Terminal performance. It’s what every savvy handgunner expects out of the ammunition he or she carries for personal protection, and a new cartridge from Winchester (427 North Shamrock Street, Dept. GDTM, East Alton, IL 62024-1197/(618) 258-2204/www.winchester.com) promises to deliver the goods.
Early in 2009, during a demonstration for me and several other gun writers, Winchester showed what this stuff could do, and it was impressive. We’re talking deep penetration, very good expansion and velocity that packs a punch.
Winchester’s bonded PDX1 ammunition is available in four calibers and six different loadings (two each in 9mm and .40 S&W). If you own a handgun in 9mm, .40 S&W, .38 Special or .45 ACP and want a load that will stop an attacker, this may be what you’re looking for, as it certainly stacks up to other personal defense ammunition, or better.
Why am I devoting much of a column to this stuff? Winchester did not provide me with a bunch of free ammunition, I don’t own stock in the company, nor is this treatise linked to any advertising. The stuff just plain got my attention, and if the FBI is loading its guns with this round, there’s a reason.
Now that is penetration! The Winchester Bonded PDX traveled 12 inches into the gel block.
At the range, we watched as .40-caliber, 180-grain loads were fired into blocks of ballistic gelatin. The bullets consistently penetrated to about 11.5-12 inches, which is ample to punch deep into, if not through, most humans. En route, it raises hell with whatever is in the way by expanding dramatically. If that’s not the recipe for stopping a fight immediately, it is pretty darned close!
Velocities were right up there at 990 to 1,000 fps, which is what one should expect out of a .40-caliber projectile fired from the typical defensive handgun built for that cartridge, with a 4- to 4.5-inch barrel.
Here are the options: In 9mm, there’s a Plus-P load with a 124-grain JHP, and a standard load with a 147-grain JHP. For you .40-caliber fans, in addition to the 180-grainer mentioned above, there is a 165-grain JHP. Those packing .38 Special revolvers ought to warm right up to the 130-grain JHP load, while those of us who carry a .45 ACP pistol have a 230-grain JHP to load in our magazines.
Winchester developed the bonded PDX1 with a proprietary process that joins the lead core to the jacket for controlled expansion and weight retention. Expansion is the result of a good hollow point cavity that works in combination with the carefully notched jacket that is made from a copper alloy and divided into six segments.
Winchester Centerfire Products Manager Glen Weeks told me that the PDX1 had been under development for about two years. The project was aimed at providing a round the FBI would adopt, and this meant it had to perform on penetration tests against steel car doors and windshields.
“Glass is hands down the toughest thing you have to go through,” Weeks observed. “There are .38s that will bounce off windshield glass.”
The vast majority of armed citizens load their defensive handguns with factory ammunition. On the street in my .45 ACP, I go with factory loads, while in the backcountry — where I suspect any defensive encounters would most likely be against four-legged predators — I load up my .357 Magnum or .41 Magnum with handloads using reliable data from my reloading manuals and projectiles developed for maximum tissue damage; the same loads I use for handgun hunting.
If I were limited to factory ammunition only — that is, if I didn’t reload ammunition for hunting and long-range target shooting — there is little doubt that high on my list of ammunition choices would be the new Winchester Bonded PDX1. Available in 20-round boxes, this is a cartridge that promises to have a distinguished career.
Learn more about defensive handguns and gear in the Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry.