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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

9mm Luger (using Sierra bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: May 06 2016

The 9mm Luger (aka 9mm Parabellum and 9x19) is used around the world for military, law enforcement, personal defense and sporting applications.  It is often loaded to different pressure levels in military arms, but in the U.S. SAAMI has established a maximum average operating pressure at 35,000 psi.  None of the accompanying data exceeds that limit.

            Although it is generally thought of as a pistol cartridge, the 9mm Luger is also used in a variety of short rifles and carbines resulting in velocity increases.  Due to the relatively fast burning powders used, however, along with rather small powder charges, velocity changes are not generally large.  To develop the accompanying data, a Marlin Model 9 Camp Carbine with 16 ½-inch barrel was used, which functioned reliably.  Select loads managed to push the 90-grain Sierra JHP bullet to over 1,750 fps, the 115-grain Sierra JHP to over 1,450 or 125-grain JHP to nearly 1,350 fps. 

            Considerable variances exist in 9mm Luger cases that are produced around the world.  Those with thicker brass and reduced powder capacity are often not suitable for maximum loads, as pressures can increase. Starline cases were used exclusively developing the accompanying data.

            Lab tests with the 9mm Luger have revealed that seating bullets just .040 inch deeper than suggested (about the thickness of 10 sheets of paper) can increase the pressures of a normal load to excessive levels.  When bullets are seated one-tenth-inch deeper, pressures can jump from 35,000 psi to over 60,000 psi, which can be dangerous.  It is therefore strongly suggested to seat bullets to the correct overall cartridge length, since the 9mm Luger was designed to headspace on the case mouth, a taper crimp is required and should be applied as a separate operation.