LJ Bonham is a semi-subsistence hunter, hunting magazine editor, and firearms enthusiast who lives in the Rocky Mountains.
Winchester Power Point Bullets
Winchester’s ubiquitous Power Point hunting bullet has been around since the 1960s. It is a conventional cup and draw bullet; the lead interior is not bonded to the jacket. It derives its name from the exposed lead point which initiates expansion on impact. The Power Point is designed to expand fast and cause immediate, massive trauma to internal organs.
The Power Point is not a long-range bullet. Its low, .437, ballistic coefficient makes for rapid velocity loss down range, so it has a poor trajectory beyond 300 yards and excessive drift in crosswinds.
Great for Deer, but...
The Power Point is first and foremost a deer bullet. Its rapid energy transfer is perfect for animals in this class where penetration is a secondary consideration but heavy internal damage and large exit wounds are preferred. It is also a bullet developed when standard cartridges such as the .30-06 and .30-30 were the most common hunting calibers.
Bullets such as the Power Point work best at velocities between 1800 and 2600 feet per second, which is the .30-06’s traditional velocity envelope inside 300 yards with a 180 grain bullet. Many non-bonded bullets run into trouble when they hit heavy bone or thick muscle in large animals such as elk, especially when driven at magnum velocities. All too often, they break up under those circumstances and cause shallow, non-fatal wounds. The question is, should a hunter rely on the Power Point loaded in a magnum cartridge for large, tough animals?
The Test Ammunition
The rounds used for this test came in the standard silver Winchester box. All cartridges were clean and well-polished, with no outward defects noted. Winchester claims this 180 grain load is suitable for deer, elk, and moose.
The author conducted the tests with a Browning A-Bolt rifle equipped with a twenty-three-inch barrel, at 4000 feet MSL elevation, 60F (15C) ambient temperature, and 45% humidity. A Chrony™ brand chronograph measured velocity and all accuracy tests were done at 100 yards off sandbag rests.
The bullets were fired from 25 yards into a six inch diameter, green lodgepole pine log backed by a seasoned twelve-inch log to simulate hitting bone at close range—the worst-case scenario for this type of bullet. While not a perfect analogue, fresh wood is both fibrous and pulpy-like bone. An added advantage is it retains the permanent cavity carved by the bullet. If a bullet disintegrates when it hits this test media, there is a high probability it will do so against large animals.
This load produced a 2907 fps average velocity with a 44 fps extreme spread. Winchester’s claimed muzzle velocity is 2970 fps from an undisclosed barrel length. Given the test rifle’s shorter barrel as well as the environmental conditions, this round performed close to factory specifications.
This ammunition produced mediocre but acceptable accuracy in this particular rifle: 2.0 MOA. While not sufficient for long range precision shooting, it is adequate inside 400 yards. Adjusted for MOA, this round has a 230 yard maximum point blank range (MPBR), again suitable for most hunting situations. Such accuracy is common in moderate-priced ammunition and Winchester doesn’t claim this is a match-grade round.
The 180 grain bullet penetrated eight inches into the wood and left a three-quarter inch wide permanent cavity with rapid expansion within the first two inches. The bullet did not fragment or disintegrate and expanded to over twice its original diameter. At ninety percent, its weight retention rivaled many bonded bullets. This bullet should perform well on elk or moose.
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On a Montana whitetail deer hunt, this gun and cartridge combination took an average-sized buck at seventy yards. The animal stumbled for ten yards and expired within seconds. Postmortem examination revealed the bullet struck the animal’s left side, on a slight quartering away presentation, just behind the elbow. It fractured the humerus at the shoulder joint and existed out the neck just above the clavicle. The trachea and nearby arteries were severed, and the bullet left a ragged, two-inch exit wound. Excellent performance, equivalent to any premium bullet the author has used.
Winchester’s 180 grain Power Point in .300 WSM is a good all-around hunting load. Used at reasonable ranges, it is suitable for antelope, deer, elk, moose, black bear, and African plains game. The fact it has a reasonable price and is widely available is a bonus.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 LJ Bonham
LJ Bonham on March 11, 2017:
Traditional cup and draw soft points can do that depending on what they contact in the target. The Winchester Power Point was originally intended for standard, non-magnum cartridges, and does its best work at 1800 - 2600 fps. Magnums just give one those velocities at longer ranges. Despite the damage, the penetration is encouraging--probably a good elk bullet at 50 - 300 yards in the .300 Win Mag. I'd bet the same bullet in a .308 would be dandy on deer, though.
D.B-C on March 06, 2017:
I shot a med sized whitetail at 70yards with 180g power point from a 300win mag and it was such a gross injury, when we looked at it the entry wound was small but the exit wound liquefied the lungs and pulled most of the guts out the back by it's leg, it was quartering towards us, it wasn't hard to clean but the meat damage was huge and the gore of the scene made me a little uneasy, yes I know I'm hunting but that was just gross. Needles to say it penetrated the full length of the deer and almost cleaned it for me, I wont shoot these at deer anymore unless more than 100 yards plus.