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Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

 
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  #1  
Old 01-12-2010, 12:20 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
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Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

I've been shooting Berger 168 grain VLD .308 bullets for about a year now. I find them highly accurate out of my gun (legitimate .5 MOA), and until this weekend, one shot killers. Last year, I high shoulder shot a nice buck with them at 270 yards, and he crumpled on the spot. This Friday, I high shoulder shot a mature doe with them at 147 yards, same story. This Saturday evening, I high shoulder shot a HUGE 10 point buck at under 40 yards, expecting him to drop on the spot. He hunched up in reaction to the shot, but ran off about 150 yards before bedding down. I waited about 10-15 minutes, figuring he should be dead by now. When I climbed down out of my stand and started blood tracking him, he jumped up and ran off. I immediately stopped tracking and backed out to the woods to let him lay overnight. The next morning, two excellent trackers and I tracked him for OVER A MILE!! We found three places where he lay down, with pools of blood about the diameter of a pie plate. In one of the beds, we found the large pool of chest blood, as well as blood obviously coming out of his mouth. The bloodtrail finally petered out near a large swamp, and we gave up after five hard hours of bloodtrailing.

The shot was perfect- right where I aimed in the high shoulder. I am a Distinguished Rifleman, ranked High Master in NRA High Power, and have shot competively since 1970. The only thing I can figure is the bullet blew right through the shoulder with minimal expansion and shocking power. I welcome any comments, but I must admit I'm tempted to go back to good old Sierra 165 grain GameKings. I've never lost a single animal with Sierras that was properly hit.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:30 AM
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Meadows View Post
The shot was perfect- right where I aimed in the high shoulder. I am a Distinguished Rifleman, ranked High Master in NRA High Power, and have shot competively since 1970. The only thing I can figure is the bullet blew right through the shoulder with minimal expansion and shocking power. I welcome any comments, but I must admit I'm tempted to go back to good old Sierra 165 grain GameKings. I've never lost a single animal with Sierras that was properly hit.
Please accept this post as a friendly outside looking in perspective. You may not like what you hear but this is what I think.

If the shot had been a perfect high shoulder shot as you are convinced, there would be no tracking job as the buck would have folded. The bullet most likely did not explode to the point of not reaching the spine.

I realize that you are a capable shooter yet not perfect. we all make mistakes. Our tendancies are to lay blame on something other than ourselves. Have you concidered the possibility of the bullet hitting just behind or in front of the scapula just under the spine yet above other vitals? That is what it sounds like to me. Talking from experience here, sometimes the very close shots become more difficult than the long ones because long is where we practice most of the time. I recently missed a MT goat twice at 133 yards. I got him on the 3rd shot when he started to run. I guess I needed a challenge. Missing the mark happens. It is very doubtfull the 165 SGK would have done any different.

Sorry if that was tasteless. It was said with the best of intentions.

M
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:20 AM
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Location: Kamiah, Idaho
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

I am new to long range hunting & Berger bullets, but based on my limited experience I believe what the post before me said would be my best quess. I took a 7 x 7 Bull Elk this fall at 787 yards with a one shot kill using a 300 Win Mag and 210 grain VLD's @ 2920 fps. I hit him high and at the creese behind the shoulder. He went down in his tracks and left an exit hole about 1 1/2 inches and massive damage to the vitals. I took my buck at 490 yards which took out about 4 inches of spine ( too high). But, my 17 year old daughter took her elk using my gun and load at 300 yards, hit two thirds of the distance low & behind the shoulder and the cow went about 60 yards and bedded down. One shot to the head and she was dispatched. As I looked over the wound channel, I noticed very little trauma to the lung that was hit. Upon further examination I found the bullet had simply passed between the ribs, through soft tissue and exited through the off side passing through a rib leaving a good flow of blood to follow. Now, the cow went down, but there was little damage internally, although the impact at that distance is big. It could be that no bone was touched on your deer and the bullet simply did not open up until it was exiting. I'm not sure, but I'll wager that any bullet would do the same if my hypothisis is correct. The jury is still out for me on close range & the Bergers.
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:53 AM
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

I reserve my factual comments for the game I retrieve, because it's humanly impossible to know exactly where the bullet hits unless I'm field dressing and skinning out a harvested animal. You may have hit exactly where you aimed, or maybe not. The following I know to be factual.

