Re: Berger Bullets vs Controlled Expansion Bullets
I use both frangible bullets and controlled expansion bullets. The controlled expansion bullets are used at ranges out to approximately 300-400 yds, or a tad farther. They are carried in the magazine for closer range, short notice encounters with game or beasts. They excel at higher velocity impacts. I will normally solely use controlled expansion bullets for the largest of large game, such as moose, or brown bear. If I had a perfect broadside shot at long range on a moose, then I might use a Berger VLD into the ribs. The controlled expansion bullets help ensure sufficient penetration on less than ideal positioning of these very large game animals, on less than ideal positioning of the animal, in my opinion.
I carry frangible bullets for longer range shots where utmost accuracy and reduced wind drift help ensure optimum bullet placement at distant ranges. In addition, I find there is normally sufficient time to wait for an optimum broadside positioned animal at long range, where the ribs can be targeted to minimize meat damage, and to help ensure the frangible bullet penetrates sufficiently to reach the vitals.
I view this two-bullet approach as a means of taking advantage of the most beneficial features of these two different bullet designs, under field use conditions which capitalize on their strengths, and just as importantly, as a means of avoiding the least desirable performance features of the two different bullet designs under field use conditions likely to result in poor bullet performance.
I began using the 210 gr Berger VLD about 6 seasons ago in the .300 Winchester Magnum. They are accurate bullets with high BC values which help maintain velocity and reduce wind drift - great qualities for long range effectiveness. I experience one VLD shrapnel/grenade at close range (7 yds on a medium sized black bear in alders) exhibiting a wound channel that was wider than it was deep, and I've had one shoot thru the rear portion of the rib cage a dall ram standing broadside at 335 yds with no expansion at all, and little ill effect on the ram. They are a bullet that is more apt to provide on game performance at both extreme ends of the spectrum, from no expansion at all, to explosive shallow depth wound channels, in my fairly limited first-hand experiences, especially compared to the other lead-core jacketed bullets I've used in the prior 35 years. My experience mirrors the experience of many others, based on the multiple user experiences I've read about on this and other Forums.
In addition, I have had a handful of experiences where the Berger 210 VLD performed in their most normal fashion - several inches of penetration and then explosive internal expansion and shrapnel - often with an exit hole on broadside shots on medium sized big game animals. So I understand the excitement and enthusiasm associated with observing the game animal drop in their tracks from a VLD.
In order to help ensure expansion, and in the effort to reduce the likelihood of non-expanding VLDs, I've meplat uniformed and hollow-pointed the tips on my 210 VLDs. This is something Berger advises against doing. I've only shot one big game animal since doing this (caribou hit twice in the ribs at 510 & 530yds), and the VLD expansion began instantly with these meplat uniformed and hollow-pointed bullets (using the Kevin Cram meplat uniforming and hollow-pointing tool). Nevertheless, portions of both bullets exited the far side of the caribou's rib cage. The meplat uniformed and hollow-pointing turns these VLDs into 210 grain varmint bullets - which is fine for long range use. And since I'm a two-bullet hand loader and hunter, I have no intention of using these meplat modified VLDs at close range.
All in all, after 5-6 seasons of using the 210 VLDs, I'll continue to use the meplat uniformed and hollow-pointed versions for long range (>500yd) shots on the mid-sized Alaskan large game animals I hunt. Based on my personal experience, and what I've read and been told by other users, I lack confidence that the unadulterated factory 210 gr .308 VLDs will reliably expand on game shot broadside thru the ribs. If I do use the factory version, it will only be on game animals that I hunt in open country, such as caribou, dall sheep, or mountain goat, in a setting where a second shot can be employed should the first bullet fail to expand. For example, I will not be using the factory 210 VLDs when hunting black bear on the alder-laced mountainsides where I typically hunt spring black bear. In these brushy settings, if the first bullet to strike the bear doesn't expand, there's generally no second opportunity for a shot.
Up to this point, my Post only entails the .308 210gr Berger VLD Hunting bullet fired out of a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle. No other Berger VLD hunting bullet.
My son has shot a couple caribou with the 168gr .284 Berger VLD Hunting bullet over the past several years, which I've observed, with good performance. But for closer range shots at distances of less than 400 yds, I see no reason to chance the additional meat damage experienced with the Berger VLD on any errant shot into the shoulder or the rear hams, compared to the Nosler 160gr Accubond. Last fall I told my son to use the Accubond on a caribou walked up to within 225 yds of our camp. Pretty much a bang flop. Same as a VLD, but with less meat damage and less lead shrapnel in the meat.