Winchester Ammunition Centerfire Innovation

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posted on May 15, 2024

Alongside Winchester's iconic lever-action and bolt-action rifles, the company has been an innovator in centerfire cartridge design for nearly as long as the company itself has been in existence. Today, Winchester Ammunition is still a leading innovator in centerfire cartridge design, as evidenced by some of the company's recent introductions. Watch our "American Rifleman Television" feature above to learn about Winchester's latest ammunition innovations.

"Winchester has been developing metallic centerfire cartridges since the late 1800s. Go back and look at the .44-40, and that really propelled cartridges into what we know today," Winchester Product Manager Dusty Gibson said. "So Winchester introduced the 350 Legend in 2019, and that's actually the most successful centerfire rifle cartridge that Winchester has developed since the 1960s."

Several cartridges of Winchester's 350 Legend ammunition sitting on a table in front of an open, white box.

While other popular straight-wall cartridges have been in existence for decades, if not longer, such as the iconic .45-70 Gov't. or the 450 Bushmaster, heavy recoil and expensive factory ammunition has often limited a hunter's experience with these rounds.

"That's where the 350 Legend excels," Gibson said. "Rather than just taking your rifle out once a year to go deer hunting with it, it's low-recoil, so you can go out and target-shoot with it, practice, become very efficient with the rifle that you're going to be using to kill deer."

Yet another driving factor in the success of Winchester's 350 Legend cartridge is the modernization of hunting laws across a number of Midwestern states. Previously, states like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois only allowed 12-ga. shotgun slugs for deer hunting, but recent changes in the law now allow for straight-wall cartridges to be used for hunting.

A graphic computer rendering of Winchester's 6.8 Western Copper Impact ammunition.

"I think one of the more interesting things about Winchester is the talent level that goes across a brand like this," said Jason Gilbertson, director of marketing, Winchester Ammunition. "So, it's manufacturing, it's engineering, it's sales, it's marketing, it's product development, and it takes a lot for all of that to work together. To, you know, build your next two, three, four, five years' worth of products and branding and really continue a legacy that's been around for a very, very long time."

One of Winchester's latest cartridge introductions is the 6.8 Western, which takes the .277-cal. projectile into a new realm, putting it into a short-action cartridge case and upping bullet weight. With the advancements incorporated into 6.8 Western, hunters can now confidently take game at farther distances, knowing that the round is built for the job.

"I've been with the company a little over a decade, and it's amazing to see how, every year, we push the envelope further and further and do things that, frankly, I didn't even think were possible," said Nathan Robinson, marketing manager, Winchester Ammunition. "And our engineers find new ways to look at problems and find new solutions. And so it's neat that, Oliver Winchester and now the Winchester of today, you see this consistent trend of innovation and things that are really surprising and pushing the whole firearms industry forward."

A digital graphic cutaway of Winchester's Copper Extreme Point ammunition.

In projectile design, Winchester is pushing the envelope with all-copper projectiles. These lead-free options are polymer-tipped, boattail designs that provide greater ballistic performance and, unlike other lead-free options, bullet weights are still within traditional ranges for the company's various caliber offerings.

"The innovation that goes into our products, once again, is a true testament to people who, you know, have an incredible knowledge of engineering and what can bullets do and what can ammunition not do," Gilbertson said. "So it's a lot of research, it's a lot of tinkering, I'm sure. You know, people back in the lab saying, 'Well, we gave it a go and it just didn't work,' or, 'Hey, this is going to be a winner.' So the products, for sure, continue to keep us moving in the right direction."

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to americanrifleman.org/artv. For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.

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