Winchester Power Max Bonded ammunition is built specifically for deer hunting. Here's what Winchester was trying to accomplish, and how it's different from other deer hunting ammo.
It's quite possible that more people hunt deer in North America than all other species of big game combined. With that in mind, it shouldn't be surprising at all that the major ammo companies invest a tremendous amount of money developing ammunition specifically for deer hunters like Hornady's American Whitetail and Nosler's Ballistic Tip.
The Winchester Power Max Bonded line of ammunition is yet another product designed for that task.
Just like with any other well designed big game hunting ammo, Winchester's goal with the Power Max Bonded was to build a bullet that delivers explosive impact, plenty of knockdown power, and consistent deep penetration so the bullet consistently reaches the vitals from reasonable shooting angles.
There are different ways of going about doing this.
The Power Max Bonded uses what Winchester has dubbed a Bonded Rapid Expansion Protected Hollow Point Bullet. That's a real mouthful, but the name does a good job of describing both what the bullet is and what it's intended to do.
First, the bullet has a notched hollow point intended to promote rapid expansion upon impact across a wide range of velocities.
The benefits of this are obvious: rapid expansion means a larger wound channel and a massive transfer of energy to the animal. Both of these things should help ensure a quick and ethical kill of the animal with as short of a tracking job as possible.
However, especially when using very high velocity cartridges like the 7mm Remington Magnum or .300 Winchester Magnum, it's possible that a rapidly expanding bullet could simply break apart before reaching the vitals and cause a nasty flesh wound that's not immediately fatal. This is of particular concern if the bullet strikes a big bone, like the shoulder blade.
For this reason, Winchester advertises that the Power Max Bonded line of ammunition uses a lead alloy core that's chemically bonded to a gilding metal jacket (a copper and zinc alloy). So, instead of breaking apart upon impact, the bonded bullet should hold together to consistently penetrate in a straight line.
The end result is a bullet that still expands rapidly and causes a massive wound channel (approximately twice the original diameter of the bullet), but also exhibits high weight retention and reliable penetration.
Winchester Power Max Bonded ammo is currently manufactured in .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 270 WSM, 7mm-08 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7mm WSM, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, 300 WSM, 325 WSM, .338 Winchester Magnum, and 350 Legend.
Winchester advertises a fairly typical muzzle velocity and uses some of the most common bullet weights for each cartridge. For example, they list a velocity of 3,060 fps for their .270 Winchester load firing a 130 grain bullet.
At this time, Winchester Power Max Bonded hunting ammo is only available as centerfire rifle ammo and is not manufactured as handgun ammunition.
Especially when used in some of the more powerful cartridges, Winchester Power Max Bonded is also a pretty good choice for hunting larger game like red stag, caribou, moose, or African plains game. That being said, you might also consider using something like the Winchester Expedition Big Game line of hunting ammo for that sort of work as well.
Winchester currently manufactures four different lines of ammo that they market for deer hunting: Winchester Super X, Winchester Deer Season XP, Winchester Power Max Bonded, and Winchester Ballistic Silvertip.
So how is Power Max Bonded ammo different from the others?
Super X ammunition is one of the oldest Winchester ammunition offerings. The Power Point bullet used in most of the bigger caliber centerfire offerings is a basic cup and core bullet with a thin jacket and a notched soft point. It exhibits very rapid expansion, but it's not designed for high weight retention or controlled expansion. It's not a very advanced design, but it's also very reasonably priced and still works very well for many deer hunters.
The Deer Season XP line has a large diameter polymer tip to help initiate expansion. However, it also has a tapered jacket that gets thicker towards the base to help control expansion and promote weight retention of the lead core. It's also great for hunters after thin-skinned game like deer and pronghorn who need to take a longer ranged shot.
On the other hand, Winchester markets their Ballistic Silvertip ammo for long-range performance and excellent accuracy on thin-skinned game. To that end, the ammunition uses a boat-tail bullet with a polymer tip and a lubalox coating.
In terms of pricing, the Power Max Bonded is usually a little more expensive than the Super-X and Deer Season XP lines, but a little cheaper than the Ballistic Silvertip.
There's a tremendous amount of overlap in the capabilities of these cartridges to be sure. In short, the Power Max Bonded line occupies that spot in the middle for hunters who primarily hunt deer-sized game at short to moderate range (with the possibility of hunting bigger game like elk and moose as well), who prioritize weight retention and controlled expansion, and who don't mind paying a couple extra bucks for a box of ammo for that sort of performance.
This ammo also contains lead, so it's not permitted for hunting in California. If you need lead free ammunition, consider the Barnes VOR-TX, Nosler's E-Tip , or Winchester's own Deer Season XP Copper line of ammo instead.
With all that being said, this is great ammo for the whitetail deer hunter in the United States who wants some reasonably priced ammo that can be trusted to get the job done when a quartering shot on the buck of a lifetime presents itself.