September 16, 2020
Upon hearing the name Berry’s Bullets, we naturally conclude that the company makes a bunch of bullets. That’s certainly true, but in reality, it offers many more products that make the handloader’s life a lot easier and more convenient. Many of the items make reloading pure fun.
Berry’s is located in picturesque St. George, Utah, about as far west and south as you can go in the state. It’s west of Zion National Park and just south of the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness, in the heart of great hunting country. Many years ago, I visited St. George and remember its picturesque buildings, clean air, beautiful mountain ranges, and great restaurants.
Berry’s was established in 1961 by Ray Berry and is now in its third generation of family ownership. An industrial accident forced Ray into early retirement, and Ray’s son, Gilbert, at age 18, assumed leadership of the company. After 40 years, Gilbert retired, and Tony, his son, took over. Through all of these successions, the company’s core mission has not changed. The company is still dedicated to making excellent products for shooters.
Berry’s product line is extensive. In addition to making over 60 types of pistol and rifle bullets, the firm also makes and sources many essential items for the reloader. And except for the tumbler motors, all products come with a lifetime warranty. Marketing & Sales Manager Justin Taylor told me that attention to quality, innovation, and constant improvement are the cornerstones at Berry’s.
Berry’s unique Superior Plated Bullets are available for popular rifle and pistol calibers and are offered as an economical alternative to traditional jacketed bullets. They produce no leading or lube smoke. The “jacket” on these bullets is a bonded copper alloy plating that varies from 0.003 inch to 0.008 inch thick over a lead core, depending on the velocity range for the bullet. Those intended for higher velocities have thicker plating. Thus, there is no exposed lead on them to scrub off in the bore or escape into the environment. This plating is somewhat softer and has less copper content than a traditional bullet jacket, so the reloading technique for them is slightly different.
It is important to not over-crimp plated bullets because this can cut and damage the “jacket” and degrade accuracy. Only a light crimp (either roll or taper) should be applied to bullets in loaded rounds.
In addition, velocities should be moderate, and Berry’s lists maximum recommended speeds by bullet. Berry’s says load data from recognized sources is suitable for their bullets, and they list several on their website.
Muzzleloaders are not left out. Berry’s also makes .50-caliber sabots with “jacketed” bullets in them. These bullets have sharp polycarbonate tips that help initiate expansion.
Berry’s offers a neat brass-cleaning system, and I had to try one. Sure, it cleans cases, lickety-split, but the first thing I noticed about the tumbler is that it’s quiet. There’s no need to put it in a separate building in order to hear yourself think!
I put 54 cruddy 7mm Remington Magnum cases in the tumbler and let it run for a few hours. The cases came out like new, but there’s more. We all know that you shouldn’t tumble small cases with larger ones, as the little ones get firmly lodged in the bigger ones, and Berry’s has thought of a way to prevent that with its cool brass sorter/media separator.
Now that we have our cases all spick-and-span, we use loading blocks to hold them for loading. To this end, Berry’s has classy ones made of aluminum with tall, clear plastic covers. That way, no bugs can get into your cases if you’re interrupted and have to go chase a raccoon out of the vineyard.
If there’s one item we reloaders cannot get enough of, it’s plastic ammo boxes. One simply cannot have too many. Berry’s has lots of boxes sized by cartridge, and the company has “ammo cans” (like the old GI cans) to tote ammo boxes to and from the range and for organized storage.
A recent addition to the product line is a slick little device called the VersaCradle. This system has several parts, and those parts can be configured for many uses. There is a 360-degree ball and case to which a shooting rest, a machine vise, or a checkering vise can be attached.
A powder funnel, inertia bullet puller, and a primer flipper are also available, as are Gun Swings. These neat little gizmos attach to the inside of your gun safe’s door and are essentially coated rods onto which you place handgun barrels. They swing to either side, as needed.
There are a gaggle of gun goodies I have not covered here, so I suggest you jump on the company’s website and see how many items you can’t live without.
