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Thread: .308 Berger Hunting VLD review

  1. #1
    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    Default .308 Berger Hunting VLD review

    Just thought I would pass on my field experience with Berger Hunting VLD's. I used the 168gr in my .308 Winchester for Kodiak Blacktail. I loaded them with 46gr of Varget and was getting about 1.1in average group with my Savage model 16 weather warrior.

    I shot two deer with these bullets. On the first deer, an average sized doe, I over estimated the range and hit high just below the spine. My re-estimation is around 125 - 150 yards. She was DRT with a baseball sized exit wound. Massive meat damage, dead deer.

    The second deer was an extremely large bodied 4x4. The shot was around 225-250 yards and uphill. The bullet entered low, passed through the heart and offside lung, and hit the offside shoulder. The buck ran about 20 yards nose dived. The bullet was completely destroyed and was recovered in several pieces while I was butchering it. It appears that the jacket completely separated from the core.

    All in all, I had two shots and two dead deer. I was, however, a bit turned off by the bullet recovered in the buck. I would like to have seen it hold together a bit better but I can't argue with the final result. I would continue to use the bullets on deer and I will use them for black bear this spring. I'm not sure I'm comfortable using them on anything bigger, except in a pinch.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Nice to know, I'm hunting in January with a .308 shooting 175gr VLD's. I've always feared the thought of putting one anywhere but the lungs for reasons you have explained. I sure do like the accuracy that I've experienced with them.

    Congratulations on your deer.

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    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    I see this on alot of the forums I visit from time to time. In each case it's the same story, my gun shoots excellent with the Bergers so I bought the hunting version, loaded them up and went hunting. When I shot my deer the bullet completely grEnaded, or worse yet I know I hit him but the bloodtrail dried up and I couldn't find him.

    I'm sorry to sound harsh, and I'm glad you harvested two nice deer, congrats. But I hate to see guys use inadequate bullets while hunting big game in the name of accuracy. I know that you are a grown man and an accomplished hunter, and therefore will do what you wish, I wish you luck and hope others don't try to follow your lead.

    I've sectioned many brands and styles of bullets and I think Berger should be tarred and feathered for advertising those tinfoil jacketed slugs as "hunting bullets". There are many bullets that are far superior to the VLD for hunting, including many that are probably nearly so if not just as accurate, ie. Accubond, tsx, ttsx, even the ballistic tip.

    Rant off now, sorry. Just hate VLDs for hunting that's all. Anyway congrats again.

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    I wonder if the very slight improvement in accuracy with a Berger is worth it for a slightly less accurate but correctly constructed real hunting bullet such as Nosler, Barnes, etc.
    NRA Life Member since 1974

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    Well Kid, that's why I'm passing the info. I only intend to use up the supply I have at the range and on spring black bear. If I wasn't clear, I would NOT recommend them for hunting. My rifle was new and this load was the best I could come up with in a few weeks. I had tried accubonds and TSX with poor (2in +) results.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    For what it is worth. It is my understanding that Berger originally developed that bullet for match shooting. It turned out to have to thin a copper jacket to handle cut rifling. So they then developed a thicker jacketed bullet for match shooting. A few people had shot some deer with the thin skinned bullet by that time. It was found that upon penetrating the chest cavity the Berger bullet had "grenaded" very effectively killing the animal. The bullet was not designed to perfom like a Partition or Barnes and penetrate bone if neccessary.

    The above statement is something that came up in discussion with a couple of friends. So use some salt.

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    This thread is about a successful hunt. Once again congratulations to MNViking

    Any shot in the good eating part of any animal is going to waste meat. Blood shot or lead either way it gets cut out. Berger's ad claims massive wound cavity not weight retention.

    I plan on putting a 175gr VLD to the test in January. I hope my trusted Ruger and patience will help to keep it the lungs not the tasty stuff.

    Based on reports from multiple hunters it seems that they preform as advertised.

    There is a video in the link below. Keep in mind it's Berger's promotional video. All manufactures do what they can to promote their product.


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    http://www.bergerbullets.com/

    Quote from Berger's site:

    "The Hunting bullet line is proving to be the most lethal big game hunting bullets available. All of our Hunting bullets are made in the VLD design. The VLD design incorporates a sharp nose that allows the bullet to penetrate 2” to 3” before it starts to expand. After the bullet starts to expand it will shed 40% to 85% of its weight as shrapnel into the surrounding tissue (internal organ). The combination between the shrapnel and the hydrostatic shock produces a massive wound cavity within the vital area (internal organs) that will be 13” to 15” long. This massive wound cavity results in the animal dropping fast since most go into shock after such a tremendous blow. Those animals that don’t go down immediately will soon succumb to blood pressure loss and/or organ failure producing a quick ethical kill. Our bullets don't poke through like an arrow (high weight retention, deep penetration bullets) but instead dump their energy where it is most effective, inside the animal. Using the Berger VLD will result in an animal that goes down fast so you can enjoy the results of your hunt without having to track the wounded animal after the shot. You owe it to yourself to see how accurate and deadly the Berger Hunting VLD will be on your next hunt. To order a free 30 minute video that provides more detail on the bullets, cartridge and velocity used to take several animals at a variety of ranges call 714-447-5456."

