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Elk vs Berger Bullet

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Coltdriver, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    I took a cow elk last week with a .270 WSM.

    Developed a load using a 130 grain Berger VLD Hunting bullet. I found a load that would shoot excellent groups right at 3200 fps.

    Did a spot and stalk early in the am. Found a herd from a few miles away and walked along a draw to get to a semi butte that they were sunning and grazing on. First position I climbed up to was 400 yards from the herd and at a right angle to the wind. Walked back down the hill, went east and came back up a half mile away not quite downwind but close. Got to within 300 yards on a rangefinder. Figured I could do better so went back down the hill and came back up another half mile away.

    The last position put me in some reasonable cover. I crawled thru the snow and learned that even in snow my knees are excellent cactus detectors. Got into a great position ~200 yards from the herd and straight downwind.

    Settled in, caught my breath, relaxed and watched the herd for about 15 minutes. Picked out a 3 year old cow that presented me with a perfect broadside. Shot her right through the lungs. She wheeled, turned and ran about 20 feet and went down.

    I knew better than to use the Berger to try and break a shoulder. I have read they don't penetrate heavy bone well. So I purposefully set up for and took a lung shot. I had dialed in my rifle at 200 yards so this was an un-rushed very precise shot. The cow was right at 215 yards from me.

    I was stunned at the effect of the Berger. They grenade. There was no pass thru. There was nearly no discernible lung left. I found no bullet fragments, not a piece of jacket, nothing. I do admit I did not spend a heck of a lot of time looking but there was nothing. After I processed the meat out I did find a piece of meat that looked splattered with tiny lead dots but no metal. The bullet did hit a rib going in and knocked a piece out of it.

    The Berger may well be a perfect boiler room bullet. The way it disintegrated it would probably make a lousy shoulder breaker, I don't really know. But if you are able to make a controlled shot they are a potent design.

    Attached Files:

  2. readyeddy

    readyeddy Well-Known Member

    Congratulations! Nice elk.

    I've never tried Berger. How do they compare to Sierra GameKings?
  3. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    I have only used Partitions and I don't know how a Game King behaves. The Partitions grenade the first half and the second half tends to fly right thru.

    The Berger pretty much disintegrated!
  4. wankerjake

    wankerjake Well-Known Member

    Right on, I've heard good things about Berger regarding accuracy and killing efficacy.
  5. berettashotgun

    berettashotgun Well-Known Member

    I use Bergers in a 6.5x55 (130gr) and a 280(160gr) , they are super accurate.
    I despise the way the VLD bullets work on a whitetail. They keyhole going out. Excellent from the 6.5x55 on running hogs, would want/use no other bullet.
    They deer die every time, but I'm so used to the 140 nbt from a 7mm mag exploding.
    I'll keep using the remaining Bergers for deer, but when I'm out, I'll switch.
    If I hunted hogs or elk - Bergers for me please.
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    The bullet performed exactly as advertised. Some bullets tend to expand rapidly on contact but the Bergers work like a FMJ for the first 3-4" then they basically explode inside the chest cavity. Sometimes the bullet will exit, but you'll be lucky to find 30% of the bullet. They often do just like yours did.

    You are right, they are not a good bullet for taking shots at bad angles where you need lots of penetration though muscle and bone to hit vitals. Partitions, Barnes and all of the other bonded bullets do that job well.

    The Berger is a great LOOONG range bullet. They fly flat, maintain speed well at distance and give about the same performance at 70 yards as at 700. If you can put a bullet into the ribcage at most any range they result in quick kills.
  7. Ankeny

    Ankeny Well-Known Member

    Yup, they go in a couple of inches then hand grenade. My brother and I tried Berger 168 VLD "Hunting" bullet in our 7mm Rem Mags for a couple of years. We shot five or six elk before giving up on them altogether. There are times when you want/need to get some penetration or to break bones. Also, as one poster mentioned they can tumble and/or change direction. It really is disappointing when you shoot an elk that is ever so slightly angled toward you, hit a rib, have the point of the bullet deform and skitter along the ribs until it penetrates the flank. I shot a large (as in huge) bull right on the front shoulder and the bullet just splattered never making into the body cavity. I kid you not. That was the last time we used them in a 7mm Mag.

    However, I do use a 140 Berger in my 6.5x284 because they are so accurate. The bullet is also so flipping long that there is plenty left to keep on trucking after initial expansion, especially on deer and pronghorn. When I use the bullet on elk, I shoot only for the lung cavity on as perfect a broadside shot as I can get. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone that likes penetration and the ability to break large bones.
  8. grovey

    grovey Member

    Congrats, looks dead to me...
  9. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    Try 165 gr. Hornady Interlock Spire Points, they won't blow up on you! I shot a 4 point bull @ 300 yards with my '06, broke his front shoulder and blew his heart and lungs to mush, he went about 25 yards, then dropped, found the bullet inside the chest cavity, mushroomed, but all intact!
  10. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Well-Known Member

