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9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger Ammo

9mm vs 9mm makarov Blog Feature

When it comes to handgun ammunition, the 9mm Makarov and the 9mm Luger (also known as 9mm Parabellum or 9mm NATO) are two popular choices among gun enthusiasts. In this blog post, we will go over various aspects of these two cartridges to provide you with a good source of information regarding these two different forms of 9mm.


What is 9mm Makarov Ammo?

9mm Makarov ammunition, also known as 9x18mm Makarov, is the brainchild of Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov. The round was developed in the 1940s and was widely used by the military and police in communist bloc countries. It was originally created for the Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol, a standard-issue sidearm for Soviet military and police.

Though originally made in Russia, the Makarov pistol was been manufactured by a litany of other Eastern Bloc countries in an effort to standardize on both a common round and pistol. Some countries, like Czechoslovakia, utilized the caliber in non-Makarov-based handguns such as the CZ-82.


What is 9mm Luger Ammo?

9mm Luger ammunition dates back to the early 1900s and is one of the most widely used pistol cartridges in the world. Designed by Georg Luger, the 9mm Luger quickly became popular, eventually becoming the standard NATO cartridge. The 9mm Luger’s global popularity can be observed with the various law enforcement, military, and civilians who have adopted the round. The round sees use in everything from pistols, submachine guns, and carbines and boasts an incredible pool of ammunition.

9mm- Magtech - CCI Blazer - PMC
9mm- Magtech - CCI Blazer - PMC


While the 9mm Makarov round is loaded lighter than its 9mm Luger counterpart, the firearms that shoot this round tend to have more felt recoil. Most of the pistols chambered in 9mm Makarov tend to feature all steel construction and fixed barrels with a straight blowback design.

These pistols usually lack a guide rod and feature a recoil spring that slips directly over the barrel and under the slide. While the weight of these firearms aid in soaking up recoil, they tend to yield more felt recoil due to their fixed barrel designs.

Most 9mm Luger chambered pistols tend to utilize traditional recoil assemblies that help dampen recoil. That being said, neither the 9mm Makarov or the 9mm Luger produce a particularly stout recoil impulse. Shooters of all skill levels should be able to handle either a 9mm Makarov or a 9mm Luger chambered firearm without issue.


Effective Range:

On paper, the effective range of 9mm Makarov is typically up to 50 yards, while the 9mm Luger can extend its range to 100 yards or more. The longer effective range of the 9mm Luger makes it more suitable for self-defense and competitive shooting. At practical shooting distances, accuracy will ultimately be determined by the shooter themselves. Both cartridges can be used effectively if the shooter does their part and puts in the time to practice with their firearm.



The 9mm Luger is typically considered more accurate due to its higher velocity and precision. However, the 9mm Makarov can still offer reasonable accuracy.

9mm Makarov chambered pistols often have fixed barrels, such as the Makarov itself and the CZ-82. Generally, fixed barrel designs are capable of a high degree of mechanical accuracy. In this case accuracy is another thing which will be influenced more by the shooter than ammunition or a particular firearm.



Both calibers are relatively easy to reload, but 9mm Luger components are more readily available. Therefore, it is often the preferred choice for reloaders.

There was a time when steel-cased 9mm Makarov was plentiful and cheap, often eliminating the need or desire to reload the round. Unfortunately, due to multiple sanctions and the global ammunition supply being what it is, these days are behind us. While 9mm Luger is generally an affordable round that many reloaders do not load, some still load it for purposes such as defensive or competition use.



9mm Makarov typically features a 94 or 95 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of around 1,000 feet per second. This produces approximately 210 foot pounds of energy on target.

In contrast, the 9mm Luger often uses a 115 or 124 grain projectile with a muzzle velocity ranging from 1,100 to 1,400 fps. This produces from approximately 309 to 540 foot pounds of energy.

As you can see, 9mm Luger is significantly more powerful than 9mm Makarov. 

S&B 9mm Makarov
S&B 9mm Makarov

Uses for 9mm Makarov:

9mm Makarov these days is mainly a round relegated to collectors of historic firearms, particularly those from the Cold War era. That is not to say that the round isn’t used for concealed carry purposes, it just simply isn’t as commonly used or as mainstream as 9mm Luger.


Uses for 9mm Luger:

9mm Luger is a versatile caliber that can be used for a wide range of applications. Common uses include self-defense, target shooting, competition, and of course law enforcement and military purposes. It is the go-to caliber for most handgun enthusiasts and is often the first pistol caliber acquired by most first-time pistol owners. These days, pistol caliber carbines (PCCs) have become increasingly popular and many of these firearms also utilize the popular 9mm Luger round.

Defensive Use:

9mm Luger is generally better suited for defensive use due to its higher muzzle energy and velocity. There are significantly more defensive ammunition options when it comes to 9mm Luger than 9mm Makarov. Multiple offerings from Sig Sauer, Speer, Hornady, and Federal proliferate the world of 9mm Luger defensive ammunition. Defensive loadings for 9mm Makarov are not as plentiful but options are out there from sources such as Lehigh Defense and Underwood.


Ammunition Availability:

One of the biggest realities one must face when considering these two cartridges is the availability of ammunition. The variety of 9mm Makarov ammunition is eclipsed by the wide variety of 9mm Luger ammunition available. 9mm Luger can be found in a variety of grain weights which can range from 115 gr to 150 gr just to name a few.

Specialty ammunition also is common for 9mm Luger such as subsonic or frangible ammunition. 9mm Makarov can be found in both the form of modern production loadings as well as surplus ammunition from various countries that have used the round.



When it comes to the 9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger cartridges, both calibers can be enjoyed by a variety of shooters. We here at True Shot offer ammunition for firearms chambered in either of these cartridges and would love to help you build your ammo supply. Whichever 9mm cartridge you end up shooting or stocking up on, we want you to enjoy your time on the range and be the best shooter you can be. Happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.

2 Responses

  1. I have a 9mm Makarov and have been having trouble finding ammo. Either modern production or surplus. I’ve not seen any anywhere on your website. Have I missed something here, or is it not available?

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