Berger Classic Hunter Results

drakehammer

Beginner
May 23, 2015
163
0
Hey folks been a little while since Ive posted here. I love my 7mm08s. For the last 6 years or so, until this year, I have used the Nosler 120gr BT with RL-15 running a spicy 3100+ fps as my go to whitetail load in all of my 7mm08s. It just plain shoots great. My daughter and I have taken many deer with this combination, none of which were small, and all were between 35-110 yards. Every deer dropped at the shot and never took another step. The results are really spectacular in this respect. However, in well over a dozen nice whitetail bucks during this time, we have never had an exit wound.

In my pursuit to improve on what would otherwise be considered perfection, I decided to try the opposite end of the spectrum and loaded 168gr Berger Classic Hunters this year. I wanted to see the results for myself. (I plan to do the same next year with 120gr Barnes TTSXs.) I found a load using a stiff charge of RL-19 that shoots reasonably well...nothing to write home about. I mention this only to say my goal was to get the velocity up over 2600 fps as much as possible. No pressure signs. Prior to killing with it, my expectations were to see the devastating hydrostatic shock and internal devastation as advertised on the intergoogle. All the wound pics I’ve seen have been pretty nasty.

So far this season, my daughter and I have taken 4 really nice bucks with this 168gr Berger CH/7mm08 combo. My first buck was a severely quartering away shot at 100 yards. The buck had my widest rack to date, a tall 21” wide 7 point. I took the only shot presented to me. I put the bullet about 3/4 way back on the ribcage headed to the off side shoulder. The deer dropped in his tracks, kicked for a few sevonds, drug himself about 5 yards and expired within 20-30 seconds. Upon inspection, the POI matched the POA and there was a tiny exit hole 1/4 way up the ribcage on the opposite side. Dark red blood out the exit hole assumed to be liver destruction. Bright red blood out of the mouth and nose from lungs. Based on this I assume the bullet came apart and destroyed the internals and the exit wound was most likely shrapnel. I don’t know for sure because I took the deer to the processor.

The second and third bucks I shot on two different hunts with the Berger 168gr CH were both quartering slightly toward me at 85 yards. The shots were essentially identical with identical results. Wide open shots with no rush. Just wasn’t interested in risking a missed neck shot with that much bone in the air. Both deer were head down grazing quartering to me. Both times I put the crosshairs high on the shoulder expecting a bang flop. Not sure what happened on the first buck but the bullet hit a little farther back than I wanted. The deer ran out of sight. I got down from my stand to find a massive bright red blood trail from POI to where he piled up about 50 yards away. Upon inspection I found a baseball size exit hole on the offside about mid-ribcage but no gut shot. On the other deer, the bullet hit top forward tip of the shoulder blade. The deer ran 40 yards with the same massive blood trail before he piled up. Upon inspection I found a golf ball sized exit hole about mid ribcage with a little gut shot.

Finally, my daughter shot a nice 9 point buck the night before last at about 50 yards. He was facing nearly head on toward her and she shot him nearly square in the chest. The bullet slipped in about 1 inch off center between the shoulder blade and midpoint of the chest. The buck ran and didn’t bleed very well for the first 25 yards or so. Then the bright red bleeding really turned on and we found him piled up about 25 yards later. I found a very small exit wound well back on the offside ribcage and smelled a bit of gut. Shrapnel or whole bullet IDK.

So those are our 168gr Berger Classic Hunter results out of the 7mm08s. I have mixed thoughts on this combo. First to appease everyone, yes we easily recovered every deer so every shot was a booming success story. But 3 of 4 runners is not what I’m not used to. Not a single bang flop. Out of all the deer I have killed over the last 40 years, all have been DRT except for 3 prior to this year’s experiment, and most had fair to giant exit wounds. So I don’t think I witnessed much of the hydrostatic shock phenomenon that Berger claims, but yes I accomplished part of what I set out to see. I’m pleased with the blood trails, I’m pretty sure most of those were made from bleeding out of the mouth and nose, which might be exactly the same if I ever got a runner with the 120gr NBTs. But who knows. May be just as many questions now as there were before. Maybe these heavy-for-cartridge 168gr Berger CHs need more velocity and would be better suited to my 7 Rem Mag or 7 STW. Terminal ballistics are a complex subject. Just rambling on the keyboard.



