Author Topic: 9mm Cartridges of the World: Past and Present  (Read 18979 times)

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Offline Radom

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9mm Cartridges of the World: Past and Present
« on: April 08, 2003, 02:27:09 PM »
9mm Cartridges of the World: Past and Present
           
            Often people are confused by the variety of markings on weapons and ammunition that refer to "9mm."  There are four major cartridges incorporating "9mm" in their names that are commonly used in current military, police, and civilian arms.  To further confuse the issue, these are known by a variety of alternate names.  By far, the most common and popular 9mm cartridge is the original: 9mm Parabellum (aka 9mm Luger, 9x19mm, etc.).  In the early smokeless powder era, the medium caliber semi-auto cartridges were primarily spin-offs of 9mm Parabellum; however, a few can be traced back to the older black powder .38 revolver cartridges.
           
            There are six obsolete European service pistol cartridges that incorporate 9mm in their names.  Five of these cartridges date from the early smokeless powder era.  At that time, all cartridges were proprietary, creating two problems.  First, different manufacturers used different markings on their arms and ammunition, even when referring to the exact same cartridge.  In short, the various manufacturers were determined not to provide a competitor with free advertising.  The problem of alternate names has already been mentioned above.  Second, many manufacturers desired to avoid paying patent royalties.  These were largely inevitable at that time, since most cartridges and pistol designs were all quite new and still protected by the relevant intellectual property laws.  As a result, several derivatives of 9mm Parabellum were developed before WWII.  These gradually fell by the wayside, as 9mm Parabellum became the dominant medium semi-auto cartridge.  The sixth obsolete 9mm cartridge is comparatively new, but it too could not compete with 9mm Parabellum.      
           
            There are also four new calibers using 9mm diameter bullets that are gaining popularity in competitive circles; one of these, .357 SIG, is gaining some acceptance as a service pistol cartridge.  Since the other three use some form of 9mm in their names, these new cartridges often cause some confusion as well.  These cartridges all represent an attempt to coax more velocity out of the 9mm bullet.    
           
            All fourteen of these 9mm cartridges will be discussed below.
           
            WARNING: Pistols chambered in any of the calibers discussed in this article must never be fired with any other cartridge type.  This can damage the weapon and/or cause serious injury.  The following alternate names are given for informational purposes only.  When in doubt, consult the relevant arms or ammunition manufacturer.  
           
           
            The History of 9mm Parabellum (9mm Luger)
           
            The most frequently asked question surrounding "9mm" cartridges has been some version of "is there any difference between 9mm Parabellum and 9mm Luger?"  The short answer is no; these are in fact the same cartridge.  This cartridge is the one typically meant when people refer to "9mm."
           
            Georg Luger developed the 9mm Parabellum cartridge from 1898-1902.  This cartridge has a very interesting history; it is essentially a direct linear descendant of the first semi-automatic cartridge ever developed.  Luger had originally worked on the C/93 Borchardt pistol with fellow arms designer Hugo Borchardt.  This pistol fired the 7.65 Borchardt cartridge (aka .30 Borchardt or 7.65x25mm).  This was the first mechanically and commercially viable semi-auto cartridge/pistol combination; both made their debut in late 1893.  The 7.65 Borchardt has a rimless bottlenecked case; nominal velocity is 1,280 fps with an 85gr bullet.  
           
            The C/93 Borchardt worked, but it was a fairly large, ungainly handgun.  The C/93 was further hampered by the small size of its manufacturer, Ludwig Lowe & Co.  This prompted Gebruder Mauser & Co. to produce an improved design, the celebrated C/96 or "Broomhandle" Mauser.  As mentioned above, European patent law made it almost prohibitively expensive for one manufacturer to use another's cartridge in a new handgun design.  Mauser secured permission to use the 7.65 Borchardt cartridge, but this was eventually modified into the 7.63 Mauser (aka .30 Mauser or 7.63x25mm) for both design and economic considerations.  This slight modification created higher velocities, yet lower royalties.  Mauser produced 7.65 Borchardt prototypes in 1895, but full-scale 7.63 Mauser C/96 production commenced in 1896.  Like its predecessor, the 7.63 Mauser has a rimless bottlenecked case; however, the nominal velocity is 1,450 fps with an 86gr bullet.  Until the advent of .357 Magnum, 7.63 Mauser had the highest velocity of any handgun cartridge, commercial or military.    
           
