Berger vs Accubond, my experience


Nov 1, 2010
I was asked on the 2016 pics thread how I liked each by now, figured I'd reply here rather than hi-jack that thread.

I guess I'd say I love how the AccuBond performs on game. I like how fast it opens and starts making a big wound channel, and how it holds together and penetrates. I often shoot coyotes with my big game guns, and like how that quick opening shocks and drops them. It might not penetrate like a Partition or copper bullet because it makes such a big mushroom and holds so much of it together, but it still gets pretty deep. Everyone we have found has retained over 60%, usually right about 70% of it's weight. I don't recommend expecting extreme penetration on tough angles with the AccuBond when using a smaller lighter bullet on a bigger critter. I don't recommend taking those shots with anything on the light end for the critter your hunting though, matched properly to the game it does an excellent job. I wish they made one in a 55 or 60gr 22 caliber for predators. I'd personally rather deal with a small exit wound consistently than have a giant one from a varmint bullet on bobcat on occasion. I've used accubonds in every caliber they make from .243 to .308 on critters from coyotes to elk and had consistent excellent terminal performance. I've seen a 110gr .257 AccuBond hold together on deer shot at 3500fps from a 257 Weatherby inside 100yds, and had two 140gr accubonds from a 270 expand and exit an elk shot at 614yds. Good bullet.

My relationship with the Berger is a love/hate one. I will start by saying I've never seen one fail, no big game animal I've shot with a Berger has gone far. Most traveled less than 30yds if they move at all. The bullet has done exactly what it's advertised to do, penetrate 2-3" and blow up. We took a few deer with the 95gr Berger in my 243. I got to be a field tester for them when they introduced the 87gr 6mm bullet also. We used my 243 with that bullet to take 3 deer during the test and they all went right down. Two of the deer shot by friends wives during the 87gr Berger test were hit to far back and both collapsed in their tracks due to massive internal damage. I don't trust it much on tough shot angles because none of the 243 bullets we tried exited, and they leave a tiny entrance. There sometimes isn't any blood trail if a Berger doesn't exit, the fat can seal the entry hole. I remember hauling a doe home on the flatbed with the entrance wound on the bottom side that never left more than a couple drops of blood on the truck over a 10 mile trip. When we opened her up her lungs looked like they'd been through a blender. That worries me on a bad shot, but they do so much internal damage I've never seen a blood trail be needed. I also don't like it on coyotes because it penetrates 2-3" before opening. When shooting the 95gr Berger and also when testing the 87gr bullet in 6mm all the coyotes I shot beyond 175yds ran quite a ways before dropping. I think that is to much penetration before expansion on smaller animals. Deer are thicker and the bullet isn't so close to exiting before expansion occurs like on a coyote. I can't fault Berger since it's a big game bullet, but it's not as versatile as say a 90gr AccuBond that will work on either.

I shoot Accubonds in all my big game rifles except my 264 win mag. The reason I feed the 264WM Bergers now is I find it easier to make hits on my 10" gong past 450yds with the Berger. I shot 140gr Accubonds from my 264 in the past and shot distance quite a bit. I am shooting as consistently at 600yds with the Bergers as I was at 450yds with the Accubonds. My new 300WM also seems to start having misses past 500yds on occasion. Shooting paper shows tighter groups for the Bergers out there too. The 264 is my flatter country plains gun where shots might be long, winds howling, or conditions otherwise suck. I hunt mainly deer and antelope with it too, smaller targets than elk, and want all the accuracy I can get. I think they give about as much margin for error as I can have also for long range deer and antelope. They will break a shoulder without "splashing" on it like a varmint bullet and expand inside. Their violent expansion once inside makes a quicker kill on a hit to far back as well. From the 264 on broadside shots they usually exit too, still giving a blood trail if the animal does move. I haven't made any bad hits with that rifle/bullet yet but feel like it gives me the best margin for error if it happens someday.

Kept within normal hunting ranges I'd take the AccuBond anytime. If I'm trying to stretch things the Berger has it's place. I heard such mixed reviews on the long range AccuBond I haven't tried it yet, I'm going to give Nosler a while to perfect it. If it flies like a Berger and hits like an AccuBond it will be my ideal bullet.
I have had great results with the AccuBond. Always wanted to try the Berger, but if it didn't drop on the spot and didn't exit and no blood trail would be very bad in these southern pine thickets to find the animal. That's the only thing that scares me away from them.

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I've shot lots of animals, including probably a dozen elk with Amax's, Berger, and Matrix bullets, and the furthest any of them went was about 10yds. My dad clipped the belly on a cow elk with a Amax and I had to chase it down and finish it. It took a step up the hill and away from us when he shot and that is why the shot went where it did. It went about 3-400yds before I caught up with it. Honestly with a tougher bullet it probably wouldn't have done as much damage with such a marginal hit.

If I was going after moose/caribou/sheep/etc in grizzly country I think I'd choose a tougher bullet or have a tougher bullet as a back up but anything in the lower 48 can easily be killed with VLD type bullets.
Thanks everyone. Both have done their job for me, figured I could share my experiences and thoughts.
Thanks for sharing your experience with the two bullets and giving a fair assessment of them both. AccuBond's are probably my favourite bullet but I really like to try all sorts of different stuff. If all goes according to plan a 170 gr Berger from my 270 Win will meet a black bear in a few months time. Will work up a load when it warms up and give them a try, have never shot a Berger before and figured it was time.
My experience with Berger VLD hunting: I must shoot the deer many times to get it to fall down.

