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9x23 Conversion: Which Pistol to Start With?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by sinjin_70, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I've been reading about the 9x23, and have become intrigued. I have a friend already pursuing the conversion of a 1911 to this caliber, and am contemplating doing a conversion of my own. I've done a lot of web research, and have narrowed the choice of convertible firearms down a bit, but could benefit from some guidance to make the final choice. For those who don't want to read the rest of my somewhat lengthy post, I'm looking hard at the Para P-18 and the large framed Tanfoglio/EAA Witness in 9mm, but I've never owned a 1911 or CZ75 pattern gun. I would greatly appreciate hearing your recommendations, insights or experiences.

    Just to save everyone some time and effort, let me state, up front, that I recognize the inherent risk in such an endeavor, accept full responsibility for potentially blowing myself up, and plan to take suitable precautions. Please make no assumptions about the necessary modifications I will do myself and those I will have an experienced gunsmith do. I will make the final judgement regarding which modifications I will attempt myself, based on my available tools, level of confidence and my ability to verify the correctness of a modification. Warnings regarding complications, "gotcha's", and recommended techniques specific to the proposed conversion are, of course, appreciated.

    First, some "wants". I'd like this pistol to be steel framed and double stack, but would change my mind on those things if someone convinced me that either of those criteria were a problem. I would also like to use/convert the original barrel, with the option of buying a second, 9mm barrel later, for practice (i.e. I don't want to have to buy a second/conversion barrel immediately).

    Below are some of my working assumptions, based on my research, which could do with a bit more confirmation. It seems that some people who do this conversion start with a 38 Super pistol, presumably to insure that the strength, slide travel and magazine capacity are all adequate for 9x23. I'm thinking that 9mm, in the appropriate frame, would be a better starting place, for the following reasons:

    1. The bolt face and extractor for 9x23 pistols are the same as for 9x19, and slightly different than for 38 Super pistols, which may or may not run well with 9x23, depending on the particular pistol and how much gunsmithing is done.

    2. The bore diameter for 38 Super is just a little bit larger than that of 9x19 and 9x23, which are the same, with potential accuracy related consequences.

    3. A 9x19 chamber can be reamed for 9x23, but a 38 Super chamber, which is not tapered, probably can't.

    4. There are full-sized platforms available that use the exact same frame, including magwell dimensions, for 9x19 as is used for larger calibers such as 45ACP, 38 Super and 10mm, insuring that slide travel and mag OAL tolerance won't be a problem for 9x23 even when starting with a 9mm gun. For such a gun, the barrel profile will be identical, so the strength (i.e. tolerance to chamber pressure) should already be as good as it can be in the factory 9mm barrel.

    Assumptions 2 and 3 are important because I want to use the original barrel. Assumption 1 is generally relevant. Assumption 4 is only relevant if I continue down the path of starting with a 9mm. Both the P-18 and the Witness, in 9mm, seem to meet the criteria in assumption 4.

    My questions are as follows:

    Are any of my assumptions wrong? (I can and will confirm some of them with the relevant manufacturer before purchasing)

    Does anyone know if the 9mm magazines in either of these guns will accomodate 9x23, at COL of 1.26? If not, any reason why I couldn't use the corresponding 38 Super mag in the 9mm frame of either of these (i.e. is the shape and size of the mag well of the 9mm version identical to that of the 38 Super version of the same gun)?

    Does anyone know of another steel framed, double stack 9mm that might make a good conversion (or why I should not want to convert a double stack or steel firearm)?

    Your attention to my lengthy post, and any time spent replying, is much appreciated.
     
  2. wilkersk

    wilkersk Member

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    I've been wondering about this also. I hadn't really known about this cartridge until I saw a Brian Enos video in which he talked about loading this cartridge very hot, using Accurate #7 powder and small rifle primers.

    A few guys at my club have 2011 open pistols in 9X23Win. I haven't seen any small frame pistols chambered for this.

    Did a search on the internet and turned up this wikipedia page:


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9x23mm_Winchester
     
  3. Mastiff

    Mastiff Member

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    I converted several TT-33's to shoot the 9x23 Winchester. They work fine. All it takes is a 9x19 Luger barrel reamed out to 9x23 and the corresponding barrel bushing. I got the instructions from Clark. I'll try to find them for you.
    I cost me about $35 to do the conversion.
     
