Hardware: Winchester Copper Impact
Monometal bullets, usually made from 100 percent copper alloy, continue to gain steam among the hunting community, and with good reason. They deliver deep penetration and bone-crushing performance not possible with traditional lead-core bullets. This is due to the copper bullet’s ability to stay intact and maintain its weight upon expansion, and to utilize that retained weight and momentum to penetrate deep and transfer massive amounts of energy on target. The terminal-performance advantage, combined with the ever-increasing prohibitions on lead bullets in states like California, make monometal projectiles that much more appealing.
New for 2022, Winchester has revamped its monometal performer in the new Copper Impact ammunition line, expanding the game-taking ability of its tried and tested Copper Extreme Point bullet introduced in 2018 as Deer Season XP Copper Impact. And while the new Copper Impact ammo is capable of taking much bigger critters, do not fret, your favorite deer-killing options are still available, along with several other chamberings loaded with heavy-for-caliber bullets, including one of my personal favorites, a 162-grain offering for the 6.8 Western.
To understand how the Copper Impact line came to be, we must first understand where it came from. In 2011 Winchester released their first monolithic projectile, the Power Core bullet. It was a hollow-point, all-copper projectile designed and engineered for controlled expansion and maximum weight retention. Power Core did well for years before Winchester engineered and released the Copper Extreme Point bullet in 2018 that was subsequently loaded in the Deer Season XP Copper Impact line.
The Copper Extreme Point bullet incorporates a large meplat (nose of the bullet) with a reinforced, red-polymer tip creating a two-fold effect. First, the polymer tip creates a more consistent streamlined design resulting in a higher ballistic coefficient. Second, the sizable polymer tip gives way to a larger-than-average hollow-nose cavity, delivering devastatingly fast expansion, massive energy transfer and near 100 percent weight retention, leading to massive wound cavities and knock-down results. This impressive bullet proved its merit on whitetail and is now the catalyst of Winchester’s new Copper Impact ammunition line.
Winchester’s Copper Impact line currently consists of 14 different offerings from .243 Win. to 350 Legend, including three .30-caliber, 180-grain options (.30-06, .300 Win. Mag., .300 WSM). These new offerings expand the line’s ability to take down everything from dainty Coues deer in Arizona to the massive Yukon moose in Alaska. Besides maybe a grizzly bear, there is nothing in North America that you could not confidently hunt with one of the many options now available in the Copper Impact lineup.
In preparation for a Colorado elk hunt last fall, I took my Winchester XPR in 6.8 Western along with a few boxes of Winchester’s new 162-grain 6.8 Western Copper Impact ammo to the range to zero the rifle and verify ballistics. On paper, the gun and load combination consistently produced between .75- and 1-inch groups. I couldn’t ask for much more than that, especially from a sub-$600 rifle. After zeroing, I stretched the tape to 500 yards and center punched the 12-inch gong to further verify the ballistics. I had zero intention of shooting an animal at that distance, but knowing the rifle was capable of such accuracy boosted my confidence going into the hunt.
There are very few animals in North America tougher to bring down than a mature bull elk. Yet, as I laid prone over my pack and settled the crosshairs on the unsuspecting bull 335 yards across the canyon, I had nothing but confidence that the bullet and rifle would do their job, I just had to do my part. After several agonizing minutes of waiting for a clear shot, the bull stepped into a small clearing from the tangled mess of charred pine and chest-high yellow grass. “Breathe and squeeze,” I whispered. The percussion of the rifle was followed by the reassuring whack of the 162-grain Copper Extreme Point bullet impacting the bull’s shoulder and knocking him to the ground. It was over as quick as it began. Upon further inspection, the bullet had indeed centered through both shoulders and lodged just underneath the hide on the off side. As advertised, the Copper Extreme Point bullet drove through both shoulders, transferred 100 percent of its energy and retained 93 percent of its weight with the recovered slug weighing 151 grains. The proof is in the pudding.
There are droves of viable ammunition options on the market today, the trick is being able to get your hands on them. If you see a box or two of Winchester’s Copper Impact in your favorite caliber on the shelves, do yourself a favor and take it home. No matter your quarry, you will not be disappointed with its performance.
• Cartridges/Bullet Weights: .243 Win./85-gr.; 6.5 Creedmoor/125-gr.; 6.5 PRC/125-gr.; .270 Win./130-gr.; .270 WSM/130-gr.; 6.8 Western/162-gr. (tested); .308 Win./150-gr.; .30-06 Sprg./150-gr./180-gr.; .300 Win. Mag./150-gr./180-gr.; .300 WSM/150-gr./180-gr.; 350 Legend/150-gr.
• Bullet Type/Style: monometal, Copper Extreme Point
• Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .564 (6.8 Western)
• Muzzle Velocity: 2875 fps (6.8 Western)
• Muzzle Energy: 2,973 ft.-lbs. (6.8 Western)
• Uses: medium to large game
• MSRP: $45-$55 per 20-rnd. box; winchester.com
Article by COLTON HEWARD