underpowered Winchester WC91 9mmx19 ammunition?


November 3, 2013, 06:43 PM
I was curious what was the experience for other uses of the Winchester WC91 9mmx19 ammunition product?


The published nominal spec for the WC91 product is a 115g projectile at 1190 ft/sec out of a 4-inch barrel.

A friend asked me to chrono some of this product that he had acquired. The sample I evaluated had a mean velocity of 1087.5 ft/sec out of a 4.5" G17 (based on 8 rounds). That's seriously slow, to the point that function problems can be encountered. (Which is what my friend was experiencing just with the WC91 ammunition).

Have others found the WC91 actual loadings to be this anemic?


By way of comparison, I also chronoed some Q4172 with a nominal spec of 115g projectile at 1190 ft/sec out of a 4-inch barrel.


My chrono testing for that lot of the Q4172 was a mean velocity of 1145 ft/sec (based on 8 rounds). That's much closer to the published spec, and less likely to create function issues.


What I like to see in 9mmx19 factory ammunition is an IPSC power factor floor of at least 132.
(115g @ 1148 ft/sec floor - SAAMI spec for such is say 1170 ft/sec
(124g @ 1065 ft/sec floor - SAMMI spec for such is say 1110 ft/sec

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P5 Guy
November 4, 2013, 04:22 PM
Too many variables?
Glock 17 has hexagonal rifling not cut could this have an impact?
Factory testing, what barrel do they use?
Weather conditions? At the lab and the range vary so loosing 100FPS maybe normal considering the the variables.

November 4, 2013, 04:28 PM
"Underpowered" is subjective. There's 9mm sold off the shelf that is reputed to not reliably make USPSA minor. If one is recoil sensitive, or trying to put a decent number of rounds through a pocket 9mm, or teaching a new-ish shooter, that may be exactly what you want.

February 1, 2014, 07:41 AM
The conventional wisdom is that polygonal-rifled barrels create slightly higher velocities than cut-rifled (lower friction).

If the WC91 was being sold as a reduced power product by design that would be another matter entirely. In fact, it seriously under-performs the mfgr velocity spec and causes stovepipe and related jams in two G17's and a 4-digit Smith&Wesson autopistol. Other ammunition works just fine in the same pistols.

Ammunition that doesn't reliably cycle an auto-pistol is not very useful in an auto-pistol unless your goal is practicing your jam-clearing technique.

Good revolver fodder...

February 1, 2014, 05:56 PM
100 fps in a load such as that could be a gun to gun variable. Nothing wrong with that. Can't say the functioning problems were the ammo's fault.

February 1, 2014, 06:41 PM
I don't have the Glock manual in front of me but I thought the recommended 9mm power floor was a 115 at 1115-fps. Could be wrong on that, though I think there was some speculation underpowered training ammo partly contributed to the infamous NYPD Phase 3 malfunctions.

Sorry, I have nothing else to add, I haven't chronographed any WC91 ammo (or seen any). I have chronographed some WWB 115gr FMJ and in my G-17 saw 1200-fps average. Definitely not the "whimpy, underpowered junk" I've read about on the 'net. Same gun also gives the full advertised 1270-fps from 127 gr +P+ Ranger SXTs.

Also in my experience the only way to be off a full 100-fps from printed specs was to go from the 4.5" G-17 to a 3.1" KelTec PF-9. My G-26 generally posts a 60-70 fps loss from the big gun.

I wonder if that lot of WC91 was surplused due to not meeting specification? Certainly reads like it, and I would blame the ammo for the malfunctions in this case.

February 2, 2014, 11:07 AM
I don't know about the batch above, but some time ago a chronographed some Winchester 30 Luger. Winchester claims 1220 from a 4.5 inch barrel. In this particular case the SAAMI test barrel has the same specs as the SAMMI working barrel. I ran this stuff through 4 inch, 4.5 inch, 5 inch, and 6 inch barrels in two types of pistol of three makes. In no case did it get close to the advertised spec. Barely cycled the action.

For years I've heard similar stories about Winchester 458 ammo.

February 2, 2014, 11:09 AM
I called Winchester and asked them about this. They had kind of a nasty attitude and no real answer.

February 2, 2014, 09:10 PM
If one wants more velocity S&B or Fiocchi is way to go. These are loaded to C.I.P. standards.

February 2, 2014, 11:06 PM
I have a friend who bought a bunch of the WC91 last year. I warned him to test before buying a lot of it but he was too eager...

Lots of other products that meets factory spec.

American "practice" ammunition seems to be notorious for underloading.

February 3, 2014, 01:08 AM
More barrel doesn't always correlate to higher velocity. I chronoed same ammo, same lot through my G17 and several G19s and 26s. Most of the 19s and a few of the 26s had a higher velocity than the 17. You can find 100 fps difference in 9mm with two consecutive serial numbered guns. My favor 200 swc load for 45 ACP gives me about 825 fps in a 5" 1911 but 1000 fps in a 4.5" P90. With some other loads I've tested there is no difference.

