9x23 mm & .357 Sig

posted on October 31, 2013

I watched Sheriff Jim Wilson fire the first round of 9x23 mm JHP ammo into a defenseless block of ordnance gelatin. It was at a writer’s seminar where the gun and cartridge were introduced to the shooting world. Jim may also have been present when another maker brought out its version of ammo for the .357 Sig cartridge. I can’t recall what the good sheriff had to say about these two rounds, but I’ll bet that he has observed the same thing that I have-one made it, one didn’t.

Both calibers were intended to bump up the ballistic performance level of mid-bore pistol cartridges. The 9x23 mm was a .45 ACP-length round intended for single-column M1911-style pistols. Approximately the same length as the .38 Super, the 9x23 was essentially a lengthened 9 mm Luger cartridge. Actually, it had another characteristic that was new to auto pistol design. In order to better handle the higher pressure that would make this so-called “long nine” perform, the case head was deliberately thickened. This gave the base of this cartridge greater mass and strength. It was an approach once tried in Jeff Cooper’s early SWPL days. Initial offerings in 1996 were Colt 1911 pistols, which fired the round with accuracy and power. Colt and Winchester Ammunition wanted a gun for the IPSC circuit.

In 1994, SIG collaborated with Federal to develop the .357 Sig cartridge. This redoubtable Swiss-German-American firm wanted a powerful medium-bore automatic pistol round that was short enough to comfortably fit in the double-wide magazines of.40 S&W-sized autos. They weren’t going after the gamesmen, but rather the warriors. Working from the already successful .40 S&W case, they necked it down to take 9 mm (not .357 inch) bullets of medium weight. It was a resounding success, achieving velocities in the mid 1,300 fps range. The forgoing description admittedly oversimplifies the cartridge development just a bit. The .357 Sig cartridge works in 9 mm-size pistols, where the bottlenecked case spells ultra-reliable feeding. The cartridge simply works.

Comparing the two is something of an apples-and-oranges thing in the sense that they were really intended for different roles. Whatever the intent, the fact is the 9x23 flopped and is now almost forgotten. And while it is used by a number of prestigious police agencies, the .357 Sig does not enjoy the wide success its designer/developers were seeking.


LLE Leadweb
LLE Leadweb

The L42A1: A Sniper Rifle To Remember

For most of the 20th century, Lee-Enfield rifles were the backbone of the British army. The last British service Lee was the L42A1 sniping rifle. Built on the World War II No.4(T), the reliable and accurate L42A1 was retired in the early 1990s.

The Armed Citizen® July 30, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

NRA Gun of the Week: Uberti USA 1873 Single-Action Cattleman New Model

On this week’s “Gun of the Week” video preview, American Rifleman staff take to the range for a closer look at Uberti USA’s special edition "Teddy" revolver, a replica of Colt's New Model 1873 SAA. 

Kentucky Rifle Raffle to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Contemporary Longrifle Association

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Contemporary Longrifle Association, Judson Brenman and sons have made a masterpiece contemporary Kentucky Longrifle for a raffle held by the organization for the occasion.

The ArmaLite Story

The history of ArmaLite is long and tortured, filled with marvelous innovation and crushingly bad timing. Yet, now it looks like its day has finally dawned.

The Immortal Winchester Model 94: From the 19th Into The 21st Century

Since its invention at the end of the 19th century, the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle design has become an iconic American firearm that is still produced and celebrated to this day.


Subscribe to the NRA American Rifleman newsletter