Skip to main content

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.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Venison Curry Recipe

Venison Curry Recipe

Hearty and flavorful, this curry is simple to make and requires just a few ingredients you can likely find at your local store. The cooking method turns tough cuts tender, making it a great choice for shoulder and hindquarter cuts from deer, elk and other venison. Bonus points if you use axis deer, which are native to India.

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

Browning's X-Bolt Pro family has grown in 2021 with the addition of the Pro McMillan. An innovative muzzle break — the Recoil Hawg — also joins the line.

New for 2021: Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon Rifle New Chamberings, Stock Updates

New for 2021: Nosler M48 Mountain Carbon Rifle New Chamberings, Stock Updates

Regardless of which caliber or color scheme option you choose, these M48 Carbon Rifles are the perfect way to get into a hard-hitting, affordable, lightweight, accurate, and high precision rifle from Nosler.

New for 2021: Kershaw & Zero Tolerance Knives

New for 2021: Kershaw & Zero Tolerance Knives

Get your first look at the new Kershaw Launch 13, Brace, and Lucha-Blackwash, as well as the Zero Tolerance 0762 and 0357.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd? Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

Check out the new fleet of off-road options for hunters.2020 ATV Buyer's Guide Wheels Afield

2020 ATV Buyer's Guide

Rick Sosebee - June 23, 2020

Check out the new fleet of off-road options for hunters.

Montana's vast wilderness provides the backdrop for a test of fortitude on the hunt for trophy black bears.A Long Way Up: Montana Backcountry Black Bears North America Big Game

A Long Way Up: Montana Backcountry Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt

Montana's vast wilderness provides the backdrop for a test of fortitude on the hunt for trophy...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Buck patterns change in the late season, so here's what to look for when old brutes go into hiding.Where to Find Whitetails in the Late Season Whitetail

Where to Find Whitetails in the Late Season

Jeff Johnston

Buck patterns change in the late season, so here's what to look for when old brutes go into...

Don't think stand hunting is hard? Try sitting all week in a Polar Vortex.Winter Storm Whitetails Whitetail

Winter Storm Whitetails

Mark Kayser

Don't think stand hunting is hard? Try sitting all week in a Polar Vortex.

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong Optics

3 Ways You're Using Trail Cameras Wrong

Tony J. Peterson

Chances are good that you're not getting the best out of your trail cams.

Technology is taking deer hunters, and their gear, into the future. The Best New Deer Hunting Technology Accessories

The Best New Deer Hunting Technology

Jeff Johnston - May 15, 2020

Technology is taking deer hunters, and their gear, into the future.

See More Whitetail

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now