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9MM Luger


Introduced in 1901 for the Model 1900 Luger and working with pressures up to 34,000 psi in its standard pistol loading, the 9mm Luger is without doubt the most popular and famous of all pistol cartridges. It has been used extensively in pistols and machineguns (the latter with +P and +P+ loadings reaching full modern rifle pressures and positively unsafe for use in any gun chambered for standard-pressure loads.

For the past 125 years, the 9mm Luger has been widely chambered and well appreciated by many shooters. It has the advantages of fitting in a pistol with a relatively small grip frame and yet allowing for significant magazine capacity. It has the additional advantage of generating recoil most shooters can learn to tolerate well, even when chambered in a relatively light handgun.

Likely, the ongoing argument over just how effective the 9mm Luger is as a dependable fight stopper will never end. It certainly can and usually does do the job with well-placed shots using well-designed bullets; but failures are well known and notorious. Still, it brings far more stopping power to a fight than lesser self-defense and concealed-carry pistol chamberings can.

As my friend, Terry Brewer, correctly observed: “There is no replacement for shot placement.”

Originally designed with a relatively high working pressure, it launches modern 115-grain bullets at very impressive velocity when loaded to full pressure using the best propellants. The fact that modern loads fired from 4-inch pistol barrels can generate up to 450 foot-pounds of muzzle energy (9mm Luger) and 525 foot-pounds (40 S&W) with bullets giving similar penetration, is telling. The 40 S&W delivers about 16% more energy while generating about 30% greater recoil in guns of equal barrel length and weight.

Some will argue the reduced recoil and added magazine capacity of the 9 gives it the edge, others would argue the greater energy of the 40 gives it the edge. Such arguments are entirely reminiscent of those begun in the 1870s comparing the 38-40 to the 44-40 — nothing new about such debates.

As with any pistol round headspacing on the case mouth, best practice is to apply a taper-crimp after seating the bullet. This helps to lock the bullet in place against chambering forces that might otherwise drive it into the case. I cannot too-strongly recommend getting a second seating-and-crimping die so you can have one adjusted to seat the bullet and the second adjusted to only taper-crimp the case mouth. Generally, attempting to do both operations in one step is a recipe for damaged and destroyed cases.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
Die Sets
Lee Collet Necksizing 2-Die Set
Lee Full-Length Sizing Die Set
90509 (Carbide 3-Die set)
90963 (Carbide 4-Die set)
Lee Breech Lock Die Set
91882 (Carbide 3-Die set)
91934 (Carbide 4-Die set)
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91995 (35CAL)
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