    I don't want to detract in any way from the OP's success, but it baffles me how successfully Berger has seemed to market this bullet. As I understand it, it performs like any thin jacketed soft point or varmint bullet. It's got great aerodynamics, but otherwise sounds like a lousy big game bullet. The other bullet makers design, engineer, produce and market expensive premium bullets with thick jackets, bonded cores, controlled expansion and excellent weight retention to prevent precisely what the Berger bullet does, and it sounds like people are buying into the Berger hype and forgiving it for being a bullet that offers no room for error in shot placement. Granted, I usually hunt elk in timber with a 45-70, so my opinion is slanted a bit, but I always promote sturdy bullets to new elk hunters. What am I missing?
  11. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    Ricebasher302, I knew that these were a lung shot only type of bullet. I knew better than to hit a shoulder. And I had all the time that I needed to make an absolutely perfect shot. I sat there for about 15 or 20 minutes glassing the herd.

    This was my first elk but not my first hunt. People that get in a hurry, take long or risky shots aggravate me. Not my style. I will pass on a lousy opportunity every time.

    I like Partitions for their combination grenade plus fly thru characteristic. And you are right that Berger has marketed these well. They are not a good all around big game bullet. But in the lungs they are excellent.

    My original plan was to take the elk with a 45 70. I had some 405 grain dead soft lead rounds at about 1500 fps. But the elk were on a semi butte and getting under 150 yards was not in the cards. I would not take a longer shot with my 45 70 and that round.

    But I would agree, if you are a first timer I'd suggest another bullet too, the Bergers are only going to really work in well placed shot and a shoulder should not be in the plan.
  12. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Well-Known Member

    I don't in any way question your ethics. You made an accurate, deliberate and responsible shot. It's clear you can see both sides of the "argument" given that you're a 45-70 shooter and a proponent of the Partition.

    I just worry that Berger may be misleading some inexperienced hunters into thinking that they can take the same type of shot you could with a bullet like a Partition or Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, but at even longer ranges. I've no real examples of this happening on which to base my concern, however.

    Heck, I shot my first elk, a cow, with a 100 gr Core-Lokt in .243. It's not so much the projectile as it is the hunter knowing the limitations of his rifle and load. All that said, elk are tough and I prefer a tiny bit of margin for error in case conditions are less than ideal.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  13. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    Any time that an exclusion needs to be added to the description of a big game bullet it tells me everything I need to know about that bullet. I.E. "It's a great bullet but you can only take the shot if the animal is perfectly broadside, then only in softest part of the animal, and only if you have a perfect rest and a perfect shot".

    AKA not a good elk bullet due to its severe performance limitations. If you are going to hunt big heavy animals like elk use a decent controlled expansion bullet. That way if your shot drifts a few inches and hits bone it kills the elk anyway instead of giving it a massive flesh wound which will kill it slowly after it runs off. This becomes far more important on big bodied elk such as a big mature bull. A young small bodied cow like the one pictured isn't that much larger than a big mule deer buck and is built much lighter than a big bull obviously.
  14. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    Ricebasher 302 - no offense taken.

    I have read of others with the experience of having them fail on bone or as noted above not perform well at a steep angle to the animal. I agree with you that they are not a good general purpose bullet and it could be misleading to someone that did not do their homework.

    These rounds were created for antelope (which I chased all over southern Wyoming) but just could never get a good shot on. I managed only four good stalks in a week but couldn't get close enough or got busted or had em spook before I could set up.

    If I were going way into the woods I would take a partition or some other known bullet that would retain weight and pass through. But I had several days left on my tag and the location was convenient to get to.

    I just could not get close enough for my 45 70 and knowing that could be a problem had brought two rifles just in case. I set out to use the 45 70 but it did not work this time. Maybe next year.
  15. ricebasher302

    ricebasher302 Well-Known Member

    In 2010 I drew an elk tag for an area near Douglas, WY. I took my 7mm Mag and my 45-70. Ended up shooting a raghorn bull with the 7mm. However, the next year, I tracked down a mature 6x6 in the timber and busted him with the 45-70!

    Hopefully you'll get to use your big bore soon. Very satisfying.
  16. NCdrummer

    NCdrummer Well-Known Member

    Berger VLD Hunting

    I have to agree about the effectiveness of Berger's hunting bullet. My .257 Roberts shooting the 115 VLDH at 2900 fps absolutely liquified the lungs and heart of a mature 230 lb. Mississippi buck last week. Easy 100 yard shot, slight angle, hit just behind front shoulder, exiting chest cavity on opposing side. Took out one rib on entry, impressive wound channel, exiting through another rib, but did not exit hide. No trace of the bullet remains. As a marksman I recommend this projectile to others willing to place the bullet properly. Impressive.

    If you want to shoot off-angles, try an Accubond, Partition, or Barnes. In my experience, they penetrate and retain weight. For really big holes and obvious blood trails, caliber makes a difference. Inside 150 yards and any brush, I'll take my muzzleloader with 80 grains of BlackHorn pushing the Barnes 250. No that's power. Energy similar .45-70, with 2 extra weeks of hunting here in NC.

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