Designed by DWM weapons designer, Georg Luger, the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge was introduced in 1902. Luger designed the round as a service cartridge for the DWM Luger semi-automatic pistol known as the Pistole Parabellum, more commonly known as the Luger.
The cartridge was compact and accurate, an improvement over previous ammo which was heavy. Pistols chambered for 9mm ammo held more cartridges than previous models, and they were highly accurate, surprising for its small size. Luger intended for the round to be lethal at 50 meters.
- 9mm Luger
- 9mm Parabellum
- 9x19mm Parabellum
- 9mm NATO
- 9mm Para
- 9mm P
Law Enforcement and Military
When World War I occurred, the military introduced submachine guns. Chambered for 9mm ammo, the guns were able to penetrate field gear, an essential part of eliminating the enemy. The submachine guns were fully automatic, and magazine-fed, firing up to 900 rounds per minute.
In 1935, the Browning Hi-Power was introduced. The gun played a large part in World War II, and therefore, 9mm ammo became widespread. Not long after the war, law enforcement agencies adopted the cartridge, replacing the .38, a standard issue sidearm. Civilians followed suit, using the 9mm for self-defense due to its size, weight, and low recoil.
Other milestones include:
- In 1955, NATO adopted the 9mm Parabellum as their official sidearm round.
- The U.S. Military replaced the .45 ACP with the 9mm as their standard cartridge.
- Law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD and LAPD, adopted the 9mm cartridge.
- In the 1990s, many civilians replaced .38 Special and .357 Magnum handguns in favor of 9mm semi-automatic pistols. Being able to buy cheap 9mm ammo has encouraged users to keep up the trend.
- In 2014, The Federal Bureau of Investigation returned to 9mm ammo after graduating to 10mm cartridges.
Police cite the following reasons for their preference:
- Shootability: High accuracy, easier to shoot, low recoil.
- Selection: The selection of pistols is vast. Many law enforcement agencies allow their officers to select their choice of guns chambered in the cartridge.
- Longevity: Less wear and tear on the firearm. 9mm pistols will fire as many as 100,000 rounds.
- Increased Capacity: Most 9mm duty pistols have a capacity of 17 rounds; extended magazines can hold 20 rounds or more.
- Reliability: They are the most reliable handguns.
- Ammo variety: Ammo has many variations and is easy to obtain.
- Cost: Low-cost ammo, especially when buying in bulk.
Over 60% of police forces in the U.S. use 9×19mm Parabellum pistols.
9mm Ammo Design
The 9mm cartridge is a well-known handgun cartridge. However, it has reinvented itself over the last century. Pocket pistols, full-size handguns, revolvers, and submachine guns, among others all use this cartridge.
The 9x19mm Parabellum measures 9mm in diameter; its tapered case measures 19mm in length. Derived from Latin, the name “Parabellum” comes from DWM’s motto, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” which means “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
The ammo is often chosen for self-defense purposes due to its lightweight and mild recoil. Women and novice shooters tend to prefer it over a .45 caliber weapon. The FBI has run field tests to dispel the myth that the load doesn’t have the same stopping power as a .40 or .45 caliber firearm. In combat, proper shot placement proves that the 9mm is equally lethal.
Civilians prefer the caliber for its excellent control and accuracy. Gun owners tout the ease of carrying concealed with a subcompact gun.
With the wide variety of uses and easy access to bulk 9mm ammo, the round is sure to remain popular for many years to come.