Re: Barnes TTSX vs Berger VLD
It really depends on where you're going to hunt and how far you're going to shoot. I've been using the Bergers for the past 3 years on elk and I'm pretty happy with them. I haven't had too many bang-flops but I haven't had anything get away. The Bergers do work well but I hunt in pretty open country and the high BCs of the Bergers make 800 yard shots with a 7mm Rem or WSM more possible than with lower BC bullets. I haven't shot many Barnes bullets but at those ranges, my biggest fear would be a failure to expand. Not impossible with even the Bergers but I think more possible with harder bullets like the Barnes.
That being said, the majority of the elk I've killed have been in North Idaho in the thicker stuff. Places where 10 yard shots aren't uncommon and shots out beyond 100 yards were pretty uncommon. In that scenario, I might want a bullet that was going to give me maximum penetration. The Barnes might be the best for maximum penetration (arguably so at least).
So, if you're planning on taking 500 to 600 (or longer) shots on elk, the Bergers might be the way to go. If your shots are probably going to be 500 or closer, you might want to stick with the Barnes or some other harder (mono or bonded or partition style bullets). I'm sure that there are at least a few on here who use the Barnes for long range and like them. I believe that John Burns even used Barnes 7mm 150's for a while and I guess that he determined that they would get the job done at longer ranges.
I have yet to see a Berger fail to penetrate a shoulder when placed there but have witnessed dramatic differences between different Berger bullets. I shoot the 168's from a 7mm and my experience has been good with them. Good penetration and some bullet fragmentation but generally something on the order of golf ball sized holes going into the rib cages on the far side of the chest cavity, so the majority of the bullet has penetrated the vitals and gone into the far side. My uncle, and several of my buddies, chose to shoot the Berger 168s from 300 Winchesters and their bullets, at ranges less than 200 yards, were highly explosive.
I watched my uncle shoot a caribou, completely broadside, at about 100 or 150 yards. He hit it right behind the shoulder and the bullet fragmented so badly that there were guts blown up on the inside. My dad shot a deer with my buddies 300 Winchester at about 70 or 80 yards. It was quartered away so he hit about 6 or 7 inches behind the near shoulder, angling for the far shoulder. The bullet again exploded and upon evicerating the buck discovered that there was no damage to any meat with the exception of the entrance hole. The lungs had been turned to jello and nothing touched the far side of the critter. My guess is that the 30 cal 185's would probably perform more like my 168 7mm's but I have no evidence of that.
Anyway, now you have a few accounts of the way the Bergers can perform, hope I added some food for thought.