Berger vs Accubond, my experience

mcseal2

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I was asked on another forum about how I liked each of these bullets after using both in the field for several years. Here is my response for anyone interested.

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 Berger 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 broadside beyond 175yds ran quite a ways before dropping. I there 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 may 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.
 

GKPrice

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I too have doubts about the long range Accubond, I use Wilson in line seaters and when being seated they most often leave a slight but obvious dent/ring just behind the tip - when the Accubonds were first released there were some (undocumented but still there) reports of fragmentation, the word was that Nosler returned plenty quick to R&D and then .... Accubonds started working as advertised - I have had a few tips fall out too, wonder if that's a trend ?

Have you tried Etips ? 130/270WSM I've witnessed 6 maybe 7 adult elk kills out to 400+, DRT and an exit hole, they shoot good groups too - My '06AI shoots 150 etips very well but I haven't killed anything with them as yet -

(that Tikka t3 SL sure is a pretty rifle !)
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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That answer was written a while ago, I've taken a few more animals since then with both bullets and my views haven't changed much.

I hunt with 2 rifles now for almost all my big game hunts. I use a 264 win mag using the 140gr Berger at 2914fps for antelope, whitetail, and flatter country muley hunts. The 300WM with a 180gr Accubond at 2956fps is my choice for mountain hunts or bigger game. Doe season I might use a 243 or 25-06 with an AB or Sirocco II and I'm real picky on shot angle. Meat hunting I want a broadside shot where the smaller guns with a tough bullet through the lungs do great.

I still haven't had to use a Berger on a quick shot at a tough angle, like a jumped muley when still hunting timber. I just don't take the 264WM on those days, I'll take the lighter 300WM with the 180gr Accubond if that is a likely scenario. On a day with varied terrain, hunting strategies, and shot opportunities I'd prefer to be shooting an Accubond. It doesn't have to be through the 300WM, the 264WM, 270, or lots of others have done fine in those situations too.

If I'm in open country though the Berger from the 264 still does great. I have a ton of confidence in that rifle after all the years I've used it, and the more bucks that fall to the Berger the more faith I gain in it. Last years whitetail was an old buck past his prime, taxidermist estimated him at 7+, with a huge body. He walked into my crosshairs at 140yds and after the Berger hit he only made it 30yds further. The year prior a 5.5yr old buck fell to the same rifle below me and facing toward me at 300yds with his head down. Light was going fast so I held high on his neck, near his back, and angled the Berger down through his spine into his vitals. He never took a step and the accuracy of the Berger through that rifle made me confident I could make that shot with the smaller kill zone offered.

The 300WM and 180gr Accubond did exactly what I want from them on my muley hunt last fall also. I spotted a nice buck walking away straight from me at 315yds. It was the only decent buck I'd seen except the one my buddy got, opportunities were hard to come by that trip. I lay down over my pack and got a great rest while I waited for the buck to offer me a better angle. At 358yds he came clear of the brush and gave me a slight angle. The 180gr AB penetrated most of the deer and exited behind the far shoulder.

Hope this review is helpful to anyone considering what to use this fall.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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I too have doubts about the long range Accubond, I use Wilson in line seaters and when being seated they most often leave a slight but obvious dent/ring just behind the tip - when the Accubonds were first released there were some (undocumented but still there) reports of fragmentation, the word was that Nosler returned plenty quick to R&D and then .... Accubonds started working as advertised - I have had a few tips fall out too, wonder if that's a trend ?

Have you tried Etips ? 130/270WSM I've witnessed 6 maybe 7 adult elk kills out to 400+, DRT and an exit hole, they shoot good groups too - My '06AI shoots 150 etips very well but I haven't killed anything with them as yet -

(that Tikka t3 SL sure is a pretty rifle !)


I haven't tried them on game yet. I did buy a box of factory 180gr E tips for the 300WM on a whim when I spotted them on clearance. I shot a few at 100 and 500yds and they group right with my Accubonds at both ranges. I have that moose hunt in Alaska booked for 2018 and have thought about using them instead of the Accubond, or even taking some of both. I know either would do the job and I'm overthinking it. I considered using the AB on my first shot, then following up with a magazine of E tips for shots where my angle might not be ideal.

I like the Tikkas feel and accuracy, but just prefer a 3 position safety so much. I like to carry a RH bolt rifle on my left shoulder a lot and had push safety's like the Tikka or Remington rub into the fire position on my pack. I hunt with the 300WM I had built by Rifles Inc or the 264WM built by Flint Hills Gun Works both built off M70 classic Winchester actions. Rifles Inc makes their own stocks and could get the M70 lightened up more than most.
 

