Some time ago, the inexpensive ammunition market was flooded with foreign-produced steel-cased ammunition. This ammunition was not always consistent, but it was always cheap. Winchester set out to develop an American made loading, offering American powder and bullets with inexpensive steel-cased cartridge cases.
This isn’t the first time major American makers have turned to steel cartridge cases. During World War II, cartridge brass was becoming scarce. Makers turned to steel for cases and millions of steel cased .45 ACP rounds were produced. I have fired and used some, and found it useful. Foreign produced loads often use powder technology that isn’t up to American developments. In response, Winchester came up with the Winchester Forged line of steel cased ammunition.
The cartridge case is gray finished and features a copper jacketed bullet. The powder charge is a cannister grade of Olin type powder—at least it appears to be—probably an industrial grade of Winchester 231. This is a fast-burning powder that leaves little powder ash and features a modest muzzle signature.
The primer is berdan priming, a type that works well in non-reloadable cases. Since few shooters handload, and care nothing for picking up brass, this steel cased cartridge brass is well suited to non-reloadable berdan priming. Winchester’s answer to competition is a good one. The Winchester Forged load is available in bulk and offers a good value.
The Winchester Forged 9mm was loaded and tested for this review. The primary test vehicle was a Glock 45. This pistol features a full-size Glock 17 grip and the shorter Glock 19 slide. This pistol was carried in, and drawn from, a DeSantis Hidden Truth inside the waistband holster. This is a great design from an old line maker.
The 9mm Forged load isn’t loaded hot, but it is service grade in order to provide meaningful practice. I fired over 100 cartridges as quickly as I could fire, re-holster, draw, fire and reload during rapid fire drills. The loads were reliable and the Forged line was clearly accurate enough for meaningful practice.
As for absolute accuracy the Forged line is more than accurate enough for practice and general target shooting. Firing from a solid barricade rest, simulating firing from cover, it wasn’t difficult to fire five-shot groups of two to three inches. Winchester 9mm Forged makes the grade for training and practice.
Do you have a favorite training ammunition? Do you reload? What is your opinion of steel-cased ammunition? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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