Regardless of where you hunt, even behemoth north-country deer weighing more than 300 pounds on the hoof are thin-skinned animals that do not require the same terminal performance in a bullet that an elk does. To cleanly take deer you need a bullet that will penetrate deeply into the chest cavity, and then … do what? One theory is that the bullet should hold together and pass completely through the animal. Conversely, some believe the bullet should violently come apart and not exit the off-side of the deer, transferring all of the bullet’s kinetic energy to the deer’s body cavity.
In practice, both types of bullets will cleanly kill a deer, assuming shot placement is as it should be. For those of you who believe that rapid expansion inside the body is the better choice, you need to give Winchester’s new Deer Season XP a try. At first glance you’ll notice these bullets have a supersized polymer tip that, together with its thin jacket and soft core, are designed to violently expand on contact, penetrate the chest cavity, and disintegrate inside while expending every ounce of available K.E., never reaching the off-side hide. At the 2015 SHOT Show, a Winchester spokesman told me the thinking is that deer are relatively small and light-boned, so why shoot them with an expensive bullet designed for large, tough and heavy-boned animals?
Found on dealer shelves beginning this past April, Deer Season XP is currently offered in .243, .270, .270 WSM, 7mm Rem. Mag, .308, .30-06, .300 WSM, and .300 Win. Mag. This winter I received some .30-06 150-grain samples and tested them for accuracy, velocity and penetration. In this regard they performed superbly. In my Ruger All-American rifle the chronograph read at 2,900 fps, and they produced three-shot groups averaging just under 1 inch at 100 yards.
I have not had the opportunity to shoot a deer with them yet, but friends who received some test ammo last fall did and reported excellent results. All three of my buddies told me the bullets leave a very large entrance wound, go to pieces inside the chest, and never exit. In fact, all they ever recovered — besides deer that didn’t run very far — were small fragments of the jacket.
This is excellent performance. And best of all, the MSRP is about $20-$24 per box, which means they are selling for about two-thirds of that at retail. For that kind of money, how can you not buy a box or two and test them in your own rifles for accuracy? Just keep in mind that these bullets are not designed for tough stuff like wild hogs or elk.