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9mm vs. 9mm Luger: What’s The Difference?

Saturday, February 12, 2022

9mm vs. 9mm Luger

The 9mm is a common handgun round, used all over the world. It is used by Militaries and law enforcement agencies worldwide, and by civilians as well. 

Actually, the 9mm and 9mm Luger are simply different names for the same caliber.

The caliber is more than a hundred years old and was developed before World War I in 1902.  It had become the standard caliber, used in most semi-automatic pistols since it offers an excellent balance between stopping power, size, and availability.

However, 9mm is just a measurement. If you have been using guns for a while you have probably heard many names for 9mm rounds:

  • 9x19 mm
  • 9mm Parabellum
  • 9mm Luger
  • 9mm NATO

Still, buying ammo can sometimes be confusing because there are also some rounds with similar names that are completely different. 

For example, the 9mm Makarov, 9mm browning, 9x21 mm, and 9x23 Winchester are totally different rounds but have a similar 9mm projectile.

Here is a little history of the 9mm, and how it got so many different aliases.


History of 9mm Rounds and Their Aliases

The caliber that we know as 9mm today, was developed in 1902, by a German firearms engineer named George Lugar. George Lugar was also the designer of the German Luger pistol, which saw extensive use in WW1 and WW2. The 9x19mm caliber was specifically designed for this pistol.

Back then, the round was called the 9x19 parabellum since it has a projectile 9mm in diameter and the case was 19 mm long. The word Parabellum comes from the Motto of the company that George Lucas designed the cartridge for.

The Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) was a German firearms manufacturer, and their logo was the Latin phrase “Si vis Pacem, para Bellum”. It translates to “If you want peace, prepare for war,” so, this is where the caliber got its first name.

The German military used the 9mm caliber in their sidearms, and later in Sub Machine guns like the mp40 as well. After the second world war, the caliber started gaining a lot of popularity. It was relatively strong and very reliable, because of its tapered design, which ensured very efficient feeding in semi-automatic pistols and submachine guns.

With the popularity of the caliber, there was a need for a standard name. This is where the SAAMI and CIP come in. In the United States, SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute) was responsible for developing the industry standards for the 9mm Parabellum round. In Europe, the same job was assigned to the CPI.

Since Parabellum was the Motto of a private firearms manufacturing company, SAAMI did not agree with it being the official name of the 9x19mm round, and instead, it was sold in the US as the 9x19mm Luger. It was named so to honor the creator of the round, rather than the company he worked for.

Over time, the name of the round started to shorten, and people called it 9mm Luger, and eventually just 9mm. These days some people simply call it nine as well. Now, since the caliber has become so popular, in almost any part of the world, if you ask someone for a 9mm round, they know you are talking about 9x19 Luger or 9x19 Parabellum.

Now, there is another common designation used for 9x19mm Luger rounds, which is 9MM NATO. Now, in terms of size the round is the same, however, 9mm NATO rounds tend to have a heavier projectile, and a higher-pressure powder charge. This can make the round more powerful, with more stopping power and energy.

Since 9mm is such a versatile round, it comes in various configurations, and 9mm NATO is just a different configuration of the same round. Similarly, you can get hollow point, full metal jackets, hard cast lead and many other variations of the 9mm round. All these rounds have the same dimensions and can be fired from any firearm chambered in 9mm.

Other 9mm Cartridges

Since we know that 9mm refers to the diameter of the projectile in a 9x19mm bullet, there are many other bullets that have a similar 9mm projectile.

One of the most common rounds with “nine” in its name is 9x18mm Makarov, which is also called 9mm Makarov. This was essentially the soviet version of the 9mm Luger, it has a 9mm projectile, and an 18 mm casing, which is why it is called 9x18 mm, and it was designed to be fired from the Makarov pistol, so that's where the Makarov name comes from.

In the US, 380 ACP is a common caliber, which also has a 9mm projectile. It is also called 9mm Browning since it was designed by John Browning. It is also known as 9mm Short, 9mm Krutz, and 9x17mm. In Europe, the CIP designates it as 9mm Browning Court.

Some 9mm calibers are also relatively new, like the 357 Sig, which is also known as 9x22mm and has a 9mm projectile. Moreover, the 9mm Winchester is also a newer caliber, which has dimensions of 9x23mm and was developed by Winchester for sports shooting. The Israeli Military also created a caliber known as 9mm IMI, which has 9x21mm dimensions.

Why is the 9mm Luger So Popular?

There are many reasons why the 9mm is such a popular round all over the world. It has low recoil, and because of the smaller size, more rounds of 9mm can be carried or fit into magazines. Moreover, the round is very versatile and is available in various configurations.

It is also a very reliable round, and its popular use of it has shown how effective it can be compared to other competitive calibers like 45 ACP, and 40 S&W. so, whether you are looking for a round for self-defense, or competition shooting, 9mm is the ideal option.

Check out our great selection of 9mm ammo!

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