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9x19mm Parabellum
Ball and hollow point 9x19mm Parabellum rounds
Type Handgun
Place of origin  German Empire
Service history
Used by NATO and others
Wars World War I–present
Production history
Designer Georg Luger
Designed 1901
Produced 1902–present
Variants 9 mm NATO
9x19mm Parabellum +P
9x19mm 7N21 +P+
9x19mm 7N31 +P+
Parent case 7.65x22mm Parabellum
Case type Rimless, tapered
Bullet diameter 9.03 mm (0.356 in)
Neck diameter 9.65 mm (0.380 in)
Base diameter 9.93 mm (0.391 in)
Rim diameter 9.96 mm (0.392 in)
Rim thickness 0.90 mm (0.035 in)
Case length 19.15 mm (0.754 in)
Overall length 29.69 mm (1.169 in)
Case capacity 0.86 cm³ (13 gr H2O)
Rifling twist 250 mm (1 in 9.84 in)
Primer type Berdan or Boxer small pistol
Maximum pressure 235.00 MPa (34,084 psi)
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
7.45 g (115.0 gr) FMJ 390 m/s (1,300 ft/s) 570 J (420 ft·lbf)
8.00 g (123.5 gr) FMJ 360 m/s (1,200 ft/s) 518 J (382 ft·lbf)
9.1 g (140 gr) FMJ 305 m/s (1,000 ft/s) 419 J (309 ft·lbf)
9.5 g (147 gr) JHP 368 m/s (1,210 ft/s) 643 J (474 ft·lbf)
4.2 g (65 gr) 7N31 ap 600 m/s (2,000 ft/s) 765 J (564 ft·lbf)
Source: Sellier & Bellot[1] Vihtavuori Reloading Guide 2009 [2] Buffalo Bore [3]


The 9x19mm Parabellum (abbreviated 9mm, 9x19mm or 9x19) cartridge was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their Luger semi-automatic pistol.[5] For this reason, it is commonly called the 9mm Luger cartridge, differentiating it from the also-popular 9mm Makarov and 9mm Browning cartridges.

The book Cartridges of the World stated in 2006, the 9x19mm Parabellum is "the world's most popular and widely used military handgun cartridge."[6]

The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum ("If you seek peace, prepare for war"), which was the motto and telegraphic address of DWM.

In addition to being used by over 60% of police in the U.S., Newsweek credits 9x19 pistol sales with making semi-automatic pistols more popular than revolvers.[7] The popularity of this cartridge can be attributed to the widely held conviction that it is highly effective in police and self-defense use.[8] This cartridge has been shown capable of imparting remote wounding effects known as hydrostatic shock.[9][10][11]



Georg Luger developed the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge from Luger's earlier 7.65x22mm Parabellum. In 1902, Luger presented the new round to the British Small Arms Committee as well as three prototype versions to the U.S. Army for testing at Springfield Arsenal in mid-1903. The German Navy adopted the cartridge in 1904 and in 1906 the German Army adopted it as well.[6]

The initial cartridge was created by removing the bottleneck of the 7.65 mm Luger cartridge, resulting in a tapered rimless cartridge. The ogive of the bullet was slightly redesigned in the 1910s in order to improve feeding.

To conserve lead during World War II in Germany, the lead core was replaced by an iron core encased with lead. This bullet, identified by a black bullet jacket, was designated as the 08 mE (mit Eisenkern—"with iron core"). By 1944, the black jacket of the 08 mE bullet was dropped and these bullets were produced with normal copper-colored jackets. Another wartime variation was designated the 08 SE bullet and identified by its dark gray jacket, and was created by compressing iron powder at high temperature into a solid material (Sintereisen—"sintered iron").[citation needed]


After World War I, acceptance of this caliber increased. 9 mm pistols and submachine guns were adopted by military and police users in a number of countries.

The 9x19mm Parabellum has become the most popular caliber for U.S. law enforcement agencies, primarily due to the availability of compact pistols with large magazine capacity that use this cartridge.[12]

From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, there was a sharp increase in the popularity of semiautomatic pistols which coincided with the adoption of the Beretta M9 by the U.S. Army. Previously, most police departments issued .38 Special caliber revolvers with a six-shot capacity. The .38 Special was preferred to other weapons such as variants of the M1911 because it offered low recoil, was small and light enough to accommodate different shooters, and was relatively inexpensive.

