B.V. Semin designed the 9x18 Makarov cartridge in 1948. The Soviet Union adopted the cartridge in 1951 for the Makarov PM pistol, which replaced the TT-33 pistol. The new cartridge was designed to meet certain requirements. First, it needed to function well in a blowback pistol. Second, it needed to be distinct from NATO ammunition so that Warsaw Pact ammo could not be used by NATO forces against them.
The 9x18 was eventually chambered for many different firearms. More popular models include the CZ vz. 82, the Skorpion vz. 82, and the Stechkin APS. The cartridge is still used by many countries of the former Warsaw Pact, and has only recently been replaced after more than sixty years of Russian military service. The 9x18 Makarov ammunition made for the military is all designed as antipersonnel, though some cartridges have been made to penetrate light body armor or unarmored vehicles. Other cartridges are meant to be used in a firearm with a silencer.
The 9x18 Makarov uses bullets weighing from 93 to 115 grains in full metal jacket and hollow point configurations. Muzzle velocity ranges between 820 and 1,300 feet per second. Resulting muzzle energies vary between 115 and 300 foot pounds. As for accuracy, 9x18 Makarov ammo is able to maintain one inch groups at 25 yards. Though lacking the power of the 9mm Luger, the cartridge is respectable.
The 9x18 Makarov never really caught on, though there are a few dedicated fans. Collectors of military firearms, especially those with firearms from Warsaw Pact countries, feel their collection is incomplete if it doesn't have at least one firearm chambered in this caliber.
The 9x18 Makarov is an interesting caliber, one that will probably endure until powder and bullets give way to laser guns. It's not a powerful round that can be used to hunt big game, nor is it an ultra reliable round that expands well and never over penetrates, providing a one shot stop in personal protection situations. It is, however, a cartridge with mild recoil that's fun to shoot and accurate enough to meet the needs of your average pistol owner.