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9x23mm Winchester Ammo

The 9x23mm was specifically designed for the needs of sport shooters who wanted a 9mm caliber cartridge that would meet the USPSA major power factor standard. Unfortunately, the cartridge was caught in legal issues early in its life and struggles to find a place in the competition world.

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History of 9x23mm Winchester Ammunition

The 9x23mm Winchester was introduced in 1996 at the NRA convention. This cartridge was going to allow sport shooters to shoot safer and faster while still meeting major power factor. The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) were struggling with a pretty serious issue in the early ninety’s; shooters were having catastrophic failures with some hand guns because shooters were attempting to reach major power factor with firearms and calibers that were ill suited to such pressures.

When competing in any of these disciplines, the ammunition must meet certain criteria to be considered of a Major Power Factor. If ammo meets these criteria, the shooter does not incur scoring penalties associated with ammunition that is of a Minor Power Factor. To determine Power Factor the bullet weight is multiplied by the velocity and divided by 1000. In 1996 the minimum score to be considered Major was 175. This means that a .38 Super with a 130 grain bullet would have to achieve about 1350 feet per second to make Major. While this is not outside of the limits of the .38 Super, it is close enough that there were enough issues to inspire Winchester Ammunition to collaborate with Colt’s Manufacturing Company to create a cartridge that would combine the increased magazine capacity of the 9mm diameter and the ability to handle the higher pressures that were generated with pushing a bullet of that size to Major Power Factor velocities.

The 9x23mm Winchester was going to be the cartridge to resolve this issue. With the same bullet diameter as the .38 Super many reloading components were already on hand for competitors to load their own ammo. This is where the similarities between the .38 Super and the 9x23mm end. The case, designed by John Ricco in 1992, was strengthened to allow the 9x23 to operate at about 25% higher case pressures Ricco called his case the 9x23 Super. Since Ricco used Winchester cases to produce prototype cases, Winchester began to use his design to produce 9x23mm Winchester ammo. This led to a lawsuit by Ricco which halted production by Winchester for 7 years, until the case was resolved.

During this time IPSC changed the Major Power Factor from 175 to 165, making the .38 Super a much safer choice for shooters. This was a huge blow to the popularity of the 9x23 as the .38 Super had gained a strong following. The 9x23mm has been relegated to somewhat of a novelty cartridge. What is not well known is that the 9x23mm has ballistics that are slightly better than the .357 SIG and a higher magazine capacity. Unfortunately, possibly because of the origin of the cartridge, it was never accepted as a self defense cartridge.

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