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    Hey guys, just wanted to chime in that I made the post recommendation to the OP. I read his hunt report in the Hunting forum and suggested he share his Berger experiences over here because I'd read some posts requesting Berger hunting results. I'm pretty sure he's in tune with the round's limitations since he's stated so a couple of times here and elsewhere. Interesting hearing others reports because I'm interpretting the results as showing this bullet is fragile.

    Marshall, good luck on your use. For the sake of the game and your hunting experience, I hope your shot is straight and the game animal doesn't change its angle of perspective when the trigger breaks. That's one of the times when the tougher bullets pay off, and I really hope you don't get a less than perfect hit. Good hunting!

  9. #9

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    Berger bullets are fine for hunting...We have been using them for everything up to moose for quite awhile. The moose die quickly, usually before they hit the ground. The bullets do shed the claimed 40-85%, but it is like a grenade shoved in the vitals. If the critter is dead the bullet did its job. Now on the bigger critters I do not try to drive a bullet from the south end of the critter to get to the vitals but I wouldn't try that with any bullet. Thats my 2 cents.

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    The bullet did what it was supposed to. It went in and exploded. Bullets come in a variaty of toughness from hollow points to armor peircing. You just have to pick one that matches your needs and where you plan to hit your target. If you like to take shoulder or quartering shots a tougher bullet like one of the partitions would be a much better choice. The tsx may be to tough for the 308 especially at long range. If you like heart/lung shots then most of the cup and core bullets would give complete penatration with fair tissue damage. Most 308s are fairly accurate with just about anything. I would think you could easily get 1"/ 1 1/4" groups with Sierra, Speer, Hornady,Rem core lokts as well as others. I just don't see the need for premium bullets in a 308. Use a 165 for deer/caribou and a 180 for moose and you should get good penatration even with quartering or shoulder shots.

  11. #11
    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    I understand there's a contingent of folks who shoot highly reactive bullets at big game, and the results on well placed broadside lung shots works well. I just don't subscribe to shooting a bullet that's on the edge of performance and would very possibly wound game if the animal turns when the shot is fired. There are definitely speed and range variances that affect the potential success of the shot I just mentioned if the angle changes, but if I shoot a mid (like an accubond) to premium (nosler, GMX, or TTSX) bullet, then I will still definitely kill the animal even on a worse angle.

    With that said, I shoot for double lungs because I like to eat the shoulder and ham meat, but I've shot a few deer that have been slowly turning while I prepared to shoot, and my shots that started aft of the diaphram exited forward of the off shoulder. Good blood trail and a very dead animal. From what I hear about Berger bullets, I don't think they'd achieve the necessary penetration to make for a clean and quick kill on this type of quartering shot. Also, a bullet doesn't have to explode to cause massive damage. The Barnes, GMX, and Noslers (that shed more weight) create a sound wave off the leading flat surface of the bullet, which causes plenty of trauma like a flat nosed hard cast bullet does.

    The old enough or too much penetration arguement has been hashed out repeatedly, and I don't have anything original to add to past arguements. I will say that with all the bullet choices out there, I personally enjoy the piece of mind in shooting bullets that have terminal performance to spare. The game animals I hunt deserve it.

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    I shot three deer this season with the 168 grain in 7MM. I have never seen so much damage from a bullet. I am not complaining about it, but I have some front quarters without much meat on them. Their accuracy is worth it and they dropped deer in their tracks. If I lived in some awful place where I could only shoot one deer a season I might rethink things in order to recover as much meat as possible. I wasn't sure if I would want to shoot them at elk but after what I've seen I wouldn't hesitate. If Accubonds shot as well as the Bergers in my rifle, I would probably shoot animals with them instead.

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    I was curious about the VLD's but after picking up a box and reading the 2"-3" penetration them shrapnel claim on the box I put them right back on the shelf. I put the VLD's in the same category as ballistic tip bullets, they aren't really good for anything. Maybe for deer sized game but as Benjy said, if you hit the shoulder your going to destroy lots of meat. You can find pages of stories on the internet about these type of fragmenting bullets exploding on impact and getting no penetration. The last moose I shot definately had a front shoulder thicker than 2"-3". The idea behind the VLD makes sense, just don't think I'd trust them for most AK game.

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    I just returned from the Texas White Tail hunt that I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread. I was originally drawn here because the topic was .308 Berger VLD and my rifle loves them.

    I had an opportunity to hunt on a 700 acre ranch that belongs to a friend of my cousin. Last year I gave my cousin a 300WM for Christmas after a little tuning with a 180gr Nosler Ballistic Tip load. Last years January hunt on a different larger ranch was unsuccessful.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...Mas?highlight=

    There were 4 shooters on the hunt this year. Myself with a .308 Ruger loaded with 175gr VLD's, my cousin with the above mentioned Ruger 300WM loaded with 180gr Nosler Ballistic Tips, a guy that I didn't know prior to this weekend shooting a Thompson Center 243Win loaded with factory Winchester Combined Technology 95gr Ballistic Tips and a local policeman shooting his Remington model 700 270Win and factory Remington Core Lokts.

