Review: Winchester Forged 9mm

Winchester USA Forged Ammunition box

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.

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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (32)

  1. I got a couple boxes of this in 9mm for a range day with the wife. My M&P Shield handled it pretty well, buy my wife’s Ruger LC9s was jamming with almost every shot. We ended up leaving in frustration before we even finished one box. We came back later with a box of brass-cased ammo for her, and I finished off the steel stuff.

    Out of the 300 rounds I bought, I shot almost all of them through my S&W and had a couple of jams. I usually buy bottom-drawer ammo for target shooting, but we’ve never had problems like with this stuff.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. I purchased 100 rounds of this ammunition to run through my Ruger LC9s. I could not get through a magazine consistently without having to manually clearing the chamber more than 50% of the time. The casing would not extract from the chamber and so I would use a cleaning rod to push the spent case out.
    I’ve used steel cases ammunition in my Norinco 1911 and had no issues and so was hoping it would be the same in my other pistol.
    I’m not saying this is bad ammunition and not use it but it doesn’t work well with my LC9s. This is the only type of ammunition that doesn’t work I’ve tried. Anyone else have this type of issue with their LC9s?

  11. I have fired hundreds of rounds of this ammo through my Glock 17 with no issues whatsoever. As pointed out in the article, the high velocity makes a huge difference over the foreign brands. The steel cases appear to be coated whith something, I am not sure, but even with that the ammo will corrode if not stored properly, my son found that out the hard way! Just surface ick that could be wiped off, but a good lesson in ammunition care.

  12. I tried a box over the summer and while I found it to be decent quality, i probably won’t buy any more of it. The coating ready comes off the case and into your hands while loading up; covering my hands with a gray power. While not the end of the world, I’d still use it in a pinch, it’s annoying enough that I’ll pass on it. I will say it was fairly consistent and feed reliably. I did have extraction issues in a new to me Mauser hi power clone. But I blame a week extraction spring, after a rebuild with new spring the problem went away. The hi power also had feeding issues with brass case till I polished the feed ramp, so go figure.

  13. The author states a copper jacketed bullet, but the catalog page says a brass jacket. I suspect the altter is true.

  14. I have shot tons of steel cased ammo through my AR – 15’s , and my STI, Springfield Armory and Colt 1911’s and my Berretta 92FS , Sig 239 and so on . Never had a broken extractor or any other issues either . If you are cleaning your weapons properly, meaning cleaning the Chambers, there is no reason for extraction issues . As far as chamber wear from steel case ammo, if the steel that your weapons is made of is softer than the ammo you are shooting, you have bigger issues to worry about than chamber wear !

  15. I bought several boxes of these at a local store and headed to the range with all the magazines of my PT92 topped off. The first five rounds were nowhere near center at 10 yards. they were not grouped to the side either. After finishing the first mag with similar results, I began to field strip my firearm, thinking something was wrong. The range Master walked over to me and told me what type of ammo I was shooting, but I didn’t bring the box, just the ammo. He offered to watch my firearm if I wanted to get a different box in the shop. I had brought a box of a different brand that I normally shoot, so reloaded the magazine at put the next 15 in the red. The range master walked over to me and said that brand either shoots accurately or doesn’t, just seems to depend on the firearm. I talked with other folks that seem to love them, I will not buy them again. I would not recommend buying 1,000 rounds until you test 150 of so. But that is true with most low priced ammo.

  16. Back in the ’90s, I got my hands on a Russian-made firearm. My first run to the range, I wanted a decent but cheap target ammo, and chose the UMC (made by Remington) cartridge. Unfortunately, the cartridge was NOT mil-spec, despite the fact that there were NO non-military chamberings in that cartridge at that time, and the primer was too soft. The floating firing-pin triggered a primer without the hammer striking as the bolt carried forward, and luckily my new firearm did not explode in my face. I switched to Russian-made, Russian Mil-Spec steel-cased, lacquer-coated cartridges for that particular firearm, and never used anything else in it again. 100% reliability, fine accuracy, consistent load. Never bought UMC again either… The biggest issue is that the Russian ammo uses corrosive powders, so cleaning the gun after each range session is more important.

    Nice to see an American-made alternative being offered.

  17. Winchester told me the Forged cases were boxer primed and reloadable, and my samples were and lasted for over six reloadings each.

    Did they change to a berdan primer?

    1. If you are interested in bullet separation friction, the amount of force required to push the bullet from the case the best way is to use an impact slider vertical drop metering recorder. Not cheap, but works perfectly.

      If you just want to check at minimal cost get an internial bullet extractor and compare the amount of force to take care of the issue with rounds you have been using. That will let you know if it is pulling out too easily or requires too much force.

      Case expansion is a simple micrometer meas for both inside and outside for both the mouth and mid-body sizes.

      For high speed automated loading control of case mouth friction is vital for high speed loading, an old rock chucker is much, much more forgiving.

      I guess part of it is that I started with EC steel 45 cases back in the early seventies and did not have tons of gloom and doom internet warbling to make it sound highly exotic.

    2. Interestingly, somehow– either in spite of or because of the use of spell checking, inertial wound up with an “n” stuck in the middle.

      If you want to search online for an inertia bullet puller it helps if the spelling is correct. I apologize.

    3. If you enlarge the picture of the box shown you will see on the side it shows the rounds features. It shows boxer primer in this picture.

  18. Cheap, Made in USA…all GOOD. Reliability…not that important due to range (only) ammo.

    But…how will it affect my firearm? Will it create more wear then brass? I don’t want to be penny wise, dollar foolish.

    1. Case causing chamber wear is usually a bogus claim.

      This suggestion is for any steel cased ammunition– the quick and easy way to see if it will cause greater than normal is to pick up the empty cases and see if you can find anyplace that the coating on the case has been removed. If not, then the case is riding on the coating, and you can take your pocket knife and determine that the coating is softer than your barrel by a large amount.

    2. Some Soviet 7.62x54R steel case WW2 vintage ball ammo has case necks which were not expanding to seal from gas flow, and which were “gas burn roughening” the chambers, and some steel cased Italian .30 Carbine ball did the same thing.

      In neither case was it all of that caliber, just particular lots of that ammunition.

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