HOT ROD

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I have witnessed 3 elk shot with Berger bullets... All of these were archery range closed... The first was a 40 yard frontal... From a 7mag 168 grain... Bang flop.. Second was 60 yards trotting quartering away...300 wm 200 grain Berger.. She didn't make another 40 yards.. And she was dead... The next was 35 yard broad side 270 wsm 140 grain Berger.. Shot through the ribs. Bang flop.. Every one of the elk had pin hole entrance.. And all but one had a exit.. The frontal... The other exit wounds weren't that big.. Maybe quarter size.. Every one of them... The internal organs were mush. It looked like a grenade went of in there.... Not a whole lot of blood shot meat... For the amount of internal organ destruction either...
 

Grundy53

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I love Accubonds. That's pretty much what I load for all of my rifles. They perform well on deer and elk. Here is one after it went through both shoulders of a bull.





As far as the E-tip is concerned. I don't have much experience with them. However, my dad killed a moose with one a couple years ago. It was roughly s 350 yard shot. .300 Win Mag 180 grain E-tip. It was a one shot one kill and it died pretty quick. But after recovering the bullet I was not impressed. But it could have been a fluke.






Sent from my E6782 using Tapatalk
 

GKPrice

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I love Accubonds. That's pretty much what I load for all of my rifles. They perform well on deer and elk. Here is one after it went through both shoulders of a bull.





As far as the E-tip is concerned. I don't have much experience with them. However, my dad killed a moose with one a couple years ago. It was roughly s 350 yard shot. .300 Win Mag 180 grain E-tip. It was a one shot one kill and it died pretty quick. But after recovering the bullet I was not impressed. But it could have been a fluke.






Sent from my E6782 using Tapatalk

I think that's pretty much what to expect from an etip .... from the dead animal - there's no lead so the core will look like that every time
 

Grundy53

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I just figured it would expand a little more. The picture is a little deceiving. The tip barely expanded at all.

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mcseal2

mcseal2

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I haven't recovered many Accubonds over the years. If I can get broadside shots that's what I look for and I don't recover Accubonds very often on broadside shots. I had a 180gr 30 cal Ballistic tip at 3250fps not exit on a 150yd broadside whitetail not long before the AB came out. I got the deer so the bullet did it's job. It was a running buck and the bullet clipped a rib going in, the buck ran about another 100yds before dropping. His vitals were wrecked. It worked but it wasn't what I was looking for in terminal performance so when the AB came out I made the switch.

I have recovered Accubonds from deer and elk that look just like the pictures above. I have recovered them from the round bale behind my 100yd target, and from the rocky hillside behind my gong that look like that too. All are around 70% on weight retention.

I don't recover many from deer. One was recovered from my 200" muley I shot at 180yds. He was quartering away hard and in an area where I didn't have long to shoot. He would have been in a maze of deep cuts in another 20yds and was walking away. I took him right in front of the left hip with the 264WM and found the bullet under the hide in the neck on the opposite side. I was prone over my pack and knew I could humanely dispatch him with that shot. He ran about 15yds and dropped.

Another recovered from a buck was a finishing shot on a wounded buck. A hunter up the mountain from us shot at a smaller 4x4 buck that was below us. We didn't know anyone was around until after the shot. He emptied his gun at the buck as my friend made his way up to him, he was only 150yds or so above us. My friend told him the buck was hit and he tried to get another round into the wounded buck. The buck's back leg was broke and flopping between the knee and hoof. I got prone over my pack, ranged, and was watching through my scope waiting for orders from my friend. When the other hunter told him to have me shoot, he was out of bullets he could find, I dumped him at a similar angle but with more elevation and the bullet entered the top of the hip and ended up under the hide in his brisket at I think around 400yds. That was a 140gr AB from a 270WSM. The buck would have been in dark timber with no blood trail if he'd have gone much further, left to a lingering demise. That recovered bullet had a smaller mushroom than the pic due to the longer range, but not much smaller. It broke the pelvis/femur joint on entry. The other hunter was very thankful for our help, we helped him pack the buck out, and learned a valuable lesson. It was his first western hunt and he thought he would have to drag the buck out, had no idea what quartering was.
 

GKPrice

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I haven't recovered many Accubonds over the years. If I can get broadside shots that's what I look for and I don't recover Accubonds very often on broadside shots. I had a 180gr 30 cal Ballistic tip at 3250fps not exit on a 150yd broadside whitetail not long before the AB came out. I got the deer so the bullet did it's job. It was a running buck and the bullet clipped a rib going in, the buck ran about another 100yds before dropping. His vitals were wrecked. It worked but it wasn't what I was looking for in terminal performance so when the AB came out I made the switch.

I have recovered Accubonds from deer and elk that look just like the pictures above. I have recovered them from the round bale behind my 100yd target, and from the rocky hillside behind my gong that look like that too. All are around 70% on weight retention.

