Review: Winchester Forged 9mm

By Bob Campbell published on in Ammunition

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.

Winchester USA Forged Ammunition box

Buying in bulk aids in economy.

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.

Winchester Forged ammunition box with pistol and magazine

The Forged ammo has performed well in a number of handguns.

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.

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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.

SLRule

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 Shooter’s 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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Comments (30)

  • Elena George

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    Some ranges where I live no longer permit steel cased ammo to be fired on their line.

    I went to aluminum cased ammo for less expensive range ammo.

    Reply

  • Jeff

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    I have used a couple boxes of this Ammo when used in a Pmag magazines for my G17 I experienced multiple feed issues, when used in genuine Glock magazines in my G19 I experienced no failures. YMMV

    I should mention no failures in the Pmags when using brass case Ammunition. Like others my concerns would be about extra wear to the magazines and the ramps to the barrel.

    Reply

  • Mark

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    I bought a bulk package of this ammo and will never buy it again. Many jams in my S&W Mod 39.

    Reply

  • Steve Frey

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    This is the worst ammunition I have ever shot! I saw it on sale at a local retailer and mentioned it to my son-in-law. He warned me about it, telling me that he had problems with jams when he used it. I ignored his warnings and bought it anyways.

    I purchased two boxes. I went through one, and am seriously thinking about throwing the second one in the garbage. Of the 50 rounds, 12 of them caused stovepipe jams.

    I shoot a Sig Sauer P226 which is known for being a very reliable, and jam resistant gun. Before this ammo, I have never seen what can be described as ‘breech flash’. I actually saw flash and smoke coming from the back of the gun, not the muzzle. After the last round, I ejected the magazine, and it had FILLED with so much smoke, it continued to smoke on the bench.

    Absolutely the WORST ammunition I have ever shot.

    Reply

  • Bob

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    I have used quite a bit of this at my outdoor range. In my XD sub it fires flawlessly as does it in my CZs. What I also love about them is that cleanup of ‘brass’ is a snap with my magnet that I use to pick up my brass cleaning case pins. I put the magnet in a baggie for extra insurance and with a pull of the handle it drops them in the trash bag.

    Reply

  • Jim

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    I use this ammo ,its works fine ,with my s&w 9c,,I’ve had,very few jams out of a 1000 rounds,for the price,you cant be at this ammo

    Reply

  • B.M.

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    Brass jacketed lead bullet. NOT copper. It says so on the box pictured above. And the Winchester website.

    Reply

  • Don

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    I purchased four (4) boxes of this ammo and I will never buy it again. I used it in my S&W 9MM Shield and my 9MM Springfield Armory XDS. This ammo jammed up in both weapons. It is garbage. I even wrote to Winchester telling them of my experience and they never contected me. I will never buy any more of their ammo.

    Reply

  • AC

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    I’ve bought several boxes of this stuff from a big box store. I would never ever buy it again based on my experiences and that of others. I have a Steyr M9a1 and a VP9SK that have had no problems with any brand or loading, but this stuff causes failure to feed jams in the VP9SK and my sub2000. Normally I have no problem shooting lacquered steel case ammo, however The Winchester steel case feels coarse which no doubt causes extra friction in magazines, and that roughness has simply made me hesitant to use it out of fear of wear on my firearms. There does appear to be some kind of white powder lubricant, but it’s entirely inadequate. On a large gun forum, multiple people have reported similar issues

    Reply

  • Joe

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    I purchased 1000 of Winchester forged to use in my watchers P PS m2 i never got more than 3 or 4 shots out before a jam. What a pain in the ass. I tried wiping off shells, extra oil for the slides but nothing helps.

    i switched back to umc with never a problem. What a waist of money.

    Reply

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