9x21 IMI SMG?


I have a vague recollection of having read - probably on this forum - that at least one model of SMG has been offered in the 9x21 IMI calibre, and that special HV carbine loadings were developed for it, but I can’t find the discussion…can anyone provide information?


As far as I know no special HV loadings for SMG weapons or other carbines of the 9 x 21 IMI have never been offered, at least in Italy

In the past Fiocchi offered high pressure 9 x 21 loadings for IPSC shooters , but they are no longer available

Here you can buy demilitarized versions of various SMG weapons : Uzi , HK MP5 ecc, but they use standard 9 x 21 rounds

Maybe you are reffering to the special 9 x 21 loadings by Fiocchi , especially made for self defence:The Black Mamba’s , with lighter-than-standard bullets launched at high velocities.


Thanks for that. I do have a couple of IMI rounds with blue and red bullet tips respectively: what are they for?


Those markings should signify Subsonic and Tracer, respectively.


Thank you. Any data on bullet weights and muzzle velocities?


Tony, can you post a picture of your rounds? What are their OAL’s ?

I know that some makers offer heavy bullet loads for the 9 x 21, these can be considered as “subsonic” but it is the first time I hear about “military style” colors on this caliber ( and so tracer loadings)

Since this is strictly a civilian caliber, specially made for the italian market where the standard 9 x 19 Para is banned for civilian use ( and so are tracer and AP loads) , these loads can well have been developed for some kind of experiments outside Italy.

The 9 x 21 has the same OAL as the 9 mm Luger cartridge, the case is longer but the bullet is seated deeper. If you have a magazine that can’t be filled with longer cartridges you have to respect this dimensional data so these two cartridges have the same ( or about the same) performance


I agree with Pivi on MV and ME figures. For all the makers, and there are a lot, the ballistics probably vary within and span of specifications allowable, and if not custom loaded like the IPSC guys were doing, with the bullet seated out and using the .39 Super pistol and magazine for a platform for building a gun (so that there was, at the time, no SAAMI spec. for pressure, etc. that they had to follow - in short, a way to get around the rules), then the specs basically should be the same as the 9mm Para. That was the whole idea of the cartridge.

I checked my collection catalog and there was a tracer by IMI. I don’t know why, or for whom, it was made. Fortunately, I got it cataloged before I had to give it up due to State Law.

There is also a frangible load by Fiocchi, with a tna-color RN composite bullet.

There are many varieties of projectiles in standard balll loads - lead RN, jacket RN and truncated, SP, etc.


Yes, there is that frangible load, used in shooting ranges to avoid over-penetration . They were called PNR or something else, but they were still civilian loads

I think that also the tracer load was developed for some civilian or factory purpose, maybe to check the shot trajectory in the same way as the various 22 LR tracers


Hi Pivi,

See pic of my three IMI 9mmx21 rounds below. The plain ball is 30mm long overall, the red and blue tipped ones are a fraction over 29mm.


What are the total cartridge weights of the Tracer and the blue tip round, compared to a ball round?


John, the ball round weighs 12.4 gm, the red-tip 12.3 gm and the blue-tip 15.0 gm.

Which in grains is 191, 190 and 231 respectively.


A lot of IMI loadings in various “pistol” calibres are often right up at the top end regarding pressure/velocity. This comes over to the shooter as being hard on the hand which was always their reputation when sold here. I would speculate this is part of their company policy/ ethos. Could this be what we are talking about here?


Vince, any data on the bullet weights and muzzle velocities of these hot IMI loads? Or the bullet weight of the subsonic (I’m assuming around 155 grains, if the round weighs 40 grains more than the ball).


No sorry its just an impression formed at the time when we had pistols and IMI ammunition was sold over here. The ammunition was always felt to be harsh to shoot. I remember on day on the ranges shooting with a friend, an ex SAS sergent who had some IMI .357 .57 Mag ammo that had been with him to the Falklands and the muzzle blast made it uncomfortable to stand next to him. Noticably harder shooting than run of the mill .357

9mm ammo that was sold here at the time as well had a bad reputation for being a bit spicy and inclined to crack slides. Although all the ammunition I saw was civilian packaged it had a very military feel to it. It was however quite cheap so a lot of people bought it

I had always thought this was a generally known and accepted fact about IMI ammunition and was a kind of trademark of the brand. Hard shooting no nonsense ammunition.


