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Old September 14, 2013, 05:18 PM   #1
Arizona Fusilier
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9mm Nato

I know with the advent of the U.S. adopting the Beretta M9 way back when that 9mm Luger/9mm Parabellum was (somewhat) rebranded 9mm Nato by the military. I have always assumed all these cartridges to be identical.

Yesterday, on my weekly ammo survey, I stumbled on boxes of Federal 124gr FMJ called 9mm Nato. They sold for 16.88, two bucks cheaper than Federal 124gr labeled 9mm Luger. To the best of my recollection, I have never seen anything on the shelves labeled "9mm Nato".

What gives? Is there any technical difference within SAAAMI specs that anyone knows of? I did do a search on the forum, with one opinion suggesting it is really a +P round, but I would like to hear from others.
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Old September 14, 2013, 05:36 PM   #2
ClydeFrog
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Winchester Ranger T/FMJ 124gr 9mmNATO...

Im also a US military veteran & toted a M9 with 124gr FMJ 9mmNATO rounds in the early 1990s.
Im not a ballistics expert or a regular on Janes Defense Weekly, but I think the 9mmNATO is a regular 9x19mm round designed at a higher CUP(pressure limit) to meet the specs of most NATO member military forces(UK, Canada, Italy, Spain, USA, etc).
There is a slight difference between a 9mm(9x19mm) & a 9mmNATO but most modern firearms(SIGs, Glocks, Kahrs, Rugers, Berettas, S&W, etc) can safely fire both types.

In 2011, I got a box of Winchester 9mmNATO 124gr FMJ to use with my M&P 9mm full size. Winchester calls the FMJ Ranger T load 9mmNATO too.
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Old September 14, 2013, 05:43 PM   #3
James K
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SAAMI pressure spec for the standard 9 x 19 is 35,000 CUP. For 9mm NATO, the pressure spec is 36,500 CUP (the common European load). That is not enough difference to worry about. 9mm Luger +P SAAMI spec is 38,500 CUP. All of those are with a 124 grain bullet. The 9mm +P has a significantly higher pressure that will give roughly 100 fps extra velocity.

With a few exceptions (the Glisenti being one) there are no 9mm auto pistols that will "blow up" or be damaged with 9mm NATO, but I recommend 9mm +P be used only in modern pistols in good condition. I have never actually seen 9mm +P+ and can't find any SAAMI specs for it, or even find that it exists.

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Old September 14, 2013, 05:58 PM   #4
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The Canadians made their own 9mm ammunition, weight, 116g bullet. The recoil was quite robust, never choreographed any. Just by matching the feel, they kicked a bit more than Israel black tip.

I met a General (retired) from the Canadian Army. At an exposé in Ottawa, Ont.

He worked for the Canadian Company, IVI, who manufactured 9mm/5.56/308/
.50 cal. And the big profit item, 105 howitzer round.

The name was changed, from IVI, to CNC? I think. Something like that.

Anyhow, the General (I can not remember his name!) told me the company had a group of failed drop test 9mm. 300,000 rounds.
I bought it, for a private machine gun, gun club. At 10 cents a round. It could only be sold to people to shoot, not for resale. Little brown cardboard boxes, 64rounds. Two 32 round refills of Sten Gun/Sterling Sub Machine Guns.

After we had purchased this big supply of ammo, the Canadian Government sent us a invoice for the 10% Federal Tax. We called the company, I sent them the receipt given to me by the General, on the back of a personal check!
Which stated, Paid in full.

The selling company, sent us a modified bill of sale, dropping the price to 9c a round, which paid the tax!
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Old September 14, 2013, 06:19 PM   #5
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There was similar 9mm, back in the early1990s, from the middle east.
Similar boxes, that sold for $90 per thousand, at the shows.
It was on the warm side.
Anyone know if it was the same ammo?
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Old September 14, 2013, 07:52 PM   #6
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The larger munitions makers like Federal, Winchester, Remington, Geco/RWS and some others have an ME (muzzle energy) of less than 400 regardless of name/label of 9mm. Winchester appears to have a single exception based on the link below.

Subjective perhaps, I stay below 400 for a long trouble/breakage free pistol life.

