It’s not often an entirely new handgun cartridge comes along, so it’s no wonder the 30 Super Carry got so much attention when Federal Premium launched it in January 2022. In stark contrast to the young age of 30 Super Carry is the 9x19mm Parabellum, designed by Georg Luger in 1901. That’s quite the age gap. Is the 30 Super Carry a legitimately competitive force for the long-standing 9mm? 30 super carry vs 9mm: Let’s take a look at how the two cartridges stack up.
What is 30 Super Carry?
The 30 Super Carry is a rimless, centerfire handgun cartridge that was officially introduced by Federal Premium in early 2022. The respected ammo maker created the 30 Super Carry as a defense ammo option to allow for greater velocity and reduced overall size, which means higher capacity capabilities.
Federal’s Handgun Ammunition Product Director Mike Holm made the following statement when the cartridge hit the market:
The self-defense market is a driving force behind new gun ownership. When considering what the market is looking for when it comes to self-defense, they have told use that concealability, comfort in carrying and ability to shoot, 9mm performance, and the ability to carry more rounds. There is a lot here, and that is what drove the development of 30 Super Carry.
And, of course, the ammo manufacturer bills the 30 Super Carry as what just might be the best thing ever:
With a higher capacity and smaller frame size than the 9mm but with similar muzzle blast, recoil, and terminal performance, 30 Super Carry offers a decided advantage.
What is 9mm?
Really, 9mm needs no introduction. It was designed in 1901 in response to a request by the Austrian military for a better handgun option for service guns, and the rest is gun history. 9mm is a cartridge that’s gone through a lot of changing times and advances in technology, so the 9mm of today is definitely a better performer than when it was first developed.
For comparison’s sake—and because it’s impossible to find Georg Luger for a quote about 9mm—check out what Federal Premium has said about 9mm. In 2018, the company announced its new Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep 9mm 135 grain JHP. The ammo line itself was not new, having been introduced in 1989, but it had been improved.
Larry Head, who was Federal Premium’s Director and Chief Engineer of Handgun Ammunition at that time, made the following comments about the defensive load:
FBI performance requirements and protocol testing have evolved over time. One of the most notable changes has been the desire for deeper-penetrating rounds and more consistency in penetration depths through all intermediate barriers. Hydra-Shok Deep offers consumers a round that results in consistent, reliable performance through typical defensive barriers and penetrates to the depth deemed optimum by the leading law-enforcement agency in the United States.
Although 9mm has been around for more than a century, advances in ballistics and technology in general mean there are constant improvements to existing loads (not to mention brand new loads being designed).
Super Carry vs 9mm—Are they different sizes?
There are slight differences in the dimensions of the 30 Super Carry and the 9mm. However, the 30 Super Carry is not yet a SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute) recognized cartridge, and that means there isn’t nearly as much information available about its specifications. Here’s what we know:
|Cartridge||30 Super Carry||9x19mm Parabellum|
|Designer||Federal Premium||Georg Luger|
|Country of Origin||United States||Austria|
|Case Type||Rimless, Tapered||Rimless, Tapered|
|Case Length||0.827 inches||0.754 inches|
|Bullet Diameter||0.313 inches||0.355 inches|
|Base Diameter||0.345 inches||0.392 inches|
|Overall Length||1.169 inches||1.169 inches|
|Maximum Pressure||45,000 psi (Not yet SAAMI)||35,000 psi (SAAMI)|
As the comparison chart shows, 30 Super Carry is a bit slimmer than 9mm. Here’s the takeaway:
- 30 Super Carry has a case length that is 0.073 inches longer than the 9 mm case length
- 30 Super Carry’s bullet diameter is 0.042 inches narrower than the 9 mm bullet diameter
- 30 Super Carry and 9mm have identical overall lengths
- 30 Super Carry has a currently listed maximum loading pressure of 45,000 psi—which is not yet SAAMI-approved—which is 10,000 psi greater than the 9mm’s SAAMI-approved pressure
