9x19 SMG-specific loads?


I’m looking for some most widely used ‘SMG-specific’ loads for 9x19. Basically I’m looking for official designation, bullet weight and muzzle velocity from SMG barrel. If anyone knows max pressures, it also will be appreciated

So far, i can remember following loads:
9mm patr.38/B (Sweden)
9mm Mk.2z (UK)
9mm m1938 for MAB.38A (what is actual designation?)
9mm IMI (for UZI; what is actual designation?)

I believe there were similar loads in France.
Also, are there any modern ‘subgun-specific’ loads?


Isn’t the L7 from Hirtenberger (IIRC) a hot SMG load?

The italian SMG load is officially called:

“Cartuccia a pallottola per moschetti automatici cal. 9 ( Mod. 38)”

Anyway, in Italy is commonly known as 9 mm M38

There was the Greenshield frangible 9mm load with box marked “for MP5 only”.

Tony - I agree, the Hirtenberger L7A1 was for use in arctic warfare conditions where SMGs needed an extra “oomph” in very low sub zero temperatures.

Max - I would not call the British Mark 2z a specific SMG load. Yes, it is too high pressure for early 9mmP pistols and has damaged many a P.08, but it was the issue round for Browning High Powers for fifty years in the British military.


I don’t recall ever seeing any specific designations on Israeli 9mm ammo, just “FOR PISTOLS” or “FOR SUB-MACHINE GUNS” on the box or can labels.

Jon - with Israeli 9 mm ammunition, it seems to be a reversed situation. I, too, know of know official warnings about standard Israeli 9mm ball (no top color, red or purple primer seal) being for SMG only. Yet, they issue the silver-tip ammunition with a load reduced from the standard load and intended for pistols. As I say, seemingly a reverse of the question Max asked.

Regarding Swedish 9mm I recommend amkat.se where the differences between 9 mm m/39 and m/39B are very well shown and explained.

The m/39B was the standard round from 1955, used for pistols and submachine guns.

P.S. I am expecting the results from measuring British Mk 2z in a CIP barrel. We soon will know what the pressure of this type is.

Right, John. Out of the box, or without a known tip color, I would assume that all Israeli milsurp 9mm was intended for Uzi-use.

I note that the Pakistan Ordnance Factories currently offer two loadings of the 9x19, advertised as:

9 x 19 mm Ball P1 MK1Z Used for Pistol
9 x 19 mm Ball MK2Z Used for MP5 A2 (9 mm Machine carbines)

See: pof.gov.pk/SAA_9x19mmBall.aspx

When Britain first developed the Lanchester ( Bergmann Copy) and then the Sten Gun, they were trying out Winchester 9mm Luger ammo, and even copied it as the 9mm MkIz…and found it was weak as …; Hence the Mark 2z load, which was suitable for both Stens & Lanchesters, and the strong lock-up of the Browning Hi-Power. A lot of Winchester 9mm Luger was sent out as Lend Lease to the Commonwealth countries, with Mixed results, until countries like Australia etc. began making their own MarkIIz 9mm. Then the Owen Gun ran like a dream…still does.

I do agree, many a WW I Luger has been ruined by using IIz in it…


I can’t think of any ammunition designed specifically for SMGs except for the Italian M38, and that was because the Italian military did not, at that time, use a 9x19mm pistol designed for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, only the lower power 9mm Glisenti. Even then, the M38 ammunition seems to be well within the pressure range of the majority of 9mm Luger/Parabellum pistols. A LOT of 9M38 Italian ammunition from WWI and after has been sold as shooting ammunition in the US and I have never heard of a complaint.

The Winchester 9mm ammo bought by the British initially, was originally developed for the Finnish and was patterned after the Finnish made ammo from the late 1930s. The Finns provided Winchester with two Soumi M31 machine pistols and boxes of the current/recent production ammunition. This Finnish ammunition was loaded with a 115gr bullet which was initially designed specifically for the M31. In 1931, 9x19mm ball ammunition was, as far as I can tell, all modeled after the standard German ball load with a 124gr bullet. The Finn’s seem to have been the first to introduce the 115gr bullet in 9x19mm specifically for the MP application, to provide higher velocity for a flatter trajectory and longer range than provided by the 124gr bullet. The Finns were using this load by 1934. It is probable that the Finns developed their 115gr bullet from the 9mm Steyr bullet which was developed before WWI and was 115gr, the only 9mm 115gr bullet I know of from that time-frame.