I don't recover many from deer. One was recovered from my 200" muley I shot at 180yds. He was quartering away hard and in an area where I didn't have long to shoot. He would have been in a maze of deep cuts in another 20yds and was walking away. I took him right in front of the left hip with the 264WM and found the bullet under the hide in the neck on the opposite side. I was prone over my pack and knew I could humanely dispatch him with that shot. He ran about 15yds and dropped.

Another recovered from a buck was a finishing shot on a wounded buck. A hunter up the mountain from us shot at a smaller 4x4 buck that was below us. We didn't know anyone was around until after the shot. He emptied his gun at the buck as my friend made his way up to him, he was only 150yds or so above us. My friend told him the buck was hit and he tried to get another round into the wounded buck. The buck's back leg was broke and flopping between the knee and hoof. I got prone over my pack, ranged, and was watching through my scope waiting for orders from my friend. When the other hunter told him to have me shoot, he was out of bullets he could find, I dumped him at a similar angle but with more elevation and the bullet entered the top of the hip and ended up under the hide in his brisket at I think around 400yds. That was a 140gr AB from a 270WSM. The buck would have been in dark timber with no blood trail if he'd have gone much further, left to a lingering demise. That recovered bullet had a smaller mushroom than the pic due to the longer range, but not much smaller. It broke the pelvis/femur joint on entry. The other hunter was very thankful for our help, we helped him pack the buck out, and learned a valuable lesson. It was his first western hunt and he thought he would have to drag the buck out, had no idea what quartering was.

good stories - don't want to wander from the thread, but... in the late 80's/early90's pre-premium bullets that didn't cost $2 a piece I had a 7mm/300 Win Mag built by a good friend/ gunsmith, I liked the speed so wanted all the aerodynamics I could get to used 150 Bal Tips, it was fast and accurate, I had a good string of kills on deer and elk going until a 5 point at somewhere in the 500 yards range took off at the hit, I tracked him for a long long ways up the canyon and another hunter got him - it turned out to be a "good" hit and bad bullet performance - that made a lasting impression on me ....
 

doverpack12

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I think that's pretty much what to expect from an etip .... from the dead animal - there's no lead so the core will look like that every time

E tips and mono bullets in general need speed to perform. At 350 the 180 e tip is probably at around the edge of its performance envelope. Best way to use them is to drop weight and push them hard. I used to shoot 180 accubonds in 30-06 the. Tried e tips and figured out 150s were the ticket for performance. I would think 165 e tip out of 300 WM would be a little better match and perform to 400+. My friend shoots the 180 out of 30-378 and it performs very well in that performance envelope.
 

GKPrice

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E tips and mono bullets in general need speed to perform. At 350 the 180 e tip is probably at around the edge of its performance envelope. Best way to use them is to drop weight and push them hard. I used to shoot 180 accubonds in 30-06 the. Tried e tips and figured out 150s were the ticket for performance. I would think 165 e tip out of 300 WM would be a little better match and perform to 400+. My friend shoots the 180 out of 30-378 and it performs very well in that performance envelope.

ya might want to check Nosler's description for Etip performance parameters ......
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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Nosler shows both as rated down to 1800fps, but looking at the pics they show the Accubond shows considerably more expansion at 1800fps than the E tip. I've heard Barnes fans say to use a lighter one pushed harder too. I think either will work fine put in the right spot, differences are pretty minimal.
 

GKPrice

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when compared to like weighted Accubonds the etip is longer, meaning a .30/165 etip is nearly as long as a .30/180 Accubond - etips are "gilding metal" rather than copper but I'm inclined to think the bearing surfaces of each would be a consideration as well - I'm going to try 150 etips in my '06 AI on elk to see for myself - IMR 4166 enduron has been showing me good accuracy results
 

doverpack12

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Gilding metal is the same as the jacket on the accubond or other nosler bullets from what I have found.
 

Molon Labe

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...I use Wilson in line seaters and when being seated they most often leave a slight but obvious dent/ring just behind the tip...

This could be neck tension? But I am guessing if you are using Wilson chamber dies...then you probably already trouble shot for this and that is not the issue. I just love the feel you get with wilsons/arbor setup.
Unless it is only on the accubond...then you may need a VLD seater stem? Not sure on the ogive on those accubonds
I don't use accubonds but I did have a small issue with my 6.5x284 in my Wilson chamber die using berger VLDs...solved with a different stem.
 

GKPrice

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Gilding metal is the same as the jacket on the accubond or other nosler bullets from what I have found.

Yes, realize that - I was merely stating that it's not "copper", most all gilding metals have been strenuously vetted to eliminate fouling & reduce friction as much as possible
 
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