Smaller makers like Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, Grizzly, Magsafe, Underwood can go well above an ME of 400.


http://www.ballistics101.com/9mm.php
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Old September 14, 2013, 07:56 PM   #7
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I have no idea what the pressure ratings are, but all of the ammo I've owned that was labeled as 9mm NATO was a little faster. Between 1150-1200 fps for 124 gr vs around 1100 fps for most standard ammo. It is essentially +p based on what I've seen.
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Old September 14, 2013, 09:26 PM   #8
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NATO marked ammo from Federal, Winchester has been fairly common over the years. The distinguishing mark on the brass is a circle with a cross within it.

I do remember some Canadian surplus in the '90s that was definitely warmer than the standard 9mm back then.
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Old September 14, 2013, 10:38 PM   #9
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I shot a lot of 9mm in the Marine corps before I even thought about reloading or cartridge pressure. The NATO 9mm always felt nice and light to me out of my Berreta 92. At times we would get commercial ammunition and we could tell the differences it the peppier ammo. My unscientific 2 cents.
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Old September 15, 2013, 12:43 AM   #10
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A little add on, the reason we were able to buy this 9mm, it failed the drop test (don't know how) but because the primers were so hard, had to be, the bolt had a fixed firing pin.

We devised a method of tenderizing the primers, so they would fire in pistols.

We would set a hand primer seater, so as to crush the primer a little, this made it perfect in a pistol, it fired great in my Sterling as was.

So sit and watch TV, squeeze, dump in box, repeat, over and over.
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Old September 15, 2013, 10:36 AM   #11
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^^ did any ever go bang before you found the magic amount of pressure?^^
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Old September 16, 2013, 03:06 AM   #12
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Arizona, FWIW, I have used literally thousands of rounds of Winchester Q4318 9MM NATO 124 grain ball ammo ( white box) and a lesser quantity of the Winchester NATO RA9124N ( tan box/"RANGER" LEO) ammo. I have chronographed a fair amount of it it various 9MM pistols, revolvers and carbines. For about 15 years, the Winchester NATO has been my most used factory 9MM practice and plinking round. It is a little warmer than standard US 9MM ball ammo, and generally produces 1200+fps in 4" pistols, and about 50fps less in some of the shorter barrels to ~50fps more in longer pistol barrels. Winchester 124 grain NATO averages 1300+fps in a 16" carbine. Accuracy has been at least as good as any other 9MM ball ammo I have used. The primer is a bit harder than in most US commercial 9MM IMHO. All the Winchester NATO I've used has been of excellent quality, very consistent in velocity, with low extreme spreads and standard deviation. Both the projectile and primer are sealed and the primer pockets are crimped. None of my 9MMs have suffered any damage, etc. from use of this round. It is a bit slower than the 124 grain 9MM +P ammo I have chronographed.

I also chronograped the factory Federal 9MM NATO load. It was not warm at all. I don't have the numbers in front of me right right this minute, but definitely recall velocites with the Federal NATO ammo were consistent with common US commercial ball ammo.
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Old September 16, 2013, 07:05 AM   #13
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I buy NATO Federal or Winchester by the case to use as practice ammo. It used to be priced about the same as WalMart's cheapest fodder. It's consistent, higher quality and a bit hotter than any usual practice ammo with the exception of Gold Dot Lawman, which is also great practice ammo. It seems to work well in every pistol in which it's used.

I like the NATO ball ammo because it is a little bit hotter than cheap ammo and thus mimics my carry ammo better. Not quite +P like my carry rounds but close enough for good practice time.
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Old September 16, 2013, 08:34 AM   #14
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For whatever reason, European 9mm ammo is generally loaded hotter than US made ammo. This was expecially true prior to the 1960s, and in the late 1930s/early 1940s almost resulted in killing off Smith & Wesson.

Coming out of the Depression, S&W was in pretty bad financial shape, so in 1939 they were very happy to take on a request from the British for a 9mm "Light Rifle," and accepted $1 million for the design work.

In designing the Light Rifle, S&W used American loaded 9mm cartridges as British 9mm apparently wasn't available.

The Mark I Light Rifle was, as a result, too light, and they quickly broke.

S&W beefed up the design, and the guns still broke.

