Recently, I decided to chronograph three types of 9mm available at Walmart. I can’t find the receipt, but the RWS 124gr was the cheapest, the WWB 115gr was in the middle, and the Winchester 124gr “NATO” ammunition was the most expensive. When I first saw the RWS, it was $16 for 50 rounds, but it’s now $12.50 or so.
Considering that the RWS was made in Switzerland, and that Winchester White Box is often looked down upon, I expected the RWS to be significantly more consistent and accurate than the WWB, and also more so than the Winchester NATO ammunition, though perhaps not to the same degree.
Testing was conducted in the desert, not at an official range, and I chose a tiny bush, perhaps 6″ across, located about 60 yards away as my point of aim. I do not claim to be any sort of master pistol shooter, so accuracy testing was informal and will not be evaluated in any type of scientific manner. The weapon used was a Glock 34. No malfunctions were experienced with any of the three types of ammunition.
Unfortunately, the RWS did not live up to my expectations. Using a chronograph and 10 shot strings, I found that the RWS had a high of 1249fps and a low of 1162, with an average of 1200. The ES (extreme spread, or difference between high and low) was 87 feet per second, and the SD (standard deviation, or how far from the average each shot was likely to be) was 30. This was not very impressive. I also found it to be the least accurate of the three, with many carefully placed shots falling short of or landing beyond the target. Recoil was stiff (for a 9mm), but manageable.
The Winchester 124gr NATO ammunition was also stiff in terms of recoil, but also quite manageable, and this turned out to be the most accurate of the three loads. I was able to keep all of my shots on or very close to the target. This load had a high of 1256fps and a low of 1210, averaging 1234, with an extreme spread of 45 and standard deviation of 12.
The WWB 115gr, true to its plinking (or “target shooting,” as Winchester says on the box) nature, had the most soft recoil of the three. It was definitely accurate enough, but I would not feel as confident in entering an impromptu accuracy challenge against a friend if I had this ammunition instead of the Winchester NATO. The high was 1254, the low 1202, with an average of 1232 and an ES of 52. SD was 17.
Which ammunition would I buy, if I could only buy one? That’s hard to say. The RWS, being the cheapest, was more than adequate for most plinking and “target shooting,” or as ammunition to use as a last resort when you’re halfway to a shooting match, realize that you don’t have enough ammunition, and start heading for the nearest Walmart. WWB is also great for those uses. I wouldn’t pay extra for the NATO ammunition unless I needed to practice with fairly hot 9mm to simulate a duty or carry load. If you’re deploying to Afghanistan or Iraq and need to train with your personal Beretta 92FS/M9 on your own dime, I’d definitely use this ammunition, as it’s almost certain to be very similar to issued ammunition.
Considering my mindset when I buy ammunition at Walmart, and what I think the mindset of most people who do the same is, whatever is cheapest will likely not disappoint. My only word of advice is not to buy the RWS and expect it to be exceptionally high quality ammunition.