The 9 mm has better ballistics than the .38 Special revolver cartridge, is a shorter round, and being an autoloader cartridge is stored in flat magazines as opposed to cylindrical speedloaders or clip (ammunition).

Cartridge dimensions

The 9x19mm Parabellum has 0.86 ml (13.3 grains H2O) cartridge case capacity.

9x19mm Parabellum.svg

9x19mm Parabellum maximum C.I.P. cartridge dimensions.[4] All sizes in millimeters (mm).

The cartridge headspaces on the mouth of the case.[13] The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 250 mm (1 in 9.84 in), 6 grooves, ø lands = 8.82 mm, ø grooves = 9.02 mm, land width = 2.49 mm and the primer type is small pistol.

According to the official C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente Pour L'Epreuve Des Armes A Feu Portatives) guidelines the 9x19mm Parabellum case can handle up to 235 MPa (34,083 psi) piezo pressure. In C.I.P. regulated countries every pistol cartridge combo has to be proofed at 130% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers.
The SAAMI pressure limit for the 9x19mm Parabellum is set at 241.32 MPa (35,000 psi), piezo pressure.[14]
The SAAMI pressure limit for the 9x19 mm Parabellum +P is set at 265.45 MPa (38,500 psi), piezo pressure.


An expanded 124 grain 9x19mm Parabellum jacketed hollow point.

The effective range of the 9mm is about 100 m although the bullet does travel and is lethal at longer ranges.

The 9 mm cartridge combines a flat trajectory with moderate recoil. As early as 1986, in the NRA's book Handloading stated that "the modern science of wound ballistics has established beyond reasonable doubt that the 9mm cartridge is highly effective."[8]

The energy delivered by most 9 mm loads allows for adequate expansion and penetration with premium JHP bullets. Illinois State Police, Border Patrol, Federal Air Marshals and United States Secret Service favored and used 115 grain +P+ 9 mm loads at 1,300 ft/s for years with excellent results.[15] Lethal Force expert Massad Ayoob has stated that the "Tried, Tested, and True" 115 grain +P or +P+ is the best self defense load in this caliber[citation needed].

The energy of this cartridge is capable of imparting remote wounding effects known as hydrostatic shock in human-sized living targets.[9][10][16] The existence of this phenomenon was debated in the 1980s and early 1990s.[17][18][19] However, recent publication of human autopsy results has demonstrated brain hemorrhaging from fatal hits to the chest with 9mm bullets.[11]

The table below shows common performance parameters for several 9x19mm loads. Bullet weights from 115 to 147 grains are common. Loads are available with energies from just over 320 (ft•lbf) to over 472 (ft•lbf), and penetration depths from 8 inches to over 24 inches are available for various applications and risk assessments. The Marshall and Sanow "one-shot stop" rating varies from 63% for the non-expanding FMJ which produces a ballistic pressure wave of 266 psi to over 90% for the Cor-Bon 115 grain JHP which produces a ballistic pressure wave of 626 psi. The average incapacitation times (estimated for a 170 lb male shot in the center of the chest) vary from 7.3 to 13.5 seconds.

Manufacturer Load Mass (grains) Velocity (ft/s) Energy (ft•lbf) Expansion (inches)[20] Penetration (inches)[20] BPW[21](psi) PC[20] (in3) TSC[20] (in3) OSS[20] AIT[21] (sec)
Cor-Bon JHP 115 1350 465 0.55 14.2 626 3.4 38.5 90.6% 8.8
Double Tap Gold Dot JHP 124 1310 472 0.70 13.25 681 5.1 37.6 (est) 85.3%[22] 8.4
Federal HydraShok JHP +P+ 124 1220 410 0.67 13.4 584 4.7 44.8 85.7% 9.1
Remington Golden Saber JHP 147 990 320 0.62 14.5 421 4.4 33.2 74.5%[22] 10.7
Winchester Silvertip 115 1225 383 0.72 8.0 915 3.3 16.7 82.9% 7.3
Winchester WWB JHP 147 990 320 0.58 15.9 384 4.2 19.6 74.1% 11.2
Winchester FMJ 115 1155 341 0.36 24.5 266 2.5 10.6 62.9% 13.5