  4. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    The natural platform is a SV/STI "2011". It is the dominant platform in .40SW for Limited (in .40 because of Major Power Factor rules) and the dominant platform in one of the long, fast .355 cartridges in Open, in USPSA/IPSC. These pistols run great.

    Alternatively, you could get a single-stack 1911 built in 9x23 or similar. It might be easiest to convert a 9x19 1911 to 9x23 than a .45 or 10mm.
     
  5. Mastiff

    Mastiff Member

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    From a post of mine on Gunboards
    ( http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?80868-TT33-Conversion-to-9MM-question )


    The 9x23 barrel is just a 9x19 Norinco Model 213 barrel reamed out to chamber the longer round.

    This is from a different board. I take no responsibility for the info, it is just the way I converted mine:

    I got the information from Clark, I'll repeat his post below. I have a 115 piece TIN coated drill bit set from Harbor Freight. I just followed Clarks directions about using the different sized drills. I used a 9x23 Winchester round and 9x23 empty case from fired cases of CorBons Pow'rball load in 9x23, since I have a Star Super A that will fire the round.
    I didn't need anything extra, simce I had a spare Norinco 213 barrel that I got years ago that I have never needed. Sarco and Numrich have 9mm barrels for sale.

    From Clark:

    And:


    Quote:
     
  6. John Wayne

    John Wayne Member

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    Are you dead-set on 9x23? With a conversion barrel, the 9x25 is a drop-in fit for any gun that shoots 10mm Auto. The 9x25 is a 10mm case necked down to fire a 9mm bullet, and ballistics identical to .357 Magnum in comparably-sized guns and bullet weights.

    There are 10mm variants of the 1911 and EAA Witness for which a custom 9x25 barrel would be a drop in conversion (same mags, springs, and extractor).

    9x25 has superior ballistics, and being a bottlenecked cartridge, excellent reliability. The only advantage I can see to the 9x23 is that you may be able to squeeze one or two more rounds in the same length mag.
     
  7. XxM0nEyMaKeRxX

    XxM0nEyMaKeRxX Member

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    why would you want to do that? don't answer that, it's a rhetorical question.
     
  8. Mastiff

    Mastiff Member

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    The 9x23 Winchester is the ballistic duplicate of the .357 Magnum. It is pretty much a drop in for the TT-33. just needing a new barrel and barrel bushing. If you want more power and you handload you can modify .223 brass to 9x25 Mauser Export (effectively 2 mm longer version of 9x23 Winchester).

    EDITED: This is from Wikipedia FWIW concerning the 9x25 Dillon:

    There were, however, some drawbacks to the cartridge. First was that since it was based on the 10 mm case, magazine capacity in a double-column 1911 magazine (such as a Strayer-Voigt or STI) was reduced by 2-4 rounds compared to a similar gun chambered in 38 Super or 9x21mm. Second was that some users of the 9x25mm Dillon were experiencing parts breakage on their guns at a much higher rate than a similar 38 Super - cracks in the compensator and slide and broken scopes.

    But the biggest drawback to the cartridge, and the one that largely contributed to it falling out of favor was the enormous shock wave that was produced when the cartridge was fired. When firing the gun, the shooter could actually feel the impulse hit their face and travel up their arm. After a while, some people began to experience tendinitis in their wrists and other soreness in their wrists and arms. For a lot of people the trade-off from reduced felt recoil and a quicker second shot wasn't worth the potential damage that could be caused to their hearing and wrists.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  9. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    You may also want to take a look at http://www.burnscustom.com/9x23.html.
     
  10. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Thanks for the input, Mastiff. After seeing your post, I read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TT_pistol. Intriguing. Sounds like the barrel/slide lock-up would be really solid on that design. Where is a good place to buy a TT-33? Can they be had new?
     
  11. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Mastiff,

    Is there anything that recommends the Tokarev over a 1911 or CZ75 pattern guns as a starting point for a 9x23 conversion? The fact that a 9x19 barrel can be reamed to 9x23 isn't really a differentiator, right? I can get any of these guns in 9mm Luger.
     
