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The 9mm Luger pistol cartridge has become an international standard

March 21, 2009
By Kenneth Cobb

The 9x19mm Parabellum, also known as the 9mm Luger, is a pistol cartridge introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen and Munitionsfabriken (DWM).

George Luger developed this cartridge from the earlier 7.65 mm pistol cartridge. The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin Motto: Si vis pacem, para bellum ("If you seek peace, prepare for war.")

In 1904, the German military expressed an interest in a combat pistol chambered for this cartridge. After World War I, interest in this cartridge increased; and 9mm pistols were adopted by several European nations. Today, the 9mm cartridge is manufactured in more than 70 different countries. It is the standard pistol caliber for the nations making up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other military forces throughout the world. Its official nomenclature among the NATO nations is the 9mm NATO.

For the past 100 years, 9mm Luger cartridges have been manufactured with a wide variety of bullets and powder charges. During the war years, the vast majority of bullets were the full-metal case (FMC) ball loads with cores.

In 1971, my father acquired a highly used German Luger from his brother-in-law. The first box of ammunition I purchased for this pistol was the 124-grain load with FMC bullets made by Federal. I was not at all impressed with the pistol or the ammunition. Less than a year later, I purchased a box of 9mm ammunition manufactured by Super Vel. This load was a 90-grain jacketed, hollow-point bullet that was much faster. When I pulled one of the hollow-point bullets out of a block of clay, I was quite impressed with the way the bullet expanded. The fired bullet was more than twice the diameter of an unfired bullet. Dad and I agreed this round would definitely be a good stopper.

As a military cartridge, the use of the hollow-point round would be in clear violation of the established rules agreed upon in the Geneva Convention, but for home defense, any pistol chambered for this cartridge would be effective.

My father passed away in 1978, and my older brother took possession of this pistol. Jimmie died in 1997; and right now, I do not have any idea where the pistol might be.

From about 1970 to the present, manufacturers started showing improved ballistics with this cartridge. The 90-grain jacketed, hollow-point bullet has an advertised muzzle velocity of 1,485 feet per second compared to the 1,120 fps for the 124-grain FMC bullet.

This old military pistol cartridge has become an international standard with widespread approval among civilians and police departments. While it does not have the knockdown power of the .45 automatic, it is by far a more accurate round.

I would not recommend hunting deer-sized animals with any firearm chambered for the 9mm. This little pistol cartridge does not pack enough muzzle energy for hunting any animals larger than ground hogs or maybe coyotes. It is a good pistol for home and self-defense. It has very little recoil, and it is easy to shoot accurately. Any person can learn how to shoot any pistol chambered for the 9mm in just a few hours.

Today, the 9x19mm Parabellum or Luger is commonly chambered in pistols, plus a few revolvers, and carbines by just about all of the firearms manufacturers throughout the world.



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