It seems strange. More hunters pursue white-tailed deer than any other species in North America, and to be sure, there are plenty of bullet designs and loads that can put these deer on the ground.
But there has never really been a load designed specifically for deer…until now! This year, Winchester, building on their long history of innovation, took that important step with the introduction of Deer Season XP, a load built for expressly for whitetails. Outdoor writer David Draper sat down with Winchester’s Centerfire Product Manager, Mike Stock, to get the scoop behind the new round’s creation.
“Deer hunters are the largest group of hunters out there,” says Stock. “A vast majority of them use a product that was originally designed and built to hunt a wide range of critters, with deer being the thinnest skinned. A product like Power-Point does a fantastic job, but we really wanted to, for the first time, build a bullet specifically for the deer hunter.”
Enter Deer Season XP. In coming up with the new design for Deer Season XP, the Winchester design team considered what cartridges are most effective for deer.
“Hunters tell us over and over again that they’re tired of following blood trails,” says
Stock. “For years they’ve been using bullets that are truly overbuilt for deer and lack real
rapid knockdown power.”
With that in mind, Winchester considered existing bullets and calibers that seemed best suited for the thin skin and tough muscles of whitetails. They kept coming back to the .30-30. It’s a venerable round that’s responsible for more deer tagged than any other caliber.
Why, asked Stock, was it so good at dropping big deer in their tracks? They determined it was because of the big bullet’s wide meplat, or large, flat frontal diameter, that impacts deer like a sledgehammer
“So we set out to build a bullet profile that provided the style performance found in all
popular deer calibers. In short, we ended up with something that looks like a .30-30 bullet, but with a plastic tip for a higher ballistic coefficient,” says Stock. “Deer Season XP is all about the design of the Extreme Point bullet featuring a large impact diameter where the polymer tip and jacket meet, resulting in more rapid expansion and serious knockdown power. It efficiently dumps all its energy in small- to large-sized whitetails.”
Winchester calls their new technology Maximum Impact Diameter. In it, the diameter of a bullet at impact is what initiates expansion. The larger the diameter, the more rapidly the bullet expands, allowing a higher transfer of energy at terminal velocities and a larger wound channel, especially in that first 5 or 6 inches where the rapid expansion causes the most trauma. Balancing that expansion with penetration is the trick and the Extreme Point bullet manages it well, dumping nearly all its energy in the animal while still penetrating 15 to 18 inches to the other side of the animal.
But Deer Season XP’s terminal performance is for naught if it isn’t accurate. Naturally, Winchester covered that, too. To ensure long-range accuracy, they wrapped the lead core in a drawn brass jacket that’s slightly thinner, however, with a contoured wall thickness that leads to greater accuracy in the widest range of rifles on the market. To make bullet selection as easy as it can get, Winchester is also offering Deer Season XP in a single bullet weight for each of the eight popular deer cartridges in the line.
“We selected the optimum weight for a deer hunting bullet in each caliber,” says
Stock. The new load is competitively priced too, and best of all, it is on store shelves now. With the nation’s first deer seasons just around the corner, now is the time to try this new load on the range, dial your rifle in, and get it ready for what everyone at Winchester hopes is the best deer season in your life.