The Finnish cartridge may have been another case where the cartridge was designed specifically for the M31 MP, the Finnish military pistol in 1931 was, I believe, the 7.65mm Luger. The Lahti pistol is designated the M35 so it was likely designed to handle the Finnish 9x19mm round designed for the M31. Like the M38 loads, very large quantities of Finnish 9mm from WWII have been sold in the US commercial market with no apparent problems.

The Italians adopted the 115gr bullet by 1938 for their M38 machine pistol. I can find no written record of how they settled on that bullet weight, but it is likely that, during the development of the M38 concept, they tested other 9mm machine pistols, and the Finnish M31 probably figured significantly in these tests.

Winchester records indicated that they produced 115gr, 9x19mm ammunition twice for special orders other than the Finnish order. The first time was in 1934, for an unnamed South American country, probably in conjunction with the Chaco War. The M31 is listed among the weapons used during that war. The second production of 115gr ammunition was for Mexico in 1939 as I remember.

The ammunition from the Finnish contract was never shipped. It was still in storage in the US when the British came looking desperately for 9mm ammunition and it was the first British WWII buy of Winchester 9mm ammunition. I have found no evidence in the Winchester records that the British initiated any changes to the basic Finnish design (except to use their standard chopped cordite powder in place of the Winchester powder). The first British design drawing of the 9x19mm cartridge was submitted to the Design department in June 1941 and appears to be basically the same as the Winchester round, but using a different powder. This makes sense since the design of the Sten began in the Fall of 1940 and production began in June 1941 so the Sten must have been developed using Winchester ammunition. Subsequent to the British adoption of the 115gr bullet, and post-WWII, the 9mm 115gr bullet became essentially the standard bullet for machine pistols worldwide.

I think that many, probably most of the military production of 9x19mm ammunition is intended for use in machine pistols, but it makes sense logistically to constrain the load so that it will function safely in military 9mm handguns, and that was a major consideration in the NATO STANAG that defined the 9mm NATO cartridge.

I’d have a hard time identifying any 9x19mm round specifically intended exclusively for use in machine pistols. Even the L7A1 rounds carry the NATO mark indicating they were intended for use in both modern military pistols and machine pistols. The fact that they are not appropriate some pistols, and likely in some “modern military” pistols is an error in it’s design, not because it was designed for use only in machine pistols, unless the NATO marking was applied incorrectly.

As has been stated by others early in this thread, there are quite a few rounds specifically designed for use in pistols and so identified, but I know of no 9x19mm standard military ball cartridges off the tip of my head appropriate only for use in machine pistols.

DK mentioned earlier there are quite a few specific loads designed for use only in specific machine pistols like the MP5 frangibles and there are also a number of subsonic loads. The most common “machine pistol only” load I know of is the Swedish training round with the black plastic bullet and the steel ball in the tip. The companion blank with the red plastic bullet also qualifies since I know of no applications where the muzzle cone used for these loads was issued with pistols. There are similar examples out there.


PS: Doc, I know the Mk1Z was considered weak, due to the use of chopped cordite power, but I have not heard that the Winchester 115gr rounds were considered weak. Lots of arguments between Winchester and the British inspectors on bullet pull tests and waterproofing and other issues, but no indication of low velocity. I understand the Winchester 9mm was the same velocity as the Finnish ammunition.

aLew - on the Swedish red-plastic bullet blank, I had so many of them, as you will remember (about 5,000 rounds all on K-Pist. stripper clips), that I shot a numberr of them thru pistols. Past a few feet, very inaccurate to a point where I would only pop them off in the “boonies.,” not at our local range where the first 8 or 9 rounds I fired were all on my target at 25 yards, while the one after that hit the target next to mine - a disparity of more than five feet! I quit shooting them there immediately. Of course, they did not cylcle the pistol.

In regard, also, to using them without the K’Pist. 45 muzzle constricter, which reduced the plast to a red color dust-like substance, a few fired at close range from one of my 9 mm pistols I had at the time, penetrated 1/4" plywood with no problem at all. Very dangerous stuff without the constricter. Surely not a “blank” in that particular context!!!

