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GUNS Magazine August 2012 Digital Edition - Page 16
STORY: John Barsness the 9MM PArABeLLuM t’s probably safe to say the 9mm Parabellum, aka the 9x19 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. I Still growing in popularity after more than a 100 years. Every bullet tested delivered 25-yard groups in the 2" range or better with at least one powder. does it “Work”? Some controversy has always swirled around the 9mm’s manstopping potential, particularly in the US with military hardball. (The American adoration of the .45 ACP may be partly due to it being our own cartridge, but the .45 does use a heavier, wider bullet, which counts for something.) Modern expanding bullets that hold together for deeper penetration have greatly increased the effectiveness of the 9mm for police and self-defense use, and major powder improvements have also occurred since 1902. Aside from the greater magazine when compared to a .45 ACP or .40 S&W, the lighter recoil and smaller size of the 9mm allow chambering in semi-autos weighing as little as 1 pound. The increase in women who carry defensive handguns also accounts for some of its American sales. My wife Eileen has used and carried handguns since shortly after we were married 30 years ago, but (like many American police departments) decided to upgrade from revolvers a few years ago, so went handgun shopping. Like her husband she tends to buy more firearms than she really needs, so ended up with several semi-autos, ranging from a Ruger Mark III .22 to both compact and full-sized models of the HK USP .40 S&W. Unlike her The test gun was a Beretta M9, similar to the one the US Military issues. 16 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A U G U S T 2 0 1 2