            Borchardt and Luger returned to the drawing board after the C/96 virtually forced their earlier design out of the marketplace.  One of the primary drawbacks of Borchardt's earlier design was an awkward grip that was at a right angle to the bore.  In 1898, Borchardt and Luger presented a redesigned C/93 to the Swiss military; this pistol featured the angled grip later associated with the 9mm Luger pistol.  The improved C/93 pistol was chambered in 7.65 Luger (aka .30 Luger or 7.65x21mm), which allowed for a slightly shorter action length and the new grip angle.  7.65 Luger is also rimless and bottlenecked like the two earlier cartridges; it has a nominal velocity of 1,220 fps with a 93gr bullet.  
           
            In 1900, the Swiss purchased a small number of pistols of yet another design, the Model 1900 Luger pistol.  Apparently, Borchardt did not collaborate with Luger in this second improved design.  The Model 1900 closely resembles the later Luger designs, but it was still chambered in 7.65 Luger, rather than 9mm Parabellum.  The improved Luger pistol incorporates the basic toggle-link design that he and Borchardt had developed in a more compact and handy pistol.  Although impressed by the Luger pistol design and high velocity of the 7.65 Luger cartridge, the Swiss military considered the .30 caliber bullet both too small in diameter and too light in mass.
           
            In response, Georg Luger felt the need to revisit his smokeless semi-automatic pistol cartridge.  First, Luger realized that an even shorter cartridge would allow for a slightly more compact pistol.  Second, he wanted to retain the chief advantage of the earliest smokeless cartridges, high velocity, while using a larger diameter, heavier bullet.  For reasons of manufacturing convenience, Luger decided to simply remove the bottleneck from his 7.65 Luger cartridge.  The world may never know whether this move was the result of inspired genius or mere expediency.  This made the resulting case 19mm long and capable of handling a 9mm diameter bullet.  Since it is essentially a cut down bottlenecked cartridge, the 9mm Parabellum retains the slight taper of its parent.  In its earliest form, the 9mm Parabellum cartridge had a nominal velocity of 1,200 fps with a 115gr truncated cone bullet.  
           
            Luger named his newest cartridge Parabellum in reference to the Latin motto "Si vis paceum, parabellum." Translated into English, this means those who wish for peace, prepare for war.  By using the Latin coinage, Luger accomplished two goals.  First, the majority of educated Europeans of that period immediately recognized the reference.  Second, parabellum admirably describes the role Luger intended for his new designs, a military service pistol and cartridge.
           
            Although Georg Luger appears to have developed his 9mm cartridge without any assistance from Borchardt, he was not alone.  The medium semi-auto was an idea whose time had come.  During this same period, John M. Browning developed his first semi-auto pistol and cartridge: the Colt Model 1900 chambered in .38 ACP.  Although their weapon designs were quite different, .38 ACP and 9mm Parabellum are almost identical in terminal ballistics.  The bullet diameter of .38 ACP is actually .356, while the original 9mm Parabellum bullet diameter was .354-.355 (soon standardized at .355).  The US military rejected the Model 1900, and it was never produced in significant numbers.  Unlike the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, .38 ACP obviously draws upon earlier smokeless and black powder cartridges such as the .38 S&W and .38 Long Colt.  .38 ACP is even semi-rimmed.  It has a nominal velocity of 1,040 fps with a 130gr bullet.  I mention this to emphasize that designers on both sides of the Atlantic immediately concentrated on straight or tapered medium caliber cartridges when the early bottlenecked cartridges proved unsatisfactory.        
           
            1902 was a banner year for medium smokeless powder cartridges.  Smith and Wesson unveiled their Military and Police revolver in their new.38 Special cartridge.  Colt reintroduced .38 ACP in the Model 1902 Colt Automatic.  Most importantly for Georg Luger, the 9mm Luger pistol and 9mm Parabellum cartridge made their debut.          
           
            The German Navy adopted the Luger semi-automatic pistol in 1904.  The German Army did likewise in 1908.  The P.08 Luger marked the last major refinements to the basic Luger design of 1900; however, there were a number of variants produced during both World Wars.  The P.08 Luger was the standard German sidearm during WWI.  By WWII, the P.38 Walther, also in 9mm Parabellum, had officially replaced the P.08, but the older design was still manufactured and issued in gigantic quantities.  Due to its dimensional similarities to the 7.63 Mauser cartridge, many C/96 Mauser pistols were re-chambered in 9mm Parabellum during WWI in order to simplify logistics.  These Red 9 Mausers, which were marked with a large numeral nine in red paint on the butt, are considered highly desirable by collectors today, as are virtually any older Luger pistol.
               
            Before WWII, 9mm Parabellum had started the process of becoming the universal European service pistol and submachine gun caliber.  Notable handguns produced outside of Germany included the FN Browning Model 1935, or Hi-Power, originally manufactured by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium.  Even in Eastern Europe, 9mm Parabellum was gaining ground in the form of the Radom VIS-35 of Poland.  The Nazi occupation of much of Europe actually accelerated this process, since the German regime established and adapted many facilities for the production of 9mm Parabellum ammunition.    
           
