Ammunition Test: Prvi Partizan .300 Winchester Magnum 180 Grain Soft-Point
Experience and Tradition
Prvi Partizan is a Serbian munitions maker established in 1928. Sold in the United States under the PPU brand, their ammunition is among the lowest priced available. With its no frills packaging and understated marketing, many American shooters believe it is poorly made, or only suitable for the practice range, and not serious hunting ammunition. When tested, their 180 grain soft point in .300 Winchester Magnum proved otherwise.
The ammunition comes in an unassuming blue and white box, the rounds themselves held in a simple but effective “egg carton” style cardboard inner liner. Once unpacked, the rounds were bright and well finished with military style annealing coloration left on the necks and shoulders, unlike some more expensive American brands which lately are often dented, dinged, and corroded.
The ammunition was tested in a twenty-four inch barreled Savage model 111, equipped with AccuTrigger ™, but without the AccuStock ™, topped with a Nikon 3-9 X 40 Pro Staff scope. All range tests were performed at one hundred yards off sandbag rests with a Chrony brand chronograph. Test conditions were 4000 feet MSL, 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and 60% humidity.
PPU’s claimed velocity is 2950 feet per second. The test ammo averaged 2890 fps, with a velocity spread of 12 fps when shot through a Chrony brand chronograph. While lower than claimed, the velocity is equivalent to the .300 H&H magnum’s nominal performance with the same bullet weight. The respected .300 H&H is the standard against which all other thirty caliber magnums are judged. The lower velocity also reduced the felt recoil.
This load averaged 1.6 MOA. Given such accuracy, the round’s max point blank range, with MOA deviation factored in, is 245 yards. The bullet will decelerate to 2000 fps (minimum reliable expansion velocity for most bullets) at 480 yards, and max effective range into a six and a half inch diameter circular target is 520 yards, quite sufficient for most hunting situations.
PPU's 180 grain SP bullet's ballistic coefficient (BC) is a low, .411. It displays severe drift in heavy cross winds. Shooters must become familiar with its flight characteristics before they attempt longer shots in winds above 5 mph.
Bullets fired at magnum velocities have a near impossible task. They must hold together to penetrate heavy bone and muscle in large game such as elk and bear, and still expand at long range and lower velocities in smaller, leaner animals such as antelope. Under no circumstances can they disintegrate at high velocity and close range. How does the PPU 180 grain bullet perform on target?
While expansion is important in a hunting bullet, toughness is more so – if the bullet fails to penetrate into an animal’s vital organs it will not kill rapidly, perhaps not even at all. To test this, the ammunition was fired into a freshly felled, 7.5 inch diameter Douglas fir log at 15 yards. Fresh, green wood is both firm and yielding, much like muscle and live bone. The PPU bullets passed completely through, with moderate expansion on exit and then went a further six to seven inches into a seasoned, foot and half wide Ponderosa pine stump used as a backstop. PPU claims their soft point bullet balances expansion and penetration, and this test supports those assertions.
Field Performance on Game
The ultimate test for any hunting bullet is in the field against game animals. On a Rocky Mountain white tail deer hunt, the PPU bullet struck a deer in the upper, rear chest cavity at approximately fifty yards in a classic side presentation. A difficult task for the bullet—high velocity versus a lean, light boned animal. The slug dropped the deer in its tracks as if it were a door falling on a hinge. The bullet left a caliber sized entrance wound and a roughly two inch wide exit which displaced substantial organ tissue through the skin, death was near instantaneous.
On another white tail hunt, a buck shot at thirty yards went straight down with a round high in the chest just behind the shoulder. The bullet’s energy snapped the spinal column three inches above the wound track. Again, near instant death with a permanent wound cavity identical to the first animal. In both cases, only minimal to moderate meat damage occurred. It also performed well on antelope, taking a nice buck at seventy yards—the shot destroyed the heart.
The soft nose PPU bullets performed as the maker claimed—controlled expansion with superb penetration.
Based on both range and field tests, the PPU 180 grain soft point, .300 Winchester Magnum load is sufficiently accurate, hard hitting, and tough, yet flexible enough for any North American game. It’s not too much for smaller animals such as antelope or white tail deer, and powerful enough for elk, moose, and black bear. The fact it is so inexpensive is a bonus most hunters will appreciate.