Winchester Hybrid-X: New Defensive Ammo

Winchester Ammunition announced a new defensive ammo called the Hybrid-X. The Winchester Hybrid-X ammo merges multiple bullet technologies to provide rapid incapacitation of a violent attacker.

But, is the new design an improved manstopper or just a gimmick? Although the ammo has a long way to go to prove itself, I think the line has some merit. Let’s take a look at what it is, where it may have drawn some inspiration and what it actually does in a testing medium.

The Basics

The new bullet design combines a polymer tip, a copper jacket and a segmenting lead core. As the bullet strikes the target the core is designed to break into smaller projectiles and, according to Winchester, “deliver massive energy transfer.”

Winchester Hybrid-X

Looking at the illustrations of the bullet, it would appear that the polymer tip makes up the majority of the rounded cone on the leading end. The segmenting core appears to have something akin to a wadcutter profile.

Initially, the new ammo will be offered only in 9mm. However, the company is likely to expand the line based on consumer feedback and request. The 9mm load uses a 124 grain bullet and is loaded to +P pressures. At the muzzle, the bullet’s measured velocity is 1,225 fps. Although the design is uncommon, the bullet’s weight and velocity are in line with other conventional loads.

Quik-Shok: Inspiration from the past?

Rounds like the Hybrid-X have been made in the past. For example, legendary defensive bullet designer Tom Burczynski designed a projectile called the Quik-Shok. This bullet technology was licensed by the defunct Triton ammunition company that sold the rounds in a wide variety of calibers.

According to an article written by Burczynski in the book Street Stoppers, the Quik-Shok bullet fragmented into three parts upon impact. Compared to typical fragmenting self-defense loads of the time, the Quik-Shok round delivered deeper penetration (about 10″.) Burczynski wrote he designed the load “primarily for law enforcement use in hostage situations or special situations where extremely rapid incapacitation is paramount.”

Winchester Hybrid-X new ammo

The Winchester Hybrid-X appears to be a different animal, though the concept is appears to be similar to that of the Quik-Shok. It is likely the company engineered this round to penetrate to the arbitrary 12″ minimum depth of the FBI testing protocols. If so, this load may offer a significant alternative to both citizens and law enforcement agencies deciding on what to carry.

Range Testing

Recently, Rob Pincus became the first person outside of Winchester Ammunition to test the Hybrid-X ammo. Pincus is the director of the Personal Defense Network and a firearms trainer.

According to Pincus, the Hybrid-X ammunition “ran flawlessly” in multiple compact and full-size self-defense handguns. Pincus also said that accuracy with the round was “solid.”

Winchester Hybrid-X penteration testing

Pincus shot a number of these new rounds into Clear Ballistics testing medium. Clear Ballistics makes a synthetic alternative to ballistics gelatin that is used for FBI testing. While it is not identical to the “official” testing medium, it does offer an early look at potential performance.

All shots into the Clear Ballistics blocks were made at 12′ and with two layers of cotton clothing over the facing side of the block.

From the photos Pincus provided me, it appears the 9mm load penetrated to about 7-8″ before it broke into its designed shards. These pieces continued to penetrate deeper into the block. It appears in the photo above that two of the pieces penetrated to about 12″ and a third went to about 13″.

Winchester Hybrid-X ammo review

I’m still a fan of the modern bonded hollowpoint,” said Pincus. “Rounds like the Defender round or the from Winchester;s Train & Defend line are my primary choice for self defense. However, the Hybrid-X is an impressive option for a non-traditional approach. The design offers the feeding characteristics of a ball round but with far greater wounding capacity.

Pincus said that a video of his testing will be posted at the Personal Defense Network in the near future.

Last Update: October 23, 2022

Final Thoughts

I’ve always liked the idea of this kind of bullet. None of the segmented bullet designs to date, however, have ever managed to convince me to move away from traditional hollowpoint designs.

