Steel-Case Ammo Made in USA: Winchester’s USA Forged
Russ Chastain 05.02.16
They’re calling it USA Forged, and it’s Winchester’s answer to cheap foreign-made steel-cased ammo.
Somewhere along the line, I missed this one; although I just received a press release today, this new Winchester ammo has been out for a while now. Our friends over at TFB posted about it back in December.
Currently offered only in 150-round boxes of 9mm Luger (115-grain FMJ bullet, rated 1190 fps muzzle velocity), it’s ammo made in the USA with steel cases instead of brass ones (to reduce cost).
I’m deeply saddened that Winchester has given in to TV cop-show-speak and begun to refer to cartridge cases as “shellcases.” This is straight from the department of redundancy department; it’s like saying “bullet projectile” or “firearm rifle.” What can I say? I prefer accuracy in firearms as well as language.
Anyhow, back to the ammo. They say it’s made in Oxford, Mississippi, and that “USA Forged represents the culmination of an extensive development project that resulted in new manufacturing methods.” They’re Boxer primed (this means they have one flash hole, rather than the two small holes found in Berdan primed imported ammo), and of course the primers are non-corrosive.
[USA Forged ammunition] utilizes precision-made steel shellcases with a proprietary coating for improved reliability and corrosion resistance. The noncorrosive boxer primers and clean-burning powder are ideal for high-volume range sessions, while the brass jacketed (nonplated) lead-core bullets can be used on any range and can also be used in any pistol type; including ported, vented or suppressed pistols.
One TFB commenter who picked up a box of these at Wal-Mart ($31.97 for 150 rounds) wasn’t impressed with the “proprietary coating” on the steel cases, saying “the steel cases are rather unrefined, not smooth as other steel cased ammo I have used, and it almost seemed as if there was a light coating of oxidation on them.”
One review found USA Forged to provide good reliability and accuracy in nine different handguns, with the caveat that this ammo left more powder residue in the guns than the shooter expected.
The factory specs call for another unusual feature: brass-jacketed bullets. For many moons, the most common material for bullet jackets has been copper. It will be interesting to see whether brass will become the new norm — or at least more common — for jacketing lead-core bullets.
The cost-per-round looks like it will hover just below $0.25 per round, once you factor in shipping/taxes. This seems costly to my mind, but that’s the world in which we live. At any rate, this places USA Forged in a pretty good position vis-a-vis cheap imported 9mm ammo, which can be had for about the same money. Most of us prefer to buy American-made stuff whenever possible, and this ammo seems poised to do well in that market.
What do you think? Good idea, bad idea? Have you tried USA Forged?