9mm, 117 years ago! Today’s popular 9×19 (9mm Luger, or 9mm Parabellum) cartridge was created by Georg Luger himself in 1902 in an effort to please American Ordinance Officers who were, in the early years of the 20th Century, testing autoloading pistols to replace revolvers. Luger submitted to the American Ordinance Department copies of this famous autoloading pistol chambered in his bottle-necked 7.65×21 Parabellum cartridge in 1901. “Parabellum” translates in English to “For War.” The 7.65×21 had been created by Luger and Borchardt in 1895. Luger’s pistol was an improvement on Borchardt’s unwieldy first creation! Georg’s pistols were tested and generally liked, but the caliber (7.65×21) was considered too wimpy for military purposes, particularly by American cavalry officers who were pretty sure it would not reliably take-down a horse! Luger immediately responded by creating the 9×19 cartridge. He did it basically by getting rid of the bottle-neck on the 7.65×21! In 1903 Luger then supplied copies of his pistol in his new 9×19 caliber for testing by the Americans. Again, the pistols tested well, but in 1904 the Army-sanctioned Thompson-LaGarde tests concluded that any pistol caliber less than 45 was inadequate for military purposes. Ever since, Thompson-LaGarde’s conclusions have been praised by some, criticized by others. There has never been general agreement on this subject, nor on the legitimacy of Thompson-LaGarde’s methods, nor will there ever be! Col John Thompson and Maj Louis LaGarde had been tasked with looking into pistol ammunition upgrades in the wake of reports of the poor terminal performance of the then-issued double-cation revolver chambered for 38S&W. Most of the data critical of the 38S&W round came from anecdotal accounts from the Philippine Theater of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the sequential Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902). Thompson-LaGarde’s conclusions met with generally acceptance (at the time), so the 9×19 cartridge, and the Luger Pistol, faded away, at least in early 20th Century America. In 1907, Luger built at least two copies of his pistols chambered for a 45 prototype cartridge (this early cartridge was actually slightly longer than today’s 45ACP), but what would eventually become the Browning-designed 1911 pistol had already achieved conclusive momentum in the American Ordinance Department’s selection process. Arthur Savage of Utica, NY in 1907 submitted his 45 caliber (double-column) pistol also, and also lost-out to the Colt-Browning design. The two original 45 caliber Luger Pistols submitted by Luger to the Americans for testing are not know to exist today. The German Army officially adopted the Luger Pistol (in 9×19) in 1908. They’ve had it ever since! However, 9×19 would not become popular in the USA until Beretta’s M9 (92F) Pistol, chambered for 9×19 was officially selected to replace the Army’s aging inventory of 45ACP 1911 pistols in 1985. Beretta’s M9 pistol was in turn (in 2017) superceded by SIG’s 320 Pistol (M17/18), also chambered for 9×19. Since 1985, pistols chambered for 9×19 have steadily moved to the forefront of serious pistol sales (non-military), both LEO and commercial, in the USA. Most Operators carry a 9mm pistol today! Luger’s original 7.65×21 cartridge continued in limited use in Europe and South America during the first half of the 20th Century, but was essentially rendered obsolete by the 9×19 and has been out of production since the 1970s. It’s virtually unknown today. /John