MY experience with Accubonds: I only have to shoot the animal once to get it to fall down, but it is not dead, and I have to cut it's throat.

My experience with Nos Bal Tips: The deer falls down dead.
I thoroughly concur with your analysis with one exception. I have seen the bergers fail. Mule deer 300 yards from 7mm Rem mag. 168 Berger shoulder shot. Totally blew up and failed to penetrate to the shoulder. A couple of more bullets put him down. Again an example of one. I guess that can happen with anything.
Great review. Only AccuBond recovered from game so far (exited on all) was a mule deer buck I shot a few years ago with a 165 gr. in my 30-06. At about 200 yards he was quartering away pretty sharply. I hit him at the back of the ribs on the left side breaking a couple as the bullet went in. It continued on up through the lungs and into the right shoulder breaking it. The bullet stopped just inside the hide on the right shoulder. Pretty impressive performance.

You probably remember but the 140 gr. AccuBond in my 280AI is what I used on my grizzly bear last fall at 158 yards. Broadside shot hit him tight behind the right shoulder and the bullet exited out the left side. He spun 180 degrees into the shot, did two somersaults and was dead. Never moved after that. Pretty great performance. My bear squared right at about 7 1/2' so he was to a midget either especially for an arctic grizzly bear.

I really like the Accubonds!
Thank you for the review. Love Accubonds. Haven’t tried Berger’s yet, but get the itch occasionally.

Like Cleveland48, we hunt thick stuff and it needs to be DRT the a blood trail.
I did help with crop damage deer. I used 243 85gn SGK HPBT. Specifically the objective was DRT, no exit wounds.
It worked. I was driving it. Not quite 3400fps from a 243win.(6 kills, 5 no exit wound, lost 1 to a shoulder shot that probably splashed). Was a fun couple weeks.

I could see a Berger VLD being a great tool in the arsenal.

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Revisiting a very old thread, my thoughts after a few more years have not changed to much.

I still use Bergers in my 264 win mag. They still have not failed for me. I shot a really good 4x7 whitetail buck at 400 yards with one last season. I still like them from that rifle for deer or antelope.

I've gone to the 180gr E tips in my 300 win mag. I pretty much use it for elk or Alaska, with an occasional use for a muley. The E tips have performed excellent for me as well at ranges from very close to 400 yards on Sitka blacktail, caribou, moose, elk, and deer. I had the chance to buy Nosler ammo with this bullet for $40/box a while back. It was quite a bit cheaper than AccuBond ammo at the time. After testing it I bought enough to probably last me as long as I can climb mountains or walk tundra. Both my rifle and my buddy's rifle I go on these hunts with shoot it really well. It's nice using the same ammo if something goes wrong.

My Sako 243 still shoots Accubonds and they continue to perform excellent as always.
The AccuBond is my favorite big game bullet, having personally taken one aoudad and many mule deer and elk with it, I believe its the best for my tastes. I’ve recovered three bullets only, each weighing 65-70% of original weight. I’ve not personally lost nor witnessed anyone lose an animal when it was shot with an AccuBond bullet.

The Berger seems to do very well with broadside lung shots. Keeping to those, I’ve not seen it fail. Anytime someone has attempted a quartering shot, shoulder/high shoulder shot or neck/spine shot (which luckily have been rare occasions) we have had issues. One of our guides reported that his client shot a mule deer buck a total of 7 times at no time exceeding 200 yards distance. He kept trying shoulder/high shoulder and neck shots, failing miserably. The longer this fiasco went on, the poorer his placement. One could argue that it was a new rifle and bullet combo that the shooter was unfamiliar with. Fair enough. But Bergers are not a heavy bone bullet. They need to go into the ribs, IMHO.
I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
I've shot way north of 100 game animals with Accubonds and never lost an animal or had a failure.
Proper shot placement with predictable on game performance puts game down.

I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
I've shot way north of 100 game animals with Accubonds and never lost an animal or had a failure.
Proper shot placement with predictable on game performance puts game down.

Quite right!
Ive read quite a bit of Mcseals stuff and have always found it very informative and well written. Always like it when he shows up. I think it goes back 10 years when one of our guys, very competent to 800 yards, well practiced and few have killed more elk, showed up with Bergers in his 7mag. He proceeded to shoot a bull right on the shoulder joint on the second or third day. The bull had turned slightly just as he tapped the trigger. Bull fell down and jumped back up, second shot was at the last rib, bullet blew up at about the diaphragm. Turned the bull a little more and the last shot went in about a third the way up right behind the shoulder. It was over then. Thankfully my friend is lightning fast and a super shot. That bull didn’t go more than 30 feet but he could have staggered another 1000 down the mountain. As it was he was still 1500 feet below and about .6 miles from the road. By comparison I’ve busted both shoulders on a bull with 250 grain Accubonds at 30 yards and at 400 yards. Not sure at this writing how many elk I’ve shot with Accubonds, more than 10 but they’ve all died right there. 46 with accubonds and partitions and very few needed more than one shot.
With deer/antelope I like fast expanding, typically the Ballistic tips. Elk I plan on shooting behind the shoulder but expect they will do something like take a step or lean just as I’ve focused on the crosshair and started pressing the trigger.