Lots of variables can occur causing 100 fps in a load going about 1200 fps. An inch or so of barrel may not make a difference.

Steve C
February 3, 2014, 01:51 AM
Other things that affect velocity are altitude of test, ambient air temperature, and temperature of the ammo though differences in firearm is one of the major variables.

Velocity of ammo fired at low elevation on a cold winter day will be slower than ones fired at higher elevation on a warm summer day.

February 3, 2014, 02:46 PM
I recently chrono tested 3 different lots of Win. White Box 115 FMJ, also claiming 1190fps on the boxes. All purchased in the 100 rd. Value Packs from Walmart. I'm guessing it's the same as the WC91.This ammo has gotten a bad rap from some on the internet as "underpowered" and "unreliable." Tested using a S&W M&P 9c, 3.5" barrel.

Lot #1 (WCC 12 NATO crimped cases): 1156 fps average.
Lot #2 (standard cases): 1227 fps average.
Lot #3 (standard cases): 1173 fps average.

Reliability was 100% as it always has been in my experience. This ammo looks great, works 100% of the time, and goes suitably fast. Accurate too. That defines great ammo.

The ammo was purchased over time. Lot #1 was 3/12 manufacture, Lot #2 was 9/12 manufacture, and Lot #3 was 5/13 manufacture.

I also recently tested some other popular brands available at Walmart to see how they compared to the WWB.

- Rem.-UMC 115 MC: 1157 fps average.
- Federal Champion 115 FMJ: 1169 fps average.

These also went bang every time and hit pretty much where I aimed them, me being the limiting factor.

The M&P9c fed, fired and ejected everything without a hitch.

Bottom line: Popular, bulk, inexpensive ammo available at Walmart works perfectly, in my experience. If it's not working in your gun, the gun might be the culprit.

February 4, 2014, 09:02 PM
As I mentioned before, WC91 I was asked to test has IPSC power factor of 125.
Marginal function in G17 and 4-digit S&W autopistol. I wouldn't choose 125 PF ammunition for an IPSC match. Too close to the line.

Other Winchester (Q4172) tested has 132 power factor. Functions fine in the same pistols.
Other full power ammunition works fine in them too. Seriously doubt it's the test firearms,
unless you want to argue that they should function well with underpowered ammunition.

The Glock is primarily used in IPSC matches, "good" ammunition for such usage would be at least 133 power factor to ensure competitor is shooting for score on hot and cold days, with possible marginally calibrated official chronographs and scales.

Just trying to confirm how common it is to see underpowered WC91 ammunition.

February 4, 2014, 09:38 PM

So, I wonder why you're getting much slower readings although your barrel is 4.5" vs. my 3.5".

And my readings are closer to the manufacturer's claimed velocities, adjusted for barrel length.

And, I haven't had a single failure, nada, not one. Not with 3 different lots of Winchester, not with Rem.-UMC, not with Federal. Not with a bunch of other kinds of ammo I didn't include here.

If I were having your experience I'd take a hard look at my equipment.

February 4, 2014, 10:42 PM
I'm only getting low reading with the specific lot WC91. Lots of other products work just fine and have normal velocities.

February 6, 2014, 12:45 AM
The WinClean bullet is exceptionally long and has a lot of bullet surface to barrel contact, it isn't surprising you would lose some velocity in a polygonally rifled barrel. It is also far less malleable than most any other bullet due to it's totally enclosed jacket which doesn't help the situation.

February 6, 2014, 07:10 AM
Trying to figure out if your trying to report an actual problem here or just bashing the Winchester ammo? I realize 9mm is in short supply, but...

I am getting that you wouldnt choose the ammunition for IPSC matches which makes sense given Winchester advertises the WC91 as "plinking" ammo. Most but not quite all the guys I know who shoot pistol matches load their own, would not even consider this for competition. Am I wrong?

If your truly concerned I would suggest you contact OLIN or the subsidiary Winchester directly. Its a great company, no doubt they will want to know your chrono results. I even bet they would replace (and then some) the ammo used in your tests with WC91 or even better if you ask.

February 6, 2014, 12:49 PM
I'm just trying to help out my friend who purchased two cases several months ago at Canadian retail.

Apparently no-one else has found WC91 lacking in velocity compared to the factory spec. That surprises me, but perhaps IPSC "minor" plus a modest margin isn't important to most users. Revolver users, I guess :-)

Given that the ammunition is simply underpowered and not dangerous, prospects for getting timely satisfaction from the Winchester/Olin Canadian distributor in a time of product shortages looks poor. (Retailer is not the guarantor of product performance).

