Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing

When thinking about firearm cartridges and considering the feasibility of new loads or cartridge types, it is handy to remember the Ideal Gas law. Although firearm propellant is a long ways from obeying the Ideal Gas law, propellant does still follow the pressure, volume and temperature relationship that is presented conceptually by this law (Equation 1).

Where P is the pressure inside of the cartridge case, V is the volume inside of the cartridge case and T is the temperature of the burning gas/propellant grain mixture. m and R can be disregarded in this case. So we know that the Pressure inside of the case is a function of the Temperature and the Volume. Or by Equation 2

The Pressure inside of the case is determined by the Temperature of the gas and how much Volume exists inside of the case. Note that the maximum chamber pressures for handguns is around 40,000 PSI and rifle are around 60,000. We can play further with the equation : as the volume increases (like when the bullet starts to move down the barrel, the volume is now counted as the barrel space behind the bullet and the empty cartridge case/chamber) the pressure decreases. Notice that as the pressure decreases, so does the temperature of the gas. Shoot a pistol that is chambered for a rifle cartridge and then shoot that same cartridge in a full-length rifle barrel. The fireball at the end of the barrel may not exist with the rifle barrel because the pressure and temperature have dropped significantly before the bullet exits the muzzle.

The above is how I paint the background for the why? of the 9x23mm Winchester cartridge. The 9x23mm Winchester has a maximum chamber pressure of 55,000 PSI. It is also 4mm longer than the 9mm Luger case, which has a safe maximum pressure of 34,000 PSI. You can have mid-range 357 Magnum ballistics and the same capacity as a 9mm Luger firearm at the expense of a slightly longer grip. 1911 handguns have been made to fire this cartridge as well as Star Super B handguns and Tokarev handguns.

Before going out and buying this firearm, I caution the reader about the cost of going with a handgun which operates at increased chamber pressures. Namely—the recoil is snappier (compare the snap of a 40 S&W to the ‘push’ of a 45 ACP) and the muzzle flash and sound signatures are greatly increased. Having said this … if you can comfortably handle a pistol chambered for the 9x23mm Winchester, I highly recommend it because the terminal effects of this cartridge are worth the effort to obtain this gun.

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