9mm Ammunition

Contract news, the MoD has a requirement for 9 mm NATO Ball Parabellum Ammunition, millions of em!

Sgt Steve Lord from the Royal Marine Training School, Lymstone gave a live demonstration of the new Glock pistol at todays media facility held at Woolwich Barracks.The MOD has signed a £9m contract to provide the Armed Forces with more than 25,000 new Glock sidearms. Personnel across all three Services will begin to recieve the new Glock 17s in the coming weeks and troops deployed to Afghanistan will be among the first to use the new weapon. The Glock pistol will replace the Browning which after being used by the Armed Forces for more than 40 years.
Sgt Steve Lord from the Royal Marine Training School, Lymstone gave a live demonstration of the new Glock pistol at todays media facility held at Woolwich Barracks.The MOD has signed a £9m contract to provide the Armed Forces with more than 25,000 new Glock sidearms. Personnel across all three Services will begin to recieve the new Glock 17s in the coming weeks and troops deployed to Afghanistan will be among the first to use the new weapon. The Glock pistol will replace the Browning which after being used by the Armed Forces for more than 40 years.

The contract note;

The MOD has a requirement for up to 10 years starting April 2016 for the Manufacture & Supply of NATO Rounds 9 mm x 19mm Parabellum.
The first 2 years will be firm quantities with options for the following eight years.

FY16/17: 5.1 million rounds

FY17/18: 3.0 million rounds

FY18/19 to 25/26 (inclusive): These will be banded options between 1 and 11 million rounds per year. The exact quantities will be confirmed 6-9 months prior to commencement of deliveries.

The ammunition is to function safely through the suite of UK in-service weapons systems:

H&K MP5 Series SMG

Sig Saur Pistol P226 and P229

Glock 17 and 19 (Gen 4 versions)

Prior to the award of contract, the contractor will be required to supply 7,000 round free of charge for a technical assessment as part of the tender selection process.

The ammunition is required to be safety transported, stored in ammunition depots worldwide, and function through the above weapons system in various in-service environments. As a minimum it will be required to meet UK quality assurance and technical specification requirements which are similar to the NATO 9mm requirements in their Multi Calibre manual of Proof and Inspection procedures (MOPI).

The ammunition will be packaged in metal ammunition containers (M2A1 containers or UK H83 Mk2 containers).

The ammunition is on NATO 4 way standard pallets and palletised to meet the requirements of STANAG 2828.

On award of the contract the supplying contractor will be responsible for obtaining NATO qualification and maintenance of this qualification through the duration of the Contract.

The ammunition will also be subjected to MOD Safety and Suitability for Service (S) trials to assess the ammunition suitability with regard it in-service storage, transport and use (MOD will terminate the Contract if any safety concerns become apparent).

Manufacturers invited to complete the PQQ and ammunition evaluation will be measured against selected criteria Criteria Max Weighting

1 Timeliness of submission of sample ammunition Max 5
2 Proof documentation accompanying ammunition sample Max 5
3 Ammunition sample Proof documentation with Tender Max 5
4 Ammunition performance Max 30
5 Correlation of supplier proof data with test centre proof data Max 50
6 Ballistic consistency Max 20
7 Technical Data Package Max 20
8 In-sensitive assessment IAW STANAG 4439 and UN 6c Bonfire Test Max 15


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October 5, 2014 5:15 pm

Hope they don’t buy the ammo from the Indian supplier they went to in the 1970s. Scary memory of an SMG (Sterling) continuing to fire auto after trigger released, until mag empty or removed.

The Other Chris
October 5, 2014 5:23 pm

Take it there were some looks aimed your way?!

October 5, 2014 5:30 pm

No, I was acting as range officer so was behind the firer. Fortunately experienced (unit shooting team practice), he kept it pointing down range while removing mag. But I heard of a recruit dropping the weapon which did a catherine wheel act – amazingly no injuries…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 5, 2014 6:29 pm

There are some seriously knowledgeable people on here about calibres, so I will restrict myself to commenting that 9mm is shite if you define goodness and shiteness in a calibre as being killing effect.

