The 5 Best Winchester Loads

Best Winchester Loads Ammunition

During the 1970s, about the only real difference in ammunition performance was accuracy and resistance to oil, water and solvent. For that reason, I often carried Winchester ball ammunition in the .45 ACP.

Primer seal and case mouth seal are good, and the load offers a clean powder burn. I learned that during World War I, Winchester had been awarded a huge military contract.

The stipulation was that the standard for primer failure was less than one in 100,000. Today, the standard is much higher.

I test a lot of ammunition and I rely on Winchester ammunition for personal defense, target shooting, hunting small and large game and also shotgun use.

There are many Winchester loads I use and it was difficult to narrow the choice down. Just the same, here we go with a few highlights.

1. Winchester PDX 124-Grain 9mm Luger

I fire more 9mm Luger than just about anything else in practice and when evaluating new handguns. I use Winchester Forged, USA Ready, and recently Active Duty jacketed ammunition.

All are accurate enough for meaningful practice in pistols and carbines to 50 yards or more. I am leaning toward the Active Duty for the greatest precision, but use them all.

For personal defense, my standards are high. I have quite a few histories on file — real files, not something dreamed up by shadowy figures for a ‘stopping-power’ study — in which the Winchester SXT +P+ has given law enforcement excellent results.

As close as we can get in readily-available 9mm Luger ammunition is the Winchester 124-grain +P. The PDX load runs 1200 fps in most handguns. Expansion and penetration are excellent.

This is my first favorite Winchester loading.

Winchester PDX 9mm Luger Ammunition
Winchester’s PDX load is an outstanding 9mm Luger defense option.

2. Winchester Silvertip

The second Winchester load is also 9mm Luger. I have used the 115-grain Silvertip as a carry load in the Browning Hi-Power and CZ 75 for many years. It clocks 1180 to 1220 fps in various pistols and has proven accurate.

A new variation that I appreciate for its deep penetration and consistent expansion is the Winchester 147-grain Silvertip. This load exits the Tisas 9mm at 1002 fps.

Penetration is 18 inches and expansion a consistent .62 inch. For those times when the adversary may be heavily clad or if you need a load that penetrates light cover, this is a fine choice.

Accuracy is outstanding. Perhaps best of all, this load is a mild-recoil option. I have also tested the .45 ACP 185-grain Silvertip with good results.

Winchester Silvertip Ammunition
The 147-grain Silvertip impresses with good performance. This is surely one of the best Winchester loads.

3. Winchester .410 Slug

This little dandy weighs but 88 grains. Velocity is about 1600 fps in a typical shotgun. A friend that owns a spread in a place called Little Chicago sparked my interest in this one.

Rabbits in the crops, crows, chicken hawks eating the chickens, are all part of the farmer’s challenges. He wanted a hard hitter that would not range as far as a rifle.

He keeps Winchester .410 bore three-inch shot loads on hand, but also uses the slug for a longer shot. This slug breaks up in water and leaves a trail of lead in the water jugs.

Even on coyote, the little slug is a sure thing he says. Accuracy cannot be faulted, even with a bead-sighted shotgun at modest range. Sometimes good things do come in small packages.

Winchester .410 Ammunition
Winchester’s .410 slug is appreciated by savvy outdoorsmen.

4. Winchester Super X .22 LR 37-Grain Hollow Point

There is no more American sport than small-game hunting. Rabbit, squirrel, raccoon and pests are fair game for a .22 LR rifle. The .22 LR handgun also takes its fair share of small game.

It is all about shot placement. A 40-grain .22 RNL bullet such as the Winchester Wildcat is great for practice and works fine on most game animals. I like to hedge the bet and use the Winchester Super X hollow point.

By dropping the standard .22 Long Rifle bullet three grains and upping the velocity, we have reliable expansion. Accuracy is never in question. Affordable and reliable, these are good loads.

Winchester Super X .22 LR Ammunition
Winchester’s Super X .22 LR is a good performer in most any rimfire firearm.

5. Winchester 62-Grain .223 Remington

The standard bullet weight for practice loads in .223 Remington is a 55-grain FMJ bullet. This is a good enough all-around practice load, and most are more accurate than the shooter may demonstrate.

The 62-grain bullet usually exhibits a slight edge in accuracy that is more well-defined as the range increases. I feel the function may be better.

Overall, the Winchester 62-grain load offers an affordable option with an edge over the general run of .223 Remington practice loads.

Winchester .223 Remington Ammunition
The .223 Remington 62-grain load is among the author’s favorites and is one of the best Winchester loads.

Conclusion: Winchester Loads

Winchester is among our oldest companies. They are an icon in the firearms industry, but at the same time, offer cutting-edge technology with the PDX load, Silvertip, modern shotgun shells and rifle ammunition.

What are your favorite Winchester loads? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. Winchester puts out good ammunition, in fact I’ve not had any issues with any of the major US brands (I can’t claim that with imported ammo). Looking at my ammo stocks, there’s more Winchester white box than all the other brands combined. Through my EDC P365, the Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P performed just a little bit better on paper, but the Winchester PDX1 would be my next choice if the Hornady is unavailable.

  2. I have shot a lot of ammo. over 40 years and tried a lot of the new and best but I always come back to Winchester ammo, In my shotguns it shoots the best patterns, slug or shot, as for my rifles it shoots a tight groups, for expansion on animal’s l have only shot squirrels,rabbits,deer and turkey and it always done the job if I do mine.

  3. Shooting raptors is a criminal offense. Your friend in Little Chicago should be made aware. This was probably a facetious comment but it has no place being made in any form.

  4. Well, in the past I would agree with your evaluation. However, I have SIX fail-to-fire’s out of TEN Winchester Super X “Game & Target” Xpert steel shot 20 gauge 2¾” #6 shot shells, from an admittedly inexpensive, single barrel FIE shotgun. I have fired hundreds of rounds from both 12 & 20 ga. barrels with it without a single miss-fire. I realize these are cheap shooting shells, but they ARE USA made Winchester brand so I expected more. I tried two of the miss-fires again, which did in-fact ignite the 2nd time around, but obviously, a couple squirrels got away on the 1st try.
    (Tree-Rat car damage to hoses etc., is holding at around $300 this spring, so a “war-on-squirrels” was initiated.)

  5. Jack Van
    We used Winchester 5.56 in 600 and 1000 yard competition in the Air Force in 1966-70. Never jammed a gun, unlike the Lake City Army ammo that would foul out in 3 magazines. Now use their 22-250 for 200 yard comp.

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