Thursday, June 11, 2015

9mm Ammunition

One of my favorite rounds is the 9mm. In writing this article I don’t mean to stand up for the round or tear it down, but to give it’s history. I probably will sing it’s praises a little if you’ll forgive me.
George Luger developed the 9 X 19mm Parabellum cartridge from previous cartridges he had developed. This round was made specifically for the Luger pistol. This was first patented in 1898. This was near the turn of the century when firearms was completing a change from black powder and flintlock technology to the modern cartridge. The military was demanding larger calibers for side-arms and that’s what led to the 9 X 19mm. He removed the bottle neck from his 7.65 X 21mm Parabellum case which gave the cartridge a tapered rimless cartridge encasing a 9mm bullet.
The cartridge name, Parabellum, is from the Latin phrase, Si vis pacem para bellum, which means “If you seek peace, prepare for war.” There are 2 other popular 9mm cartridges, the 9 X 18mm Makarov, and the Browning 9 X 17mm Short or .380. In 1902 Leger presented the round to the British Small Arms Committee and a prototype to the U.S. Army for testing in mid-1903. The Imperial German Navy adopted the round in 1904 and the German Army in 1906.
Since the U.S. military has adopted this cartridge and is the largest contributor the round is known also as 9mm NATO. This is a relatively new round for the U.S. military. It came to our shores more from weapons brought home from World Wars I and II rather than the prototype from Luger himself. It the first company manufactured weapons in mass for this caliber was in 1954. Smith and Wesson put out the Model 39 in 9mm. In 1951 Colt had re-chambered some of their Commanders to take this round. Other designs followed.
In 1986 the FBI had a shootout in Miami that changed how law enforcement (LE) looked at it’s weapons. In North Hollywood in 1997 a bank robbery made it obvious to Los Angeles PD that they were horribly out gunned. Those two events started the cartridge and weapon revolution in law enforcement. LE were horribly out gunned with the .38 special revolver and even the .357. Going from carrying 18 shots with 2 reloads to 46 shots with 2 reloads was a vast change. And so went the revolver.
I know there is now, has been, and ever shall be, a debate on “stopping power” I think the 9mm was a definite upgrade. In my opinion shot placement trumps so called “stopping power.” Learn to shoot even under stressful conditions and you won’t need a big heavy bullet. Contrary to Hollywood lifting someone off the ground with a .45 or Clint Eastwood blowing “your head clean off” with a .44 magnum, you must hit something that will stop the attacker. A .45 in the shoulder is not better than a 9mm to the brain. There I go, starting the debate again…
The FBI kind of went off half-cocked, so to speak. They switched to 10mm, which is a respectable round. Their problem came in their agents and their being able to handle the gun and the round. It did not go so well. They went to 9mm along with other LE and eventually to .40 S&W. I have no problem with .40 cal but when comparing ballistics I think .40 is not a whole lot different than 9mm. For me it’s all about size and weight. I will carry more 9mm and my gun will hold more. After shot placement, quantity is what I desire. The .40 S&W is only 12% bigger than the 9mm. The difference in weight per 100 rounds is:
9mm – 100 rounds 2.63 lbs
.40 – 100 rounds 3.56 lbs
This is a difference of 1 pound per 100 rounds. For me that is significant.
The difference in price is also significant. Add to that 9mm being more common, at least for now, and more available because it is more common gives the 9mm a plus over the .40. I know, I’m back to talking about personal preference again.
9mm has a long proven history where other calibers are less proven. Was that vague enough for you?
Semper Paratus
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