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Reloading Berger Bullets


Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

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Unread 11-20-2009, 10:00 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 410
Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Well I have a chance to go Antelope hunting. There were a large of left over tags for an area close to me. Problem was I only had one gun sighted in and no ammo loaded for it as everything I had shot in it was factory loads and I couldn't find anymore overnight. Plus that gun weighs a ton and I use it mainly for targets. Its a Rem 700 VSF .308 with a H.S. Precision tactical stock with the adj comb and butt.
SO yesterday I assessed my reloading components to see what I had. Found I had a new box of 115 Berger's in .25 Cal. A can of Hodgdon Retumbo. 100 rounds of CCI LR primed .25-06 Ackley improved cases and everything else was just a hodgepodge of a little bit of this and a little bit of that. With there not being a hell of a lot of reloading info on the .25-06 AI in print and most of the info out there being from other reloaders which is not always reliable : so it took me about an hour of digging on the net and after looking at a ton of different web sites and info from other loaders on what the do I found two different posts using the components I had on hand. One said max loading and the other said nothing. and both were close. 8-)
I flipped a coin on what load to use with both my final choices just a bit below where the one that said MAX LOADING said he was at and loaded up 10 rounds. ;D Nothing like a gamble is there.
I then headed for the range about 15 miles away. Beautiful day, no wind, warm. NICEEE 8-)
After sitting up my Prairie Dog bench and putting up a target at 100 yds. ( This consists of putting up a sheet of cardboard about 4' square and placing a 1" adhesive dot on it at 100 yds) :
I settled down to shoot. Wouldn't you know it, the wind started to come up. >:( Oh well, your here lets get it done.
1st shot was 16"s to the left. Adjust, 2nd shot was 4"s to the right and 5"s low. Adjust 3rd shot was 2"s high and 1" to the right. Adjust. 4th shot. HMM can't find it. Shoot again 5th shot can't find it. ??? 6th shot still can't find it. >:( >:( >:( What the heck????
So I get up off my dead ass and walk down to the target to see if I can tell what happened. Got a bit of a surprise. I had a 3/8" group dead center in the 1" circle. Thought what the heck, went back and fired 4 more rounds and still all in the circle but one. Dang wind caught me. >:( Looks good to me. Easiest load development I have ever had that worked. And I don't know what kind of rifle that guy was shooting but I have one with a custom match chamber in a Hart barrel and believe me, that load is no where near the max for it. If all is correct I should be getting about 3200 fps with the Berger but I think I can get up to 3300 with it with a bit more tweaking but that can wait. Got an Antelope to kill and no more time to work up loads. I didn't like the soot though that gathered around the neck on a fired case. Could be the Retumbo or too light of a load. I will have to experiment with that load later. It shoots good enough to hunt with for now though.
The rifle is a custom built Rem 700 .25-06 Ackley Improved with a 26" Hart barrel and McMillian stock with 6.5X20X40 LR Leupold with varmint reticule.
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Unread 11-20-2009, 10:23 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 410
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Ok, kid that works for me called at Thurs morning at 8:00 and asked me IF I was ready as he was heading my way. He arrived and we loaded up and headed north. When we arrived the owner of the property was sitting along side the road visiting with a relative. He makes the introductions and all and got the permission and we all shook hands and off we went with the Intel that there was a heard of about 80 Antelope out in the middle of this 6000 acres. :o I asked Matt how we were going to hunt it. His comment was "You'll see" So we drive all the trails through the 6000 acres until we spot a herd of about 80 animals at about 3/4 a mile. Matt stops the truck over the next rise and shuts it off. He says "OK, we walk from here" :o Now you have to remember I have a bad ankle that locks up on me and a bad knee that gives out on me and heel spurs and planters faciatis (SP) ???? so walking isn't my forte. Plus I'm 60.
We take off up this first hill which is about 600 yds to the top and by the time we get close to the top I am wheezing like a steam engine. :o Matt stops and looks at me like he thinks I am dying or something. I just said "Hell do you know how long its been since I walked on something that wasn't flat or concrete" He started laughing. I made him promise to not gut me if he had to drag me out of there. >:( The wife might frown on that one.
This is turning out to be a long story so if you get bored you have my permission to go read another thead. ;D
So after a couple minutes I get my breathing under control enough that the Antelope won't hear me from a 1/2 mile away. Well we topped the hill and peeked over the top and dam, no Antelope. So we sit down and look the area over and see that the lopes have spotted us or the truck and headed over about another 3/4 mile away. :'(
So down the hill and around another and then another long stalk. We get almost within a half mile of them and there are two groups. and the one to the west has spotted us and they head east to the rest of the heard across the valley which is just about straight north of us. Well Matt knows where they are going as he knows the area and he says I will go around the hill to the west and up the ridge and you go straight and when you hit the draw go up that till you get to the top. This is another 3/4 mile hike. I have already gone almost 1.5 miles which Matt comments that I have quit wheezing and sound almost normal. : Ain't going to let him gut me, nope nadda, I might be easier to drag that way but there ain't no coming back from that one that I know of. So I sneak up to the fence and crawl through it and begin my stalk up the draw. I'm moving along real slow and looking all around me and I see a white spot up the draw about 600 yds. There is a big round bail in the bottom of the draw as they had mowed it and rolled it up and hadn't removed them yet. I get behind this one and start looking this white spot over. I am using a Leupold 6.5X20X40 LR scope with the varmint reticule in it and left my bino's in the truck to save weight. Like as if it would of mattered. :
