Info on Winchester Fail Safe Ammo

Biddleman

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I recently fell into a remington .375 h&h and the seller threw in 2 boxes of .270 gr. Winchester Fail Safe ammo. I'm not familiar with this ammo and really haven't been able to find much info on it. All I know is that it's no longer made. What's the verdict on it for those have used it? I'm hoping my rifle shoots it well and I'll practice with some other ammo I have and save some rounds for my trip next year. The gentleman who owned it before me never got a chance to use the ammo to hunt with and I'll like to make a small tribute to him by taking a trophy with the ammo he bought. hopefully an eland.
Thanks
 

BRICKBURN

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Shooting Times:
Needless to say, we were impressed by the performance of the new bullet. The name of that bullet is Fail Safe. Winchester could not have come up with a more descriptive name for the bullet. As hunting seasons came and went, I took enough game with it to conclude that when used on elk, moose, Cape buffalo, nilgai, and other heavy game, it simply would not fail to perform properly.

"The Fail Safe is a great bullet, but it has one flaw. It works perfectly on the larger game animals out to about any reasonable distance, and it is one of the few bullets available that will smash through both shoulders of an elk and exit the offside hide. It also works fine on smaller game at close to medium ranges.

But its performance on deer can become a bit erratic at extremely long range where impact velocity is too low to cause it to expand to a large frontal diameter. All big-game bullets share this same limitation, but most will expand at lower impact velocities than the Fail Safe. This holds especially true when the target offers light resistance to the bullet, as is the case with whitetails and pronghorn antelope.

Before going any further, I want to point out that Winchester should not be criticized for any of this. The company set out to design a bullet that could not be destroyed even when fired into heavy bone at close range, and Winchester did a better job of doing that than most bullet manufacturers.

At the same time, Winchester has offered ammunition loaded with bullets such as the Power-Point, Silvertip, and Ballistic Silvertip that are designed specifically for use on deer, and all do a wonderful job there. The problem with the Fail Safe has been with those hunters who incorrectly choose an elk bullet to shoot a 100-pound whitetail at 400 yards and then complain about poor expansion."


Read more: 2011 January 04 - Shooting Times


Sounds like it will do the job at medium range. sneak up on your Eland and pay a fitting tribute.

Good luck.
 

Diamondhitch

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I have had poor luck with it and the only ballistic get test I have seen rated it the lowest. This was due to the fact that it did not expand properly which is a well documented problem with it, hence removing it from the market, replaced by the more well reliable XP3. They (failsafes) can and do work well but they also can and do fail regularly (performing more like a solid than a soft point). My advice is use it for target practice and buy a different premium bullet for your hunt. African game is too damn expensive to trust to luck.
 

Norwegianwoods

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I have had poor luck with it and the only ballistic get test I have seen rated it the lowest. This was due to the fact that it did not expand properly which is a well documented problem with it, hence removing it from the market, replaced by the more well reliable XP3. They (failsafes) can and do work well but they also can and do fail regularly (performing more like a solid than a soft point). My advice is use it for target practice and buy a different premium bullet for your hunt. African game is too damn expensive to trust to luck.

I guess it is good for the tiny ones if you want to mount them :)

Some years ago I talked with a hunter that had used the bullet on Moose one year(I don't remember with what caliber).
He had shot 5-6 Moose that year with it.
He told me that the bullet worked very well when he hit the shoulder, but if he shot behind the shoulder, some bullets didn't seem to expand and the wound channels looked like he had used a solids.
 

Diamondhitch

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I guess it is good for the tiny ones if you want to mount them :)

Some years ago I talked with a hunter that had used the bullet on Moose one year(I don't remember with what caliber).
He had shot 5-6 Moose that year with it.
He told me that the bullet worked very well when he hit the shoulder, but if he shot behind the shoulder, some bullets didn't seem to expand and the wound channels looked like he had used a solids.

That is exactly what the ballistic gel showed, poor expansion and although we didnt find any bullets the deer we shot with them were just in and out and went a long way. Not versatile enough for the variety of game sizes in Africa for my taste. As you say they may be a great Duiker bullet.
 

Biddleman

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Thanks for the info. guys. Looks like they may be my practice rounds and I'll keep one in my pocket as a tribute.
 

enysse

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I guess I disagree, I bought a ton of failsafe bullets when they decided to discontinue them. They are a really great bullet. All the XP3 did was put a polymer tip on a failsafe type bullet to improve expansion and aerodynamics. I still think the failsafe bullets without the glitz and glamor of a XP3 are a excellent bullet.....definitely a eland, kudu bullet.
 

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I guess I disagree, I bought a ton of failsafe bullets when they decided to discontinue them. They are a really great bullet. All the XP3 did was put a polymer tip on a failsafe type bullet to improve expansion and aerodynamics. I still think the failsafe bullets without the glitz and glamor of a XP3 are a excellent bullet.....definitely a eland, kudu bullet.