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FOTIS

Range Officer
Staff member
Oct 30, 2004
23,009
48
I have seen then work nicely and fail terribly. The failures were from high-velocity mags though.
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,866
81
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I shot this cow caribou with the berger classic hunter 168gr @ 2630fps from my 16” barreled 308.

The shot was at 311 yards. I had crawled up a small rise and was shooting slightly downhill. The caribou was bedded laying quartering away. Bullet entered high, mid rib cage on the right side and exited just in front of the left shoulder. Destroying the liver, lungs, and top of the heart.

At the shot the cow thrashed around in a semi circle of about 10-12 feet. When quartering it up I found this small chunk of bullet core in the left shoulder area.

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Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,816
144
I think that you are correct in that your velocity is a little lower with the 168 gr bullet, and you do not get quite the same violent expansion as you would from a faster cartridge.

I have only taken one animal with a 140 gr Berger from a 6.5x55; a caribou cow at over 100 yards. Ran almost 200 yards before piling up, and must have gone about 50 before the blood trail started. With the blood trail left on the snow, I was surprised she made it so far. One lung was destroyed (hadn't realized that she was quartering away as much as she was at the shot. While I have trailed a fair number of animals over the years, shot with other bullets (cup and core, bonded and Barnes), this was the longest tracking job I have had. Only found bits of shrapnel inside her. Believe that the largest chunk had deflected and exited behind the ribcage and was source of blood trail. To be honest; not overly impressed. May not use on game again. But to be fair, one experience is not a great source of info to make comparisons with.

Guess I just love the AccuBond and its stellar performance record in all calibers that I have used it in to date!
 

JD338

Range Officer
Staff member
Nov 4, 2004
21,487
490
You had a pretty good run with the 120 gr BT, tough to top that. If you want to try something new, look at the 150 gr ABLR. I've taken several deer with this bullet out of my 280 AI at 3100 fps and every one of them have dropped in their tracks. I have always had an exit wound, about the size of a dime.

JD338
 

drakehammer

Beginner
May 23, 2015
163
0
JD338":3usjg9hc said:
look at the 150 gr ABLR.

Thats what I’ve been looking for, the bang flop with an exit wound just in case one doesn’t go down immediately. I happen to have 300 150gr ABLRs earmarked for my 7-08s. I also have 300 150gr ABLRs that I just coated with Danzac earmarked for my 7 STW. Now to figure out how to make them shoot.


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drakehammer

Beginner
May 23, 2015
163
0
Well added the final chapter to the 168 gr Berger Classic Hunter / 7mm08 combo. Three minutes til end of deer season this past Sunday, I punched a good doe square in the chest facing essentially head on toward me at about 100 yards. Thought the doe dropped in its tracks where it was standing in the middle of a gas line. There’s some waist high weed patches on the gas line so I wasn’t concerned that I couldn’t see the doe on the ground from my stand. Could not find a speck of blood anywhere. Not even any distinguishable ground sign where she had been standing when I shot. I searched for 1 1/2 hours, making several parallel passes up and down the gas line. I swept back and forth to 50 yards deep into the adjacent hardwoods. Nothing. Not a single sign. My Panther Vision 1000 lumen flashlight was about to crap the bed anyway (another story of its own) so I stopped the search and chalked it up to a clean miss or possibly interference from an unnoticed branch. After all, it was near dark when I shot. If she hadn’t been in the gas line where she contrasted with the lighter colored ground, I may have never been able to shoot in the first place.

