9mm Makarov vs 9mm Luger. Know The Difference.

New shooters often mistake 9mm Makarov ammo for 9mm Luger ammo, but these two cartridges differ. Trying to chamber a 9mm Makarov round in a 9mm Luger pistol is like inserting a VHS tape into a DVD player. It simply won't work.

This mistake can be costly, as 9mm Makarov ammo is typically more expensive than 9mm Luger ammo.

9mm Makarov vs 9mm Luger

If you're new to shooting, it's important to know the difference between 9mm Makarov and 9mm Luger.

Our caliber comparison guide previously covered a popular 9mm Nato vs. 9mm Luger topic.

This blog post will dive into the detailed comparison between these two popular pistol calibers. This will be helpful to choose the right one as per your need.


Specifications 9x19 Luger 9x18 Makarov
Parent case 7.65x21mm 9x18mm Ultra
Case type Rimless, Tapered Rimless, Tapered
Bullet diameter 0.355 in 0.365 in
Neck diameter 0.380 in 0.390 in
Base diameter 0.391 in 0.392 in
Rim diameter 0.392 in 0.392 in
Rim thickness 0.050 in 0.049 in
Case length 0.754 in 0.713 in
Overall length 1.169 in 0.984 in
Case capacity 13.30 gr H2O 12.8 gr H2O
Maximum pressure 35,000 psi 23,500 psi

9mm Makarov vs 9mm Luger: Origin And Naming

The comparison between 9mm Makarov & 9mm luger starts with its origin & names.

9mm Luger

The 9mm Luger (9x19mm Parabellum, 9mm Parabellum, and simply 9mm) is named based on its creator, Georg Luger. He was an Austrian who introduced the cartridge around the turn of the century.

The cartridge was designed initially with military handguns but has since become famous for self-defense and target shooting.

This new caliber improved on the previous handgun ammunition, which was large and heavy. Still today, the compact cartridge has less recoil and allows for easy handling.

9mm Makarov

The 9mm Makarov cartridge was designed by Boris V. Semin in 1946 with the vision of being a relatively powerful round with a modest bolt thrust that could function safely in a simple or direct blowback pistol.

It was based on the 9×18mm Ultra cartridge, developed in 1936 by Gustav Genschow & Co. The 9×18mm Makarov round spread throughout the militaries of Eastern Bloc nations. In 2003, several variants of the 9×18mm Makarov were produced for various purposes. All used clad metal as case material.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Cartridge Dimensions

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Cartridge Dimensions

There are noticeable differences when we compare 9mm Makarov and 9mm Luger by Cartridge dimensions. 9×18mm Makarov ammunition uses a larger diameter bullet than other common 9 mm rounds.

These dimensions play a significant role in the performance and compatibility of each round.

9mm Makarov

The 9mm Makarov cartridge, designated as "9x18mm Makarov," has specific dimensions:

Bullet Diameter Approximately 9.27 mm (0.365 in)
Base diameter Around 9.95 mm (0.392 in)
Case Length Approximately 18.10 mm (0.713 in)
Overall Length Roughly 25.00 mm (0.984 in)
Bullet Weight: The most popular bullet weight is 95 grains

These dimensions make the 9mm Makarov a distinct cartridge with a slightly larger bullet diameter than the 9mm Luger.

9mm Luger

The 9mm Luger, often known as "9x19mm Parabellum or 9mm ammo," has its own set of dimensions:

Bullet Diameter Approximately 9.01 mm (0.355 in)
Base diameter Around 9.93 mm (0.391 in)
Case Length Approximately 19.15 mm (0.754 in)
Overall Length Approximately 29.69 mm (1.169 in)
Bullet Weight: The most popular bullet weight is 115, 124, and 147 grains

The 9mm Luger, with its slightly narrower bullet diameter and longer case, offers different ballistic characteristics than the 9mm Makarov.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Ballistic Performance

The 9mm Makarov and Luger are popular 9mm handgun cartridges with different ballistic performance.

The 9mm Makarov is a smaller and less powerful cartridge than a Luger 9mm.

It has a shorter case length and capacity that performs low ballistic performance compared to 9mm luger.

On the other hand, a 9mm Luger has a longer case length and higher case capacity. This helps the 9mm luger to fire a heavier projectile faster than the Makarov.

This will equate to better terminal performance on target, without a doubt.

Regarding trajectory, the 9mm Luger has approximately 30% less bullet drop than the 9mm Makarov at 100 yards because of Luger’s higher velocity.

Don’t forget to check this article for an in-depth look at 9mm ballistics.