  12. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    JW,

    Not necessarily. I'm looking for a fun project that will yield a good HD/SD pistol. I was not aware of the 9x25 until your post. My initial reaction is to say that the 9x23 seemed to be a good balance: mag capacity of a 9mm Luger combined with the ballistics of a 357 magnum. Seems the principle advantage of 9x25 would be the ability to manufacture my own brass from 10mm brass, so long as that's available. I'm not sure how much more secure the future of 10mm is than 9x23, though. OTOH, I can buy new 9x23 brass right now. I would imagine that 9x25 can't be bought from the factory, right? I was thinking that if I got the 9x23 to work, I would do a lifetime-buy on brass. Everyone says that the 9x23 case goes and goes. I would just need enough to compensate for attrition due to lost cases. Of course, with either caliber, I can get a stock 9mm barrel later, and practice with that.
     
  13. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Thanks for replying, Zak. I certainly see my share of STI's at USPSA matches. To be honest, I hadn't taken a close look at them yet, as I tended to equate that brand with "race gun", which this firearm is not intended to be. I checked their website and they seem to have an offering not all that different from Paraordnance. Are they considered to be a superior brand?

    I like sound of a double stack magwell with a grip almost as small as a single stack 1911. I take it the Para P-18 would have a fatter grip than the STI?

    One of my hopes/expectations is that most all 1911 types in 9mm will have the same mag/magwell dimensions as its larger caliber cousins, making a conversion from the 9mm configuration as simple as reaming the chamber and maybe going to a stiffer recoil spring. I'm still waiting for feedback regarding the legitimacy of this expectation.

    The reason I'm still considering the Tanfoglio is that I have seen the occasional comment about 1911's not feeding reliably with double stack magazines, but that may be just for 45ACP. Anyone here a Tanfoglio or CZ fan?
     
  14. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

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    Some 38super chambers like in the witness line will shoot the 9x23 by just loading and shooting others need a chamber cut. The extractor is not perfect for the 9x23 being rimeless but does work.
     
  15. farscott

    farscott Member

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    I own a Colt Series '80 that left Colt as a 9x23 Winchester and now has 9x19 and 9x23 barrels. The 1911 and 2011 are good choices for the 9x23 because the round was designed to feed in those guns. Since the OP mentioned double-stack, the best choices would be STI and SVI.

    In my gun, each barrel has its own bushing and its own recoil spring. The former is for maximum accuracy and the latter is so the gun functions properly. The gun also has a flat-bottom EGW firing pin stop to delay unlocking with the hot 9x23 rounds. As a result, the 9x19 recoil spring is a ten-pound version. The 9x23 spring is an eighteen-pound version.
     
  16. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    You can build up (or have built) an SV/STI frame/slide-set how-ever you want. For people that don't compete, "race gun" usually means something that looks exotic that they don't recognize from the "carry pistol" counter at the local gun-shop, and it carries connotations of unreliability. A reliable pistol is paramount to being competitive in action shooting sports.

    Anyway, the differences between a SV/STI 2011 set up for USPSA Limited and one let's say appropriate for carry or defense are simply things like: adjustable vs. fixed sights; add or remove the mag-well; long or short (normal) dust-cover, and maybe trigger pull weight. You're right that USPSA Open division guns are much different, and I wouldn't recommend an aggressively ported pistol with an optic for general-purpose use.

    To answer your question about Para vs. SV/STI; the SV/STI's are considered the superior brands. I have witnessed a significantly higher percentage of the Paras have problems at matches than the SV/STI pistols; however, I do know a couple people who have Paras that run just fine. I am not sure about grip size of the Para vs. the 2011.

    I've owned, or at least shot, most of the brands and pistols discussed here, including the CZ, Tokarev, 1911/2011's, open guns, etc. For 9x23 (or similar .355 "Major" power factor cartridges), I believe the SV/STI choice has the best parts availability, the easiest build, the highest likelihood of success, and will be the most "shootable" and pleasant in the end. Acquiring one of these could be as easy as ordering one off the shelf from STI, or having an SV built, or building up a slide/frameset yourself, or having your local 1911-builder do it. The SV/STI's have almost drop-in parts (compared to the rest of the 1911 world), and I know several people who have switch-barrel .40SW/9mm SV/STI's set up so they can shoot Limited in Major and then use the 9mm barrel for 3-Gun (where there is typically no power factor).