This bothered me all evening. I clearly remember the sight picture when the Jewell broke. She was facing me and the crosshairs were center mass. Made that shot bang-flop an untold number of times. I really never was fully convinced that I had missed. I wasn’t able to get back out til about 1 pm the following day, but I needed to know.

So I went back to search one more time. I surveyed the gas line and hardwoods to where I had stopped 50 yards into the woods the night before. Nothing. Continued another 25 yards or so and there she was... piled up another 50 yards away close to the transition to some short pines. The way she laid on her right side I couldn’t see a wound so I rolled her over. I was shocked. There was a large exit hole behind her shoulder and her shoulder was badly broken. I looked around her and was unable to backtrack the blood trail more than 10 yards. I don’t get it.

The temps had dropped to near freezing the night before and a buddy wanted to salvage what meat he could. So he met me there with a deer cart and he took the deer home to skin right away. He sent me the attached pictures. Turns out the bullet hit exactly where I had intended, just barely left of center. The damage was massive around the shoulder area. But the entire body cavity was bloodshot, indicating shrapnel made it nearly to the backend as well. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves. How this doe took a single step just baffles me.

Well thats the end of my experiment with that combo. Three of four big bucks and a big doe bounced. Only one big buck dropped at the shot. All recovered in short order except the doe. Personally I’m not very pleased. Why didn’t the doe leave a blood trail? Maybe my expectations are unrealistic. I’m looking for the bang flops with massive exit wounds that I used to get for over 30 years using my 30-06 with Fed Prem Nosler partitions and Rem bronze points. I don’t get it. I guess I’ll try the 140 Accubonds or NPTs next season. Kind of lost right now.
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Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,816
144
Animals' character and propensity of clinging to life vary as differently animal to animal as do the personalities and heart of people. One may suffer minor wounds and expire quickly while others can take serious wounds and go quite a ways before expiring. You never know which is going to occur with an individual animal.

I know that I am not sold on Bergers for hunting. I'll stick with what I know works and is tried and true in my rifles tested to date.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it...keep it simple...pick your cliche...
I know, that's taking the fun out of experimenting to find that perfect load! LOL
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
34,708
785
Massive damage, for sure. However, little to indicate either CV shock or damage to spine, so difficult to imagine that the shot compelled an immediate collapse. Like Gil, I'm uncomfortable with frangible bullets even on deer-sized game. I like more integrity in the bullet.
 

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,482
29
I think you'll get better results with Amax's or ELD-M's. I've shot a lot of stuff with Bergers and Amax's. I prefer the performance of the Amax's.
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,404
574
Time to return to past bullets/loads which have produced excellent results for you?

Chalk this up to an effort that just didn't work out well?

My favorite bullet for deer sized game is the Nosler Ballistic Tip. It combines excellent accuracy, rapid expansion and yet the heavy base jacket seems to help it hold together well. We've had terrific success with:

6mm Rem/95 gr Ballistic Tip
25-06/115 gr Ballistic Tip
308/125 Ballistic Tip (have not seen exit wounds on deer with this, but otherwise great)
308/165 Ballistic Tip (essentially a hunting version of my old 168 gr target load)
30-06/165 Ballistic Tip (deer, antelope, black bear and elk)

Those combos have worked for our friends, my son, and I, with reliable, excellent results. I think the Berger just isn't giving you the performance you seek, and agree with your decision to change to something else.

I think you noted years of success with a 30-06 and Nosler Partitions... (y) A classic combo with a wonderful success record... And if you're looking for something with a little less recoil, build a Nosler Partition load with similar velocity, for your 7mm-08?

Thanks for sharing your results!

Guy
 

drakehammer

Beginner
May 23, 2015
163
0
I appreciate the input and comments guys. It was an incredible season. Always fun trying something new but it makes me a bit squirrely at times.


