The 9x18 (9mm Makarov)

By Chuck Hawks

9mm Makarov
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

Like the .380 ACP, to which it is visually and ballistically very similar, the 9mm Makarov pistol and 9x18mm cartridge were adopted as the service standard by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after WW II and almost all of the other Communist nations quickly followed suit, including China. In the Soviet Union it served the various branches of the military, the KGB, the police and all other government agencies. "Standard" meant just that in the USSR.

The Makarov is not a true 9mm (.355") cartridge. Instead, it is about a 9.2mm and uses .365" diameter bullet.

The Federal Classic factory load for the 9mm Makarov gives a 90 grain Hi-Shok JHP bullet 990 fps from a 3.75" barrel, with 195 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. The mid-range trajectory of this load is 1.2" over 50 yards.

According to the Speer Reloading Manual Number 13 their 90 grain Gold Dot bullet can be driven to a MV of 971 fps by 4.0 grains of W231 powder, and 1074 fps by 4.5 grains of W231. These loads used Starline brass and CCI 500 primers, and were chronographed in the 4" barrel of a Makarov pistol.

In summation, the 9mm Mak is a good cartridge ballistically identical to the .380 ACP. Makarov pistols made in E. Germany and the USSR are of good quality. One could do much worse!

Note: The complete article about the 9x18 (9mm Makarov) can be found in its entirety on the Handgun Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.