The Swedish fellow I use to know, and traveled Europe with on our first trip there, was an officer in the Swedish Army (Reserve, like most of them). He told me never to shoot any M39/B (red cms and pa) thru any pistol. He said that in his regiment, they were cracking Lahti pistol upper receivers with great regularity, and that one officer cracked the slide of his personal Browning GP with it. He constantly harangued “higher authority” about the situation, but at the time got no where. I don’t know off hand whether Sweden ever did anything about this or not. The M39 load was perfectly o.k. for pistols.

Thanks Lew for a really excellent summary of the Winchester contract ammo. I agree that all the reports suggest the Winchester ammunition was perfectly acceptable.

I know you and I have discussed the 115 grain choice by Britain and the Finnish connection, but I thought I would post some details from the British Ordnance Board Proceedings to illustrate some of the background to this.

O.B. Proc. 7960 of August 1940 describes a test of a Schmeisser using FN and I.C.I (Kynoch) ammunition. Whilst the gun functioned fine with the FN, the Kynoch was found to be too weak to operate the weapon satisfactorily.

O.B. Proc. 9671 of 29 Nov. 1940 describes the test of the first two Lanchester prototypes using Winchester round nosed, Winchester truncated cone, FN, Beretta and German ammunition.

O.B. Proc 10.019 of 27 Dec. 1940 is the test of the first S & W carbines and interestingly was carried out using SAKO ammunition.

O.B. Proc. 10,117 dated 9 Jan 1941 is an endurance test of the first two Lanchester prototypes and again the ammunition included Winchester round nosed, Winchester truncated cone, Kynoch round nosed, Kynoch truncated cone and SAKO.

O.B. Proc. 10,672 dated 14 Feb 1941 is a trial of the Sten prototype and once more both SAKO and Winchester ammunition is recorded as giving perfect functioning.

Since British 9mm production with 115 grain bullets started some time around late 1941 it seems that the SAKO 115 grain had impressed sufficiently for it to be copied.


Tony, Thanks! I did not know that Sako ammunition had been tested! Very interesting but not surprising since the Brits of course knew the Winchester ammo was a copy of the Finnish ammo, it would make a lot of sense that they would want to test with Finnish ammo also as a check on the Winchester.

I would love to find any information on early Finnish ammo. I have a 1935 drawing a Finnish Forum member sent me with a 115gr bullet. I understand there are also Finnish boxes dated 1934 with 115gr cartridges.

I would also appreciate any information at all on the development of the Italian 9M38 ammunition, particularly any hint of where they got the 115gr bullet.

Finally, the Czech factories (as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) were big producers of 9mm Steyr during WWII and I have wondered if perhaps S&B had a hand in introducing the Finns to the 115gr bullet since they would have been a ready source of these bullets around 1930.


Maxim, here is a comparison of the different IMI loadings offered in 1983 (designation, bullet weight, velocity*, pressure, and identification).

Carbine: 7.45 g (115 gr) / 420 m/s (1377 fps) / 2500 Kg/cm2 (35500 psi) / unpainted
Pistol: 7,45 g (115 gr) / 325 m/s (1066 fps) / 1800 Kg/cm2 (25596 psi) / silver tip
Special Pistol**: 7,55 g (115.75 gr) / 384 m/s (1259 fps) / 2600 Kg/cm2 (36972 psi) / unpainted
Luger: 7,50 g (116.5 gr) / 340 m/s (1115 fps) / 1800 Kg/cm2 (25596 psi) / unpainted

The pressure of carbine and pistol proof rounds is 3900 Kg/cm2 (55458 psi) and 2840 Kg/cm2 (40384.8 psi), respectively.

*At 5 meters with 10" barrel for carbine and 4" for the rest.
** This is the closest loading to NATO specifications.

Keep in mind that this information changed through the years and should not be applied to later IMI products. For example, the famous black tip Carbine +P 115 gr commercial loading develops 450 m/s (1475 fps) in a 10" barrel.

For what is worth, the earliest information I have on this Italian loading is a Fiocchi drawing dated May 11, 1935 (with several modifications up to August 5, 1938) and shows a cartridge with a 7.5 g (115.74 gr) bullet and a powder charge of balistite in small discs. This at least indicates that it was the bullet weight chosen since the development of the Beretta M. 38 started.

Edit: I noted that Pivi posted a copy on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10525