Here is a comparison of the ballistic performance of the two cartridges:

Cartridge Bullet Weight (gr) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs)
9mm Makarov 95 1,020 219
9mm Luger 115 1,190 362

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Recoil

Recoil is one of the most essential factors to consider while buying a caliber because a round with heavy Recoil will be more difficult to control.

Free Recoil is an objective measurement of Recoil that utilizes several factors, including muzzle velocity, bullet weight, firearm weight, and powder charge.

Both 9mm rounds are known for having incredibly low Recoil, but technically, the 9mm Makarov will have slightly less free Recoil than the Luger.

For example, a popular practice load for the 9mm Luger is a 115 gr FMJ factory load traveling at 1,190 fps, while a popular practice load for the 9mm Makarov is a 95 gr FMJ traveling at 1,020 fps.

In these two examples, the 9mm Luger has a free recoil of 4 ft-lbs compared to 3 ft-lbs for the 9mm Makarov.

Even though the 9mm Makarov has lower free Recoil than the 9mm Luger, many shooters report that it has more felt Recoil. This is because of the different Recoil operating systems used in Makarov and Luger pistols.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Stopping Power

Stopping power is a complex concept that is difficult to measure. It is affected by factors like bullet weight, velocity, and design.

The 9mm Luger generally has more stopping power than the 9x18mm. This is because the 9mm Luger fires heavier bullets at higher velocities. This results in more kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. Kinetic energy is what causes bullets to penetrate and damage tissue.

However, other factors, such as the bullet design, can also affect stopping power.

Some bullet designs are more effective at penetrating and damaging tissue than others.

For example, hollow point bullets are more effective at stopping power than full metal jacket bullets.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Magazine Capacity

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Magazine Capacity

When we compare the magazine capacity of 9x18mm vs. 9mm Luger there is a noticeable difference.

Most 9x19mm pistols utilize double-stacked magazines that carry around 17 to 21 rounds.*

While the Makarov pistols use single-stack magazines that carry 8 rounds.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Chambering and Firearms

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Chambering and Firearms

9mm Makarov

The 9mm Makarov cartridge is primarily associated with firearms designed for it, such as the Makarov PM pistol, a standard sidearm in many Eastern Bloc countries.

Other handguns chambered for the 9mm Makarov include various Bulgarian, East German, and Russian designs. While less common, some small semi-automatic pistols and compact concealed carry firearms in the United States are chambered in 9mm Makarov.

9mm Luger

There is a vast selection of handguns chambered in 9mm Luger, including semi-automatic pistols, submachine guns, and even some revolvers (though less common).

Some well-known examples include the Glock 17, Glock 19, Smith & Wesson M&P9, SIG Sauer P226, and Beretta 92. Many law enforcement and military agencies worldwide use firearms chambered in 9mm Luger due to its popularity and performance.

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Availability & Price

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Availability & Price

Availability: 9x18mm ammunition is generally less widely available than 9mm Luger. The selection is more limited because it's available to buy at many gun stores and online retailers.

On the other hand, 9mm luger is one of the most popular & widely available handgun calibers worldwide. It is stocked at virtually all gun stores, sporting goods stores, and online retailers. You can find many brands, bullet weights, and types.

Cost: Because of less demand & production, 9mm Makarov ammunition can sometimes be more expensive per round than 9mm Luger ammunition.

9mm Makarov

9mm Makarov Check Price

9mm Ammo

9mm Ammo Check Price

9mm Makarov vs. 9mm Luger: Purpose

Both 9mm handgun calibers can be used for different purposes & uses.

9mm Makarov was originally designed as a military and police cartridge for the Soviet Union and its allies. Now, it's becoming popular for concealed carry also.

On the other hand, the 9mm Luger is a popular choice by military, law enforcement, and civilian shooters for a wide range of applications, including self-defense, target shooting, and competition.

Cartridge Purpose
9mm Makarov Military, law enforcement, concealed carry
9mm Luger Military, law enforcement, self-defense, concealed carry, competition.


So, after this long discussion, we can say that the primary differences between 9mm Makarov and 9mm Luger are in their dimensions, ballistic performance, firearm compatibility, and availability.

Because of its lower recoil and historical military use, the 9mm Makarov became popular in certain regions for a manageable shooting experience.

On the other hand, 9mm ammo is known as the king of handgun calibers in the world. It's a widely used caliber by many handguns and some submachine guns—one of the most demanding handgun calibers for self-defense, competition, and general shooting applications.

Lisa Earnest

Lisa Earnest

Oct, 04, 2023

Lisa Earnest has been a part of the Bulk Cheap Ammo team since 2018 and serves as the editor of Bulk Cheap Ammo content.

With a flair for language and an unwavering dedication to shooting sports, Lisa's diverse expertise combines to create an unforgettable experience for our audience.

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