Berry's Bullets Test Loads
Berry’s makes so many bullets that it would be virtually impossible to test them all, so I selected a cross section of several useful items for review. According to Taylor, the Superior Plated bullets for the .30-30 and .45-70 are the most popular, so I ordered some of each. They are called Round Shoulder bullets, and the ones for the .30-30 weigh 150 grains and do not have a cannelure. The .45-70 bullets weigh 350 grains and do have a shallow cannelure. I was careful not to over-crimp and/or drive them over the recommended velocities. For the .30-30, this is 2,000 fps, and for the .45-70 it’s 1,950 fps.
In addition, I also tried some of Berry’s sharp-pointed plated bullets in sabots for .50-caliber inline muzzleloaders. The results are shown in the accompanying chart. I should mention here that Lane Pearce recently tested a bunch of Berry’s handgun bullets for his “The Reloader” column, which appeared in the August issue of Shooting Times.
I used a couple of favorite rifles for testing Berry’s rifle bullets. For the .30-30, I dug out my Thompson/Center Contender rifle. Its 22-inch barrel and 1:10 twist has always shot well, and it is a genuine deer slayer. I shot the .45-70 handloads in my Marlin Model 1895XLR; it’s my “DPR” (dedicated pig rifle). It has a 22-inch barrel with a 1:20 twist. Both rifles were fired at 100 yards.
While I have more than several cartridge arms in my battery, I shoot muzzleloaders only when I have to. Consequently, I had exactly one muzzleloader on hand: a .50-caliber T/C Impact. I fired it at 50 yards.
The three, five-shot groups fired with the .30-30 and .45-70 averaged 0.84 inch and 1.69 inches respectively. The .30-30 groups were nice and round, and I didn’t have to look around a cloud of lube smoke to see the targets. The best load, though not by much, was a charge of 28.0 grains of H335 for a velocity of 1,916 fps. A close second was a charge of 28.3 grains of IMR 3031 that averaged exactly 1,900 fps. Any of these loads would make perfect loads for plinking or hunting deer.
As we all know, rifles are individuals, and my Model 1895XLR didn’t shoot the Superior Plated RS bullets as well as the .30-30 Contender did, but the test loads were not worked up for accuracy. I simply pulled them from loading manuals and my notes. The most accurate of the five .45-70 handloads that I tried was 46.2 grains of Hodgdon’s H4198 at 1.18 inches. It produced an average velocity of 1,809 fps and an energy of 2544 ft-lbs. Two additional good loads were with VihtaVuori N130 and N120 powders, at 1.45 and 1.53 inches respectively. They produced 2,305 ft-lbs and 2,289 ft-lbs of energy respectively, so I have no doubt that a hog would lose an argument with either of them.
The muzzleloader sabots shot okay, but prying out the fired primers with a screwdriver and bore swabbing between shots was tiring and time-consuming. Shooting the saboted bullets taught me something very important about chronographing muzzleloaders. As designed, the plastic sabots broke apart right after leaving the muzzle, but unfortunately, pieces of the sabots hit and broke both of the incandescent lamps over my chronograph skyscreens. Fortunately, I had spare bulbs on hand.
I fired three, three-shot groups with each saboted bullet, which was propelled either by two 50-grain pellets of Hodgdon Pyrodex or IMR White Hots. Velocities were slightly faster with the Pyrodex.
With the three weights of saboted bullets, groups got progressively smaller as the weight increased. The group averages for the 250-, 275-, and 305-grain projectiles were 1.74, 1.53, and 1.32 inches respectively. And I won’t complain about the overall average of 1.53 inches.
All in all, Berry’s plated rifle bullets performed well in the cartridge rifles and the muzzleloader. They are an inviting alternative to cast lead-alloy bullets that can produce annoying lube smoke and barrel leading.
And don’t overlook the cost factor as compared to regular jacketed bullets. For example, a 250-count box of Berry’s 150-grain .30-30 plated bullets sells for $34.50, or $13.80 per 100, and a box of 150 of the 350-grain .45-70 bullets goes for $39.24, or $26.16 per 100.
Berry's Rifle Bullet Accuracy & Velocity