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Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Review: Good, Not Great Hunting Ammo

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Review

Every year, I can’t wait for rifle season to open. Truth be told, I’ve never once recovered an arrow I shot from a bow, so rifle season is really where I shine.

If you’re like me, you’re watching the game cams and shopping for the deer (plural) that’s going to stock your freezer. But hopefully, you’re also shopping for the right ammunition to get the job done.

There’s no shortage of over-hyped deer-hunting ammo on the market these days, and while you don’t want to get ripped off, you also don’t want something that won’t perform. Fortunately, I’ve compiled this review to tell you everything you need to know about Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-grain ammo. If you’re in a hurry, grab a box HERE.

But if you want to read my full review, let's talk ammo!

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Overview

If you’ve ever read my ammo reviews, you know I love Hornady. The company never fails to amaze me, and its new products always overcome old challenges. Hornady American Whitetail is the ammunition that makes it affordable and practical for all hunters to stock the freezer.

Manufactured in Grand Island, Nebraska, Hornady has been designing its own bullets since the 1960s and never fails to impress. Furthermore, it’s made in the USA, so that’s a bonus for our patriotic readers.

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-grain bullets use Hornady’s patented InterLock technology, which includes a tapered jacket with interlocking rings to prevent core-jacket separation.

Essentially, if the jacket and core stay together throughout expansion, you'll create wider and deeper wound channels. This equates to you bringing home more deer.

Furthermore, American Whitetail cases are reloadable. They have high-quality brass cases and Boxer primers, so they’re great for reloading. They’re an investment that you can use over and over again if you have the know-how.

Another point I should make is that the 165-grain is great for deer hunting because it has a longer effective range than the 150-grain variation, and you'll get deeper penetration and controlled expansion at closer distances.

Another neat thing about Hornady Whitetail rifle ammo is that you can buy a case for all of your hunting rifles. I switched to a .308 Winchester for deer hunting about five years ago because, with ammunition like American Whitetail 165-grain, I can easily get 20 inches of penetration and perfect expansion.

My dad still uses a 110 Savage (.270) with iron sights because he hates modern components because he thinks you don't need all the bells and whistles to bring home a deer. But we find the .308 Win to be the perfect deer hunting round because it has manageable recoil and plenty of deer-slaying power. This means we can both order the same ammo.

Our Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Review

I won’t lie: Hornady American Whitetail .308 165-grain isn’t my go-to choice for taking down the buck of a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great ammo and perfect for deer hunting (that’s what it’s designed for), but I’m a bit ammo bougie, and my Mossberg PT100 .308 prefers Federal Terminal Ascent.

However, I love Hornady bullets, and I often use American Whitetail at the range. It’s more affordable than other premium ammunition and shoots the same, so I use it to sight in my scope and near the end of deer season when I’m just enjoying the sport with the freezer already stocked.

On the other hand, your rifle may love Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-grain, and if that’s the case, it’s a great buy. Naturally, you don’t want to order 500 rounds of the world’s best ammunition without testing it. So, my recommendation is to pick up one or two boxes and take it to the range. If it performs well and you trust it, you’re all set for deer season, and you’ve saved a little bit of money.

Hornady American Whitetail ammunition is mid-range deer hunting ammo, as it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Hornady Superformance SST but is a bit more advanced than Federal Power Shok. The Hornady InterLock SPs (soft point) will penetrate and expand to take down a deer, but they don’t have the added oomph of a polymer-tipped bullet (which forces expansion).

Because American Whitetail has a soft core surrounded by a stronger jacket, with the tip exposed, it’s going to penetrate and expand exactly how you'd expect any traditional soft-point bullet.

Moreover, the bullet's design gives it an excellent ballistic coefficient of .435, so it does give us an advantage over wind drift, and the 2,700 fps muzzle velocity is right in line with comparable hunting bullets.

Another thing I try to do when searching for hunting ammo is to find one that I can use for deer and elk. While American Whitetail is great for medium-sized game, but I would use something heavier and more efficient like Nosler Accubond or Hornady ELD-X for elk and big game.

I trust Hornady, and that includes American Whitetail. It’s mid-range hunting ammo that hasn’t ever failed me. So, if you’re looking for value that won’t let you down, this is a great option.

What is it Best for?

Hornady American Whitetail 165-grain InterLock ammo is best for deer and medium-sized game with softer hides. Thicker hides can force expansion too quickly, which may not take down a larger animal like an elk.

