9x21, 9x23, 7N21, 38 Super


March 2, 2004, 10:57 PM
I see from the excellent world.guns.ru site that current Russian designs are using not only a very hot 9x19 cartridge (the 7N21, equivalent to +P+ or more), but also a very hot 9x21 load, which apparently is much hotter than the "non-military" 9x21 round sold in Italy and elsewhere.
(See infor on the GSh-18 pistol at http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg111-e.htm, and on the SPS/Vector at http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg25-e.htm.)

I also ran across a passionate plea for the 9x23 Winchester at http://www.burnscustom.com/9x23.html. Any comments on these hot 9s? I've been curious about 38 Super and 9x21 for awhile (and I'd love to get a Beretta 98 - that's the 9x21 model they don't import) - but it looks like the above are a big step up from those, or from +P+ 9mm either.


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max popenker
March 3, 2004, 10:38 AM
do not confuse with two different 9x21 rounds - one is European 9x21, also known as 9x21IMI, which is a 9x19 luger case stretched out by 2mm, with same OAL as 9x19 and with same ballistics; this was developed to duplicate 9x19 ballistics in guns, originally chambered for 9x19, because in some Euro countries (Italy, for example) military calibers are prohibited for civilian use.

Russian 9x21 is sentirely different, much hotter load. I cannot find pressures for 9x19 7n21, 7n31 and 9x21 7N28, but IIRC these are much higher than SAAMI/CIP standards for 9x19 Luger/Parabellum

March 3, 2004, 11:30 AM
If you're asking for a report on performance from experience, I've had a 1911 in .38 Super (Springfield- service/match grade), and HAVE three S&W Perf. CTR 9mm's (4,5,6") and a S&W Super-9 with three bbls. (9mmPara, 9x21,.356TSW).

From a performance perspective, the only real difference is the headspace length/case dimension and operating pressures.

The 9mm is SAAMI loaded to around 32,000psi.
Ditto the .38 Super w/factory loads
9x21 has no SAAMI specs, so it is whatever the "loader" wants. In Europe this is similar to 9mmPara performance. Winchester Factory loads were a 124gr FMJ to about 1,300fps from 5"bbl.

The 9x23 and .356TSW (The 9x23 uses a "rimless" .38 Super case-and same oal.; the .356TSW is the 9x21 stretched to 9x22.5mm, and same oal.
as 9mmPara.

Both the 9x23 and .356TSW are loaded to 50,000+psi. hence performance is quite similar with similar bullet weights. ~1,400fps w/124gr bullet, 1,250fps w/147gr bullet. Or, about like the .357mag revolver cart. The slight difference is becasue the slightly larger base of the 9x21 family vs. the longer length of the .38super family of cartridges equalizes things.

Max accuracy loads in all the above are essentially the same, but for COMP shooting where power min's. apply, and compensators are used the .38Super, 9x23, and .356TSW have the advantage.
All except the 9mmPara, and .38Super were designed as "Rule Beaters", whether SAAMI specs for safe loads or National gun laws as to "permitted cartrigdes- (meaning not military/Police standards).

All the above are loaded with .355" bullets, except some Manf. still use .356-.357" bbls for .38Super. But Match grade guns mostly use .355" bbls. (Including the Factory Spfld.Armory I had. The .357" bullets shot "patterns" , not groups, at 25yds.-ie:12-18"groups, instead of 1.5-2" groups of .355" bullets).

The term +P+ is "nebulous" to the point of being meaningless. In reality it means anything loaded in a 9x19 case to pressures above about 37,500psi.
How much is "much" ?????

Not familiar with the 7n21, 7n28,7n31, ect.

March 3, 2004, 02:21 PM
Thanks, very helpful inputs.

Is there a Russian or European equivalent of SAAMI? Or are there Russian or European reloading manuals? Or how does one find out just what the specs are for SP-10 (9x21 Russian) or 7N21 (apparently this is the very hot Russian 9x19 loading)?

The 9x23 site I mentioned above has some discussion of high pressure, and suggests that rifle primers are better just for this reason. The site also suggests that any 38-Super-derived round will not be able to take the very high pressures used for this kind of hot loads. (40,000 psi and up).

So how does higher pressure limit play into cartridge performance? For a given muzzle velocity and bullet weight, a higher maximum pressure might permit LESS muzzle blast, at least if a fast powder were used. Competitors might want more muzzle blast to operate the muzzle brake (and reduce flip), but I don't.


Zak Smith
March 3, 2004, 02:33 PM
For conventional anti-personnel use against non-armored targets, when you go from 9x19+P (124gr @ 1300fps) to .357SIG or 9x23 ballistics (125gr @ 1450), the bullets don't expand any more and they don't penetrate more (assuming you've got an expanding bullet). So your "ROI" is low: all that extra blast and recoil doesn't buy you any additional stopping power. This conclusion is based on the FBI-protocol ballistic gelatin tests for penetration and expansion.


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