If anyone is familiar with the blue post bags that the services use, observe the four D rings around the neck of a bag. They are absolutely perfect for snagging the cocking handle of an SMG worn over the shoulder if the post bag is then also hefted over the shoulder. Result? A full magazine on full auto spraying around the inside of a Sultan tent extension. Christ knows how all of the rounds missed us, but the SQMS’s driver did get punched on the chin by the SSM.

9mm will however take out a pheasant at 25 metres on Bulford Ranges during your APWT.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 5, 2014 7:52 pm

TD, that was in ’91, on Ex Dibdibah Charge, but no one killed or even wounded. If there was a death in another incident, just goes to show that SMG was bastard silly as a weapon. :(

To cheer things up, what would be a good replacement SMG? I always liked the FAMAS and carried one by choice in Sarajevo with FREBAT 3. Never liked the SA80 A1 Carbine: plastic piece of shit. And you look like a Star Wars Trooper if you tote a Steyr Aug.

October 5, 2014 8:07 pm

Well technically speaking carrying the SMG without a magazine makes you look like a Star Wars Trooper.

October 5, 2014 8:10 pm

@RT – you should see the Omanis with Steyr Aug at Bisley AOSC – make all the Brits with SA80A2 look silly.

Re. the pheasant – was it with a Browning (respeck) or SMG (not)?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 5, 2014 8:11 pm

….and love the very un-French naming, calling a spade a fucking shovel, etc. “Assault weapon made in St Etienne”. On that basis, presumably a SA80 is an AWROF: assault weapon from Royal Ordnance.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
October 5, 2014 8:15 pm


It was an SMG. But wielded by the Colonel, and on full automatic. And there was not much pheasant left.

I however copped it in the neck, as the firing point officer, and full auto was not allowed on that range. I told the Colonel that he was a bastard, at least to my shaving mirror.

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 5, 2014 9:38 pm

What weight bullet are we using in 9mm? 115 or 124 grain? Do we use any subsonic 147 grain for silencers? The Americans used to say the 124 was a better balanced & therefore more accurate bullet. I see some US units are going back to .45 for stopping power. Britain used the .45 during WW2 in the Thompson SMG & Argentinian 1911 clone pistol we bought in a panic. Wonder if British forces will use the .45 again?

October 5, 2014 11:54 pm

oldreem, isn’t a runaway gun a problem with the weapon and not the ammo?

And from all the accounts here, it sounds like the SMG you guys were using was a serious safety hazard!

RT, if ammo commonality is not a problem, try the P-90? It sort of fits the role of a replacement SMG in the SMG niche, though personally I would simply skip that niche all together and simply use an Ultimax in a section due to its more general purpose nature. If you want to keep it in 9mm though, sorry, not familiar with many 9mm SMGs.

October 6, 2014 6:16 am

As I understand it, understrength ammunition has enough power to cycle the gun but not enough to engage the trigger sear. A fundamental problem with the open-bolt blowback design, but only occurs with bad ammo.
The SMG is long out of service in the British Army, purportedly replaced by the SA80. The A1 carbine, to my knowledge, never really went anywhere so vehicle crew and similar either had the full rifle or a pistol. That said, the A2 carbine has appeared for some roles.
The MoD police use a H&K MP7 which looks fairly handy.

October 6, 2014 6:27 am

Of course the first question to ask when someone says a weapon isn’t lethal is ask if they hit the target. If they say yes you then ask was it in the 10% of the body area that is vulnerable to a lethal shot (this can be difficult to answer because arteries are difficult spot). 9mm is lethal, although observer in my battery was using a Sterling (just before Armalites were issued) and swore blind he could see his bullets bouncing of an enemy marine’s webbing.

October 6, 2014 6:56 am

Thanks for the explanation mr fred, The idea that a round is just enough to cycle the bolt, yet not engage the sheer is rather impressive, more like the sweet spot for failure! I heard of chamber overheat, I heard of worn out sheer, but this is the first I heard of the “perfect” round causing a misfire.

October 6, 2014 8:47 am

mr.fred – you beat me to it.

