Why the Winchester 9mm NATO Bulk Ammo May be Bad for Your Pistol
Rob Reed 10.01.14
After the recent ammo drought, it’s good to see relatively cheap bulk pistol ammo returning to store shelves. But ammo buyers need to be aware that not everything is as it seems and not all ammo is created equal.
I found this Winchester “150 Round Value Pack” of 9mm NATO 124 gr ammo for sale at my local Gander Mountain for $49.99 recently. That works out to about $16.66 per 50, which is not bad for reloadable brass cased 9mm in the current market.
That is, until you read the (very) fine print on the bottom of the box that says, “These cartridges are loaded to military velocity and pressure; average pressure is 10% to 15% higher than industry standard pressure for 9mm Luger.”
This is obviously part of some military contract overrun packaged in bulk as cheap plinking ammo. The problem is the “10% to 15%” higher pressure puts this square in the 9mm +P category. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) actually goes as far as to list 9mm NATO as being “unsafe” for firearms chambered in the standard 9mm Luger caliber.
While the SAAMI recommendation may be overly cautious, the reality is that 9mm NATO spec ammo should only be shot through those pistols rated for 9mm +P ammo. While this does include most modern pistol designs, such as those made by GLOCK, HK, Sig Sauer, etc., there are modern pistols not rated for these higher pressures and a large number of older pistols out there that are not +P rated.
And, even if shooting higher pressure ammo through any particular pistol is safe, it does increase the wear and tear on the pistol’s components.
While I’m happy to see bulk 9mm ammo returning to the shelves, Winchester should have labelled these 9mm NATO boxes more clearly so shooters would have a better understanding of what they are buying.