Whitetail Ammo — Why it Makes a Difference on Deer

Whitetail Ammo — Why it Makes a Difference on Deer

Here's why hunting with a deer-specific cartridge is a smart move

What do we want a whitetail bullet to do?

Most whitetail hunters are looking for fairly rapid expansion that will induce massive trauma on the animal, followed by penetration that will result in at least some substantial part of the bullet transecting the body of the deer. Bullets used in whitetail-specific ammo tend to be "softer" than most premium-bullet designs and offer more expansion and less penetration, which is fine so long as you pick your shots accordingly. Such bullets are relatively easy to manufacture and are, therefore, available at a lower price than premium designs that require more intricate procedures and pricier component materials, so whitetail hunters can save a few dollars.

Let's take a look at four of the most common whitetail-specific product lines on the market and how they benefit whitetail hunters.


Untitled-1


Remington Whitetail Pro Core-Lokt


Remington never really left the party when it came to whitetail-specific ammunition. Its Core-Lokt bullet has been around for over 75 years and remains a standby for whitetail hunting. The bullet was considered a groundbreaking premium design at its introduction since it mechanically controlled expansion and produced consistent mushrooms on game. Bullet technology has long surpassed the Core-Lokt when it comes to deep-penetrating and expanding designs, but it is still the standard by which other "cup and core" whitetail bullets are judged.

The Core-Lokt not only is a solid performer, but also is available in factory ammunition for a wide variety of cartridges, including some unusual ones, such as the .300 Savage, .303 British, and .35 Remington. Though these cartridges don't get much, if any, love from the outdoor media these days, there are plenty of them in the hands of whitetail hunters across the nation, and they kill deer just as dead as they did before World War II. Core-Lokts aren't setting any records for ballistic coefficient, but that matters little to 90 percent of deer hunters. It's hard to beat this classic when it comes to putting deer in the freezer.

HUNP-160100-GL-2


Winchester Deer Season XP

Winchester's deer-specific load is called the Deer Season XP, and it is probably the most explosive of the designs discussed here. Winchester's whitetail line differs from the other brands in that it utilizes a polymer-tipped bullet to facilitate expansion and provide a slightly higher ballistic coefficient. Bullets in this line are light-for-caliber and are loaded to fairly high velocities.

This load is designed to expand rather violently and create a massive wound channel, exactly what some whitetail hunters are looking for. I wouldn't expect many exit wounds when using these bullets, so if deep penetration is your thing, look elsewhere. Winchester's cartridge selection is fairly limited with loads available for eight common cartridges, including the .243, .270, and .300 WSM.


HUNP-160100-GL-3

Hornady American Whitetail

Hornady's whitetail line uses the company's long-proven InterLock bullet, which I've often heard described as a "poor man's premium" due to its excellent terminal performance and low price. The InterLock uses a tapered jacket and a locking ring to mechanically control the expansion of the bullet on game. The bullet acts a bit like a Nosler Partition: The front expands, and sometimes fragments, while the shank stays intact and penetrates deeply.

I have used handloaded InterLock bullets on countless deer, feral hogs, and a black bear and have never witnessed anything but great performance. Just last year I used a 162-grain InterLock at very close range on an Alabama whitetail buck, and despite an impact velocity of well over 3,000 fps, the bullet exited after dropping him where he stood.

My own experience has taught me that InterLock bullets often produce exit wounds on broadside shots, a virtue I hold in high regard. Hornady's American Whitetail ammo is loaded in 10 common whitetail cartridges, including the .25-06, .30-30 WCF, and the 7mm Remington Magnum.

HUNP-160100-GL-4

Federal Premium Fusion

Federal was one of the pioneers in offering premium bullets made by nonaffiliated companies in its loaded ammunition line. This was a great thing for hunters who didn't handload, but it created a price and performance gap. Federal created the whitetail-focused Fusion line to fill this important niche.

While Hornady and Remington use similar mechanical means to control expansion and keep the bullet's lead core attached to the jacket, Federal uses a more modern molecular bonding method to "fuse" the elements. In theory, the jacket and core in a bonded bullet such as the Fusion cannot separate, which means the bullet will not "blow up" on the shoulder when shot at close range.

The Fusion is available in a broad variety of cartridges, from the .223 Remington to big-bore magnums, such as the .458 Lott, and even includes a deer-appropriate load for the often-underrated 7.62x39mm. The Fusion is a tough bullet I wouldn't hesitate to drive through the shoulder bones of a big buck at close range.

Recommended for You

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench. Ammo

Roll Your Own: Best Reloading Supplies

David Draper - April 19, 2019

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench.

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention SHOT Show

HUNTING's Booth Babes of SHOT Show 2014

David Draper - January 21, 2014

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size. North America Big Game

How to Field Judge Bears

Jospeh Von Benedikt

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt. North America

5 Great Last-Minute Public-land Hunts

Joseph von Benedikt

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt.

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field. Ammo

America's Top 10 Big Game Cartridges

Joseph von Benedikt

These rounds have proven themselves most worthy in the field.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Craig Boddington is hunting the coulees of central Montana in search of whitetails. Whitetail

Whitetail Hunting in the Montana Coulees

PHTV Adventures - April 05, 2017

Craig Boddington is hunting the coulees of central Montana in search of whitetails.

By the third hour on the first morning of his $7,500 dream hunt, David McCoy's good time ran out. Whitetail

5 Most Overrated Whitetail Hotspots

Jeff Johnston - November 22, 2016

By the third hour on the first morning of his $7,500 dream hunt, David McCoy's good time ran...

Here's why hunting with a deer-specific cartridge is a smart move
What do we want a whitetail Whitetail

Whitetail Ammo — Why it Makes a Difference on Deer

Keith Wood - November 22, 2017

Here's why hunting with a deer-specific cartridge is a smart move What do we want a whitetail

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.