I have always shot Factory Barnes X 180 gr. out of one of my 300 Wby Mags. They have always been a sub-MOA load right out of the box... for me. the Barnes X is a Great Coues Deer bullet IMO... wasting very little meat even if hit more than once. We have also taken many elk with this same factory load. My concern with the X (or similar bullets) is that in elk, we found that even a solid shoulder shot would exit the other side at the size of a dime or less. And a shot that hit "slightly" off the mark made for a real grid search to recover the animal.... no blood, no sign.... I am still a fan of this bullet for Coues because of the clean and solid knock down.
However, I switched to the VLD 168 gr. last year in my long range rifle and we ground checked 2 bulls with it. Both one shot kills (385 & 450 yds.) and neither bullet exited the other side. One bull dropped at the shot the other took about 6 steps.... and both shots were not in the "12 ring" , but rather just off the mark, because two 13 yr.old girls were doing the shooting.:eek: Also we had no more wasted meat on these 2 bulls than I have had in the past on Solid shoulder shots with a Barnes X.
BTW.... plan on boning out an elk w/o gutting it if you plan to use the VLD....;)... They turn the insides into a Protien shake!:eek:
I have a new favorite Elk bullet and can not wait to try it on Coues and Speed Goats next!;)
I have used Barnes XXX in my 300 Win Mag and my Encore 25:06. Both have performed extremly well and were very accurate. I have not failed to recover a deer with either. Two years ago, I rebarreled my 300 Win Mag with a Hart barrel. This barrel did not like the TSX. Would not give me tight groups as before. Tried the Hornady Interbond and solved my problem. I have harvested several deer in the last two years including a 146 class 10 point that weighed 235 pounds.
I have used Barnes TSX bullets on deer and moose. In both cases, when shoot behind the shoulder, both animals went about 30 feet and fell on their noses. On the moose (Newfoundland), I shot him with a 180 TSX out of a 300 WSM at 90 yards, the bullet expanded through the chest cavity and blew the top of the heart off and liquified the lungs before exiting through a rib bone going off somewhere to middle of the North Atlantic. On the deer (E. Montana), I shot him at 200 yards with a 7mm Rem Ultra mag with a 140 grain TSX...same placement with pretty much the same story. These bullets a fricking accurate and deadly, they are all I use. I am taking some 225 grain TSX's to Namibia next April to shoot through my 340 Weatherby at plains game. I expect the same results. These bullets are probably the best beast killers on the market.
This is the 30 year old debate of penetration vs. expansion bullets and both sides are convinced of their position. Expansion bullets as a rule are a little more accurate, do not always exit the animal, and expand rapidly inside the animal. This camp says the bullet's energy is totally used up within the animal killing it faster. The Berger bullet is an expansion bullet with a high sectional density. The Nosler Ballistic tip is also an expansion bullet.
The Barnes TSX is a penetration bullet that is designed to break bone and hopefully exit the animal, creating a full wound channel and excellent blood trail. I have found them slightly less accurate than expansion bullets.
My opinion on which to use is directly realted to the bullet's velocity: hyper-speed (above .270/130 gr speeds of 3150 fps) requires tougher penetration bullets like the Barnes TSX. Lower velocity in lower recoiling rifles that are more accurately shot makes the Berger just fine. I have personally seen 2 failures of expansion bullets on game: muley, and cow elk, hit on the shoulder and later recovered so I know exactly what happened. Both bullets were Nosler ballistic tips (150 and 165 gr), similar to the Berger, 300 mags shot at about 200 yards each.
Today's holy grail (not sure who exactly determined this) in bullet performance is weight retention, the more the better. Barnes is talking near 100% retention, Berger 10 - 20%. What does this mean? I don't know. I do know this: super velocity demands well constructed, penetration bullets. Standard velocities offer the shooter more choices in bullets.
I have personally seen 2 failures of expansion bullets on game: muley, and cow elk, hit on the shoulder and later recovered so I know exactly what happened. Both bullets were Nosler ballistic tips (150 and 165 gr), similar to the Berger, 300 mags shot at about 200 yards each.
Could you elaborate on these two failures? Are you saying you recovered two Nosler BTs and the tip of each bullet failed to expand? Thanks.
Even though the original post is a couple of years old, I'll reply. I do have experience with the 30 cal VLD and Barnes TSX.
I shot a hog with a 210 VLD, .308, at just over 100 yards. Bullet passed through. The TSX experience was with the 168 gr., on several deer in several states. They also always passed through. The deer dropped. The hog ran off.
Both expansion bullets broke the shoulder of the animals but DID NOT penetrate into the chest, making the animals 3 legged until they were finished with another shot later that day or the next morning with the muley buck. Neither bullet was intact but fragments were all over the lower shoulder area. A high shoulder shot is usually instantaneously lethal no matter what bullet is used, probably because of the proximity to the spine. Am I saying you cannot get a complete pass-through with an expansion bullet? No. If all is close to perfect, similar to bow and arrow type shot presentations, or the animal is fairly close, or far away with light winds and a good rest, these bullets do well. There have been reports of this same phenomenon with softer bullets dating back as far as OíConnor and especially through the era of the introduction of the Ballistic Tip until they significantly improved them.
I am an unapologetic penetration bullet man based on 30+ years of hunting, harvesting experience. Each of us who has been at this for a while has developed their own personal system within the sport of hunting. I am simply sharing mine, if you like it perhaps you can somehow adopt or adapt it to your own personal system. If you donít, forget about it. I wish you all the best the rest of this hunting season.