However, another often overlooked advantage of Hornady American Whitetail ammunition is that it’s the perfect bullet for getting ready for deer season. For example, if you prefer high-end ammunition like Nosler Accubond or Barnes TTSX, you can use American Whitetail to sight in your scope and save some money at the range.


Hornady American Whitetail doesn’t have many disadvantages. It’s high-quality ammunition that feeds well and never malfunctions (at least not for me or anyone I know). Despite the fact that it’s cheaper than other hunting ammo, it has consistent accuracy and performs well.

I’d say the only disadvantage to this ammo is that it isn’t versatile enough. You can use it for deer and hogs, but there are far better options for elk or larger game animals.

Pros and Cons

If you’re still debating whether you should try Hornady American Whitetail 165-grain InterLock SP bullets, I’ll give you the rundown of pros and cons based on my experience here:


  • It’s affordable, high-quality ammo
  • High accessibility
  • Reloadable
  • Accurate
  • Reliable
  • Designed specifically for deer


  • It isn’t versatile enough for large game like elk and moose
  • It’s a simple SP with no bells and whistles (that may be a pro for you if you aren’t interested in new products)
  • Our California readers can’t hunt with it, thanks to the exposed lead core

Cartridge Specifications

I wouldn’t leave you without the exact specifications of Hornady American Whitetail .308 ammo, so take a look at this chart to learn more:

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Cartridge Specifications

Ballistics of Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Bullets

Not only does Hornady American Whitetail have excellent terminal ballistics, but it also has great ballistics all around. Take a look at this ballistic chart:

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain Ballistics table


Perhaps you didn’t find everything you were looking for in Hornady American Whitetail. Fortunately, there are other Hornady products that may work for you.

Let’s take a look.

Hornady Superformance SST

If you want something that shoots a little faster but also won’t let you down on expansion, Hornady Superformance 150-Grain SST is an excellent option. Super-shock tip (SST) bullets are designed to shoot flat and expand well.

Hornady designed its Superformance bullets to increase the muzzle velocity without additional chamber pressure and recoil. If you’re taking your kid hunting for the first time ever, this may be a viable option.

Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X

If you’re looking for versatility, as in taking the same bullets from the range to filling your deer and elk tags, Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X 178-Grain ammunition is the sweet spot. It’s heavy enough to take down an elk and still effective for deer and hogs. However, it isn’t much more expensive than Hornady American Whitetail.

Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X 178-Grain has a 2,600 fps muzzle velocity. If you can account for the drop (zeroing your sights for 200 yards is optimal), it will still expand at about 700 yards, so it’s technically a long-range bullet.

Parting Shots

Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain ammo for sale

While Hornady American Whitetail 165-grain InterLock SPs aren’t my go-to, I would absolutely trust them to take down a buck (or doe, or hog, etc.). They aren’t as versatile as other hunting bullets, but they are accurate, reliable, and affordable.

Furthermore, if your rifle likes them and you can hit a target, that’s really all you need anyway. You can pick up all the Hornady hunting bullets your heart desires HERE. Otherwise, keep in mind that Remington, Federal, Barnes, and many other manufacturers also offer excellent deer hunting ammo.

You can find them at competitive prices on our 308 bulk ammo page. Check it out and stock up on quality ammunition for your next hunting trip!


Is the Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain worth buying?

Yes! Even if you have another go-to hunting cartridge, Hornady American Whitetail bullets are great for practice and hunting.

What is the Range of Hornady American Whitetail 308 165-Grain?

Officially speaking, Hornady American Whitetail 165-grain bullets expand at 500 yards. However, that’s pushing it, so it’s best to keep your shots within 250-350 yards.

Is Whitetail ammo only good for deer?

No. It also works with other medium-sized game like hogs.

Is Hornady American Whitetail good for varmints?

It’ll get the job done, but it’s best to go with varmint bullets like the V-Max.

Can I use Hornady American Whitetail ammo in competitions?

You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Check out Hornady Black A-Max for competitions.

Does Hornady make good handgun ammo?

Absolutely. Hornady designs superior self-defense ammunition for handguns.

What’s the difference between .308 Win and 7.62 NATO?

While both bullets may seem similar, the 7.62 NATO actually has thicker cases and more headspace.

Cassandra McBride
Written by
Cassandra McBride

Ammunition Reviews