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Winchester Train & Defend Ammunition

November 20, 2016
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

You just spent part of a day at the local range with your new handgun. After several hundred rounds of inexpensive FMJ ammo for practicing, you're comfortable with the feel, you're getting some nice groups and the gun is functioning perfectly. Before you leave, you want to try a few rounds of your favorite personal protection cartridge. You notice a difference recoil, muzzle flash, feeding/cycling, point of impact, or a combination of these.

The quandary you don't want to practice with good personal protection ammunition (it's expensive) and you don't want to use FMJ target/practice ammunition for personal protection. Winchester has a solution, Train & Defend Ammunition. This ammunition was developed to meet the needs based on the intended usage while maintaining external ballistics for two different purposes.

The engineers at Winchester started by developing the Defend cartridge that has reduced recoil by decreasing muzzle velocity but still optimizes terminal performance. Then, the Train cartridge was developed to perform with similar ballistics and reduced recoil, but with a FMJ bullet. All four components of the Train & Defend cartridges came into play for development.

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* Bullets - Winchester started with the proven Defender bullets (formerly PDX1) that give reliable expansion and penetration over a range of muzzle velocities. Then, alternate bullet designs were tested and evaluated for each caliber to maximize terminal performance at the lower velocity. For example, in the .45ACP, the bullet's terminal performance was improved at the lower muzzle velocity by using an 8-segment bullet versus a 6-segment bullet.

Then, the FMJ bullet for the Train cartridge was designed to be the same weight and have the same bullet profile in order to match the external ballistic performance of the Defend bullet. For semi-auto handguns, the ogive (the shape of the bullet in front of the cannelure) is critical for the smooth feeding of a cartridge. By having the same bullet profile, if the Train cartridge feeds and cycles in your semi-auto without any problems, the Defend cartridge will do the same.

* Powders - With the bullet weights being the same, it would have been very easy to just use the same powder and powder charge in both the Train and Defend cartridges, but that's not the Winchester way. The experts at Winchester considered the use and purpose of the cartridges. For personal protection, you want reduced recoil in order to get back on target as quickly as possible for a second shot, if needed, and you don't want a lot of muzzle flash in low light situations. Winchester chose a powder for the Defend cartridge that meets these objectives. Practice and training typically mean the shooter will be firing a large number of cartridges during a trip to the range. Winchester chose a cleaner burning powder for less fouling and longer time between cleanings with the Train cartridge.

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Train & Defend Ammunition

* Primers - The Defend cartridges utilize the standard Winchester primers. Train cartridges have lead-free primers that make them suitable for indoor range practice.

* Casings - Besides being visually different, the Defend casing is nickel-plated. Since nickel-plated brass has a lower friction coefficient than regular brass, it will feed and eject more smoothly. When you're at the range practicing and a fired casing jams in a semi-auto or one gets stuck in the cylinder of a revolver, you have the time to remove the casing and possibly give the handgun a quick cleaning to continue practicing. In a self-defense situation, you don't have that luxury. A nickel-plated casing can jam, but it is less likely to happen.

Train and Defend cartridges are packaged differently for easy identification. Train cartridges are in boxes of 50 and have an identifying "T" on the outside; Defend cartridges come 20 to a box and has a letter "D" on the box.

*** At the Range ***

Train & Defend ammunition in .380 Auto, .40 S&W and .45ACP was tested for muzzle velocity and accuracy. Winchester tested the Train & Defend ammunition using a 3 3/4" barrel for the .380 Auto and a 4" barrel for the .40 S&W and .45ACP.

Since barrel lengths can vary widely in any given caliber, handguns with barrel lengths different from those used by Winchester were chosen, one shorter and two longer. Browning's Black Label Pro Compact 1911-380 (3 5/8" barrel) was used to evaluate the .380 Auto. A Springfield Armory XDm (4.5" barrel) was used for the .40 S&W and an XD Tactical (5" barrel) for the .45ACP.

Muzzle Velocities - Using a ProChrono Chronograph at 5 feet from the muzzle, a string of 10 shots produced the following results.

CartridgeTrainTrainTrainTrainDefendDefendDefendDefend
AvgHighLowSpreadAvgHighLowSpread
.380Auto8688938464796098394340
.40 S&W9009148902493495092030
.45 ACP8418608243687388784542

Since different powder charges are used in Train and Defend cartridges and the barrel lengths were different from factory specs, the variance between Train and Defend muzzle velocities for the same caliber would be expected. The shorter barrel of the .380 Auto produced the most variance between Train and Defend cartridges. The longer barrels of the .40 S&W and .45 ACP produced more consistent muzzle velocities.

Accuracy - All three handguns were equipped with a UM Tactical UM3 Sight Mount and a Bushnell First Strike Reflex Red Dot. Ten 3-shot groups were fired with each cartridge at 50 feet. The group results were...

.380 Auto Train ----- Largest = 1.8", Smallest = 1.3", Average = 1.6"

.380 Atuo Defend -- Largest = 2.2", Smallest = 1.4", Average = 1.8"

.40 S&W Train ----- Largest = 1.7", Smallest = 0.8", Average = 1.3"

.40 S&W Defend -- Largest = 1.8", Smallest = 1.0", Average = 1.5"

.45 ACP Train ----- Largest = 1.3", Smallest = 0.6", Average = 0.9"

.45 ACP Defend -- Largest = 1.5", Smallest = 0.6", Average = 1.0"

Winchester's primary objective for Train & Defend ammunition is for cartridges of a given caliber to have the same external ballistics and the same amount of recoil. They met their objective for these cartridges. With different barrel lengths and variances in muzzle velocities, the group measurements were very consistent. Even the points of impact were consistent for the same caliber.

No matter whether you're a man or woman, young or old, a novice or experienced shooter, you can have some serious range time with the Train cartridge knowing that if the time ever comes to use the Defend cartridge, you know what to expect from your ammunition.

Train & Defend ammunition is currently available in .38 Special, 9mm, .380 Auto, .40 S&W and .45ACP. For more information on Train & Defend ammunition, check out the Winchester website at: www.winchester.com

 
 

 

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