The Winchester Deer Season XP is the company's first line of ammo specifically designed for hunting whitetail deer.
After conducing a survey of what deer hunters wanted with their hunting ammo, Winchester decided to start working on a new line of ammunition with the goal of designing the best possible deer hunting bullet. There's certainly no shortage of centerfire rifle ammunition that will reliably kill deer, the folks at Winchester still recognized that there was plenty of room for improvement.
They unveiled the resulting product in 2015: the Winchester Deer Season XP.
Whitetail deer are far and away the most popular big-game species hunted in the United States. Several years ago, popular deer hunting ammo like Remington Core-Lokt and Winchester's own Super-X Power Point essentially owned the market. The market is gigantic, even if there is a lot of competition within it.
So what characteristics did deer hunters value most with their hunting ammo?
First, they wanted to minimize the distance a deer will run after the shot. Dropping a deer in its tracks would be ideal, but failing that, they wanted the shortest tracking job possible.
For that reason, Winchester prioritized rapid expansion in order to facilitate energy transfer and produce a large wound channel. However, even though rapid expansion was important, they still needed the bullet to penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals and exit the animal from most shooting angles.
Indeed, an exit wound increases the odds that a wounded deer leaves an easy-to-follow blood trail in the event the animal doesn't drop in its tracks.
Second, hunters wanted their ammo to be accurate and have a high-enough ballistic coefficient that it'd still have good downrange performance at longer range.
Finally, they also wanted a low price point for the new line of ammunition to compete with the other popular, reasonably priced loads on the market for deer hunters.
So how did the folks at Winchester go about accomplishing all those tasks?
First off, Deer Season XP ammo features a large-diameter polymer tip. By making the tip longer, thus giving it a larger diameter where the metal core and jacket meet the tip, the bullet has a larger impact surface. This creates more trauma, facilitates energy transfer, and results in larger wound cavities.
The polymer tip also improves the ballistics of the bullet. This results in a flatter trajectory and good terminal performance at long range.
Deer Season XP ammunition also has a lead core with a tapered jacket that increases in thickness from tip to base. The gradually thickening jacket helps prevent the bullet from completely disintegrating. This helps ensure the core will produce the longest possible wound channel and hopefully exit the deer.
While having a lead core does help keep costs down, it also means Winchester Deer Season XP ammo can't be used for big-game hunting in states like California that require lead-free ammunition.
Fortunately, Winchester does make a similar line of ammo for hunters who want or need to use lead-free bullets: the Copper Impact XP.
Winchester currently produces Deer Season XP ammo for the following calibers: .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, 7mm-08 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Blackout, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Win Mag, .300 WSM, 7.62x39mm, .350 Legend, and .450 Bushmaster.
Copper Impact XP ammo is currently available in .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 WSM, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and 300 WSM.
While Winchester Deer Season XP ammunition is designed specifically for hunting whitetail deer, it will also work extremely well on other similarly sized animals like mule deer, blacktail deer, pronghorn, javelina, and feral hogs.
The fact that the Extreme Point has a larger-than-normal polymer tip means that bullet weight is on the lighter side for each respective cartridge. Fortunately, deer aren't particularly large or heavy-boned animals, but those lightweight, rapidly expanding bullets aren't ideal for deep penetration on really big game.
For those reasons, the Deer Season XP isn't the best choice for hunting large, tough animals like elk or moose. While it's certainly capable of ethically taking down really big animals under certain conditions, in all fairness, the bullet isn't designed for those tasks.
All that being said, hunters have been using the Winchester Deer Season XP for several years now with great success on deer and deer-sized game. Reports from the field indicate that Winchester was successful in achieving the goals they had when designing it.
Deer Season XP ammo has plenty of knockdown power, it's accurate, and it costs about the same as the other popular deer hunting ammo options out there.
So, if you're looking for some great performing deer hunting ammo that's reasonably priced and is also available in some of the most popular deer hunting calibers, the Deer Season XP line of ammo is certainly worth considering.