    Here's my 9mm SV. It could be converted to 9x23 just with a new barrel (and possibly op spring). (This barrel is actually capable of 9mm Major anyway.)
    [​IMG]


    Here's my Limited gun in .40 - it could be converted with just a barrel change:
    [​IMG]

    My 9 has a short dustcover, while the .40 has the long dustcover. With the mag-well removed, the 9mm is more or less the same overall size as a regular 1911 Government model. You can build these up in Commander format if you want.

    Here's SV's new compact pistol, which has a slide/barrel a little shorter than a Commander.
    [​IMG]

    The double-stack SV/STI "2011"'s feed just fine. Millions of rounds fired in USPSA/3Gun matches prove this.
     
  17. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Sounds like it would be fun for the occasional trip to the firing range, but not very practical.
     
  18. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    hardluk,

    These are the reasons I have >tentatively< decided to start with a 9mm.
     
  19. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    Zak,

    That's really good info. So, any reason why I couldn't pick up a stock STI 2011 in 9x19 and just ream the chamber and swap out the recoil spring? I'm still concerned about OAL tolerance of the magazine, and the ability to reliably set off rifle primers, which some have recommended for this cartridge when loaded hot.
     
  20. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    Don't forget you need to put your 9x23 on a gun with a frame sized for .38 Super, 10MM, or .45 ACP or similar length cartridge.

    Current Tanfoglio pistols all use a lager frame that will accommodate the longer cartridge.

    However, CZ 75's and older 9MM Tanfoglio's (I don't know when they made the change) use a smaller frame designed for 9MM/.40 S&W length cartridges, that will not accommodate the longer 9x23 round. If you want a CZ for your project, you would need a CZ97.

    You cannot put 9x23 in a 9x19 magazine, though you can use .38 Super magazines for 9x23.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  21. sinjin_70

    sinjin_70 Member

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    LOL. Bigger bang. Bigger hole. Again, and again, and again ... (x19)
     
  22. farscott

    farscott Member

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    You MUST use small rifle primers when reloading the 9x23 Winchester at its full potential as it operates at 46,000 psi. If you load it down to the 9x19 level of performance, you can then use small pistol primers.

    Cartridge OAL is not an issue if you use a 1911 or 2011. I use .38 Super magazines for my 9x23. OAL is about 1.250" inches.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  23. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I think this would work fine; or you could just buy it chambered for 9x23 from the get-go.

    Also, I would simply note that 9x19 is a lot more economical and practical to shoot, and in a gun that can accept longer-OAL 9x19 cartridges, you can load "9mm Major" which is simply a 9mm loaded to a long length (typically 1.20"+) and higher load levels than regular 9x19 (whose realistic max OAL is about 1.145").

    If it were me with your plan (buy a 9mm STI first), I would save the original 9mm barrel and get a new one for 9x23. This way I could shoot either cartridge with just a quick barrel change.

    Don't be. The SV/STI magazines should feed 9mm cartridges (9mm, 9SC, 38SC, 38S, 9x23) from regular factory 9x19 lengths all the way up to 1.23" or possibly longer. In my experience, they actually work better with cartridges loaded longer vs. shorter; however, my 9mm SV feeds factory-length 9x19 just fine.

    Many, many people use SR primers for USPSA matches in .40 and the .355" Major cartridges, and it works just fine. I use Win-SR in my .40 Limited gun and it works great.
     
  24. Mastiff

    Mastiff Member

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    I screwed up. The quote from Wikipedia was about the 9x25 Dillon round. I didn't make that clear. I was trying to show that the 9x25 Dillon wasn't necessarily a good choice for a carry or plinking pistol.

    I had heard that it runs to 55,000 PSI. That is why you can get 357 Mag performance out of the smaller case.
     
  25. WC145

    WC145 Member

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    My RIA GI .38 Super runs just fine with 9x23 with no modifications. The only change I'm going to make is a heavier recoil spring for those times I want to shoot 9x23. No sense in beating it up.
     
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