Me too, enysse. I check the Nosler Pro Shop online regularly for close outs, got some Failsafes a while back in .375/300 and .308/180 and I'm hoarding them. :thumb:
 

35bore

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Me too, enysse. I check the Nosler Pro Shop online regularly for close outs, got some Failsafes a while back in .375/300 and .308/180 and I'm hoarding them. :thumb:

The only reason I never really gave them a chance is because of that moly coated B******t on the bullet. I had a really bad experience with the moly coated bullets, (due to my ignorance about the substance) and will never recommend them again. Not saying the Failsafes are bad though, there are several bullets, handgun and rifle calibers alike that have the same basic design, they just don't have that crap on the outside. Matter of fact, I have 15 failsafes left over in 7mm rem mag, dont' really know why I haven't gotten rid of them yet.

My advise, don't shoot them, sell them to someone who really loves the things.
 

JHC-II

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Does anyone know when they stopped making the failsafe. Just found half a case of them in 300H&H. Price is reasonable. However I'm in the high Arctic but the luggage is gonna get heavy. Hell I could just use the brass
 

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IIRC, it was called Black Talon first and then renamed Fail Safe.
I shot Winchester 130 grain BT in my .338 Win Mag in Africa and was very pleased with the results. I wrote an article on that 2002 hunt and noted that the name changed just before we departed for Safari.
 

CTDolan

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The Fail Safe was one of the best bullets ever to have been put on the market. My understanding is that Winchester discontinued them due to cost of production (which is understandable, considering the design).
 

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I have about 4 boxes of 270 x 140 grain. bullets if anybody wants to buy them. John
 

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Ray B

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Some years back I ran a test of every .30 cal 180 gr bullet I could get. Firing them from a 30-06 & a 300 Wby into gallon milk jugs filled with water. the results were published in a Handloader's Digest about 1995. Included was the FailSafe. the FailSafe performance showed expansion and penetration very similar to the Barnes X bullet. One problem that I did have with both the FailSafe and the X resulted from unequal flaring of the petals, resulting in a rudder effect- steering the bullet off course. At the time Winchester was in negotiations with several bullet makers regarding entry into the super-premium market and ultimately struck a deal with Nosler. As a result several of the Winchester bullets including the Failsafe and several of the "real" SilverTip and Power Point bullets were discontinued. I have no experience with the .277 bullet, but have no reason to suspect that it would perform in similar fashion to the .30.
 

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Use you new rifle and the Fail Safes on larger animals only, i.e. Kudu, Eland etc. and never look back. There are lots of bullet choices that work well on smaller thin skinned game.
 

fourfive8

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Hmmm? I remember well when Win came out with it. Never bought any, never loaded any and never fired a round of it. A friend had first hand experience with the FailSafe during a Win exec/gunwriter "field test" (elk hunt). He said they worked OK but nothing to write home about. IIRC He pretty much echoed what has been written here- "they occasionally acted like a solid". I remember studying the design, scratching my head wondering how or why the folks at Win came up with it!!
 

JHC-II

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Just the value in brass alone was worth it. I bought the half case that was left. Might as well shoot it. Expensive paper punchers will give it a whirl on caribou, deer and a moose. If it performs it might go to Africa. I primarily am a handloader and hunt uniquely with nosler partitions, rhinos or woodleighs in my plains game and woodleighs in my DG rifle
 

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Guys, I have read this thread with interest. I am new here on the forum, but have a great deal of shooting experience, I was on the U.S. Army rifle team for 20 years, and I have been to Africa twice. Aside from the sketchy at best bullet performance, the real problem with this, or any of the Winchester bullets that has the black coating is the black coating. One of the earlier posters called it correctly as Moly. A coating intended to reduce friction and wear in a barrel. Unfortunately Winchester, and Norma Diamond Line target ammo coated the bullet with a hard shell wax so the molly wouldn't get our fingers dirty. Also moly has the undesirable effect of being a moisture attractant. Not really what you need in a rifle barrel. The greatest problem with the wax coating is that it will(not may) build up in the throat of the barrel and actually add dimension, causing a doughnut like ring for the bullet to pass through before it enters the barrel. This will quickly lead to pressure problems. If you clean your rifle thoroughly after every 30-40 rounds you will avoid this problem. But, you must use a wire brush and a mechanical bore cleaner like JB bore paste to get it out. Once it is out, it will take a few rounds for the rifle to settle down accuracy wise while the coating is being evenly spread down the barrel. In addition to the problems I have mentioned, if you shoot coated and uncoated bullets interchangeably you may think your barrel is shot out because of poor accuracy. General speaking, dissimilar bullet material/coatings do not mix well. There are just too many very good premium bullets on the market to risk a Safari to questionable bullet performance. I hope this helps.
 

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