I've killed large game with Berger VLDs twice at close range. One was a black bear at about 21 feet (a finishing shot). This bear was lying down with it's brisket facing toward me. 210gr VLD from 300 Win Mag with impact velocity of about 2900 fps. Bullet hit in brisket and no part of the bullet ever reached the backbone, let alone exit out the top of the bears back. Bear expired instantly upon impact. Throughout field dressing and then butchering back at the house, I couldn't believe none of the 210 gr bullet exited. This was not a large black bear. A sow that I would estimate at about 160 lb live weight. The wound channel between the lower front shoulders was massive and the sight of utter destruction. I mean this bullet came apart explosively into tiny fragments and shards of lead and copper jacket. Total penetration was ~10". Not more than 12 inches.

Second was a bull caribou shot through the ribs with the 7mm 168gr VLD - impact velocity about 2900 fps at about 50 yds distant. Lung material and blood blown out the far side of the ribs. Animal trotted about 50 yds and piled up dead. Bullet performed fine. Massive internal damage to lungs and very little damage to meat on either side of the ribcage. About a 1 1/4" exit hole in the hide.

The copper jacket on these VLDs is a J4 jacket. Two pieces of Xerox copier paper is thicker than these J4 jackets. The only thing that keeps these bullets together is this thin jacket and the consistency of the lead, which must be pretty soft. That's all I can offer on close range Berger VLD performance.

I like them for long range use. Which is the same as saying I don't like them for close range high velocity hits on big game.
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:50 AM
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

Without recovering the animal it's impossible to reach any final conclusion. Could be any one of a number of possibilities...some already mentioned and so I'll throw in another one. is it possible that at that close a range that velocity played a part...as in too high. Don't know just throwing it out there. On a positive note you are to be commended for going to the lengths you did to try and recover the animal.

Last edited by Chas1; 01-12-2010 at 11:47 AM. Reason: no email notification
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:34 AM
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

What was the animal doing just before the shot?
Walking, bedded, watching a Doe, grazing???

Personally, " hunched " means something OTHER than a high shoulder shot to me, but your description may not be the same as mine

edge.
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2010, 07:50 AM
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Re: Berger Bullet Failure at Short Range

With a thin jacketed bullet at high speed, I like to have a lot of sectional density. I would not even shoot a 7mm 168 Berger much less a 30 cal 168 at that range and speed and expect anything other than exactly what you got. Been down that road with with thin skinned low SD bullets on both an elk and a deer. Never recovered the elk but after about a mile did get my friend close enough that he killed the deer for me with a Speer.

Deer behaved much the same way you described yours. Hit my deer exactly where you say you hit yours. Deer went about 300 yards bedded down. We jumped it but no shot. Went about 300 yards and tried to bed again but we kept on the blood trail until we finally got a shot and killed it. Found a crater about 10 inches in diameter and half an inch deep on the scapula. Not one bullet fragment made it into the vitals.

I do not say for sure that it is what happened because I have seen just the opposite also. Bullet pencils through and penetrates as others describe and flies over the lungs but under the spine and nothing is actually damaged. Deer may have partially collapsed lungs until the hair and blood coagulate to seal off the chest cavity and the lungs reinflate and then he is good to go forever and ever. Good bye deer. But from the amounts of blood you found I believe the first scenario is correct. Answer to the problem is sectional density. It will give you the extra mass needed to continue to penetrate when the front part blows away. That is why I shoot the 6mm 115s from Berger or the 130gr 257 Wildcats with J4 jackets or the 200 gr Wildcat 7mm with a J4 jacket. The extra sectional density give me the penetration that I desire even at high speed.
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Last edited by Buffalobob; 01-12-2010 at 08:04 AM.
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