessary. All other animals shot with the .300 win mag went down within 50 meters.
Two .300 and one 6.5 mm bullets were recovered, all from eland. The recovered weight of the 6.5 mm bullet 109.1 gr (92.5%). The bullet expanded to 11.8 mm. The eland bull (with a dressed weight of 252 kg) was angling away at 200 m. The bullet entered behind the shoulder, and was recovered under the skin of the opposite shoulder.
The first recovered .300 bullet came from a young eland bull, shot at 165 m. The eland was broadside on, and was shot low on the shoulder. The bullet broke both shoulders, dropping the bull in its tracks. The recovered weight of the bullet was 174.8 gr (95.5%), while the expanded diameter was 14.2 mm.
The second recovered .300 bullet also came from a young eland bull, angling away from the shot at 289 m. The bullet entered far back on the rib cage, penetrated diagonally through the chest, and was recovered under the skin on the opposite shoulder. The recovered weight of the bullet was 173 gr (94.5%), and it expanded to 12.3 mm. The eland went down within 30 m.
The VLR-4 bullets (in both calibers) performed well on game from springbok to eland, and at ranges from 50 m out to just over 350 m. The longest shot, a blesbuck ram at 354 m, with the 118 gr VLR-4 from the Creedmoor, showed good expansion, even though the bullet hit no bone heavier than a rib. This blesbuck ran less than 50 m before going down. On the opposite end of the scale, a 183 gr VLR-4 from the .300 win mag broke both shoulders on an eland bull at 165 m, and still retained 95.5% of its original weight.
Meat damage was completely acceptable, even on close shots. Due to the excellent straight-line penetration of the VLR-4 bullets, I did not need to wait for animals to turn perfectly broadside. Also, hitting a heavy shoulder bone is not going to end with a disintegrating bullet and a wounded animal.
Obviously, no bullet kills by magic. Shot placement remains of utmost importance, as does using an adequate caliber for the game you are hunting. The hunter looking for a bullet that works well in the bush and on the open plains, out to 400 m, will be hard pressed to find a better bullet than the Peregrine VLR-4.