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Old November 29, 2012, 02:31 PM   #24
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Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 7,222
Yes, IIRC the 147-158gr 9mm loads were developed for submachine guns, but AFAIK the original intent was to combine decent hitting power with subsonic velocity for suppressor use. Most standard 115-124gr 9mm FMJ ammo is supersonic when launched from an 8"+ subgun barrel under almost all conditions, making it impossible to effectively quiet it down. However, dialing back the velocity by reducing the powder charges with the same 115gr-124gr bullets would result in underwhelming muzzle energy and poor functioning.

AFAIK the higher-powered 9mm subgun ammo appeared in the 70s not because standard 9mm was unreliable, but rather because there was a big upswing in terrorism, prompting the authorities to look for something with a little more "oomph". For many European police forces in this era, a 9mm subgun was a standard backup weapon, the equivalent of a 12ga pump shotgun to an American cop. The higher-powered ammo gave them more power without requiring the replacement of large numbers of existing guns already in inventory. Since the vast majority of postwar subguns were built much stronger than they really needed to be, the decision was a no-brainer.

This ammo "crossed over" to American shooters because, in the 1980s and earlier, the 9mm Luger was largely viewed the way that .380ACP is viewed today- it's a nifty cartridge that fits into some interesting and easily-concealable guns, but it's barely adequate for self defense, so maybe you should consider upgrading to something "More Serious" with "Real Stopping Power!" You don't have to know much about gun enthusiasts to realize why this sort of general attitude would create demand for this Super-Duper Extra-Powerful European / Israeli Anti-Terrorist Ammo, even if it's really not safe for most pistols, particularly those with 70s and earlier vintage aluminum frames. Commercial +P+ loads were a logical next step.

Nowadays, I would argue that there's much less reason to use 9mm+P+, since (a) standard and 9mm+P JHP loads have gotten much better, and (b) pistol calibers have emerged that have more power than 9mm but don't sacrifice much magazine capacity; it's no longer a choice between 8rds of .45ACP and 15rds of 9mm with nothing available in between.
"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules... MARK IT ZERO!!" - Walter Sobchak

Last edited by carguychris; November 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM. Reason: minor reword...
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