            After WWII, NATO adopted 9mm Parabellum as a standard cartridge as a matter of expedience.  Most of the member countries had large quantities of 9mm Parabellum arms and vast stocks of ammunition.  Since WWII, the international popularity of 9mm encouraged dramatic evolution in 9mm pistols.  By 1975, the first two wonder nines had appeared: the Beretta 92 and CZ 75.  In 1985, the last remaining NATO holdout, the US, adopted the Beretta 92F as the M-9 service pistol.  US interest in 9mm Parabellum peaked in the 1980s, when new designs from SIG Arms, H&K, and Glock first appeared stateside.    
           
            Over a century after its introduction, 9mm Parabellum is without a doubt the most widely issued handgun caliber of all time.  Its only real competition would be the .38 Special revolver cartridge, which has been largely eclipsed by the 9mm Parabellum in the last three decades.  Like .38 Special, 9mm Parabellum is often criticized as underpowered.  However, full sized 9mm Parabellum semi-autos are capable of carrying a large number of rounds, have low felt recoil, and offer a decent compromise between power and ease of shooting.  At this point, sheer inertia is likely to preserve the dominance of this cartridge; there are literally millions of serviceable 9mm Parabellum arms found all over the globe.
           
           
            Why Both 9mm Parabellum AND 9mm Luger?    
           
            Older pistols are usually marked "9mm Parabellum," 9mm PARA, or even 9mm/08. Since Georg Luger actually named the cartridge 9mm Parabellum and the Latin phrase was readily identified, European pistols and ammunition were generally marked as such, or 9mm PARA as an abbreviation.  To some degree, the name reflected one trend of the early smokeless powder era, giving new cartridges a catchy marketing name (i.e. .38 "Special").  This tendency still exists, as seen in calibers such as .41 "Action Express," etc.  German arms and ammunition often used the 9mm/08 marking to reflect the adoption of the P.08 Luger and 9mm Parabellum cartridge by the German Army in 1908.  
           
            In the US, the only commonly encountered 9mm Parabellum handgun for many years was the Luger itself, so American ammunition manufacturers referred to it as "9mm Luger."  Other European 9mm pistol cartridges of that era, such as 9mm Bergmann-Bayard, 9mm Glisenti, and 9mm Steyr, reflected an even more significant trend in cartridge nomenclature.  These other 9mms" were named after the  manufacturer and/or inventor of the pistol that used them: Model 1910 Bergman-Bayard, Model 1910 Glisenti, and Model 1912 Steyr-Hahn.  In this context, it must have seemed logical to refer to 9mm Parabellum as 9mm Luger.    
           
            Currently, most European manufacturers of handguns and ammunition are marking their products as 9mm Luger or as both Luger and Para.  This is probably the result of their high volume of US sales, but I am not certain.
           
            The formation of NATO emphasized the necessity of standardized cartridge nomenclature.  As such, 9mm Parabellum is often referred to as 9x19mm.  In this convention, the nominal bullet diameter and case length are given in millimeters.  However, 9mm Parabellum has an actual bullet diameter of 9.03mm (.355) and an actual case length of 19.15mm (.754).  To reinforce a point, the case length is not the overall cartridge length, which is actually 29.69mm (1.16").  This practice had been gaining acceptance in Europe before WWII, and it is now used by virtually all of the worlds militaries.  
           
           
            The Four Common 9mm Service Cartridges
           
            1) 9x17mm.
           
            John M. Browning developed this round in 1908 for use in the Model 1908 Colt Pocket Automatic.  In the US, it was originally known as .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol).  In 1912, Fabrique Nationale introduced this cartridge in Europe via the hugely popular Model 1912.  Overseas, the same cartridge was usually known as 9mm Browning Short.
           
            9x17mm may be the second most popular and widely issued semi-auto cartridge in the world; it was the European standard before 9x19mm took its place.  Although now used primarily in pocket pistols, many European firms manufactured full sized 9x17mm service pistols before WWII.  Most current designs chambered in 9x17mm are derivatives of the Walther PP and PPK police pistols.  9x17mm pistols are of the blowback type.
           
            Originally, this cartridge had a nominal velocity of 950 fps with a 95gr bullet.  The bullet diameter is .355, or 9.03mm, which is the same as 9x19mm, 9x21mm, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.
               
            Alternate names: 9x17mm Browning, 9x17mm Browning Short, .380 ACP, .380 Auto, 9x17 Browning, 9mm Browning Short, 9mm Short, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Court, and 9mm Browning.  This last name is incorrect and misleading, but it is sometimes encountered.
             
