Legally Armed America: The 9x19mm Ride Through History By: Kat Ainsworth


Caliber debates in the gun world are unlikely to ever end. But when you get into a friendly (or not-so-friendly) discussion over which one is better, do you consider the history behind each cartridge? In this video, Legally Armed America [YouTube channel] gets into the 9mm versus 40 Smith and Wesson versus 45 ACP debate by first digging into the background of the 9x19mm Parabellum—because history really does matter.

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9mm vs Smith & Wesson vs 45 ACP
9mm versus 40 Smith and Wesson versus 45 ACP? (Photo: Legally Armed America)

Who Invented the 9mm?

The 9x19mm Parabellum has its roots in Germany. It was designed in 1901 by Austrian firearms designer Georg Luger specifically for the Luger pistol and entered production in 1902. According to Legally Armed America, the now-popular cartridge was first manufactured at the Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken plant in Germany; the plant itself was founded in 1896, but 9mm didn’t exist just yet.

Deutsche-Waffen factory where 9x19mm was first manufactured
The Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken plant in Germany.

To know the 9mm, you have to know the Luger P08, which was a pistol in search of a round, as in, the gun was made first and then they had to find a round to shoot with it. Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you’ll have to watch the video to see how and why the 9mm was created.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, the word Parabellum has some interesting history too. It is taken from the Latin phrase, “Si vis Pacem, para Bellum,” which translates to, “If you seek peace, prepare for war.”

Watch the video to get Legally Armed America‘s full discussion.

Why Is 9x19mm popular?

9x19mm has become a popular round for one simple reason: it works. There are other reasons many shooters prefer it over larger calibers, of course, including the fact that 9mm:

  • Doesn’t wear out barrels like 40 Smith and Wesson tends to do.
  • Is a lighter-weight round, meaning greater capacity without sacrificing weight significantly.
  • Has been proven as an effective defensive round.
  • Produces less felt recoil than larger calibers.
  • Is easier to reacquire targets with than many other calibers.
  • Can be more accurate for many shooters due to less felt recoil and muzzle rise.

It’s true that as the FBI goes, so do gun owners. So it comes as no surprise the gun market gravitated to 9mm as soon as the FBI went back to using it after time spent on 10mm and 40 Smith and Wesson. However, time and extensive use have proven that 9mm really is a solid-performing, reliable round.

9x19mm cartridges. (Photo: Legally Armed America)
9x19mm cartridges. (Photo: Legally Armed America)

Should You Get a 9mm?

Most likely, you already have a gun chambered in 9mm in your firearms collection. If you don’t, consider trying one out. Many gun owners end up with a 380 ACP for the carry gun, and they do it for all the wrong reasons. It’s a fallacy that guns chambered in 380 ACP are easier to shoot than those chambered in 9mm; in fact, 380 ACPs tend to be snappier and more difficult to shoot accurately than 9mms.

What do you think? Which common self-defense caliber is the best? Let us know in the comments below.