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The 9mm Luger (9x19mm)

By Chuck Hawks

Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

The 9x19mm, also called the 9mm Luger or the 9mm Parabellum, was adopted by the German Army in 1908 as the cartridge for the famous Luger pistol. It has become the world's most popular pistol cartridge. It is now used by most of the militaries of the world, including all of the NATO countries. It is also used by a great many police agencies, including the FBI. The 9x19 is popular with civilians everywhere they are allowed to own handguns in the caliber.

The 9x19 uses standard .355" bullets, generally from 100 to 147 grains in weight. The standard NATO load uses a 124 grain FMJ bullet. The various 115 grain JHP bullets are generally the top choice for civilian personal defense, while the 124 grain bullets usually provide the best all-around performance. The 147 grain bullets were originally intended for use in sub-sonic submachine gun loads, but have become popular with the heavy bullet crowd for use in pistols. The bullet makers have responded with high quality 147 grain JHP bullets such as the Hornady XTP and Speer Gold Dot.

Remington ballistics tables (Federal and Winchester are similar) for the standard 115 grain JHP load show a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1155 fps and a muzzle energy (ME) of 341 ft. lbs. The trajectory of this load shows a midrange rise of .9" over 50 yards, and 3.9" over 100 yards. The 9x19 is one of the best auto pistol cartridges for long range shooting.

The reloader can do quite well with the 9x19. There are plenty of .355" bullets available, and a number of common powders that work well in the cartridge. These are primarily medium burning pistol powders such as Unique, HS6, HS7, and Blue Dot.

According to the Speer Reloading Manual Number 13 their popular 115 grain bullets can be driven to a MV of 1166 fps by 5.6 grains of Unique powder, and 1244 fps by 6.3 grains of Unique.

Their 124 grain bullets can be driven to a MV of 1159 fps by 8.0 grains of HS7 powder, and 1249 fps by 8.9 grains of HS7. This is a pretty good field load for a 9x19 pistol.

The 147 grain Speer bullets can be driven to a MV of 845 fps by 5.0 grains of HS6 powder, and 956 fps by 5.6 grains of HS6. These Speer loads used Speer cases, CCI 500 primers and were chronographed in a 4" pistol barrel.

Note: A full length article about the 9x19 can be found on the Handgun Cartridges page.

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