            NOTE:  9x17mm must not be confused with two other Browning designs: 9mm Browning Long (used in the FN Browning Model 1903 and discussed below) and .38 ACP (discussed above).    
           
            2) 9x18mm.
           
            There are actually two service cartridges of 9x18mm dimensions: 9mm Makarov and 9mm Police.  They are not exactly identical in the other dimensions, but they share a common heritage.   Prior to WWII, Walther began what is sometimes called the "9mm Ultra Project."  This 9x18mm cartridge was intended to fill the performance gap between 9x17mm and 9x19mm.  That is, 9x18mm provides slightly better terminal ballistics than 9x17mm, but still in a small blowback pistol.  The outbreak of WWII cancelled the project before completion, and the Soviet Army obtained this information when they occupied East Germany, the location of the original Walther plant in Zella-Mehlis.  9mm Makarov represents the Soviet completion of the basic idea, while 9mm Police represents Walther's take on 9mm Ultra.  9mm Police will be discussed in the section on obsolete 9mm cartridges.
           
            The 9mm Police is not 100% identical to 9mm Makarov, and these cartridges are not interchangeable.  Do not fire either cartridge in weapons chambered for the other OR 9x17mm.  
           
            9mm Makarov:  This version of 9x18mm was introduced in the early 1950s.  It is generally known as 9mm Makarov, since it is attributed to the Soviet designer, who developed it for his Pistolet Makarov.  The PM was the standard issue service pistol of the USSR and some other Warsaw pact countries, such as East Germany and Bulgaria.  Later military and police service pistols manufactured by CZ, FEG, and Radom have been chambered in 9x18mm.
             
            The PM and most other 9mm Makarov pistols are obviously derived from the Walther PP and PPK pistols, and the 9mm Makarov appears to derive from Walthers experimental 9mm Ultra cartridge.  Due to the large quantities of surplus pistols and ammunition that have become available since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, 9mm Makarov is growing in popularity in the US.  By and large, the former Warsaw Pact countries are rearming themselves with 9x19mm pistols and submachine guns.  9mm Makarov may eventually fade into obscurity, since no manufacturer seems to be making NIB pistols in this caliber.
           
            Original military 9x18mm Makarov loads have a nominal velocity of 950-1,050 fps with a 95gr bullet.  The bullet diameter is actually .364 or 9.2mm.  
             
            Alternate names: 9mm Makarov, 9x18mm Makarov, 9mm M, 9mm Mak, 9x18 Makarov, and 9mm Russian.  The latter is rarely used since 1992.  
           
            3) 9x19mm.
           
            This cartridge is discussed extensively above.
           
            Although there have been a few blowback 9x19mm pistols, the vast majority are of the locked-breech type.
             
            Original military 9x19mm loads had a nominal velocity of 1,200 fps with a 115gr bullet.  The original bullet diameter was .354.  Currently, bullet weights in 9x19mm vary from 85-147gr, with corresponding variations in velocity (@1,400-1,000 fps, respectively).  The current bullet diameter is .355, or the same as 9x17mm, 9x21mm, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.  
           
            Alternate names: 9mm Parabellum, 9mm PARA, 9mm Luger, 9x19 Parabellum, 9mm, 9mm/08, 9mm P/08, 9mm Auto, and 9mm NATO.  (9mm NATO is dimensionally identical to 9mm Parabellum, but loaded to a higher pressure standard.)  
           
            4) 9x23mm.
           
            There are actually three distinct service cartridges and one new cartridge with these case dimensions.  The first 9x23mm cartridge was the original 9mm Bergmann cartridge of 1898.  In the first decade of the 20th century, this cartridge was updated and began evolution along two different paths: 9mm Bergmann-Bayard and 9mm Largo.  9mm Largo is still a relatively common service cartridge today, and it is discussed immediately below.  The Bergmann cartridges are covered in the section on obsolete 9mm cartridges.  In the 1990s, Winchester introduced the powerful 9x23mm Winchester cartridge, which is discussed in section on "new" 9mm cartridges.  
           
            9x23mm cartridges are often incorrectly identified as 9x21mm, which is a different cartridge altogether.  Furthermore, NEVER fire the new 9x23mm Winchester cartridge in any pistol chambered for the older 9x23mm cartridges: 9mm Bergmann-Bayard and 9mm Largo.  
               
            9mm Largo: 9mm Largo was initially adopted by the Spanish Army in 1905 along with the Bergmann "Mars" Model 1903 pistol, which fired the 9mm Bergmann cartridge of 1898.  This cartridge was renamed "9mm Largo," which is Spanish for "long."  9mm Largo was used extensively by the Spanish armed forces until Spain joined NATO.  As such, the 9mm Largo cartridge evolved over time.  9mm Largo is often described as identical to 9mm Bergmann-Bayard, but this is misleading.  The differences will be fully explained on the entry on the Bergmann cartridges.  
           
