German 9mm Ballistics


OK 9x19 experts (John, Lew, etc.), I need you to help settle a “discussion” I’m having elsewhere.
What would the standard bullet weight and muzzle velocity be for German WWI and WWII ammo intended for use in the P-08 Luger pistol? If possible, could you please site a source for your info.


Jon, I don’t have any source data on the performance of German 9mm P08 ammo from WW I, but the standard load was a 124gr bullet.

I do have performance data from 1932 (RWS) which shows the MV of 327m/sec. That would have been a 124gr bullet-probably a truncated bullet, but that is not clear, but inferred from the specimens in my collection. I also have 1942 data on both the 124gr P08 load and the P08mE load. The 124gr load is listed as MV=330m/sec and the mE as MV=400m/sec. Note that the 8g bullet is 124gr.

This information can be accessed on my website from the following URL. Go to the link on performance information

If anyone has any additional information, please let me know and I will also post it, with credits, on this page.




By the middle of WWII, there was no one standard load for the Parabellum P-8 as far as I know. Ball 08 (lead core), Ball m.E. and Sintered Iron ball were all being used, along with a variety of ammunition loaded both to German Standards and to the Standards of the country it was made in, such as Italian ammunition, and Danish ammunition. Polish, Belgian and Czech factories, I believe, were primarily loading to German standards after they were occupied, although in the case of Czech 9mm, there is at least one load done with a Czech-style bullet.

Surprisingly, I found it very difficult to find data for the WWII German loads. I have seen such in several books in my library, but I had difficulty finding it, as most were NOT books directly on German Ammunition. The following data is from the book :Cartucce Militari e per impieghi di polizia dal 1866 ad oggi" (Military Cartridges and those used by police from 1866 until today), by Pierangelo Caiti, page 40:

PP08 (Lead Core) 8 gram bullet 312 mps
PP08 (Lead core) 7.45 gram bullet 330 mps
PP08 m.E. 6.35 gram bullet 395-410 mps
PP08 SE 5.80 gram bullet 400 mps

I am not sure how good this information is. For example, he shows the PP08 Nahpatrone cartridge with an 8 gram bullet (124 grains) which is probably a Post-War load, but shows nothing specifically for WWII loadings with bullets weighing around 150 grains (I forget the exact weight, but they are heavy). He also shows a German 9mm SmK load, which is, I believe, nonsensical, because that would be a Spitzer bullet load. Further, he shows a German tracer, which are so rare, I do not know where he would have found ballistic data for such a load. In truth, that, too, could be a post-war load, since he does not show the eras of the ammunition listed.

If any of our German friends have any German WWII era documents showing the proper ballistics for at least the three major loadings, Ball lead core, ball iron core, and ball sintered iron, I hope they will respond to this thread.

John Moss


Is there a standard barrel length for these velocities?


The closest I got was a 1953 DDR manual which listed a V of 320m/s at a pressure of 2200 bar. 8 gram bullet.

The velocities of the SE and mE are expected to be higher because of their reduced weight.

Mauser tested extensively after WW2 during development of their new 1970s 9mm version of the Parabellum pistol. With a 6 inch barrel they measured velocities between 301.2 and 389.7m/s. The fastest being military spec (nato) ammunition. All ammunition tested was early 1970s 9mm.

John Walter mentioned some data in his 1977 book ‘Luger’:

German service round, 1914: 335m/s
DWM carbine, 1914: 433m/s
Patrone 08, Spandau, 1915: 330m/s
Patrone 08 mE: 393m/s
Patrone 08 SE: 395m/s

A standard barrel length until 1945 would be one of 4" (10cm). The standard P08 barrel length.


The 9x19mm Parabellum (abbreviated 9mm, 9x19mm or 9x19) cartridge was designed by Georg Luger and introduced in 1902 by the German weapons manufacturer Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) for their Luger semi-automatic pistol.[5] For this reason, it is commonly called the 9mm Luger cartridge, differentiating it from the also-popular 9mm Makarov and 9mm Browning cartridges.
The book Cartridges of the World stated in 2006, the 9x19mm Parabellum is “the world’s most popular and widely used military handgun cartridge.”[6]
The name Parabellum is derived from the Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum (“If you seek peace, prepare for war”), which was the motto and telegraphic address of DWM.
In addition to being used by over 60% of police in the U.S., Newsweek credits 9x19 pistol sales with making semi-automatic pistols more popular than revolvers.[7] The popularity of this cartridge can be attributed to the widely held conviction that it is highly effective in police and self-defense use.[8] This cartridge has been shown capable of imparting remote wounding effects known as hydrostatic shock.[9][10][1

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