Copyright International Ammunition Association, 2006. All rights reserved.
Cartridge of the Month July 2006
9 x 18mm MakarovThe 9mm x 18 mm Makarov was probably developed in 1947-1948. The earliest known headstamp is dated 1949 (711 * 49 *).
Specimen and photos courtesy of Paul Smith
Datig speculates that the round was derived, or at least heavily inspired, by Fritz Walter’s 9mm Ultra design in that it utilized a straight case (and thus allowing for a pistol design that used an unlocked breech and blowback operation). If you kept the 9mm Parabellum bullet and case mouth dimensions and made a straight-sided case by reducing the diameter of the base, then you’d be approaching the 9mm Ultra. Conversely, if you took the 9mm Parabellum case and made a straight sided case from the base up (and shortened it by 1mm), then you’d have a 9mm Makarov. The Makarov projectile is 9.25mm in diameter (and necessarily slightly larger than the 9mm Parabellum).
Alternatively, the cartridge may have been developed from scratch as the design of the weapon called for a blow-back design for which the straight case is better suited.
Regardless, until the fall of communism, the ammunition and weapons were produced in the Soviet Union (USSR), East Germany (DDR), China (PRC) and Bulgaria. Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia also made ammunition. Note that both Hungary and Poland both use factory code ‘21' but the Polish headstamp date is upside down.
An interesting observation is that for Russian (Soviet) produced brass cased ammunition was only loaded with lead cored ammunition while steel cased ammunition used the steel and lead core.
Left- Chinese '71 86' ball
Center- East German '04 75' ball
Right- Polish '21 87' ball
Left- Hungarian '21 87' short range
Right- East German dummy [no headstamp]
Case mouth seals of various colours have been observed. The use of seals appears to have started in 1958/59 and by the mid-1960's a reddish sealant became standard.
More recently, ammunition has been made in many countries, including Peru.
My thanks to John Moss for once again sharing, so freely, his considerable knowledge.
Copyright 2006 by the International Ammunition Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Close this page to return to the IAA Cartridge of the Month Index]
Return to IAA main page
Revised 10 May 2007