VLD bullets vs Elk shoulder bone

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by MTLIVIN, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. MTLIVIN

    MTLIVIN Well-Known Member

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    I just got done butchering an old bull elk I shot with my bow and I discovered the reason this bull wasn't using his front left shoulder while walking, he had an old bullet wound from a highly fragmenting bullet. The bullet hit the leg bone near the "elbow" knuckle and disintegrated into the nearby tissues. The wound was completely calcified over and impossible to tell what bullet or caliber it was, but the thin jacket pieces I found look like a VLD type bullet to me. That shoulder had almost zero calf muscle and only half the meat of the right shoulder the bull used to get around on. The would definitely affected the bulls antler growth, was a heavy 6x4 approx. 7-8 yr old when I shot him but I'd bet he had a lot better antler growth previous years.

    My wife shot a cow elk right in that same elbow knuckle with a 140 VLD in a 7mm-08 and that bullet had zero penetration into the vitals, same as this case (second shot was better). I also witnesses a 5 pt bull with a soft point bullet in its shoulder and moving on 3 legs 18 hours after being shot. So just a warning to those who haven't experienced shooting an elk in the bone with a light bullet, just don't do it, you wont like the results and the elk wont either. Crap happens, but its always in my mind to stay away from leg bones when I have Bergers loaded.
     
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  2. RockyMtnMT

    RockyMtnMT Official LRH Sponsor

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    Not just light bullets. Light bullets that retain the same weight regardless of impact are much different than any high fragmenting of any weight. Bullets that disintegrate after impact are a problem waiting to happen. May never happen to you, but it happens all to often.

    We had spectacular results from a 116g .257 cal in Africa. Took impala, blesbuck, warthog, zebra, wildebeest, and an 1800lb trophy eland. Shot through the leg bone just above the elbow. Shattered the huge bone and went through the front of the lungs and lodged in the brisket on the far side. This bullet deformed exactly the same as the 1st shot that was frontal (no bone) that traveled through 5' Of eland and was recovered in the small intestine. You could not tell the two apart. That eland traveled about 40y in a half circle after the 1st shot. The leg shot was for insurance on a wobbling eland.

    Steve
     
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  3. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing. Not terribly surprised. VLDs are ~98% soft lead. With ~2% tin foil wrap. Which is why my bear defense bullets are not VLDs, or relatives of VLDs.
     
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  4. lancetkenyon

    lancetkenyon Well-Known Member

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    215 Hybrid @ 3100fps mv at 432 yards on a bull elk. Broke both shoulders and shattered a vertebra. Worked just fine. Stopped under the offside hide. Not all results are typical. Some better than others. Use enough bullet. A 6.5 140 is marginal.on elk in my personal opinion. Especially if you hit a leg bone. Tough to beat proper shot placement. Even with a big magnum, but especially with a lighter caliber and bullet weight.

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    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
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  5. WildBillG

    WildBillG Well-Known Member

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    Just my opinion but I will stick to bullets like the Barnes X and Steves bullets. Bullets that fragment to me are made for shooting coyotes and ground squirrels. When it comes to big animals like elk and moose and bears bigger heavier bullets are the way to go. I know the Bergers are very accurate but human error is a very real great equalizer. Ther fore when something goes a little off I'll take the bullets that hold together and penetrate deeply whether they are light or heavy for caliber.
     
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  6. lancetkenyon

    lancetkenyon Well-Known Member

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    Not saying mono bullets are not exceptional. I have used them about as much as cup and core jacketed lead bullets with great success.

    Just saying not all "VLD" type bullets detonate on impact. Shot placement trumps all. And a marginal bullet put into the wrong place spells disaster in some cases, but not all. Just like a mono bullet in the wrong place will too. Or a mono bullets that fails to expand reliably (which happens on occasion as well).

    In hunting, unforeseen issues do happen. The popularity of Berger bullets being used is probably almost 50% of hunting. So, by sheer volume, you will hear of more failures. These are still the exception, not the rule. So a general statement saying they explode on impact with bone and the "jacket looked like a VLD" is not valid without any firsthand knowledge of the facts.

    Could it have been a VLD? Sure.
    Could it have been a SMK? Sure.
    Could it have been a NBT? Sure.
    Could it have been a SGK? Sure.
    Could it have been most any other brand/type of cup and core? Sure.
    Could it have been too light of a bullet driven too fast at too close of range? Sure.
    Could it be a fluke? Sure.
    Does it happen every time? Absolutely not.

