You don’t have to have ever shot a gun to know that a 9mm is commonly used throughout the United States. From police officers to self-defense carriers, the 9mm is a popular choice for a handgun. But there sure are a lot of different names for the 9mm. But are they all the same thing? What – if anything – makes them different? Let’s explore.

9mm and 9mm Luger: They’re the Same Thing

The term ‘9mm’ is often used to discuss different rounds, but some of them are the same. The 9mm Luger and 9mm Parabellum just so happen to be the same thing! But the 9mm Browning and the 9mm Markov? Those are completely different rounds. Confusing, isn’t it?

Why So Many Names?

The confusion truly stems from the different designations between SAAMI and CIP. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) is what assigns ammo names in the US. This collection of manufacturers has no government affiliation and publishes all the industry standards, which include naming cartridges. Likewise, in Europe, you have CIP. But their round designations can be vastly different.

What Do the 9mm Designations Mean, Anyway?

9mm is indeed the same thing as ammo that is labeled 9x19mm. 9 denotes the bullet’s diameter while 19 refers to the case’s length. 9mm and 9mm Luger are the same thing and can be used interchangeably. 9mm Luger is the name most frequently listed by manufacturers since SAAMI designates 9mm, Luger, as the official ammo designation.

Likewise, the 9mm Luger and 9mm Parabellum are the same things. Parabellum is a Latin word that basically means ‘to prepare for war. The company that made the cartridge, DWM, had the motto “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”, which translates to “If you seek peace, prepare for war.” Hence the name Parabellum. Same thing, different name, and a different manufacturer.

These 9mm Ammo Names All Mean the Same Thing

There are multiple 9mm ammo names that all mean the same thing. If you see any of these names, know that they can – and often are – used interchangeably:

  • 9mm ammo
  • 9mm Luger ammo
  • 9mm Parabellum ammo
  • 9x19mm ammo

There are other cartridges with 9 in their names, but they aren’t the same thing as 9mm ammo. You might see 9x18mm Makarov, 9mm Browning, 9x23mm SR, 9×23 Winchester, or 9x21mm (which is clearly slightly longer than 9x19mm ammo).

9x19mm NATO is considered to be a sub-category of 9mm Luger ammo, but it is military-grade rounds that get loaded to higher pressures. Because of this, it is more like a +P round than a 9mm Luger, and many 9mm Luger handguns cannot handle that much pressure.

If you own a 9mm handgun, then you can rest assured knowing that 9mm, 9x19mm, 9mm Luger, and 9mm Parabellum are all interchangeable names used for the same type of ammo. Knowing the difference will make buying your 9mm ammo a whole lot easier as you go forward.

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