Arrangements are being made to scrap and rebuild the remaining 1500 cartridges so that the result will achieve say 133 floor power factor, which is remarkably close to the factory spec for WC91. (Nominal spec is 136.8). Primed cases, projectiles and propellant will all be recovered and re-used.

Personally, I rarely use factory 9mmx19 ammunition, having reloaded 10's of thousands of rounds of same over the years. I run my 9mmx19 autopistols with aftermarket springs
that are compatible with IPSC floor+margin ammunition, but would be unforgiving of underpowered ammunition. I do final function testing weak-hand only unsupported wrist unlocked to confirm sufficient margin.

February 6, 2014, 05:01 PM

Since this is The High Road, I know you wouldn't purposely slam America or Americans.

But I do take umbrage at this statement from post #9:

"American "practice" ammunition seems to be notorious for underloading."

I debunked that offensive and fallacious statement in post #13 with chrono results of 3 lots of Winchester bulk ammo and one each of Remington and Federal.

But subsequent posts indicate you still don't get it and in #19 you're still pounding the "ammunition is simply underpowered" drum. If you've simply got a problem with one lot, contact Winchester for resolution as suggested by others. Don't extrapolate your experience into something more than it should be.

Have a nice day.

February 6, 2014, 07:15 PM
prospects for getting timely satisfaction from the Winchester/Olin Canadian distributor in a time of product shortages looks poor. (Retailer is not the guarantor of product performance).

Completely understand your having a problem with the ammo, cant understand why you wouldnt call Winchester/Olin. You have to admit since you possibly couldnt get a resolution from all us old farts on the high road, it seems you just came here to vent on Winchester plinking ammo.

I myself would contact them if I had a problem. For sure before I made an effort to disassemble 1500 rounds and rebuild them. Give them to me before you waste time with that. You wouldnt go through the retailer, thats not the way to do it. You gotta contact the manufacturer. I will make it easy for you.

You may also call our Customer Service number at (800) 945-5237 or (801) 876-3440.

February 6, 2014, 09:23 PM
The ammunition is in Canada.

Keep in mind that any contact with Winchester will have to lead to the Canadian importer/distributor. Not saying it could not be done. Timely resolution would depend on if the distributor has sufficient on-hand stocks of product. My understanding is that the importer/distributor have essentially no persistent stock, with all the shortages in progress in North America they would be shipping to fill open Canadian orders. I've heard they only get shipments maybe once a month. Probably weight/volume limit tractor-trailer loads.

Winchester in the US is not going to go thru the cost of import paperwork to bring in a tiny shipment of 1500 rds or same for a tiny export shipment either. (see below)

This would be far less-constrained issue if the ammunition was sitting in the US.

Unless you want to do the US import paperwork and have the proper US licensing, you couldn't receive the ammunition even if my friend wanted to gift it to you. There would also be international shipping charges, international hazmat charges, and maybe Canadian export licensing to contend with too. Canadian online retailers have a standard boilerplate telling US residents the retailer can't send them ammunition.


Information for American and Foreign Clients

American Clients: ammunition is prohibitively expensive to ship from Canada to the United States except in large volume (one million rounds or more). We are happy to assist large volume purchasers with the paperwork necessary to import ammunition.

Please contact your local branch of the A.T.F. (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) for further information regarding paperwork and importation requirements.

February 10, 2014, 05:39 PM
Here was the response I got when I queried Winchester. I smell the spoor of "corporate legal council"

Anyone know where I can find the SAAMI spec for standard pressure 9mmx19 for 115g jacketed projectile loadings, including floor velocity? My efforts to find it so far have been unsuccessful.


Thank you for contacting Winchester Ammunition.

We appreciate your business and we look forward to providing you with the same high level of customer service and support you have come to expect from us.

Here is the initial question/comment you submitted to Winchester on 2/8/2014along with our response.

What is the permitted "floor" velocity variance for your WC91 product at time of manufacture? The published test barrel nominal performance is listed as 1190 ft/sec.



The information you requested is considered proprietary information and is not published, sorry for the inconvenience. Please contact SAAMI for specs on commercially loaded ammunition. Winchester loads all of our ammunition to meet these specs. They will have published data for variances in velocity.

Best Regards,

Technical Services Dept.

Thank you for your feedback and for being a valued Winchester customer.


Consumer Service Department Winchester Ammunition For additional information on Winchester Ammunition products, please visit our website at Winchester.com.

February 10, 2014, 05:52 PM
By being less specific I was able to find the apparent SAAMI spec.
Permissible instrumentation range for 115g projectile standard pressure loading is
1135 to 1210 ft/second.

(n.b. 1135 ft/sec would be IPSC power factor 130.5 with a 115g projectile).

The WC91 I sampled with my test setup was under the velocity floor.


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