Dating from 1901, the 9mm Luger, also known as 9mm parabellum, 9x19mm or 9mm NATO is a straight wall rimless pistol cartridge designed by George Luger. It is one of the most popular rounds in the world due to its relatively low cost, widespread availability and effectiveness.
George Luger developed the 9mm round in 1901 as an improvement over his earlier bottle necked cartridge for the Borchardt pistol, the 7.65 x 21 because the German military wanted a bigger round. Luger trimmed the bottle necked case and used a 9mm diameter bullet. The round was designed to be lethal at 50 yards and in 1908, Luger adopted it to work in his P-08 pistol for the German Navy and later the German Army.
After World War II, the round became popular with shooters throughout the United States and Europe. Its power coupled with its relatively small size allowed more rounds to fit into staggered magazines, and its low recoil made it easier for people to shoot.
9mm is most commonly chambered in semiautomatic pistols, carbines, submachineguns and the odd bolt-action rifle or revolver. Probably beginning with John Browning’s Hi-Power design of 1935, it became synonymous with a larger magazine capacity provided the rounds could stagger in the magazine. For example, the US M1911 pistol in 45 ACP held 7-rounds of ammunition, whereas the Browning could hold 13 rounds. Most modern 9mm pistols from HK, CZ, Glock, Bereta, FN, SIG, Smith & Wesson, etc. typically hold between 15 and 20 rounds.
It is popular in pistol caliber carbines and submachineguns like the HK MP5, Uzi, AR-15, Ruger PC9 and various arms from B&T and Maxim Defense.
At close range with correct shot placement and the right type of ammunition, 9mm could have a potential use in hunting, but it is generally not used on anything larger than a rabbit or coyote by ethical hunters. It is a relatively small cartridge that loses velocity with distance. The shooter should know his limitations as well as the round’s. Although Alaskan Guide Phil Shoemaker has famously used one to kill an attacking Grizzly Bear.
Almost since its inception, the 9mm cartridge has been often used for self-defense. Its terminal ballistics, small size, low recoil and availability have made it popular for concealed carry and personal defense in the home.
It has improved significantly over the past few decades due to improvements in powder and projectile design.
Currently, 9mm is the preeminent cartridge of choice for law enforcement in the United States. It is estimated to be in use by 75% of the police departments at local, state and federal levels in the US.
Current belief holds that as other agencies phase out rounds such as 45 ACP and 40 S&W that 9mm will take their places.
Its widespread availability and low recoil have made the 9mm pistol popular for target shooting with many pistols being offered as target and competition grade handguns. Improved ballistics have made the round more acceptable in some of the action shooting sports where they were not always welcome.
The standard handgun caliber for NATO and the US military is 9mm Parabellum. Although NATO was using 9mm from the beginning, the US military came to this decision somewhat later in 1985 with the adoption of the M9 Beretta.
With Beretta supplying the sidearms for most of the military, the round began to gain more acceptance among US shooters. The current issued US sidearm is based on SIG Sauer’s P320 design, also in 9mm.
Although it is noted as being one of the first smokeless pistol cartridges specifically for use in a semiautomatic handgun at a time when metallurgy was more hit than miss, the 9mm Luger has evolved over the years from a 115-grain projectile traveling at around 900 fps to a potent performer traveling at nearly twice that speed.
As its name suggests, it uses a 9mm diameter bullet and has an overall case length of 19mm. This allows the round to fit magazines inserted inside of the pistol grips of many handguns without making the grip unbearable to hold.
It is a high-pressure round, but recoil is usually on the mild side depending upon the size and weight of the handgun. Many shooters enjoy the low recoil as it allows them to shoot more rounds faster and with less recovery time between shots.
9mm rounds can generate between 350 and 500 foot pounds of muzzle energy. It is a very potent, high pressure pistol cartridge that has proven itself time and again.
SBR ammunition offers a great variety of 9mm Luger ammo from standard 115, 124 and 147 grain ammo to an Xtreme Defense load with a 90-grain solid copper bullet that excels at penetration and expansion.