The 9mm Parabellum
Still Growing In Popularity After More Than A 100 Years
It’s probably safe to say the 9mm Parabellum, aka the 9×19 and 9mm Luger, is the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the world. This isn’t all that apparent in America due to our love affair with the .45 ACP, but the vast majority of the world’s military forces use the 9mm, including the United States. According to one source over 60 percent of the police departments in the United States now carry 9mm semi-autos. Before the 1980s .38 Special revolvers were the primary police handgun, but cops had to change because criminals did: “Nines” are also a very popular choice among gangbangers.
The 9mm was designed by Georg Luger in 1901, by necking up and slightly shortening the case of the 7.65mm Parabellum, itself designed by Luger and Hugo Borchardt for the German firm Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken. (“Parabellum” comes from DWM’s Latin motto, Si vis pacem, para bellum: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”) The 9mm was first adopted by the German navy in 1904 and their army in 1906, and quickly became so popular American manufacturers started producing ammunition by 1910.
Since then 9mm ammunition has been produced in dozens of countries all over the world, enough to keep avid cartridge collectors searching for new headstamps and a bewildering variety of specialized rounds. Aside from standard military and police ammo, there have been tracer, blank, armor-piercing, flare, smoke-signal and paintball rounds. There’s even a Japanese rock band named 9mm Parabellum Bullet.
By John Barsness
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