What appeared to be a white spot ended up being an antelope lying in some knee high grass and she had spotted me. What was worse there was another one about 15 yds higher up the draw that also had me pegged. The both were just sitting there watching me like I was nothing to worry about as I could not move without them seeing what I was going to do. So what I did was start playing a little game I play when I am out in area's like that. I call it How Far Is It so I started guessing how far it was to another hay bale Ok its about 100 yds. Ok how far to that bush? well its about 250. Believe me I am usually within low double digits out to about 800 or 900 yds. Tough to do when your out in open country with nothing to use to help with like tree's or anything. So I started using bales of hay. I had noticed that there was about 40 yds between me and the next one and it looked pretty uniform in distance between them all so I started to add up how many bales between me and the Antelope. I ran this out about 4 or 5 times and by my best guess it was close to 550 yds between me and the goat. Ok how do I close that distance. I'm looking around and man I am out in the open at the bottom of a long draw with a goat looking me over and there is no place to go except where I am at. Well I always said, or someone did one time anyway, ;) if your handed lemons make lemonade. I got my cross hairs on the goat and lined up on the front shoulder. Started figuring which line of the Varmint reticule would add up to 500 yds and dropped down a bit more. Winds blowing straight out of the north and I am shooting just a bit more west than north. Adjust for the wind which is blowing about 25 mph and hold still dammit. Then I slowly squeeze the trigger. At the shot I loose sight of the doe in the cross hair's so I look up to see what happened and I see an Antelope running over the hill. :'( Well hell, must of missed. I think, I might as well go up there and look anyway just in case there is blood although if there is it will probably die in the next county. : Matt will make me walk there to get it. Oh well. So I head up the draw and half way there I see a white spot in the grass. I stop and look at it and think hmm looks like a white sheet of plastic. OH well go look. Its about 40 yds further up than where the goat was lying so I head up in that direction. The closer I get the more it looks like an Antelope. 8-) So I get there and I go crap. Its got horns. This is bad as I have a 3 any doe/fawn tag. The horns are about 3"s long. Hmm small for a buck. I roll the goat over and sure enough its a doe. Whew. Well this is my first real Antelope kill as I am a deer hunter and have just moved to the area so rather than just gutting it out I wait for Matt. He is over the ridge to the west of me in the direction the second antelope had ran. After about 10 minutes I spot him coming. I wait for him and when he walks up he starts making over my antelope about how I'm going to have to get it mounted as he has never seen one with horns that long. He then states "Man that doe has to be 200 years old" :o I go OH CRAP ain't no good eating then huh. He says oh hell no, big old dry doe like that will be great eating. Ok, so I did good for the first time out. He said I did dam good so I guess I am happy although it was kind of anti climatic as I have only fired one shot and there seemed like there should be more to it than that. That one shot by the way hit exactly where I had hoped to hit and the Berger 115 grain VLD Match bullet had entered making a small hole and nothing coming out. Good performance from what I could tell. Ended up it went in and took out the lungs and clipped the heart. Nice.
Well in the meantime I asked him what he had shot at as I had heard him shoot. Well he took me over to the fence line and points across the valley to the next ridge and there is another antelope lying there. He said he shot twice but thinks he missed on the first shot. We are standing there looking at his antelope and I look to the south and here is another antelope running west but it looked funny. I flopped down and unfolded the Harris bi pod and got the scope on it and here is an antelope running with a back leg flopping. Its about 800 yds out and going pretty good so with the wind like it was and the speed of the goat I decide to not shoot. Just a bit more than I want to try. So Matt and I head after it. Seems he thought he missed his first shot and didn't lead the goat enough and took out the back leg. Well off we went and made a big loop of about 2 miles and never did find the goat. When we got back to the truck we headed up and gutted my goat out and then drove back to where we could get the closest to Matts which was about a 600 yd drag. OH Matt has a Lica Range finder and ranged from where the goat I shot had been lying back to the bail I was behind when I shot and it ended up giving him a 550 yd reading. Guess my guessing game paid off.
Meanwhile we get back where we can get as close as possible to Matts goat and we get out and I again spot the goat with the broken back leg running up the very same ridge. :o We had missed it someplace back in that next section. Matt says you go see if you can get that one and I will get this one drug back to the truck. Well I headed out across the valley and up the ridge again for another 2 mile walk. When I get to the top I can see Northwest for a couple miles and I can see South West for another mile. To the Southeast and below me is a draw that goes down to a dam. ??? I see nothing anywhere. So I say a little prayer to the Antelope god asking that he let me put this poor antelope out of its misery and start heading South east down the draw towards the dam. Well I get just to where the little trickle of a creek goes into the dam and I spot the antelope running along the fence below the dike. I get the scope on here and line up the cross hairs and touch one off. I hear the whop of the hit but see no reaction. I jack in another one and again touch it off but this one is hurried and I know I miss. The antelope turns and heads back south along the fence away from me and I can see only the top of its head over the dike. I hold on it and again touch it off. Believe me guys, A .25-06 Ackley Improved with a 115 grain VLD Match bullet moving out about 3200 is not the thing to hit an antelope in the back of the head with. That antelope did a bang flop and was down. Now comes the rest of the story. This antelope was shot at about 95 yards and at that distance the bullet is quite explosive. I get over there and look at this doe and the only thing holding her head on is about a 6" strip of hide. But what really surprised me was on the first shot she was out in the open enough that I had a chest shot on her and when I pulled the trigger I did not notice any reaction except that she turned and ran back around below the dam trying to get out of sight of me. She did this on two legs. One front and one back. Matt had broken the rear leg to the point that when she ran it was flopping all over the place. Nothing left holding it but some hide. Well when I shot I hit right where I was aiming but she was running and her front leg was to the rear when I hit. Yup I hit the front leg just about 2"s above the front knee. Broke it into more pieces than you can imagine. She was still running and I could tell no difference in how she ran. The bullet had gone in and broke the front leg, expanded and made a 1" hole going into its chest and did not go out the other side but did take the lungs and part of the heart out. Good thing was, we recovered a wounded animal. The only real meat damage is in the front shoulder. Bad news was, "Man did she stink" Got her home and all washed out and hosed off and she still don't smell any better.
Other good things, I got an Antelope, walked about 7 miles and got some real good exercise and really cleaned out my lungs. I was able to do that without wheezing after the first 6-700 yds. I had an awesome time. Found out that my .25-06 AI has what it takes and more and found that the Berger Match bullet will do a job on an Antelope in a pinch. What more can I say. It was a great day. OH and the wife is letting me get my Antelope mounted. ;D
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Unread 11-20-2009, 07:57 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 35
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Sounds like you had a good time and I'm glad to hear you recovered the wounded animal. Ditch the retumbo and give IMR 4831 a shot. It's not too hard to achieve 3400+ fps with the 115 vlds in the ackley. This makes a nice recipe for one of the flatest shooting rounds out there.
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Unread 11-20-2009, 08:41 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montana
Posts: 2,979
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Good story, thank you for posting it.