John Hartley – don’t know about 9mm bullet weight – you’d need to see the spec. But interesting point: heavier bullets lose less velocity over distance, so, while starting with less muzzle velocity, have (other things being equal) greater effect (m/2 x v squared); but put greater stress on the weapon. Some pistols – eg. alloy framed – can’t handle the standard service 9mm, but it’s of course a function of the charge as well. Looking at 7.62 x 51 mm, we were stuck with a 144 grain bullet by the US in late 1950s, which was light for its calibre – cf. 174 grain for the .303in Mk VII it replaced. So its penetrative power, particularly in MGs, falls off over distance. Only minor advantage was that it was OK in re-barrelled No.4s (L42 sniper and L39 target rifles), which were relatively weak with rear locking lugs on the bolt, although iffy if the ammo got wet reducing obturation. UK has since produced a 155 grain bullet, which carries better, for target shooting at least (goes subsonic at longer range) and match rifle handloads go up to around 200 grains. Would seem sensible to adopt a heavier service 7.62mm bullet across the piece, but don’t know current position.

PS. The sums are getting harder – don’t want to cut the booties out of the discussions…

October 6, 2014 11:28 am

I believe we use 9×19 NATO 115 grain FMJ delivering 1300 FPS from a 5″ barrel .
Observer mentioned the P90 which uses the 5.7mm FN round. That was originally developed as a pistol round for NATO at their request. It beat a round developed by H&K an was designated the new NATO pistol round . The US cried foul and the whole thing was dropped . The pistol developed , the FiveseveN , is used by the US Secret Service as it has good penetration against flexible body armour. The FBI used the 10×25mm round for a while but dropped it as the recoil was excessive but their SpecOps units still use it.

October 6, 2014 5:13 pm

The FBI has recently decided to re-adopt 9 mm as its standard calibre over .40 Smith & Wesson. This represents a big ‘thumbs up’ for the pistol round developed by Georg Luger in 1902. It shows that when you get caliber right, the ammunition endures. The rationale for the FBI’s decision is well explained here:


Essentially, the latest 9 mm rounds offer much better energy retention, penetration and lethality than previous NATO standard 9 x 19 mm calibre rounds. However, as the Firearm Blog points out, the pistol calibre discussion is far from over, not least because of the increasing need to penetrate modern body armours.

It is interesting that Monkey mentions the FN 5.7 x 28 mm PDW round. This was used by the Fort Hood killer, Major Nidal Hassan, who managed to kill 13 people and injure a further 32 before he was stopped. Given that handguns of 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers can often result in unreliable terminal effectiveness, the 5.7 mm bullet showed itself to be highly effective during his murderous rampage.

Essentially, 5.7×28 mm is a cut-down 5.56 mm round. I share the view that this cartridge is more efficient than the 4.6 x 30 mm round developed by H&K for the MP7; but I wouldn’t want to get shot with either. Another interesting new PDW / pistol round is the 6.5 x 25 mm CBJ, which can be fired in a re-chambered 9 mm weapon. Tony Williams describes its terminal effectiveness as remarkable.

Overall, I tend to think that 9 mm NATO still has a lot of life left in it as a general purpose PDW calibre. I find its performance much more consistent and it is easier to shoot accurately than either .40 or .45. Trying to hit anyone at ranges beyond 30 metres with any pistol is extremely difficult. As Red Trousers notes, hitting targets with a Sterling 9 mm L2A1 SMG beyond 50 mm was always a big ask despite the extra barrel length. (The crude blowback mechanism of this weapon certainly meant that it needed to be handled with care.; the H&K MP5 was a much better weapon and still very much respected in military and police circles.)

The new Glock 17 is an excellent handgun and the large number purchased by the BA shows that pistols will become a much more important weapon in British military service than they have ever been before. The MoD tender reflects this new emphasis on personal protection and that it seems almost certain that BAE Systems Radway Green will get the job as lower quantities of 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition will be required after we have left Afghanistan. Given the work that Radway Green has done to improve 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm, they would almost certainly want to offer an improved 9 mm round.

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 6, 2014 5:55 pm

It just swallowed my post. Potted Version. US Big Army will keep its 9mm Beretta, but specialist units are going back to .45. First SOCOM with the HK Mk 23 & now the USMC buying 12000 Colt M45A1. 9mm is a good stopper if you are allowed hollowpoints, but if you are only allowed hardball then .45 is better.
For a PDW, I like the 6×35.