At that point, the British wanted their $1 million back, which S&W had spent on development. Repayment would have resulted in S&W going out of business.

Carl Hellstrom was able to broker a deal that resulted in S&W supplying the British with revolvers, LOTS of revolvers, and also later resulted in huge additional contracts from the British and American governments.
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Old September 16, 2013, 09:16 AM   #15
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L7A1 9mm NATO subgun ammo was designed by Hirtenberg for the British Sterling.

Around 50,000 psi or about what the Germans use to proof every pistol produced in the country. I think that is about 44,000 CUP.

Not something you want to feed to any 9mm pistol as a steady diet. The H&K Mk 23 might be rated for this for limited firing, but I can't remember if that was the pistol that was rated for this stuff.
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Old September 16, 2013, 09:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Not something you want to feed to any 9mm pistol as a steady diet. The H&K Mk 23 might be rated for this for limited firing, but I can't remember if that was the pistol that was rated for this stuff.
Just to be clear; The HK MK23 is chambered for .45acp only. No 9mm made. It was designed for a high pressure .45 round that according to lore was never actually produced by any ammo maker.

Last edited by PSP; September 16, 2013 at 04:12 PM.
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Old September 16, 2013, 11:40 AM   #17
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If you look at the history of American ammo makers, particularly in the era prior to WWII, you will find virtually every European cartridge loaded to a lighter level than what was commonly loaded in Europe. Rifle and pistol rounds....

Nowdays, we often look at that and people say, "well, they did that because of all the old, weak guns in those calibers..."

but the fact is that they did it when those "old weak" guns were new, current production guns, too.

Others have suggested that it was a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) method to "encourage" US consumers to buy US guns and their ammo....

I don't know the whys but I do know the what, and overall, US ammo in metric calibers was always loaded lighter than that same ammo made in Europe. Sometimes it was a really noticeable amount. Today, not so much, especially in 9mm. But still done in other calibers, especially rifles. Compare US loads for the 8mm Mauser to ones from Europe, for one clear example.

Lugers got a (not completely undeserved) reputation as a jam-o-matic, with US made 9mm Luger ammo. They ran much better on European made stuff.

But there is hotter, and there is too hot. Some 9mm ammo, (always reported as being made for SMGs) can damage handguns. A friend of mine, back in the 80s had the locking lugs of his High Power "peened" as a result of shooting some surplus 9mm ammo (European) that was not marked as SMG ammo, just ordinary surplus, as far as he knew.
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Old September 16, 2013, 12:38 PM   #18
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Quote:
Just to be clear; The HK MK23 is chambered for .45acp only. No 9mm made. It was designed for a high pressure .45 round that according to lore was never actually produced by ant ammo maker.
I knew that. Duh. Brain fart.

Maybe the P7???
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Old September 16, 2013, 10:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
They sold for 16.88, two bucks cheaper than Federal 124gr labeled 9mm Luger. To the best of my recollection, I have never seen anything on the shelves labeled "9mm Nato".
I have a few boxes of Winchester 9mm NATO lying around here somewhere (bought from Sportsman's Warehouse a year or two ago). It is headstamped with the NATO logo.
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Old September 16, 2013, 11:24 PM   #20
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Hi, 44 Amp,

Was that BHP a wartime gun? BHPs made under German occupation have been noted as having soft barrels, apparently as a result of the Belgians sabotaging the steel and/or the heat treatment. I have worked on two such guns and in both the barrel lugs peened after only a couple of magazines and the guns jammed up. That was with U.S. standard ammo.

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Old September 16, 2013, 11:35 PM   #21
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My first centerfire pistol was a Luger P08, 1936 S/42.
I shot it with Canadian surplus 9mm, 43 date, noncorrosive, in those little brown 64 round boxes.
I don't know the specs, but it functioned the gun reliably and shot as accurately as a young twerp like me could hold. When that dried up, I reluctantly paid more for Remington. Operation was erratic. The gun was shelved and I eventually sold it to a collector.

Nowadays, I would undertake to handload for it.

