Hirtenberger SMG Ammunition Debunked


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Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 02:04 AM
Hi all,

The subject of this ammunition has come up on various forums, and quite alot recently, so I am posting this in order to debunk the misconceptions (which seem BOUNDLESS) about this ammo.

Firstly, it must be stated at Hirtenberger Patronen (HP) is an ammunition company like any other. Just because someone has obtained Hirtenberger ammunition in 9mm Parabellum (Luger), does NOT mean it is the submachine gun ammunition. HP produces many loadings in 9mm Parabellum (Luger).

Many people have erroneously believed that HP's 124 gr. +P+ (usually marked "HV") rounds are the "submachinegun" rounds- and this is flatly incorrect. These rounds are designed for pistols, whereas the SMG rounds are not.

Hirtenberger has produced two types of SMG ammunition. Both were developed on request for the British Ministry Of Defence:

L7A1- This ammunition was produced between 1990 and 1992. Many samples exceed the NATO maximum chamber pressure specification for small arms, which is 50,000 PSI (345 MPa). For this reason, the British MOD ceased to use it. It was replaced with:

L12A1- This ammunition is substantially similar, but uses a slightly reduced charge in order to stay under the 50,000 PSI NATO maximum pressure specs.

Both of these rounds feature a 124-grain FMJ ball bullet, and produce a maximum velocity of about 1,500 fps.

Contrary to popular belief, these rounds were not designed for arctic conditions, nor were they developed for the Sterling SMG. They were designed for use in H&K MP5 series SMGs. Although they were undoubtedly tested under arctic conditions, the use of the term "adverse conditions" in its designation is more euphemistic than anything else.

In terms of the commercial availability of these rounds, the MOD released 12 million rounds of L7A1 ammunition as surplus. Since the ammunition is packaged in a 1,200 round case, this means that 10,000 cases were released. Since HP refuses to sell this ammunition to the public, and only produced L7A1 in 1990, 1991, and 1992, and only for the British contract, that means that the entire world's supply consists of 10,000 cases.

Likewise, within several months of release, BATF banned the importation of the ammunition, due to its being unsafe for use in handguns. This second fact makes the ammunition even more rare in the United States.

If offered this ammunition for sale, view the offer skeptically, as the above-mentioned facts limit the actual availability of such ammunition- and likewise, a considerable amount of the ammunition imported into the United States has undoubtedly been fired already by its owners.

Beware of attempts to sell ammunition which is falsely advertised as " Hirt SMG ammo ". Many dealers, either due to ignorance or fraudulence, will sell standard Hirtenberger ammunition and claim that it is the SMG rounds.

L7A1 ammunition can be identified by its headstamps:

'HP' (for Hirtenberger Patronen)
'90', '91', or '92' (year of production)
'L7A1' (ammunition type)
NATO proof mark (a circle with a cross inside)

If the headstamp doesn't contain "L7A1", it is NOT the SMG rounds.

Some forgeries of this ammunition have been produced in other nations (particularly in Darra, Pakistan, where many forgery firearms and ammunition are produced for the black market). The easiest way to tell that the ammunition is forged, is the absence, or poor application, of a red sealant ring around (and slightly onto) the primer.

Any ammunition marked "L12A1" is either a forgery or stolen, since HP produces it exclusively for British MOD.

The only other manufacturers of "SMG" ammunition (to my knowledge) are:

Israel Military Industries (IMI), who produce the ammunition packaged in either plain brown boxes or boxes with the " UZI " logo. These rounds are black-tipped, but the black tip designates them only as high-pressure, not specifically as SMG rounds; and

Remington, who have produced a 9mm SMG round loaded with a standard JHP (not Golden Saber) bullet. Any company advertising Remington SMG Golden Sabre rounds is falsely advertising.