    Friday evening my cousin and I were successful out of our blind. I had an easy 70 yard shot, low in the chest broad side. I have never seen damage like I witnessed in this shot. The sternum opened up and the heart and lungs dropped out, the crazy thing is this deer ran about 120 yards into the woods. Tracking was easy as there was a significant blood trail.

    A little more than 10 minutes went by and my cousin had an opportunity on a nice doe and he let her have it a touch higher in chest broad side. There was a large exit hole in the off side rib cage, (literally larger than a fist) but no harm to the good stuff.

    Saturday morning we were blessed with two more deer and the other shooters had luck too. The 243 shooter shot high in the back breaking the spin above the shoulder blade. Even with the light 95gr BT there was significant meat damage.

    My second deer was shot at 120 yards broad side. I shot a bit higher in the chest because of the results I witnessed the day before. The bullet entered between ribs and still expanded to a huge exit hole. The deer went down after a couple of spins, no track required. My cousin wasn't so lucky, his deer turned as he shot. The Nosler Ballistic Tip hit a rib just a few inches behind the right shoulder and broke into pieces. It made three exit holes and destroyed the front left shoulder. These deer are small animals but I'm convinced they would still exit on moose or black bear with substantial damage. Certainly a poor choice for a hide hunter.

    The officer shooting the 270 took the prize for the biggest deer and had virtually zero inedible meat. His shot went between ribs on the left and exited between ribs on the right. Two pencil thin holes and a DRT deer. I'm puzzled at how a deer with a clean pass through and little bullet expansion dropped in it's tracks from a double lung shot and mine ran 100+ yards with it's heart and lungs hanging out of it's chest.

    These were small deer and of course no dangerous game in the state. I learned a valuable lesson about thin skinned bullets on this hunt. I never intend on using them again, period!!! I only gave them a try because of there accuracy and the location of the hunt. It will be premium bullets on every hunt in the future, no exceptions.

    One of my White tails below and a very nasty shot of what a Ballistic Tip does to the off side shoulder after exploding in the near side rib. If the VLD had been placed poorly it would have been nasty too.

    Graphic exit wound picture, look at your own risk...




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    Boy, that kind of wound at 308 velocities speaks volumes. I have the same reaction and made the same resolve.

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    Thank you for the detailed post Marshall! Your experience matches that of the OP and other reports that I've found since the OP's post. Even the improved Core Lokt, which I don't consider a premium bullet, is a better choice on deer IMO than the Berger and Ballistic Tip.

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    Member Matt's Avatar
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    .308 premium bullet did this a couple of months ago:



    Heart shot at about 25 yards or so. Swift bullet.

  18. #18

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    While the Berger VLD bullets do have a thin jacket and an extruded lead core and will seperate, they are accurate and deadly. The one saving grace for these bullets is that the vast majority of Bergers customers are in the lower 48 and hunt a lighter bodied animals. If I were guessing; I'ld bet that for every large animal shot with a Berger bullet 500 whitetails are taken and probably 3 times that many targets are registered. Distance and velocity come into bear when a bullet impacts it's trophy as to hydraulic meat destruction and bullet recovery or bullets weight retention. Many people don't and have no desire to hunt large game and these bullets will work for them.
    However persons who hunt a wide variety of game with the same gun and ammo/bullet will find these bullets aren't going to handle their large and dangerous game very well. For these people they should choose their bullets like their life depends on it; cause it might just do that.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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  19. #19

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    Their form and light construction appeal to me for 300+ yard shooting, and especially beyond 400. I've had lots of problems with poor bullet expansion past 400 with controlled expansion bullets. In my mind they compete with Sierra for the long shots, offering good BCs along with construction that should hold together just fine once velocities drop--- something I can't say for more heavily constructed bullets. Plains hunting yes. Brush hunting no.

  20. #20
    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    I think Marshall and I are on the same page (but please correct me if I'm wrong). The point of Marshall's post isn't so much about killing as it is about meat abuse. No question these bullets have a destructive impact, but I like controlled destruction. I also wonder about penetration through a deer's shoulder.....which I believe would be range dependent.

    BrownBear, I almost always take what you write in complete agreement, but this time I find an element to what you wrote that makes me pause. Aside from prarie dog shooting, how often does a person know ahead of time that his game will be 300+ yards away, and are you sure? I suppose a person familiar with some antelope areas might fit this category, but not having hunted antelope, I can only imagine and base it somewhat on one of my brother's experience.....but shucks, he hunts them with a bow.

    I guess if I thought 300+ yard shots were likely, I choose an NP or something with a softer nose that would still hold together very well inside 100 yards too. Mono bullets probably wouldn't be the best choice in those cases unless they shoot very well and you're shooting a speedy cartridge. I'll admit, I'm armchairing this because I've never shot a big game animal over 300 yards. I could do it, and I'm a good shot....just never needed to. So I trust and respect your experience. I just question the certainty of knowing you'll be shooting over 300 yards. I really don't like damaging what should be edible meat.

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