A Win/Win Situation

Split Core Technology’s Rapid Expansion Enhances the Popular .308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester’s Split Corp Technology

The .308 Winchester’s Split Corp Technology has diminished law enforcement and private citizen concerns about over-penetration.

The 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester (.308Win) cartridge remains a favorite of security conscience civilians and law enforcement organizations despite being earlier rejected by our military in favor of the 5.56mm. While the 5.56mm round is often chided in terms of lethality, the .308Win does not suffer from this reputation. Reports from Afghanistan and Iraq have re-exposed the 5.56mm’s poor performance in putting an adversary down quickly with minimal rounds fired, especially at distance.

However, the resurrection of the M14 for military use, and the recent introduction of several AR-style rifle models lend credence to the observation that rifles chambered in .308Win were simply a little ahead of their time.

When faced with the possibility of confronting heavily armed and highly motivated terrorists or criminals, the .308Win user’s ability to produce serious suppressive fire (or to engage suspects with heavy body armor, behind barricades or in vehicles that may resist the effects of .223, buckshot or even slugs) has moved the cartridge to the top of many lists. However, this same penetrating power has also kept it from being widely-used for personal defense or law enforcement roles where over penetration is an obvious liability.

These over penetration concerns can now been addressed via ammunition selection, and the Winchester PDX 1 Defender load for the .308Win—featuring the Split Core Technology (SCT) 120-grain bullet—is one of the best choices available. Winchester also offers the PDX 1 Defender brand in other chamberings such as .223Rem, 7.62×39, and 12-gauge.

enhanced cartridge

In tests, this enhanced cartridge, comes to rest after traveling 12-in. to 14-in. in ballistic gel.

The PDX Difference

Where other manufacturers have addressed the .308Win over penetration concerns by adapting varmint style bullets aimed at personal defense/law enforcement consumers, Winchester has adopted a more in depth approach. The Winchester Ammunition SCT .308 has a forward section where the lead core is not bonded to the jacket, which enhances rapid and massive expansion. The lower portion of the core is welded to the jacket to hold the bullet together even as the nose section opens violently upon impact, dumping energy into the target and making sure the round does not over penetrate a “soft” target such as a human adversary. This SCT .308Win offering should soon prove a favorite load for law enforcement or civilian personal defense.   Demonstrations witnessed in person and via Internet video indicate the Winchester .308 Split Core comes to rest after 12 inches to 14 inches of travel in the ballistic gel.

Range comparisons with semi-automatic AR style .308Winchester rifles loaded with Winchester PDX 1 120-grain SCT alongside 5.56mm AR-15s showed only slight differences in split times in hitting multiple targets in quick succession. Another bonus is that a casual observer can easily tell the difference between a steel target smacked with a .308Win round, versus a 5.56mm…at any distance.


Because of the increased weight, much is made of the higher number of 5.56mm rounds that can be carried compared to .308Win. While this may make sense on paper, unless one is on an extended patrol or mission that is not easily re-supplied, the extra power and lethality of the .308Win more than trumps this factor. The Winchester PDX 1 .308Win 120-grain SCT has proven an accurate load in the various rifles I’ve been fortunate to test, including the SIG SAUER 716, Colt LE 901, DSA SA 58, Springfield M 21, and bolt actions such as the Ruger Scout, Steyr SSG 08, and SIG SAUER 3000.

As with most weapon system comparisons, the pros and cons can be debated forever. Individual users will decide what best suits their needs. However, a rifle chambered in .308Win now has added flexibility in terms of deployment thanks to the Winchester PDX 1 .308Win 120-grain Split Core loading. It is rare to find a cartridge that can perform multiple roles so well that the user does not feel something has been compromised for utilities sake.

Story & Photos by Todd Burgreen

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