The testing information and photos provided by Pincus are suggestive that Winchester Ammunition has a product that offers better performance than older fragmenting bullet designs. Additional testing through barriers and with traditional ballistics gelatin will likely be instructive on how far the company has moved the design forward.

I look forward to seeing testing of this ammunition, and expect Winchester will have demos run at the 2018 SHOT Show.

Note: This article has been updated to include first hand testing information from Rob Pincus. Thanks to Pincus for giving me permission to use his photos in this article.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

12 replies on “Winchester Hybrid-X: New Defensive Ammo”

I just picked up 100 rounds of my favorite … Federal 130gr .38+p HST. I’ll look forward to gelatin tests done on this new Winchester ammo in the future. Good Luck and stay safe.

Hi Scott,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I like the HST a lot as well. It will be interesting to see how the Hybrid-X fares in comparison. A firearms trainer I know got an early look at the new Winchester stuff and said it did surprisingly well in gel. Maybe they’re onto something.


Neat design. I liked the old Triton Quik-Shok but never trusted the lighter stuff like Glaser and MagSafe. If this consistently penetrates to 12-15″ in ballistic jello, I would carry it.

I would wait and see how this round handles barriers. You don’t need a round that doesn’t track consistently after going through auto glass, for instance. I would also like to see an improvement in earlier core separation.

“The Defender rd from Winchester’s Train & Defend line is my favorite choice”…… said
no one ever. Or maybe, says the guy wanting to stay in the good graces of Winchester as he exclusively tests their new product. I mean really…. ? not Gold Dot, not HST, not Critical Duty, not any solid copper load, not even the lowly Hydrashok or even Winchester’s own PDX1….? Just the T&D JHP? Siigghhhh…. Zero mention of the obvious resemblance of the projectile to Polycase’s patented ARX bullet is…. curious.

Hi Matt,

Thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment. I hope you’ll let me respond to a few things you have said.

You started off by saying ‘ “The Defender rd from Winchester’s Train & Defend line is my favorite choice”…… said
no one ever. ‘

And that is correct. Rob Pincus, the person quoted in this article, did not say that. Rather, he said “Rounds like the Defender round…are my primary choice for self defense.”

He did not say that the Defender round is his favorite or even preferred round. Rather, he seems to be saying that traditional hollow point bullets, of which Winchester makes several, are preferred to this new, unproven round by the same company.

Although I don’t have any additional quotes for you, I’m fairly confident Pincus has stated that HST, PDX1 and Gold Dot rounds are proven loads. Frankly, the HST and Gold Dot rounds are my first choices.

Regarding the lack of resemblance to the ARX, that’s on me. The polymer nose of this round is fluted, as is the body of the ARX. Since this is self-evident, I didn’t think it needed explaining. I’ll be more careful in future writing.

I think, however, that is where the similarities between the Hybrid-X and the ARX appear to end. The Winchester bullet is designed to fragment into specific parts. If I understand the mechanics of the ARX round, isn’t that the exact opposite design intent?

If there is some other comparison between the two rounds that you’d like for me to explore, please let me know. I’d be happy to reach out to the companies and gather additional information.

I have no financial interests tied to any company in the firearms industry. I don’t accept advertising, paid articles or any other nonsense. If you are new to the site, please take a few minutes to read my positions on bias in reporting and how I earn money on the main page of my website:

Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment.



I initially misread the comment from Rob where he mentions the “Defender” line, and where I thought he was referring only to the “D” half of the T&D line, which is an odd primary-carry mention for a simple cheap re-branded ammo which is ham-handedly marketted to women for no particular reason and is Walmart & Cabelas fodder. I see now that he actually meant the newly re-branded (does the industry ever stop re-branding / re-naming?) “Defender” line which is the bonded JHP PDX1. Other than that I just thought it was odd that no mention of the Polycase ARX made it into the story since it looks really, really similar – like identical as far as the front half of the projectile. That’s all. Otherwise a normal article.

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