Ammunition Test: Winchester Super X 180 Grain Power Point; .300 Winchester Short Mag
Winchester’s ubiquitous Power Point hunting bullet has been around since the 1960’s. 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 lodge pole pine log backed by a seasoned twelve inch log to simulate hitting bone at close range—the worst case scenario for this type 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.
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-round 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.
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© 2017 LJ Bonham