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September 21st, 2021

In Memoriam — Walt Berger, Founder of Berger Bullets

Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben AveryA legend in the shooting community has passed. And we are all diminished. Walt Berger passed away on September 19, 2021. A great innovator, a great benchrest competitor (with many Hall of Fame points), and a great friend to countless shooters, Walt will be truly missed.

Berger Bullets announced yesterday: “It is with our deepest regrets that we announce the passing of Berger Bullets & Ammunition founder, Walter Berger. Walt passed peacefully on Sunday afternoon September 19th, 2021, surrounded by friends and family at the age of 92.

‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right’, were words that Walt lived by. One could see it in how he treated friends and family, and in his impact on the shooting world. Walt’s legacy and dedication to quality is carried on by his grandson, David Hamilton, the Plant Manager of the Berger manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona. Walt’s philosophies and business practices are the guiding principles in our mission to ensure that products bearing the Berger name continue to be something Walt would be proud of. We celebrate his life and will do our best to live up to his example.”

Walt was a remarkable man who loved the sport of benchrest shooting. He was still competing at age 90+. Here he is in 2016 at the Cactus Classic in Arizona.
Walt Berger bullets RIP memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Many of our readers and Forum members knew Walt and shot with him at matches over the decades. Here are some of the expressions of sadness at his passing:

“Great man, he had a long run, and touched many lives.” — Boyd Allen

“A real gentleman and always there to help anyone that needed it. I’m blessed to have known him many years. RIP old Friend.” — Bill Shehane

“Now there is a man for ya! I remember talking to him and Eunice on the phone back in the 80s ordering some of their benchrest bullets. May God bless his family. Thank you Walt for the great bullets — I’ve watched them do some amazing things!” — Don Mild

“Walt was an iconic figure in accurate shooting for many many years. A gentleman in the game who traveled worldwide including Australia. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Rest assured men like Walt aren’t made any more. Thanks for everything Walt — your Australian friends will never forget you.” — Brad Ward

“When I first started chasing accuracy I used to buy bullets from Walt at his little shop on Camelback Road in Phoenix. He always had time to share his expertise and to help me. He and Eunice are together again, shooting at the big range in the sky where the weather is perfect with no wind.” — Doug Whitson

“My prayers go to David, Stacey, Eric, and the girls.
Walt was a truly special man and friend.” — Nancy Tompkins

“He was a Man of Legend. And Legends live forever.” — Ivan Lukashevych

Walt in 2015 at the dedication of the 100/200-yard Ben Avery range named in his honor.
Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery
Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

About Walt Berger and Berger Bullets
Walt Berger shot competitive benchrest most of his adult life. Seeing that the bullets he could buy off-the-shelf were not up to his quality expectations, Walt decided that he could make better precision bullets than he could purchase. Walt started making his own bullets and proved their quality by winning competitions and eventually even earning his place in the Benchrest Shooters Hall of Fame. Other benchrest shooters saw his success and solicited him to make their bullets as well.

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

After years of crafting bullets by hand in his garage, Walt’s wife, Eunice, who was also a legend in benchrest competition, encouraged him to expand his hobby into a business. Together, they grew Berger into a large-scale precision bullet operation with exceptionally high quality standards.

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Walt Berger memorial Benchrest Range Ben Avery

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 1 Comment »
March 15th, 2021

Benchrest is Back! Lester Bruno Wins Big at 2021 Cactus Classic

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Congrats to Lester Bruno, overall winner of the 2021 Cactus Classic Benchrest Match. This popular NBRSA match is held every year at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. Lester shot brilliantly, particularly at 200 yards, to win the Two-Gun convincingly with an 0.2099 Overall Aggregate. Ed Adams was second with a 0.2303 Two-Gun Agg, with Durward Wofford in third place with 0.2655. Along the way Lester nailed a remarkable 0.1742 200-yard Heavy Varmint Agg. That’s mighty impressive.

Click Image Below for full-screen Panorama Image:
Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Paul Parosky reported: “So the Cactus Classic COVID Edition of 2021 has come to an end. Lester Bruno won with some amazing shooting at the LV and HV 200 yards. Myself? I need some more time behind the rifle and at 200 yards. We came across some nasty mirage that basically it was really hard to see the bullet hole. I still was able to finish in the middle of the pack 29th in the 2-Gun Aggregate, which is OK with me. But most of all had super great time, meeting new people and also putting faces to the FB friends from the group. The referees, Matthew Schwartzkopf and his crew [plus] the Wickenburg School volunteers did a wonderful job keeping the match going flawlessly.”

