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.

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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.


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Comments (30)

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 !

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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