Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman
As for the bullets exploding, whether it's a Berger, SMK, or HAT my plan would be to use them at ranges greater than 500-600 yds and more controlled expansion bullets at less than that. I know some of you guys like the Bergers at close ranges as well, but I'm not totally sold on that. I might experiment on antelope. It's good to be able to shoot 3 antelope per season here.
My son shot a bull caribou with a 168 gr Berger VLD, 7mm Rem Mag, muzzle velocity 3080 fps, from a distance of about 80 yds this past Monday. I prepare 160 gr Nosler Accbs and 160 gr Barnes TSX loads for this rifle also, but we had the Berger in the chamber because we were expecting the caribou to step out between 800 - 900 yds. Instead of that the caribou never did step out. After about 25 minutes, we figured the animal had moved off into the brush and was gone for the time being. On the way back to our spotting location, we bumped into the animal in the willows at about 50 yds. I told my son to change out the load but he didn't want to take the chance on having the animal bolt during the reload to the Barnes TSX bullet. Anyhow, he pasted it with a perfect shot to minimize meat damage - just behind both of the shoulders about 2/3s the way up from the brisket. The bullet exited and the animal bled like a stuck hog for a distance of about 60 yds before piling up. The Berger did the job, but while butchering the animal, the meat damage to the near side of the animal was excessive. Even though the shot missed the shoulders completely, there was blood-shot damaged meat up to the back strap and forward to the front of the shoulder under the flaps of meat overlying the ribcage. I've shot a lot of big game animals over the past 35 yrs with Nosler Partitions, Nosler Ballistic Tips, Nosler Accubonds, Sierra Game Kings, Barnes X and TSX, Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, Speer Grand Slams, Hornady Core-locks, etc..., and there was just more meat damage than necessary for a simple shot behind the shoulders through both lungs. I would have changed out to the Barnes TSXs had I been the shooter.
This is only the second animal I've butchered that's been shot with the Berger VLD. The other was a black bear at 20 feet with a 300 Win Mag Berger 210 gr VLD in the alders this past spring. The bear only weighed about 170 lbs. It was a finishing shot with the bear laying on its side. The bullet entered the brisket and no pieces of the bullet ever reached the backstraps, let alone exit the top of the back. The bullet shrapnelled into itty bitty pieces. Killed the bear instantly like a bomb going off inside the boiler room. Don't ask me why I used a Berger 210 VLD at 20 feet - too long of a story. Anyhow the Bergers shoot lights out in both my 7mm Rem Mag Tikka T3 and a custom Lawton 7000 300 Win Mag. I think they'll be a great bullet at ranges greater than 300 to 400 yds. Any closer than that and there are Nosler Accubond and other controlled expansion bullets that will do the job just fine with much less meat damage. Some like the bang flop, DRT effect of an explosive bullet through both shoulders - the high shoulder hit. I prefer to shoot animals behind the shoulders through both lungs, long or short range. It just doesn't feel right having to throw away a bunch of bullet-damaged blood shot meat. Maybe it's because I've killed quite a number of animals with lung shots and don't have any concerns about following and recovering the lung shot animal after it travels 30 to 100 yds after the shot. The only time I'll aim for the shoulders is if the animal could jump off a cliff or reach potentially unrecoverable terrain.
So I've got the Berger VLDs loaded and and preped for long range shots. I fully expect them to be a terrific long range bullet based on the Best of the West video and other reports. I just don't have the first-hand experience with a long range VLD hit as of yet. Another positive is that the cost for the Berger VLDs is quite reasonable and they're readily available.