Hammer Bullets
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To hunt... or not to hunt...? What a stupid question.
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Unread 11-20-2009, 09:50 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: SW Montana
Posts: 5,810
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Retumbo will soot your necks, at least it really has for a few things I have ran it in.
Glad to hear how the Bergers worked, I need to pick some up for a 250AI and give them a try.
By the way you can tell a doe from a buck antelope by the throat patch, the buck will be black and doe will have a tan patch, both can have horns, if you didn't know
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Unread 11-21-2009, 12:07 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 410
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

BignGreen, not being from an area that had antelope until I moved about a year ago I didn't know any of that. Learning curve and all that you know. I did kind of know about the horns but didn't know that they grew them bigger than 2"s though. These just beat 3". Had to go back and measure them. Still I think they will make a great mount and hopefully will go good with a large buck someday. I think that would be really nice as I also think an antelope makes one of the prettiest mounts I have seen. That and they fit in the house a lot better than an ELK.

Nitroused383 thanks for the info on the IMR 4831 and its what I usually use but haven't been able to find much and I had the Retumbo on hand. Still it shoots sweet in the gun but I will be changing all that when I can find a decent amount of IMR 4831 to work with.

RockyMTNMT thanks for the comment about the story. Yes I did have a good time and even had a good time telling the story.
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Unread 11-21-2009, 02:06 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: Berger 115 VLD Match bullet and Antelope

Bill, a very enjoyable read

You might try RL17. I was getting about 3200 with Retumbo in my 25-06 and then got 3400 with RL17 and 115 gr bullets. You should be able to better with the AI.

Good shooting,

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