Tony - Just got back from Holiday at my son’s home. I wanted the overall weights to confirm that the blue-tip round was genuine, which it appears it is, since it has the heavier Subsonic bullet. The catalogued velocity of the 9 x 21 mm made my IMI with 115 grain bullet is 1180 fps and with a 124 grain bullet 1150 fps. I have no data for the 9 x 21 subsonic, but due to the design of the cartridge and what it was meant to do, it should be basically the same as the 9 mm Para. Relatively current IMI catalog ballistics indicate the 9 x 19 with blue tip (subsonic) has a 158 grain bullet - you were spot on - at 935 fps. The 9 x 19 mm C# loading with 115 grain FMJ bullet is 1155 fps, not much below the 9 x 21 mm and expressed in a much newer catalog than is the 9 x 21 mm data given above.

None of these loads are especially “hot” compared to military NATO ball or +P loads - actuall right in there, I believe, with most European commercial ball and my IMI catalogs do not show any “extra hot” 9 Para loads with 115 or 124 grain bullet, as Vince describes. Myself, I have never experienced the described phenomena of IMI ammo feeling especially hotter than other brans, depending, of course, on the specific loading. Iver the years, I would extimate that IMI has procudced the 9mm Para cartridge in about 50 different loadings (different index numbers) and there have been a few loads that were on the warm side. By and large, at least their 9mm, of which I have shot plenty, feels pretty much like any other ammo to me shot in my Broning GP Mark III. Some American loads are only loaded to about 1050 fps with 124 grain bullets and almost anything feels “hot” in comparison to those.

Of course, there are so many factors, right down to cold hands, that can effect perceived recoil, that it is a hard subject to judge.


Thanks John, every bit of data helps.


In Italy the 9 x 21 IMI loads are generally considered “warmer cartridges” compared with the Fiocchi ( or other makers) ones

I Have two different 9 x 21 IMI cases in my collection. The first one is standard, with a black annulus around the primer, the other one has a 4 - stabs crimp around the primer but I has never been able to find out if this feature indicates a special load or if it has been made by some reloader.

I find a single case with this crimp through about 1500+ 9 x 21 cases of various makers


Most Fiocchi ammunition is considered to be “hot” compared to US ammunition which I believe is underloaded to pander to the lawyers.
If IMI rates above Fiocci then in general terms it must be the closest to max available on the market.
that would match with my belief that IMI ammunition is the most " aggressive" ammunition being sold. This is not suprising considering the home market to which they are being manufactured primarily.


Rather than try to interpret how “hot” ammunition is by the amount of noise and recoil (powders differ in what they produce in those regards vx. velocity) I prefer to look at the manufacturer’s ballistics information, and you can see from the velocities I quoted to Tony that there is nothing extraordinary about IMI’s ballistics as to MV. They are in the normal range for commercial 9mm Para ammunition, and not nearly as high velocity per bullet weight as NATO Ball, for example, which is shown about 1200 FPS. Admittedly, at the time I was shooting a lot of Israeli ammo, when it was widely available on the market, I was also shooting much more .45 auto ammunition, bot lighter target loads and heavier “combat” loads. I have found few 9mm loads that I considered to have heavy recoils at all, although I realize that only the recoil of specific loads in the same caliber are really relevant to this discussion.


John is right about powder choice affecting perceptions of power. You can make ammo appear “hot” by using faster burning powders. This is a ploy used in the budget shotgun cartridge world. The fast burning powders only need about 19 grains where as a medium range powder may require around 26 grains so there is a significant cost saving to be made over millions of cartridges.
On the shoulder test the faster burning powder appears more potent than it actually is compared to the medium range powder because the recoil is sharper.

In the good old days we had two Dillon progressive presses set up to reload .38 spec and 9mm. From time to time on the 9mm press we would get a jam up because a 9mm case was bulged and wouldn’t go through the resizing die. There is a part of the 9mm case which is not really supported because of the feed ramp and bulging sometimes occours.
Whenever that happened it was nearly always an IMI case. You could say that it was just that the cases were weaker.However, I don’t think that is true, from observation I would say the IMI cases are a bit thicker than most.

I think we are in danger of straying too far from the original question. My initial comment on IMI ammunition was based on my impressions nothing more. I rather think that what they were selling was basically military grade ammunition that they sold on the world market to keep their production lines running and earn some foreign currency in the process.