            9mm Largo remained the standard Spanish service pistol cartridge for approximately seventy years, and a number of pistols have been chambered in this cartridge.  In 1913, Spain adopted the Campo Giro Model 1913.  This was a blowback design, as was the Astra Model 1921 (known commercially as the Astra 400), which replaced it in 1921.  After the Spanish Civil War, Spain retained the 9mm Largo cartridge, but the military switched over to the Star Model A, followed by the Star M, and Star Super (aka Super B).  These are locked-breech pistols that resemble the Colt M-1911A1 externally, but they have little internal similarities.  Since the later Star pistols could withstand much more powerful loadings, later 9mm Largo ammunition is often much higher in velocity and pressure.
           
            Llama also manufactured 9mm Largo pistols.  The military and police of several Central and South American nations issued Astra, Star, and Llama pistols in 9x23mm Largo at one time or another.  Some nations in South America still use 9mm Largo as a police cartridge, and ammunition is available in Europe and the Americas.  Despite its considerable popularity, 9mm Largo arms have been gradually replaced by 9mm Parabellum handguns and submachine guns since the late 1970s.                    
           
            Military 9mm Largo loads generally have a nominal velocity of 1,100 fps with a 125gr bullet.  The original bullet diameter was .354, and the earliest loads with this bullet diameter appear to have been slightly weaker.  By 1913, 9mm Largo loads had a bullet diameter of .355, or the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21mm, and the other 9x23mm cartridges.  After WWII, 9mm Largo loads often pushed a 125gr bullet as fast as 1,200 fps, which raises pressures past the 35,000 psi mark.  
           
            Alternate names: 9mm Largo, 9x23mm Largo, and 9mm/38
           
           
            The Six Obsolete 9mm Cartridges
           
            1) 9mm Browning Long
           
            Also known as 9x20mm Browning, this cartridge is almost unique in being the only John M. Browning cartridge design that is now considered obsolete.  Invented in 1903, Browning developed the cartridge expressly for the European market and the FN Browning Model 1903 semi-auto.  Apparently, Colt owned the rights to .38 ACP, which made a parallel cartridge necessary.  US manufacturers never produced any arms or factory ammunition in 9mm Browning Long.  
           
            Even a relative failure for Browning would have been a lesser designers crowning achievement.  9mm Browning Long and the Model 1903 pistol sold quite well throughout Europe before WWII.  The Model 1903 was adopted as the military sidearm of Sweden in 1907, and it continued to serve in this role until 1946.  The Model 1903 was a very simple, but robust blowback design.  It is believed that this pistol may have been the most pirated design in history, that is, produced on the black or gray market while still under patent.  Many thousands of these pistols were made in Spain from 1905-1936, since Spain did not observe customary international law regarding intellectual property.  Other handguns chambered in 9mm Browning Long were produced by Le Francais and Webley & Scott.
           
            9mm Browning Long may have been a victim of Brownings own genius.  A few years later, he unveiled the 9mm Browning Short (.380 ACP, 9x17mm, etc.), which delivered virtually identical power in a more compact form.  At the same time, 9mm Browning Long was only slightly smaller than his own .38 ACP, yet it was much lower in power.  The increasing dominance of 9mm Parabellum, coupled with the release of the improved .38 Super Auto in 1929, finished off the 9mm Browning Long cartridge.    
           
            9mm Browning Long is slightly smaller and less powerful than 9mm Parabellum.  The case was 20.32mm (0.80), and the overall length was 27.94mm (1.10).  The bullet diameter is 9.03mm (.355), which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.  Factory loads in 9mm Browning Long had a nominal velocity of 1,100 fps with a 110gr bullet.      
           
            2) 9mm Bergmann and
            3) 9mm Bergmann-Bayard
           
            Strictly speaking, these may not be two different cartridges, but a strong argument can be made for considering them as such.  This cartridge began life in 1898.  It was one of several cartridges developed by Theodor Bergmann for his Bergmann "Mars" Model 1903 pistol, which was available in several chamberings.  A large, ungainly design, the "Mars" models were among the first semi-automatic pistols.  The 9mm Bergmann cartridge of 1898 appears to have been dimensionally identical to 9mm Largo.  No doubt, it was loaded similarly to the earliest versions of the Spanish cartridge.  Information on the 1898 cartridge is limited, but it appears to have the honors of introducing the relatively heavy 124-125gr bullet now ubiquitous in 9mm Parabellum military loadings.
           
