types of 9mm ammo

A Guide to Different Types of 9mm Ammo for Self-Defense

If you’re about the take the plunge and become a registered firearm owner for the first time, you’re not alone. Gun sales in the US are currently at historic highs, with increasing numbers of first-timers taking their safety into their own hands.

Often, the first firearm of choice for the uninitiated is a handgun. Affordable and easy to use, the humble handgun has a lot going for it.

Once you have chosen the right handgun for you, the next step is to find the right ammunition. With that in mind, here’s your run-down of the different types of 9mm ammo for your self-defense. 

Why Are There So Many Types of 9mm Ammo?

Even if you know very little about the gun ammo market, you might already be getting the sense that 9mm is the only game in town. After all, this is often the most abundant offering at almost any gun shop.

This is because handguns tend to be the most popular firearms for private gun owners in America today.

It just so happens that most well-known handgun models use 9mm rounds. This includes the Glock 17, Sig Sauer 365, Ruger LCR, Browning Hi-Power, and the iconic Beretta 92.

But why do all of these weapons utilize 9mm ammo? Put simply, 9mm rounds offer the best fit. They are small and affordable and easy to manufacture. They are ideal for self-defense, since they have great stopping power, but are not so high-caliber that they will blow anything they touch to smithereens.

They load very easily into any handgun cartridge and are lightweight enough for most people to easily carry a sufficient amount of ammo. On most measures, the 9mm round is a solid choice for anyone considering gun ownership. 

What is the Caliber of a 9mm Bullet?

Of course, it’s not just size that matters. Depending on your self-defense, training, or hunting needs, the caliber will also be of crucial importance. Firearm caliber refers to the internal diameter of the gun barrel bore, alongside the diameter of the cartridge.

All 9mm bullets are .380 caliber, without exception. Keep this in mind when choosing a weapon and ammunition, so that you find ammo that actually fits with your gun.

The .380 caliber is also a great option for self-defense, especially for first-timers. This caliber tends to offer very little kickback, especially compared to other popular options such as .45 caliber bullets. Despite the very minor kickback offered by 9mm bullets, you still get plenty of power. 

Different 9mm Ammo Types Explained

9mm is less a specific type of bullet and more an umbrella category that contains many different options.

If you’re an inexperienced firearm owner, make sure to read through this guide to get to grips with the different types of 9mm ammo available to you. 

9mm Luger

Probably the most common 9mm ammo out there, the name 9mm Luger refers to the type of firearm it is originally designed for – the 9mm Luger semi-automatic.

Of course, these rounds work in a vast range of handguns today, not just Lugers.

You might also encounter this same round under the name ‘9mm NATO’, but there is no difference between this and the Luger. This is also the ammo that is most typically used by law enforcement, which should speak to its self-defense capabilities. 

.380 ACP

Also known as the Automatic Colt Pistol, the .380 ACP is an American classic. First brought into use all the way back in 1908, this old-school round continues to enjoy huge popularity.

It is largely designed for small pistols, especially those with low power and below-average muzzle velocity. If you’re using a compact handgun, this might be the right 9mm ammo for you. 

9mm Makarov

As the name suggested, the 9mm Makarov is a Soviet invention, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Crucially, the Russians designed these rounds to be slightly larger than standard 9mm rounds, so that, should another country invade, they would not be able to use Russian rounds in their own weapons.

For that reason, 9mm Makarov rounds today are not interchangeable with some other types of 9mm ammunition, such as the .380 ACP. Despite this, the 9mm Makarov is a powerful bullet that has almost no kickback, plus an effective range of around 55 yards.

9mm Largo

This is an up-and-coming 9mm ammo type that is slowly making its way into gun shops across America. Currently, it is more popular in Europe where it is manufactured, and high prices have kept it out of the armories of many gun owners here in the States.

However, prices are falling and people are rethinking this bullet. What makes the 9mm Largo stand out is its design, with it being 4mm longer than the more popular 9mm Luger round.

This allows for a 30% increase in case capacity, allowing for better performance without an increase in case pressure. Essentially, you get a 9mm, but with a lot more power. 

.38 ACP 

Also known as the 9x23mmSR (Semi-Rimmed), this is another classic option with a history going back to the year 1900, when none other than Mr. John Browning himself designed this round for the iconic Colt M1900.

Note that the .38 ACP cannot be interchanged with .38 Smith & Weston rounds, nor with .38 Special rounds.

You might sometimes hear that .38 ACP rounds are too powerful and offer too much kickback, especially for a novice firearm user. However, this has not been the case for decades, as the load power has long since been reduced to more ‘standard’ levels.

Despite this, the .38 ACP is around 20% faster than the .38 Auto. This means that you can get more stopping power and considerably better firing distances with this round. 

Find a Reputable Ammo Retailer Near You 

While there are many types of 9mm ammo out there, your search does not need to be an overwhelming one.

By finding the right ammunition retailer, you can connect with a firearms expert who will identify the right ammo for your needs and weapon of choice. For this, we are here to help.

By using our Facility Search tool, you can find a reputable, reliable ammo retailer in your local area.