What makes this special? 9mm Win Magnum Proof


I was at a friend’s yesterday and he showed me 2 boxes of 9mm Win magnum cartridges (see pics below)

The proof load cartridges have the normal red base and bullet (cartridges not pictured) but the box marked “FOR GUN MANUFACTURE USE ONLY” contain cartridges which are indistinguishable from a regular ball load. Is there something special about the load or is it just the box? Once they leave the box how would you know what you have?




Just an idea, the calibre was launched in the 70s in conjunction with the Wildey Pistol chambered for it . Is this ammo a pre launch batch for testing, working up etc at Wildey? Any dates on the box anywhere? Its clearly out of a factory. I think the only other manufacturer that took it up was Thompson for the contender? Thompson would still need evaluation loads but by then it was commercially available and anyway their job, for a single shot pistol, would have been far less complicated.

Not to go into too much rambling detail, a long parallel case at those pressures in a gas operated pistol like the Wildey would take a lot of testing and tweaking to get cycling and feed reliability up to acceptable levels. Stainless steel too, that would make it more fussy.


Inside one of the end flaps or on an end tab should be a number and perhaps a letter or so which will be the load code. Give us that and we may be able to give you an idea of the date.



Lew - I have the same box. “For Gun Manufacture use Only, not for Retail Sale.” On the end flap on the first line is 16VD 4 2, and on a second line is 81.

I will send you a scan of the box for 9 mm Win Mag Action Proving dummies. If you want, since the other two “white boxes” are already here, you can post it on this thread just to round it out. The code on the flap for the dummy round box is 6VD 5 2 on the first line and 49 on the second line.

If anyone has one of the proof boxes either empty or with a couple of rounds to sell, I would like to buy one.


John, “VD” indicates April of 1965 or 1984. The first date seems pretty early is development began in the 1970s as indicated in Vince’s post.




Lew - I agree. I would say it is definitely 1984, based on your information. My memory for when things happened in the shooting world, even though it was my profession, is fading very rapidly now, but I am quite sure that the earlier date of 1965 is out of the question for this caliber. That’s about the time I went to work full-time in the retail firearms business, and the 9 mm Win Mag certainly came along years after my entry into the profession.

I corrected my stupid error by the way, and sent you the scan of that Action “Proofing” Dummy box. Is there actually such a word as “proofing” in the English language? I would think that the present participle of “proof” would be “proving.” Well, I was never any kind of scholar at anything, much less and English scholar.


I have a picture of the “Gun Manufacturers Only” box taken from a publication dated May 1985. It was used in an informal test of an early version of the Medusa multi-caliber revolver.


It appears likely to me that Winchester was handing this out to (probably) every manufacturer they thought might take it up. That seems like a plausible marketing strategy in the circumstances.

Reflecting on it now, its odd that Winchester would bring out a pistol calibre when they don’t produce pistols. That puts the whole concept on thin ice.


Just a little word on John’s question on the use of English. The old fashioned word proof is a verb meaning “to test”. Its not a noun meaning corroborating evidence. Its only use today seems to have endured in firearms (Proof House) and hard liquor ( proof spirit) is still used.

Its use has become muddled with the results of the test ie waterproof and windproof and of course in evidence where several subtle meanings exist.

My favourite use in the old meaning of the word is “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”

So the answer to John’s question is “proofing” is the correct use of English and “proving”, while not wrong, is a bit less correct.

But in a world where bullets are heads and slugs, and ammo is shells, its not going to be noticed!