Note that Remington only produces the SMG rounds on a per-request basis, and only for government agencies. Likewise, IMI produces the SMG ammunition rarely (mostly for Israeli and American military contracts) and very few samples of it are in circulation in the US, mostly in the hands of collectors.

SMG-specific rounds are NOT SAFE to fire in any handgun. There are a few handguns designs which can tolerate it SPARINGLY, but I do not recommend this practice. Remember, the SAAMI maximum chamber pressure for 9mm +P rounds is 38,500 PSI, and the NATO maximum chamber pressure for small arms, including rifles, is 50,000 PSI. SMG-specific rounds meet or exceed the 50,000 PSI mark.

Note also that SMG rounds are likewise unsafe to fire in many submachineguns, and virtually all pistol-cartridge carbines, since both are usually engineered for 9mm pistol ammunition. Only a very few models of carbines and submachine guns are suitable for firing the ammunition in; if in doubt, contact the manufacturer and ask them about the use of L7A1 ammunition in their guns.

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Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 02:43 AM
Link to the same discussion on Threat Focused:

http://www.threatfocused.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 05:03 AM
Follow-up:

I recieved an email (regarding the parallel thread on Threat Focused), asking if I would post (on the forums) a picture of the head stamp and primer ring so that it could be seen clearly, so that they could then compare it to a (requested but as-yet unrecieved) head stamp picture from an internet business advertising themselves as having "Hirt SMG ammo".

The question is a moot point, since I do not have any of this ammunition on hand at this time; however, if I did, the answer would have to be "no". I wouldn't want someone who is fraudulently advertising "Hirt SMG ammo" to now be able to get their hands on a picture of the head stamp.

Folks, if you are offered this ammo for sale over the internet (and are insistent upon actually obtaining some), DEMAND a picture of the headstamp, either in an email or ask them to post it openly. Demand something in the photo (initials written on the finger, a sign, what have you) that clearly identify the photo as having been taken by the person themselves, instead of stolen from someone else on the internet. This is about the ONLY way to make sure that you're not putting down significant cash on a fraud.

I don't care if they are "a reputable business", or have been in business for decades, or have a million satisfied customer. The scarcity of the genuine L7A1 rounds, and the brief period of time where they could legally be imported into the United States, makes the likelyhood of actually finding them remote.

blackdragon
February 15, 2006, 08:36 AM
So then the Hirt ball 9mm that is for sale is normal 9mm, but slightly hotter to get the +P+ (which I've heard means it exceeds SAAMI by > 20%)?

I thought that the difference between subgun 9mm and 'normal' 9mm was simply that the subgun is hotter....or is it that is is hotter, but by more that the +P+?

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 12:46 PM
So then the Hirt ball 9mm that is for sale is normal 9mm, but slightly hotter to get the +P+ (which I've heard means it exceeds SAAMI by > 20%)?

I thought that the difference between subgun 9mm and 'normal' 9mm was simply that the subgun is hotter....or is it that is is hotter, but by more that the +P+?

The SMG ammo is SIGNIFICANTLY hotter.

"+P+" doesn't refer to a set standard, it's more of a promotional term. But, "+P+" (or, "HV") rounds fall into SAAMI/NATO/CIP standards for safety in handguns. SMG rounds exceed those safety limits (dangerously so).

hso
February 15, 2006, 01:24 PM
Thanks for posting this valuable information!

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 03:06 PM
No sweat, HSO.

Incidentally, I want to clarify something in my reply to Blackdragon:

Yes, "+P+" rounds are (generally) slightly hotter than "+p"; although "+p" is an officially-recognized (and regulated) nomenclature, where "+P+" isn't. Some "+P+" ammo may be completely indistinguishable from "+p", due to misuse (and lack of regulation regarding the usage) of the term.

