Winchester is well known these days for their premium lines of self defense ammunition like the Ranger T-Series and the PDX-1. It is not often that we hear about the more generic ammunition produced by Winchester for self defense. In fact, it is common for people to steer away from using generic ammunition like this for self defense. My intention is to investigate whether this ammunition is actually fit for use in self defense. Is this economical line of ammunition any good, or should we keep paying a Dollar per round.
First thing to get educated on, in regards to this ammunition is the fact that it is still offered to Law Enforcement as an alternative to the premium lines of ammunition like the Ranger T-Series. This line of ammunition has seen a few changes over the years, but it apparently was one of the first effective "cup and core" ammunition on the market when the .40 Caliber was introduced. Premium lines of ammunition expanded, but this bullet has maintained a relatively good reputation for performance, even through hard barriers found in the FBI test protocol. Here is a link to Winchesters terminal ballistics test only found on their LE ammunition sight.
I have often felt that these economical hollow points have been wrongly ignored over the years for no good reason. I decided to conduct a test on this bullets capabilities out of my carry pistol to see if it performs the way I need it to.
My test protocol consisted of firing 4 shots into a target that consisted of 2 layers of cotton T-Shirt, a pork chop, pork ribs, watermelon, another set of pork ribs, and two layers of T-Shirt. I also added a bundle of towels behind this target to catch any and resist the bullet flying away. This is not a perfect representation of a human body, but it should give us an idea of how the bullet could act when hitting bone. Many tests people conduct have the ribs up front, which I think is, at best, asinine and lacks common sense. Bullets have to go through skin and muscle before hitting bone, so we need to show that.
My hopes for this bullet was 100% penetration and have the expanded bullet stuck in the T-Shirt layers. This is because I am aware that this is not a good medium to symbolize the human body in all its density. The human body is way more dense and has a higher water content. I don't necessarily care about the "damage" to the meat, but the watermelon will be able to tell us how much energy and force the bullet has as it is travelling through the body.
I know many people will feel that ballistics gel is the best test for a round, common sense shows otherwise. Often times, ballistics gel can give us different results than the real world since it is calibrated to only represent muscle tissue somewhat. Unfortunately the human body has more than muscle, and we have varying densities. All they are really trying to do is establish a number and they try to judge effectiveness and capability off that number.
However, history and real life have shown that bone and even fat can stop or slow down bullets, or even alter trajectory, completely defeating the argument of shot placement. The .40 and .45 do not really suffer from these effects as much as the 9mm, but they are not exempt of this. Gold Dots have a pretty good reputation for performance, but if the bullet is lighter, the likelihood of the bullet being stopped or its trajectory altered is significantly increased. The 5.56 is a good example as it is incredibly susceptible to altered trajectory.
Basically, if you can't reach the organs because of being stopped early or having the trajectory altered, then shot placement becomes an irrelevant argument. The .40 and .45, in many bullet types(typically heavier weights) perform the best through intermediate barriers and terminally through bone and such.
As far as the test results, I was actually impressed with the results. There were three bullets that hit the ribs and were stopped by the second T-shirt while one missed the ribs and went halfway through my towel bundle.
I would say that this was very good, if not perfect results for me. The expansion was terrific, the damage to the watermelon was the worst I have ever seen from the few tests I have conducted in this protocol, and the penetration was spectacular, even with that one that failed to hit ribs. Notice that none of these bullets were even threatening to lose their jackets. I cannot say the same for some premium .40 Caliber ammunition.
This is a photo of the results of a comparison that I conducted with the same protocol. This was the SIG 165 grain V-Crown, which is not a 180 grain like the Winchester, but it still had pretty disappointing results. They were stopped by the first T-Shirt with almost no energy, and they really got chewed up by the bone, which had a dramatic effect on the outcome on performance. Even the watermelon was hardly effected.
In gel, I doubt you would see jacket separation, but here you see that even small bones just messed these rounds up. But we can clearly see that the basic/primitive/cheap/crappy JHP from Winchester took it all with ease. These are similar results I have seen from the much loved HST. It loses it's pedals and ends up not penetrating worth a damn.
Overall, I am pretty sure we can all see that this generic and underrated hollow point is in fact capable of holding it's own in a world of bonded/premium lines of ammunition. It seems to have a very strong core and greatly resists damage. Pretty impressive, and it just makes me further feel that these premium lines of ammunition are not as good as we think they are. I know of a few exceptions, but there are few on the market that beat this generic line of .40 cal self defense ammunition. Gel tests will show us a different story than a test like this one, but i would put more stock in this test since it is often shown that hollow points behave much like these bullets did when put to the test on living attackers. Zombies may be a different story.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.