The Winchester Deer Season XP is the company's first line of ammo specifically designed for hunting deer.
While there's no shortage of centerfire rifle ammunition that'll dependably kill deer, the folks at Winchester saw some room for improvement. Several years ago, popular deer hunting ammo like Remington Core-Lokt and Winchester's own Super-X Power Point essentially owned the market. So, Winchester decided to start working on a new line of ammunition with the goal of designing the best possible deer hunting bullet. And then, they unveiled the resulting product in 2015: the Winchester Deer Season XP.
After all, whitetail deer are far and away the most popular big-game species hunted in the United States. The market is gigantic, even if there is a lot of competition within it. In an effort to find out what American deer hunters were looking for when choosing hunting ammo, Winchester conducted a survey.
Minimizing the distance a deer will run after the shot was hunters' number one priority. 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 helps ensure that the deer leaves an easy-to-follow blood trail in the event the animal doesn't drop in its tracks.
Additionally, the Deer Season XP needed 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 they go about accomplishing all those tasks?
First off, the 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 tip also improves the ballistics of the bullet, resulting in a flatter trajectory as well as 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, ensuring 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 Winchester Magnum, .300 WSM and .450 Bushmaster.
Copper Impact XP ammo is available in .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win Mag.
While Winchester Deer Season XP ammunition is designed specifically for hunting whitetail deer, it'll also work well on other similarly sized animals like mule deer, blacktail deer, javelina, feral hogs and pronghorn.
The fact that the Extreme Point has a larger-than-normal polymer tip means that it has a bullet weight 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.
The bullet 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 deer hunting ammo that's also reasonably priced, the Deer Season XP is certainly worth considering.