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

2021 Cactus Classic Top 25 Two-Gun Overall Results:

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

In 100/200 yard Group Benchrest, most top competitors load at the range, tuning their loads for the conditions. Here you can see the portable powder measure (left) and a compact ARKCO Hood Press (right). That blue combo press can both size cases with a screw-in die and seat bullets using a Wilson Seater die (placed on left side). The vast majority of short-range benchrest-for-group competitors run the 6PPC cartridge with fast-burning powders such as Vihtavuori N133.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Capstone Precision Group (Berger Bullets, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori) provided many valuable prizes to competitors at the 2021 Cactus Classic.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
March 16th, 2020

Challenging Conditions at 2020 Cactus Classic in Arizona

Arizona is warm, dry, and sunny right? Well not always. This past weekend, rain fell in droves on the Friday practice day for the 2020 Cactus Classic 100/200 yard Benchrest event. Yes, it was Friday the 13th! But then the rain clouds receded, and visitors were greeted to a stunning rainbow.


Rainbow photo by Michelle Gallagher.

The two-day match got underway on March 14th in relatively dry but windy conditions. That created challenging conditions for the competitors — even with windflags set up to show wind velocity and angles.

One of the best matches of the year, the Cactus Classic attracts many of the nation’s top “point-blank” shooters. These aces compete with 10.5-lb Light Varmint and 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint rifles, nearly all chambered for the 6PPC cartridge. Many shooters run their LVs in HV classes as well, for simplicity (and to save money — one rifle costs less than two). In this game, the vast majority of shooters load at the range between relays. That lets them tune their loads to the condition — something that can help when you’re trying to shoot tiny dots.

Cactus Classic Benchrest LV HV Ben Avery Phoenix Berger

With all the interest in F-Class, PRS, and ELR, we sometimes forget that plenty of folks are still competiting in Short-Range Benchrest disciplines, with standards of accuracy we can only envy. For a PRS shooter, a good 100-yard, five-shot group would be half-MOA. For a benchrest shooter, a good group at 100 would be in the “Ones”. That’s smaller than 0.200″ center to center for five shots. And the small group of a Relay is often in the “Zeros”.


Conditions were wet on Friday the 13th before the 2020 Cactus Classic.

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March 29th, 2016

Cactus Classic in Phoenix Draws Top Benchrest Talent

Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery
Click to view full-screen size image.

The Cactus Classic is a prestigious benchrest competition held every year in Phoenix, Arizona. On March 16-20, many of the nation’s top short-range benchresters came to Ben Avery to vie for glory and prizes. There were some impressive performances at this year’s Cactus Classic, hosted by the Arizona Benchrest Shooters. Top Gun was Larry Costa who won the Two-Gun Grand Aggregate as well as the Light Varmint (LV) 200-yard Agg. Lou Murdica (shown below) won the Heavy Varmint (HV) 200-yard Aggregate. At the shorter range, Larry Baggett won the Heavy Varmint 100-yard Aggregate and Gary Bristow won the Light Varmint 100-yard Agg. For full results, click the link below. To see hundreds of high-rez photos from the match, visit the Berger Bullets Flickr Photo Gallery.

CLICK HERE for Complete Cactus Classic Match Results.

HV 200-yard Aggregate winner Lou Murdica.
Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Most short-range benchrest shooters load at the range.
Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Now in his late 80s, Berger Bullets founder Walt Berger is still competing…
Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Impressive hardware was on display at the Cactus Classic.
Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Cleaning is part of the routine in the short-range benchrest game.
Berger Bullets Cactus Classic Benchrest competition match Phoenix Ben Avery

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
February 17th, 2008

Cactus Classic in Phoenix March 1 and 2

Many of the top short-range benchrest shooters in the country will trek to Phoenix, AZ to compete in the Cactus Classic on March 1-2, 2008. Hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, the event will draw nearly 150 shooters. Event organizer Gary Ocock notes: “The Cactus is the largest 2-day, short-range Benchrest match of the year, and always draws top competitors from around the country. This is one of the most important events west of the Rockies and kicks off the season for many shooters.”

The Cactus is limited to two classes, 10.5-lb Light Varmint and 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint. Participants will shoot at 100 yards on Saturday and at 200 yards on Sunday. Ocock explains: “Bench rotation will be 30 benches to the right after the 100-yard stage. We anticipate three (3) relays. We will squad three shooters per bench.” The full 2-day Match Fee is $90, while the 1-day fee is $50. The Ben Avery Range will be open for practice February 26-29 (Tuesday through Friday). Camping is available at the Ben Avery facility for $10/day.

CLICK HERE for 2008 Cactus Classic Registration Form

CLICK HERE for Ben Avery Shooting Facility Map

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