A friend has one of those 1923 Finnish Lugers with Tikka 9mm barrel. It runs fine on my IDPA subsonics, which is certainly not the "hot" ammo of Luger Urban Legend. It is not reliable with anything else tried, hot or mild. Strange.
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Old September 17, 2013, 01:32 PM   #22
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Hi James! As best I can recall (it was back in the mid 80s) the Hi Power was a commercial production gun, I do know that he had owned and used it for some time before the incident with the SMG ammo, and he did have it repaired and continued to use it, paying a lot more attention to what he fed it after that.

Jim, I have a 36 S/42 Luger currently, haven't shot it much. Federal 124gr Eagle ammo seems to work pretty well, but have had a couple of bobbles.

The Luger toggle action is highly efficient, and the toggle design itself is capable of taking a lot of pressure. But the rest of the system, and the age and metallurgy of the Luger says not to, to me, at least.

A Luger that runs well on low power ammo, and not on "regular" stuff is an oddity indeed. One thing about Lugers, they seem to be as individual as the people who have them.
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Old September 17, 2013, 08:10 PM   #23
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I'd like to add a few tidbits that haven't been mentioned yet, some to my surprise...
  • The document governing 9mm NATO ammo specs is NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4090. You can Google it.
  • In addition to a maximum pressure, 9mm NATO specs include a minimum muzzle energy standard, and they require the ability to penetrate a steel helmet and (older-style metal) body armor at certain ranges when fired from a test barrel. These performance specifications are presumably the reason why 9mm NATO is usually loaded rather "warm".
  • The ammo is supposed to be able to shoot 3" groups @ 50 yds, albeit from a high-precision test barrel.
  • Permissible bullet weights are 108gr to 128gr inclusive. Although newer commercially-sold American-made NATO ammo traditionally uses 124gr bullets, other weights have been widely used, such as the 116gr Canadian bullets mentioned earlier. According to what I've read, older American military 9mm (1960s era) typically used 112gr bullets.
  • The cartridges have to be waterproof and pass a drop test (mentioned earlier re: Canadian surplus that reportedly failed the latter).
  • Although non-corrosive primers are "recommended", they interestingly aren't mandatory. This is something to consider before purchasing older milsurp 9mm!
Also, since several bits of historic trivia have been discussed, I'll elaborate on one too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James K
With a few exceptions (the Glisenti being one) there are no 9mm auto pistols that will "blow up" or be damaged with 9mm NATO...
The Glisenti was adopted as Italy's first automatic pistol in the years immediately preceding WWI. Conservative Italian military leaders reportedly insisted that the trigger mechanism be repairable via large and easily-removable sideplates, a system similar to numerous older European military revolvers; unfortunately, this resulted in a frame that was somewhat less than stout, with stiffness that has been unfavorably compared to the country's pasta.

The gun's lack of frame strength became a serious problem when Italian military leaders were apparently quite impressed by the new German Army Luger and its 9mm cartridge, and insisted that the new Glisenti should use a similar cartridge, rather than the original 7.65mm design. The designers apparently took "similar" a bit more seriously than they arguably should have, and designed a cartridge with dimensions nearly identical to 9mm Luger, but loaded to much lower pressure to keep the Glisenti from violently disassembling itself upon firing.

Fortunately, most Glisentis are now in the hands of knowledgeable collectors who know better than to attempt firing one with full-power 9mm, but this has not always been the case.
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Old September 17, 2013, 08:34 PM   #24
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Had some fun with a S&W Rep. At a sales tent, at the Aylmer Ontario Canada, Police College.

I had a Glock 17 to show. The Smith Guy was running low on his ammo. I had a Box of Israeli black tip, and a part box of Canadian IVI Ammo, offered it to him.

"No thank you, I have more coming" He said! Sure. My Glock eat it up.
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Old September 24, 2013, 02:01 AM   #25
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Brit, I used quite a bit of the Israeli Eagel black tip "carbine only" ammo and a lesser quantity of the Canadian IVI in all kinds of 9MM pistols, revolvers and the Marlin 9MM carbines. When chronographed, both the IVI and black tip were were similar in velocities to the Winchester Q4318 NATO ball ammo. Never a problem at all with any of it, even in various S&W revolvers and pistols. I'd have taken the ammo you offered and shot it a S&W in a New York Minute!
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