            The later version, 9mm Bergmann-Bayard (also known as the 9mm Bayard Long, 9x23mm Bergmann-Bayard, and 9x23mm M10) is slightly larger.  The Bergmann "Mars" pistol was not a great commercial success, and Bergmann sold the rights in 1907 to the Belgian firm of Pieper.  Developed in 1908 as the 9mm Bayard Long, the cartridge is an updated version made possible by Bayard's improvements to the basic Bergmann design.  The Model 1910 Bergmann-Bayard is the culmination of this work; Bayard strengthened the locking system developed by Bergmann, which allowed a slightly more powerful loading.  
           
            Denmark adopted the Model 1910 Bergmann-Bayard pistol and cartridge in 1911, and Danish firms began producing the pistol in 1922.  Apparently, no other model was ever chambered in this caliber.  No US manufacturer has ever offered factory ammunition.  In fact, the Model 1910 Bergmann-Bayard pistol itself is quite rare in the US.  This was a locked-breech design with many external resemblances to the Mauser C/96.    
           
            Dimensionally, 9mm Bergmann-Bayard is virtually identical to 9mm Largo, but it is slightly bigger all over.  For example, 9mm Largo cases are 22.99mm long, while 9mm Bergman-Bayard cases are 23.11mm long.  The overall length of the Bergmann-Bayard cartridges are always a minimum of 0.5mm (.02) longer.  Bullet and bore diameters in 9mm Largo are typically .354-.355.  In 9mm Bergmann-Bayard, bullet and bore diameters can be as large as 9.06mm (.357).
           
            9mm Bergmann-Bayard has a nominal velocity of 1,100 fps with a 125gr bullet.  Typical bullet diameter was .355, which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21mm, and the other 9x23mm cartridges.  The change from .354" to .355" bullets in 9mm Largo appears to have occurred roughly at the same time that 9mm Bergmann-Bayard was introduced.
             
           
            4) 9mm Glisenti
           
            Also known as 9x19mm Glisenti, this cartridge was dimensionally identical to 9mm Parabellum, but it was less powerful.  The cartridge is known as 9mm Glisenti because its designer, A. B. Revelli, sold the rights to the Italian manufacturer, Societa Siderurgica Glisenti of Turin.  9mm Glisenti began its life as a proprietary cartridge for the Model 1910 Glisenti pistol, which was adopted by the Italian Army in that year.  9mm Glisenti became the standard Italian service cartridge for WWI, and it was still widely used in WWII, despite gradual replacement with 9mm Parabellum weapons.  A number of Italian pistols and submachine guns were chambered in this cartridge.  Some notable examples include the Model 1912 Brixia and Model 1915 Beretta pistols and the M915 Villar Perosa and Model 1918 Beretta submachine guns.  
           
            9mm Glisenti was never popular outside of Italy, since the weapons would chamber the more powerful 9mm Parabellum cartridge, creating potential dangers.  In fact, several popular Beretta pistols chambered in 9mm Glisenti were also offered in 7.65mm Browning Short (.32 ACP) and 9mm Browning Short (.380 ACP) for export.    
           
            The exact origin of 9mm Glisenti is somewhat unclear.  Major problems plagued the development and production of the Model 1910 Glisenti, which used an unusual locking system, presumably to avoid paying royalties to either Browning or Luger.  Although the Glisenti pistol resembled the P.08 Luger, its lock-up was obtained via a pivoting wedge that engaged a recess underneath the barrel.  This action was relatively weak, and it seems likely that the pistol was designed for 9mm Parabellum, which proved too powerful.  Ironically, the resulting 9mm Glisenti cartridge does not absolutely require a locked-breech action.  
           
            Military and commercial loadings of 9mm Glisenti had a nominal velocity of 1,050 fps with a 124gr bullet.  The cartridge differed from 9mm Parabellum only in power, and the bullet diameter was 9.03mm (.355), which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.
           
            5) 9mm Steyr
           
            Also known as 9x23mm Steyr and 9x23mm M12, this is yet another proprietary cartridge derived from 9mm Parabellum.  9mm Steyr is not normally grouped with 9mm Largo and the Bergmann cartridges, since it is slightly smaller and does not share their common heritage.  Developed for the 9mm Steyr-Hahn M12 pistol, 9mm Steyr and the M12 pistol became the standard service pistol/cartridge combination for most branches of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces in 1912.  Five years previously, the Austro-Hungarian cavalry adopted the 8mm Roth-Steyr cartridge and Roth-Steyr M7 pistol, which was similar to the Steyr-Hahn M12 in that both had integral box magazines loaded by stripper clips and obtained their lock-up via a rotating barrel.  The Steyr-Hahn was considered a vast improvement over the Roth-Steyr, as it employed a more powerful cartridge and simplified locking system.  
           