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nomosendero

Handloader
Apr 13, 2006
536
0
I have shot a lot of animals with the Ballistic Tips, so far very pleased.
I started out with the old, softer BT in 30-06 but I used a 180BT and it's SD helped, nasty sometimes but worked. I use the new 180 now in my 300WM, tougher but expands also, great bullet!

My shorty 308 loves the 168BT at the range, we shall see in the field Lord willing. I expect good things.

I guess drakehammer is a bullet & rifle looney, so am I & as such I try different bullets too. I am not sure you can paint all of the Bergers with the same brush. The most cosistant that I have heard about is the 215 Hybrid in the 300WM and it seems most have done well with the 6.5 140VLD and the 115 in 25 cal. Some not so much.
 

Brinky72

Beginner
Jan 25, 2019
155
0
Guy Miner":2ersqr27 said:
Time to return to past bullets/loads which have produced excellent results for you?

Chalk this up to an effort that just didn't work out well?

My favorite bullet for deer sized game is the Nosler Ballistic Tip. It combines excellent accuracy, rapid expansion and yet the heavy base jacket seems to help it hold together well. We've had terrific success with:

6mm Rem/95 gr Ballistic Tip
25-06/115 gr Ballistic Tip
308/125 Ballistic Tip (have not seen exit wounds on deer with this, but otherwise great)
308/165 Ballistic Tip (essentially a hunting version of my old 168 gr target load)
30-06/165 Ballistic Tip (deer, antelope, black bear and elk)

Those combos have worked for our friends, my son, and I, with reliable, excellent results. I think the Berger just isn't giving you the performance you seek, and agree with your decision to change to something else.

I think you noted years of success with a 30-06 and Nosler Partitions... (y) A classic combo with a wonderful success record... And if you're looking for something with a little less recoil, build a Nosler Partition load with similar velocity, for your 7mm-08?

Thanks for sharing your results!

Guy


I agree. I had a beautiful Rem 700 CDL 7mm 08 and my favorite load was a 145 Speer BTSP with a full charge of W760 and a CCI 250. Sold to a guy for his kid like a fool. At least the kid got a hell of a rifle. It would put three in one hole and I never had a deer take a step. Probably a dozen or so. If I were doing a 7-08 again I’d probably load a 140 or 150 BT or Partition. Not a big fan of the newer hunting bullets that are converted target bullets.
 

FOTIS

Range Officer
Staff member
Oct 30, 2004
23,009
48
I have taken a couple of animals with Bergers. Not a fan.
 

drakehammer

Beginner
May 23, 2015
163
0
Brinky72":15yiwsd3 said:
Guy Miner":15yiwsd3 said:
Time to return to past bullets/loads which have produced excellent results for you?

Chalk this up to an effort that just didn't work out well?

My favorite bullet for deer sized game is the Nosler Ballistic Tip. It combines excellent accuracy, rapid expansion and yet the heavy base jacket seems to help it hold together well. We've had terrific success with:

6mm Rem/95 gr Ballistic Tip
25-06/115 gr Ballistic Tip
308/125 Ballistic Tip (have not seen exit wounds on deer with this, but otherwise great)
308/165 Ballistic Tip (essentially a hunting version of my old 168 gr target load)
30-06/165 Ballistic Tip (deer, antelope, black bear and elk)

Those combos have worked for our friends, my son, and I, with reliable, excellent results. I think the Berger just isn't giving you the performance you seek, and agree with your decision to change to something else.

I think you noted years of success with a 30-06 and Nosler Partitions... (y) A classic combo with a wonderful success record... And if you're looking for something with a little less recoil, build a Nosler Partition load with similar velocity, for your 7mm-08?

Thanks for sharing your results!

Guy


I agree. I had a beautiful Rem 700 CDL 7mm 08 and my favorite load was a 145 Speer BTSP with a full charge of W760 and a CCI 250.
. That bullet shot great and killed everything it touched out of my daughter’s Savage 7mm-08 in the beginning as well. No steps were taken.


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