Key: Expansion – expanded bullet diameter (ballistic gelatin). Penetration – penetration depth (ballistic gelatin). BPW – ballistic pressure wave associated with remote wounding effects known as hydrostatic shock. PC – permanent cavity volume (ballistic gelatin, FBI method). TSC – temporary stretch cavity volume (ballistic gelatin). OSS – Marshall and Sanow “one-shot stop” rating. AIT – Average incapacitation time, time from unobstructed hit in the center of the chest until involuntary incapacitation for 170 lb male as determined from ballistic pressure wave model.

Improvements and variations

From left to right: .50 Action Express, .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9×19 mm Parabellum, .22 Long Rifle.

In addition to the traditional pressure values for this cartridge, there are two main variants that offer different pressure standards than the SAAMI or C.I.P requirements.


9x19mm +P variant

Attempts to improve ballistics of the cartridge came in the early 1990s with the widespread availability of high pressure loadings of the 9 mm cartridge. Such overpressure cartridges are labeled "+P" or in the case of very high pressure loadings "+P+".[23] Ballistic performance of these rounds was moderately improved over the standard loadings. In addition, improvements in jacketed hollow point bullet technology have produced bullet designs that are more likely to expand and less likely to fragment than earlier iterations, giving a 9 mm bullet better terminal effectiveness.[citation needed]

9 mm NATO variant

The 9 mm cartridge has been manufactured by, or for, more than 70 different countries and has become a standard pistol caliber for NATO and other military forces around the world. Its official nomenclature among NATO users is "9 mm NATO". The 9 mm NATO can be considered as an overpressure variant of the 9x19mm Parabellum that is defined by NATO standards.[24] The service pressure Pmax of the 9 mm NATO is rated at 252 MPa (36,550 psi) where C.I.P. rates the 9 mm Luger PTmax somewhat lower at 235 MPa (34,083 psi). The 315.0 MPa (45,687 psi) proofing test pressure used in the 9 mm NATO proof test however equals the proofing test pressure used in the 9 mm Luger C.I.P. proof test.


Cartridge detail 9mm fx red marking dodic aa12.jpg
Box of "Cartridge, 9mm FX Blue Marking (DODIC AA21) with a modified Beretta M-9 pistol

The United States Military uses red and blue marking rounds in the 9mm caliber known as Special Effects Small Arms Marking Systems (SESAMS). These rounds are similar to the rounds used in paintball guns, except they are fired with a propellant, and can be shot in M-9 service pistols with only a barrel modification. The 9mm SESAMS rounds are fired from specially modified pistols as well as M16 and M4 rifles.[25] This allows the armed forces to train with identical equipment used in real life situations.[26] The brand name for this ammunition, which is also sold commercially and to law enforcement, is Simunition.

Russian military overpressure variants

The Russian military has developed specialized 9x19mm cartridges that utilize relatively light bullets at high muzzle velocities for both pistols and submachine guns to defeat body armour. Besides enhanced penetration capabilities these overpressure variants offer a flatter trajectory and lessened recoil. After initial research, conducted since the late 1980s under the codename "Grach", the Russian armed forces adopted two specialized 9x19mm variants.[27]

Chambering 7N21 9x19mm variant 7N31 9x19mm variant
Bullet weight 5.3 g (82 gr) 4.2 g (65 gr)
Muzzle velocity 460 m/s (1,509 ft/s) 600 m/s (1,969 ft/s)
Muzzle energy 561 J (414 ft.lbf) 756 J (558 ft.lbf)
Maximum pressure 280 MPa (40,611 psi)

The 7N21 9x19 mm overpressure variant features an armour piercing bullet and generates a claimed peak pressure of 280 MPa (40,611 psi).[27] The 7N21 bullet features a hardened (sub-caliber) steel penetrator core, enclosed by a bimetal jacket. The space between the core and jacket is filled with polyethylene, and the tip of the penetrator is exposed at the front of the bullet, to achieve better penetration. The MP-443 Grach and GSh-18 pistols and PP-19-01, PP90M1 and PP-2000 submachine guns were designed for usage with this overpressure cartridge. Jane's Infantry Weapons stated in 2003 that the 7N21 cartridge combines the 9x19mm Parabellum dimensions with a 9x21mm Gyurza bullet design and was developed specifically for the penetration of body armour and for the MP-443 Grach pistol, the latest Russian service pistol.[28]

In the 7N31 9x19mm overpressure variant the same concept with a similar but lighter bullet that achieves higher muzzle velocity is applied. The 7N31 cartridge was developed in the late 1990s for the GSh-18 pistol. The 7N31 was also adopted for the PP-2000 submachine gun. Its maximum service pressure remains unclear.