SMG rounds, on the other hand, exceed all accepted standards for maximum chamber pressure in handguns, including the big one: The generally-accepted maximum pressures for proofing (the maximum the mechanism needs to be able to contain, once, in order to be considered "a safe gun" that will withstand accidentally high pressure in a single cartridge).

hso
February 15, 2006, 03:22 PM
So the short form is, real SMG ammo make gun explode, but most of the stuff they're pimping as SMG is "fake" so you gotta make sure if you want to count to 10.:evil:

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 03:35 PM
Yeah, pretty much.

And also, "don't take any wooden nickles". :)

Zero_DgZ
February 15, 2006, 04:34 PM
Thread hijacking:

I once bought a box of "UZI" branded 9x19 that was labeled as "SMG" ammo. It was ball ammo of otherwise normal appearance with red painted tips, not black as mentioned here.

I only ever found one box, in the surplus bargain bin at the local gun store. The only thing I know about it was that I paid 3.50 for the box, it looked aged but not too old, and it was the only danged thing that ever cycled right in my Tec-9.

What the heck was it?

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 04:59 PM
Did you get a long, bright streak all the way down range to the target?

Because what you had were tracers. :)

IMI ("UZI") has also produced blue-tipped rounds, which are subsonic.

Red Tornado
February 15, 2006, 05:31 PM
Great post. Thanks for all the info.
RT

Norton
February 15, 2006, 08:26 PM
I have a box of Hirt that's been sitting in thr back of the ammo closet for 2 years because I bought before I had hear of all of this business.

My box is marked: "100 grs Soft Point FL-Bullet, Law Enforcement Grade"

The headstamp is: 9mm Luger HP +P+

Funny, pointed shaped bullet.

Is this truly handgun ammo?

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 08:36 PM
I have a box of Hirt that's been sitting in thr back of the ammo closet for 2 years because I bought before I had hear of all of this business.

My box is marked: "100 grs Soft Point FL-Bullet, Law Enforcement Grade"

The headstamp is: 9mm Luger HP +P+

Funny, pointed shaped bullet.

Is this truly handgun ammo?

Yes.

It is only SMG ammo if the headstamp contains the text "L7A1" or "L12A1"- and if you have L12A1, then what you have is probably stolen (from the UK and smuggled into the USA).

Would you be able to take a picture of the bullet and the headstamp? I have an inkling that I know what you have, but I'd like to see it to be sure.

jaysouth
February 15, 2006, 09:43 PM
Roundeye,

A popular errornet legend is that the SEALS wrecked a bunch of trial Berettas with "hot" SMG ammo and decided to go with Sigs instead.

I have always asked tellers of this old saw, 'where did the SEALS get 'hot' SMG ammo? What brand was it?

Answers range from sublime to absurd. Garbage at the speed of light.

Edited to thank Roundeye for the post.

Roundeyesamurai
February 15, 2006, 10:58 PM
No problem, Jay.

Incidentally, that story comes from one of Marcinko's books. Whether it actually occurred, or Marcinko inserted it in order to convince poseurs to repeat it and make fools of themselves, I am not certain.

However, early M9s DID have problems with slide fractures, and did indeed experience slides splitting and breaking in rapid fire. This was the reason Beretta introduced slide separation safeties (the "S" in "92FS"). The three persons injured in these failures were, indeed, SEALs.

The problem was eventually tracked down to a combination of poor steel quality (Italian steel often contains a trace mineral called tellurium, which can weaken it under stress), and several lots of (unintentionally) over-pressure NATO ammunition.

The M9s manufactured in the US, using American-produced steel, do not have this problem, and thanks to the availability of scientific equipment to detect the presence of tellurium, it's no longer a problem in Italian-made Berettas.

The story Marcinko relates (supposedly) occurred a few years before the M9 adoption. If Marcinko's story is factually correct, then (because of the time frame given) the guns in question would have been Italian steel, and it is entirely plausible that they handloaded (or ordered) ammunition at dangerously high pressure levels, which means that the account could indeed be factual.

Norton
February 16, 2006, 05:47 AM
Yes.