            The Steyr-Hahn M12 was popular commercially, and the militaries of Romania and Chile adopted the pistol as well.  However, no other model chambered in 9mm Steyr was ever manufactured.  Austria continued to issue the pistol after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.  In fact, the M12 was still the Austrian service pistol when the Austrian Army was absorbed in to the Wehrmacht in 1938.  At that time, the remaining M12s were re-barreled in 9mm Parabellum, effectively killing off the 9mm Steyr cartridge.
           
            This highlights some interesting points.  First, the 9mm Steyr differed somewhat from 9mm Parabellum dimensionally, but they were virtually identical in power, making such a conversion possible.  Second, the M12 objectively gained nothing by employing the proprietary cartridge and rotating barrel system.  One can conclude that the unusual locking system and cartridge came into existence purely for the economic reason of avoiding royalty fees otherwise payable to Browning and Luger.      
           
            Military and commercial loadings of 9mm Steyr had a nominal velocity of 1,200 fps with a 116gr bullet.  9mm Steyr was between 9mm Parabellum and 9mm Bergmann-Bayard in size.  The case length was 22.86mm (0.90), and the overall length was 33.0mm (1.29).  9mm Steyr bullet diameter was 9.03mm (.355), which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.
           
            6) 9x18mm Police
           
            Also called the 9mm Police and 9x18 Police, this cartridge was a victim of exceptionally poor timing.  Like the dimensionally similar 9x18mm Makarov, the 9mm Police reflects an attempt to improve upon the ballistics of 9x17mm (9mm Browning Short, .380 ACP), while retaining a conventional blowback design.  As the name suggests, this cartridge was marketed as more economical and safer for police work, since it would not penetrate as much as 9mm Parabellum.  
           
            This cartridge was introduced in 1973 via the Walther PP Super.  Early versions of the SIG-Sauer P-230 pistol were also chambered in 9mm Police; these appeared in the early 1980s for the German National Police trials.  Unfortunately for the cartridge, this roughly coincided with a quantum leap in the quality of 9mm Parabellum handgun designs and the peak of civilian interest in the 9mm Parabellum cartridge.  Some West German police units actually issued 9mm Police handguns, but these have been replaced with other models over the intervening years.
           
            Properly speaking, it may be incorrect to refer to the 9mm Police as "obsolete," but no standard production pistols or factory loads are currently available in this cartridge, nor are they likely to become available any time soon.  After 1992, 9mm Makarov arms and ammunition became available at a fraction of the price.
           
            The 9mm Police is often referred to as the 9mm Ultra or 9x18mm Ultra, but this is not strictly correct.  As was discussed above, the 9mm Police is certainly the end result of the 9mm Ultra concept, but the 9mm Ultra per se has never been produced.
           
            9mm Police has a nominal velocity of 1,040 fps with a 100gr bullet. The cartridge dimensions are virtually identical to 9mm Makarov, other than a smaller base diameter of 9.52mm (.375"), which is identical to that of 9x17mm. The bullet diameter was .354, which is .001" smaller than typical "9mm" cartridges.
           
           
            The Four New 9mm Cartridges
           
            1) 9x21mm IMI
           
            This round is often misidentified as being the same as 9x23mm Largo, but it isnt.  As the name suggests, the case is 2mm shorter than 9mm Largo.  Although usually known as 9x21mm, this cartridge is properly named 9x21mm IMI.  This cartridge was developed by both IMI (Israeli Military Industries), who manufactures ammunition in this caliber, and Fratelli Tanfoglio of Italy, who manufactures 9x21mm barrels for Tanfoglio and IMI pistols.
           
            9x21mm was originally developed due to an Italian law that forbids civilian ownership of weapons chambered in military calibers.  Since this ruled out 9x19mm (9mm Parabellum), the manufacturers arrived at an ingenious solution.  9x21mm cases are 2mm longer than 9mm Parabellum, but the cartridges themselves have the same external dimensions.  That is the case head, overall length, and bullet diameter is identical to 9mm Parabellum.  As a result, a 9x19mm pistol can be converted to a 9x21mm pistol with a simple barrel switch, permitting the use of the same slide and magazines.  
           
            In recent years, IPSC and other competitive circuit shooters have shown interest in the cartridge, since it is possible to make major power requirements with 9x21mm that are unsafe in 9x19mm.  IPSC Major loads in 9x21mm IMI have a muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps or higher with a 124gr bullet.  
           
            Originally, factory ammunition had a nominal velocity of 1,150 fps with a 124gr bullet.  The bullet diameter is .355, or 9.03mm, which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.  9x21mm IMI can use any bullet style suitable for 9x19mm.
           
           
            2) .357 SIG
           
            According to standard metric nomenclature, .357 SIG would be 9x22mm, but I have never seen this label actually used in regards to this cartridge.
           