See also


  1. ^ "Sellier & Bellot". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  2. ^ "Vihtavuori Reloading Guide". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  3. ^ "Buffalo Bore". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  4. ^ a b "C.I.P. decisions, texts and tables - free current C.I.P. CD-ROM version download (ZIP and RAR format)". Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  5. ^ Hogg, Ian V.; Weeks, John S. Military Small Arms of the 20th Century (7th Edition), p.40. Krause Publications, 2000
  6. ^ a b Barnes, Frank (2006). Skinner, Stan. ed. Cartridges of the World. 11th Edition.. Cartridges of the World. Gun Digest Books. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-89689-297-2. 
  7. ^ Adler, Jerry, et al. "Story of a Gun." Newsweek 149.18 (30 Apr. 2007): 36-39. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Dallas Public Library, Dallas, TX. retrieved 10 June 2009. Newsweek online edition
  8. ^ a b Davis, William C. (1986). Handloading, Second Printing: National Rifle Association. ISBN 0-935998-34-9 p242-243
  9. ^ a b "Scientific Evidence for Hydrostatic Shock". 
  10. ^ a b Sturtevant B, Shock Wave Effects in Biomechanics, Sadhana, 23: 579-596, 1998.
  11. ^ a b Krasja, J. Příčiny vzniku perikapilárních hemoragií v mozku při střelných poraněních (The causes of peripheral hemorrhages in the brain due to firearm injuries), Institute of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, 2009.
  12. ^ CCI/Speer Inc. (2007). Reloading Manual #14 ISBN 978-097918600-4
  13. ^ Wilson, R. K. Textbook of Automatic Pistols, p.239. Plantersville, SC: Small Arms Technical Publishing Company, 1943.
  14. ^ "SAAMI Pressures". Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  15. ^ Ayoob, Massad. (2002). The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, 5th edition: Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87349-485-7
  16. ^ Courtney A, Courtney M: Links between traumatic brain injury and ballistic pressure waves originating in the thoracic cavity and extremities. Brain Injury 21(7): 657-662, 2007.
  17. ^ "The Shockwave Myth" (PDF). Fackler ML: Literature Review and Comment. Wound Ballistics Review Winter 1991: pp38-40.. Retrieved April 11, 2007. 
  18. ^ Patrick UW: Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness. FBI Firearms training Unit, Quantico, VA. 1989.
  19. ^ MacPherson D: Bullet Penetration — Modeling the Dynamics and the Incapacitation Resulting From Wound Trauma. Ballistics Publications, El Segundo, CA, 1994.
  20. ^ a b c d e Marshall and Sanow, Street Stoppers, Appendix A, Paladin 2006
  21. ^ a b From model in Courtney A, Courtney M: Links between traumatic brain injury and ballistic pressure waves originating in the thoracic cavity and extremities. Brain Injury 21(7): 657–662, 2007.
  22. ^ a b Estimated from model in
  23. ^ What is +P and +P+ ammunition?
  24. ^ Proof of Ordnance, Munitions, Armour and Explosives, Ministry of Defence Defence Standard 05–101 Part 1
  25. ^ Bianco, Michael. Marines conduct urban warfare training. United States Marines. 2009-06-04. <> Retrieved on 2009-12-21. (Archived by WebCite at
  26. ^ Senior Master Sgt. Steven Bliss "Commando Warrior adds realistic combat training with simunitions" 2009-08-06. Retrieved on 2009-12-21 from <>
  27. ^ a b Modern Firearms – Special purpose small arms ammunition of USSR and Russia
  28. ^ "9 x 19 mm 7N21 at Jane's". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 

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