    I have found an arrow shaflt through both lungs of an elk with the broadhead stuck in an offside rib that had healed around it from at least the previous year. Elk are tough animals. They can survive the unsurvivable.
     
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  7. MTLIVIN

    MTLIVIN Well-Known Member

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    When I say light I mean light only in the construction sense, a non-bonded, non-partitioned, and defenitelt not a monolithic. And when I say shoulder I mean the shoulder bone, not the scapula, I’ve shot through the scapula with my bow, a VLD in the scapula is a dead critter every time.
     
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  8. MTLIVIN

    MTLIVIN Well-Known Member

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    Good example of proper placement high in the scapula. Not the same bone the bull I cleaned was shot in, that shot was low near the heart but right in the heavy shoulder bone, that’s a different ball game on a cup and core type bullet.
     
  9. Dosh

    Dosh Well-Known Member

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    Just to remind, the Bergers need the tips checked to insure they are open.
     
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  10. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    https://www.longrangehunting.com/threads/looking-for-a-bonded-180-grain-7mm-bullet.207650/page-2

    VLDs don’t shrapnel prior to reaching the vitals the majority of the time, or few would hunt large game animals with them. The heavier and longer the lead shaft in the bullet, the better the odds the butt end of the bullet will survive in one piece until the velocity has slowed to below shrapnelling speeds. This improves the odds of sufficient penetration.
    If shrapnelling was the VLD bullet’s only mode of failing performance, a guy could pick his long range shots carefully and plan on sticking them into the ribs of game animals.
    The second mode of failure is no expansion (See posts in above link), which can happen at both high velocity and low velocity impacts. So a guy aims for the ribs on a broadside shot to help ensure adequate penetration to the vitals, because it’s the path of least structure and least resistance to vital organs. It also minimizes the meat destruction likely to occur with VLD shoulder shots. However now the odds of full metal jacket performance (no expansion) have just been maximized. The animal receives a bullet that passes thru the lungs like an arrow with a target tip. Very little bullet energy is lost in the body of the animal. The animal may expire after 30 or more minutes, or it may survive the wound. If there’s cover available and the animal reaches it, good luck recovering your prize.
    A controlled expansion bullet can eliminate one of these two modes of bullet failure (shrapnelling to the extent of failed penetration). Now we’re only left with the potential the bullet may not expand in the game animal. Still, eliminating one of the two modes of bullet performance failures on game animals can equate to 50% fewer failures.
    I’ve personally experienced both types of VLD bullet failure on large game using the walks-on-water Berger 210gr VLD from my 300 Win Mag. It was time to move on to monolithic copper bullets when accurate, reasonably high BC, lathe-turned copper bullets became available. Less meat damage and certain penetration regardless of impact velocity. If they’ll expand reliably, no more worries! No more disappointments!
     
  11. lancetkenyon

    lancetkenyon Well-Known Member

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    Any part of the jacket left that could be measured for caliber? That would be cool to find out. And maybe weigh what was left.
    Could it have been a 6mm 85gr? .257" 115? .264" 130? 7mm 140? .308 150?
    My cousin blasted a spike bull quartering on, last evening of the hunt using my .300RUM shooting the 210 VLD @ 3110fps mv in the front leg bone (humerus), small diameter hole in, large diameter hole and severe fractures out, broke it, passed through a lung and exited the off side back of the rib cage. So no bullet recovery. Plenty of bullet to do the job @ about 225 yards.
     
  12. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely! Is there a reason Berger won’t provide this warning label on their boxes of VLD hunting bullets? Absolutely!
     
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  13. MTLIVIN

    MTLIVIN Well-Known Member

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    This bullet was so fragmented and encapsulated by bone that I had zero way of figuring out what it was exactly. Maybe an X-ray would show more, but I don't think my insurance would cover that! Lol, this post was meant more as a reminder to some of the up-and-coming elk hunters out there. I've personally witnessed this kind of failure 3 times and heard of it many more than that (and I'm only 33), hoping someone else might avoid wounding an elk and learning the hard way. I honestly doubt this was a 30 cal bullet, seems you can get away with more when you are throwing the heavies at em
     
  14. lancetkenyon

    lancetkenyon Well-Known Member

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    Come on! Take that bone, tape it to your calf, and tell the doc you think you broke your leg! Let's see the x-ray!

    I have a set of elk legs that I found in a pile of a long dead elk. One was broken and had healed. Calcified about 3x the original diameter, and at an angle. Not sure what had happened, but must have had a limp.

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