            In 1994, SIG Arms and Federal jointly introduced the .357 SIG cartridge, which is simply a .40 S&W case necked down to accept a 9mm (.355) bullet.  In its concept, .357 SIG is intended to match the performance of .357 Magnum in a semi-auto pistol.  The first pistol chambered in this cartridge was the SIG 229, but Glock also offers a standard model in .357 SIG.  More importantly, this cartridge lends itself to a simple barrel switch like the 9x21mm IMI.  That is, it is possible to switch many .40 S&W handguns over to .357 SIG with a custom barrel.  
           
            .357 SIG is gaining popularity in law enforcement circles, but this arena has been fairly unstable since the abandonment of .38 Special.  Bottlenecked handgun cartridges have never enjoyed any real popularity with civilian shooters, largely due to difficulties posed in large scale reloading.  Strictly speaking, .357 SIG falls somewhat short of true .357 Magnum performance, and some of the advantages of revolver cartridges (including unusual bullet profiles) are simply not available in a semi-auto cartridge.  It seems unlikely that .357 SIG will ever gain general acceptance as a service cartridge, but it does have some real advantages.  In particular, the recent popularity of .40 S&W handguns will make .357 SIG attractive to some shooters.  
           
            Most factory ammunition has a nominal velocity of 1,350 fps with a 125gr bullet.  The bullet diameter is .355, or 9.03mm, which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.  Most manufacturers of component bullets offer a 125gr bullet expressly for .357 SIG, since most 124gr and lighter bullets for 9x19mm will not work in this cartridge.  In .357 SIG, the common, long profile 9mm bullets do not allow enough of the bearing surface to contact the case neck, which permits the bullet to set back during feeding.  This is a major strike against .357 SIG with reloaders.  
           
            3) 9x23mm Winchester
           
            As the name suggests, 9x23mm Winchester is a proprietary cartridge developed by Winchester.  As far as I know, only Winchester offers factory-loaded ammunition and component cases for reloading.  The cartridge dimensions are identical to 9mm Largo, which means that 9mm Largo factory ammo can be used for light practice loads in a pistol chambered in this cartridge.
           
            In its original concept, Winchester introduced 9x23mm Win as a service pistol/self defense cartridge.  Thus far, it has proven a dismal failure in that regard.  The problem is not the cartridge design itself, which really does deliver .357 Magnum performance, but the lack of standard production pistols in the chambering.  Springfield and Colt offered some very limited production runs of 1911-style pistols in 9x23mm Winchester, but they did not sell.  
           
            The main appeal for 9x23mm Win is in the field of competitive shooting.  However, the cartridge has also struggled in this market.  First, it is a latecomer in a very crowded field.  9x23mm Win was not introduced until the late 1990s, well after 9x21 IMI, .357 SIG, and 9x25mm Dillon.  Investing too heavily in 9x21mm and 9x25mm burned many US companies, who were not interested in gambling on yet another new 9mm cartridge.  Second, a competent gunsmith can covert any standard production 1911-style pistol in .38 Super or 9x19mm into a 9x23mm Winchester.  This means that many serious competitive shooters, who prefer custom pistols anyway, could simply convert a pistol that they already owned.  
           
            The 9x23mm Winchester Silvertip factory load delivers velocities in excess of 1,450 fps with a 124gr bullet.  Handloaders report safely obtaining velocities around 1,400 fps with 147gr bullets.  The bullet diameter is .355, or 9.03mm, which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21mm, and the other 9x23mm cartridges.  9x23mm Winchester can use any bullet style suitable for 9x19mm.  
           
            4) 9x25mm Dillon
           
            This is actually a wildcat cartridge developed by Randy Shelley and other technicians at Dillon Precision.  It is essentially a larger version of .357 SIG.  That is, necking a 10mm case down to 9mm forms 9x25mm Dillon.  
           
            9x25mm Dillon has a significant following in IPSC circles, but it is largely unknown outside this sphere.  There are no standard production pistols or factory ammunition in this chambering.  Custom pistols are usually converted from large 10mm designs or built from scratch.  Obviously, the cartridge readily makes major power factor.
           
            Handloads in 9x25mm Dillon generally fall in between .357 SIG and 9x23mm Winchester.  For example, a typical 124gr load clocks in around 1,400 fps.  This is slower than a comparable 9x23 Winchester load, but the pressures are much lower in the larger case.  The 9x25mm bullet diameter is .355, or 9.03mm, which is the same as 9x17mm, 9x19mm, 9x21mm, and the various 9x23mm cartridges.  9x25mm Dillon can use any bullet style suitable for 9x19mm.
           
           
           
           
           
The artist formerly known as FEG...