9x23 USAF Experimental


I recently acquired the following box and 5 rounds of ammunition.

NOTE: These were Factory HANDLOADS.

The cartridges are headstamped “WIN 9X23 WIN” with flat brass primers without any PA color. Bullets are non-magnetic GM. 124 gr. FMJ.

Here is a copy of a Q&A I had with the person who was in charge of the testing. I am not at liberty to divulge his name.

Q-1) How many rounds were handloaded by Winchester?

A-10 - 500 rounds

Q-2) How many rounds remain from the tests?

A-2) - I have about 150 rounds left

Q-3) Were any other loads made and by whom and how

A-3) - None that I know of

Q-4) What were the results of the tests?

A-4) - Tests were principally to establish functioning,
velocity and accuracy (grouping) only. There was an
internal performance report of an informal nature
generated without recommendation. However results were
quite good. Velocity was about 1450 fps, accuracy was
within the established range of about 20 moa.
Functioning was excellent.

Information on the load itself - Small rifle primers,
propellent was essentially identical to Olin’s old WAP
(8.6 grains), bullet was the standard 124 gr FMJ, as
used in the M882 9X19mm round. We had no means of
chamber pressure measurement, but Winchester’s figure
was about 50Kpsi, mid-case (comparable to the M882,
which is approximately 42Kpsi, mid-case).

Q-5) Who made the Pistols and how many were made?

A-5) - There were no pistols made up specifically for
this test. Two pistols were used, one being a Colt
1911A1 with a 9X23mm barrel, and one being an EAA
Witness with a .38 Super/9X23mm barrel. The idea was
in fact to require that any new pistol for AF use have
the capability of a simple caliber change. This
requirement was contained in the draft solicitation.
The primary caliber was .45 ACP. The secondary
caliber was not stated, but it would probably have
been 10mm or 9X23mm (some were advocating .357 SIG or
.40 S&W). Of course, the program never got to the
point of issuing anything other than a draft
solicitation and some handgun manufacturers were
opposed to this multi-caliber capability requirement
-and some were not.

Q-6) Where was the testing conducted.

A-6 - Due to the preliminary nature of
the information desired, accuracy testing was done
in-house on the Lackland AFB 50 yard tube range using
a machine rest with the M1911, and at a non-AF range
for hand-held accuracy, velocity, and body armor
penetration. I did all of the firing myself.

Q-7) Was there an official name of the project?

A-7)- Overall, the project to solicit and obtain a pistol
was (unoffically) called the AFFP (Air Force Future
Pistol). As I said, it’s now moribund, and has been
passed over to a joint services working group. I
don’t expect it to be revived, and if so, I have no
idea if the multi-caliber interchangeability will be
retained. There was a lot of discussion about the
rationale for caliber interchangeability to meet
different mission requirements with essentially the
same pistol. There was also a requirement for both a
full-sized pistol and a compact version for aircrews,
etc. Most of us were in the 9X23 camp as the best choice
as an alternate caliber due to its better suitability for
use with an AP bullet (vs. 9X19mm), also for flatter
trajectory and large magazine capacity vs. .357 SIG).


Vey interesting. I knew that the USAF had been looking at a new handgun, and that .45 ACP was the preferred calibre, but I didn’t know they had been looking at 9x23 as an alternative.


Oh no! Not another new cartridge and handgun for the USAF.

Good for collectors - bad for the taxpayers.

And when’s the last time a flyboy has had to shoot someone with a pistol? ;) ;) Only kidding!!