After surveying what deer hunters wanted with their hunting ammo, Winchester started working on a new line of ammunition to design the best possible deer hunting bullet. There's no shortage of centerfire rifle ammunition that will reliably kill deer. However, the folks at Winchester still recognized that there was 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 Super-X PowerPoint owned the market. The market is gigantic, even if there is a lot of competition. So what characteristics did deer hunters value most with their hunting ammo?
First, they wanted to minimize the distance a deer would 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 to facilitate energy transfer and produce a large wound channel. However, even though the rapid expansion was necessary, 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 if the animal doesn't drop in its tracks.
Second, hunters wanted their ammo to be accurate and have a high-enough ballistic coefficient. In other words, they wanted good downrange performance at a more extended range. They also wanted a low price point for the new line of ammunition to compete with the other popular, reasonably priced loads for deer hunters.
So how did the folks at Winchester go about accomplishing all those tasks?
Winchester Deer Season XP Ammo Specs
First off, Deer Season XP ammo features a large-diameter polymer tip. The bullet has a more significant impact surface by making the tip longer, thus giving it a larger diameter where the metal core and jacket meet the end. 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.
Having a lead core does help keep costs down. But you can't use Winchester Deer Season XP ammo 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, .25-06 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum
- .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 300 Win Mag, .300 WSM
- 6.5 Creedmoor
- .300 Blackout
- .30-06 Springfield
- .350 Legend
- and .450 Bushmaster.
Copper Impact XP ammo is available in .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 WSM, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and 300 WSM. Winchester Deer Season XP ammunition is designed specifically for hunting whitetail deer. But it will also work exceptionally well on other similarly sized animals like mule deer, blacktail deer, pronghorn, javelina, and feral hogs.
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 the 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 massive animals under certain conditions, in all fairness, the bullet isn't designed for those tasks.
That 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, is accurate, and costs about the same as the other popular deer hunting ammo options.
So, suppose you're looking for some excellent performing deer hunting ammo that's reasonably priced and available in some of the most popular deer hunting calibers. In that case, the Deer Season XP line of ammo is worth considering.
This post was originally published on July 11, 2018.
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