It is only SMG ammo if the headstamp contains the text "L7A1" or "L12A1"- and if you have L12A1, then what you have is probably stolen (from the UK and smuggled into the USA).

Would you be able to take a picture of the bullet and the headstamp? I have an inkling that I know what you have, but I'd like to see it to be sure.

I'll see if I can get something up in the next couple of days.

Zero_DgZ
February 16, 2006, 08:36 AM
Did you get a long, bright streak all the way down range to the target?

Because what you had were tracers. :)

IMI ("UZI") has also produced blue-tipped rounds, which are subsonic.

That woulda been neato, but unfortunately not.

Maybe what I had were old and defective tracers. I shot the whole lot of them and didn't get any tracer streaks. I also didn't get any more fire or kick out of the gun than usual, but who knows?

Weird.

Roundeyesamurai
February 16, 2006, 12:09 PM
That woulda been neato, but unfortunately not.

Maybe what I had were old and defective tracers. I shot the whole lot of them and didn't get any tracer streaks. I also didn't get any more fire or kick out of the gun than usual, but who knows?

Weird.

It would not surprise me in the slightest if they were both old and defective- but yes, what you had were designated as tracers by their red tip.

Roundeyesamurai
February 16, 2006, 06:57 PM
I'll see if I can get something up in the next couple of days.

Actually, that won't be needed now.

I wanted to see a picture to determine if it was one of two loads, but upon checking my information, it turns out that the second load I thought it might have been, is different altogether.

What you have is UK police ammunition. The severely pointed, soft-point round is extremely common there, in lieu of hollowpoints.

Another common police cartridge is a 95 gr. +P+ flat-point soft point, also made by Hirtenberger and another manufacturer (whose name escapes me at the moment).

Sgt. Stiglitz
September 25, 2009, 06:06 PM
I got like 5 boxes of this stuff. After reading all the stuff about it, I was almost afraid to shoot it. I didn't want to beat up any of my 9 MM hand guns so I stuck some in my 9 MM AR with a 16" barrel and tried some out. I think I will save it for when the Zombies come and I need to shoot through like four of them to save ammo.:evil: It isn't any hotter than some of the +P+ stuff on the market today like the Winchester Ranger 127gr STX JHP's.

It chrono'd out of the 9 MM AR 16" barrel at:
1484 fps
1499
1466

http://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq263/Sapo60/100_2736.jpg
http://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq263/Sapo60/100_2737.jpg
http://i454.photobucket.com/albums/qq263/Sapo60/100_2739.jpg

Sigsauer225
September 21, 2010, 10:35 AM
Hey, I bought some of this ammo at a gun show the other day for cheap. I got it home and decided to read a little about it since I never heard of the brand before. Thats when I came across this discussion. Now I am afraid to shoot it through my Sig Sauer p6 (p225) Mine is different than the ammo in these pictures.. I was wondering if I post pictures, if someone could tell me if it is safe to use them. I really would hate to have bought 150 rounds of ammo I can't use. That said, I do NOT want to ruin my gun or possibly get hurt doing it either! If anyone thinks pictures would help, I will put some up later. Thanks!

hso
September 21, 2010, 10:52 AM
What are the headstamp markings?

Sigsauer225
September 22, 2010, 12:56 PM
"HP 9mm LUGER +P+" Box says "hirtenberger 50 Cartridges 9mm Luger 100 grs SOFT POINT FL-BULLET LAW ENFORCEMENT GRADE" It has "HP" in a circle at the top left corner of the box, and an eagle or dragon looking thing with a "P" in the middle on the bottom left of the box. I can post pictures if you want.

Carl N. Brown
November 19, 2010, 10:05 AM
Speaking of fake SMG ammo, it is not unheard-of for gun show fakers to take ordinary ammo and use black, red or blue magic marker to make/fake "special" ammo by painting the tips. The markers labelled laundry markers are preferred for that kind of trickery.

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