9mm vs. 9mm Luger: Are They The Same?

At some point, we’ve all been new to guns. Maybe you, the reader, are just now getting started with firearms. That’s fine since, as previously stated, we’ve all been there before. This post will explain why ammunition terminology is so confusing, as well as common phrases like cartridge, caliber, and chambering.

The 9mm Luger cartridge is problematic. Since its invention in 1902 by Georg Luger for his legendary Luger handgun, it has had technical problems. The 9mm Luger, also known as the 9X19, 9mm NATO, or simply the 9mm, has become one of the most widely used cartridges on Earth since then. It is chambered for handguns, submachine guns, and rifles, with the standard NATO round for handguns. According to Frank Barnes (2006), it is the most popular cartridge in the United States.

The 9mm Luger is a small, compact carry gun that’s ideal for personal protection. It has good performance with well-designed bullets, making it a powerful little cartridge.

What Is The Distinction Between The 9mm And 9mm Luger?

The 9mm is also referred to as the 9mm Luger in common usage. The 9mm Luger is the most widely used 9mm cartridge, hence it is sometimes referred to as “9mm.” Despite this fact, there are times when a real and meaningful distinction exists between them.

Understanding the fundamentals of cartridge naming is critical for every gun owner since it affects ammunition purchases. Never let a salesperson take responsibility for determining what you need. It’s the shooter’s job to choose the appropriate ammunition for the firearm.


In the most basic sense, a cartridge is a complete “round” of ammunition. However, the term is more commonly employed to differentiate between various sizes of ammunition. Cartridges are usually given names by the person or company that creates or standardizes them.

For example, because of its popularity, almost every ammunition manufacturer makes a standard cartridge like the 9mm Luger. A 9mm Luger pistol can be safely fired with Winchester, Remington, or Sellier & Bellot 9mm Luger rounds.

The name of a manufacturer is frequently attached to the cartridge as a form of unpaid advertising. For example, the Smith & Wesson .40 will be made by businesses other than Smith & Wesson with handguns and ammunition. There’s no need to match the gun’s brand or ammunition with the name of the cartridge.


A caliber is a more generic term than a cartridge, and it is typically used to describe the diameter of the bullet rather than the whole cartridge. This would be simple enough if cartridges were always accurately named. The 9mm Luger, for example, fires a bullet that has a diameter of almost exactly 9 millimeters.

The .380 ACP, on the other hand, fires a 9mm bullet, despite the fact that it claims a .38 caliber round. The Makarov 9mm really fires a 9.2 mm bullet. It’s critical to know precisely what cartridge your weapon uses rather than the caliber itself.


The cartridge’s designation is stamped or etched onto the barrel of the gun it is intended to fire. The term refers to the chamber, where the ammunition is loaded before being fired. The firearm’s chambering is generally inscribed or imprinted on the barrel.

9mm Luger

The 9mm Luger was created at the turn of the century. The case was necked up to accept the larger .355 bullet, based on the .30 Luger. The cartridge case has a gentle taper toward the front, making it an extremely forgiving round to feed on a magazine.

The 9mm Luger is the most popular round in the world, accounting for roughly all of the 9mm caliber ammunition made presently.

The ammunition for the 9mm Luger is usually sold under the same name. However, you may come across rounds labeled 9mm NATO, 9x19mm, and 9mm Parabellum on occasion.

9mm Luger is a common chambering in guns chambered for it, but I’ve seen 9mm NATO and even just “9mm” before.

Other Commercially Available 9mm Cartridges

9mm Makarov: The 9.2mm or .364″ caliber bullet of this Soviet-era cartridge is somewhat larger than the standard 6.35mm or .25 inch caliber bullet. It’s comparable in power level to a .380 ACP and was mostly utilized in smaller pistols like the ACP 380. In the United States, there is little incentive to purchase a 9mm Makarov-chambered weapon outside of nostalgia.

9mm Makarov pistols are mostly Soviet-era and originate from a nation that was a member of the USSR or the Warsaw Pact. The 9x18mm round is another name for it.

.380 ACP: This cartridge was produced for the purpose of being a shorter, rimless version of the.38 ACP. This is labeled as .38 caliber. The.380 ACP and the.38 ACP are actually 9mm cartridges, as they both fire a bullet  9mm. This round is also known as the 9mm Short, 9x17mm, and .380 Auto.

Seemingly, modern 9mm ammunition that claims to be.38 caliber is really competing against a revolver cartridge these days.

9x21mm: This is a cartridge that is popular in other countries but very uncommon in the United States. Some foreign governments prohibit their citizens from owning weapons chambered in rounds supplied to their police and military. The 9x21mm is a modest variation in shape and ballistics from the 9x19mm, yet it differs sufficiently to violate these regulations.

.357 Sig: The.357 Sig is a 9mm cartridge necked down to accept a 40 S&W case. While the bullet diameter is .355 inches, the cartridge designation is .357 to link it with high velocities produced by the.357 Magnum.

.38 Super: The. 38 Super is yet another 9mm cartridge that masquerades as a .38 caliber, despite the fact that it has no reason to do so. The. 38 Super differs from other 9mm cartridges in that it is longer overall and will not fit into a frame designed for a 9mm Luger pistol.

The.38 Super is most often seen in 1911 and 2011-style pistols. The +P variety is the most common type of factory ammunition. It’s slightly more powerful than the 9mm Luger, but not significantly.

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Thomas Boseman

Thomas Boseman is the author of Pawnbroking.com. A pawn shop owner by day, blog writer by night. When not writing, he enjoys exploring the outdoors with his dog, Roman. Thomas received his bachelor of arts in film from the University of Arizona. A Brooklyn native, Thomas is a lover of filmmaking, motorcycle, and coffee.

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