- 30 Super Carry and 9mm are extremely similar, but not the same
30 Super Carry vs 9mm—Which is faster?
Because the 30 Super Carry is typically loaded with lighter grain bullets, it’s difficult to do a precise ballistic comparison by weight. However, Federal Premium does manufacture both the 30 Super Carry and the 9mm under their Personal Defense HST line:
|Federal Premium Personal Defense HST||30 Super Carry 100 grain JHP||9mm 124 grain JHP|
|Muzzle Velocity||1250 feet per second||1150 feet per second|
|25-yard velocity||1185 feet per second||1095 feet per second|
|50-yard velocity||1129 feet per second||1049 feet per second|
|75-yard velocity||1081 feet per second||1010 feet per second|
|100-yard velocity||1041 feet per second||977 feet per second|
|Muzzle Energy||347 foot-pounds||364 foot-pounds|
|25-yard energy||312 foot-pounds||330 foot-pounds|
|50-yard energy||283 foot-pounds||303 foot-pounds|
|75-yard energy||260 foot-pounds||281 foot-pounds|
|100-yard energy||241 foot-pounds||263 foot-pounds|
The 30 Super Carry listed above is loaded with a bullet that is 24 grains lighter than what the 9mm is loaded with. This does allow for an edge in velocity but reduces energy. Here’s the breakdown of the two cartridges’ velocity and energy according to Federal Premium’s Personal Defense HST loads:
- 30 Super Carry’s muzzle velocity is 100 feet per second faster than 9mm
- 30 Super Carry’s 100-yard velocity is still faster than the 9mm’s (64 feet per second faster at that point)
- 30 Super Carry produces less energy than the 9mm at an average of approximately 20 foot-pounds at every measured increment
- 30 Super Carry moves faster but hits with slightly less energy
Does 30 Super Carry drop faster than 9mm?
The trajectory is an important part of ballistics. It’s important to know what the drift and drop rate of a specific load is because it affects the point of aim versus the point of impact, among other things. Federal Premium’s Personal Defense HST line carries both 30 Super Carry and 9mm and breaks down their trajectories as follows:
|Federal Premium Personal Defense HST||30 Super Carry 100 grain JHP||9mm 124 grain JHP|
|Muzzle Trajectory||Not Applicable||Not Applicable|
|50-yard trajectory||-0.6 inches||-0.9 inches|
|75-yard trajectory||-3.0 inches||-3.9 inches|
|100-yard trajectory||-7.2 inches||-8.8 inches|
As you can see, 30 Super Carry experiences slightly less drop than 9mm in this specific load. Of course, the 9mm in question has a bullet weight 24 grains heavier than the 30 Super Carry’s bullet. That means it’s going to drop faster unless it’s an overpressure round, which it is not. Here’s a quick summary of trajectory highlights:
- Both the 30 Super Carry and 9mm were zeroed at 25 yards
- The 30 Super Carry has slightly less drop than the 9mm overall
- The 30 Super Carry has 1.6 inches less drop than the 9mm at 100 yards
Does the minute difference in drop between the 30 Super Carry and 9mm matter? That largely comes down to personal preference. That said, it’s certainly possible the 30 Super Carry’s slightly flattening trajectory could benefit you in a life or death situation.
30 Super Carry vs 9mm—Which cartridge is better?
When it comes right down to analyzing 30 Super Carry vs 9mm, it is clear there are small differences between the two cartridges. Perhaps capacity is actually the biggest difference because the 30 Super Carry can hold 12 rounds in the same magazine space where a 9mm holds 10 rounds. Could two rounds make or break a self-defense situation? Yes.
The 30 Super Carry is slimmer but the same overall length as the 9mm. It’s loaded with a bullet that’s just a fraction smaller in diameter than the 9mm and is generally loaded with lighter-weight bullets as well. The 9mm has a century of use and proven results backing it while the 30 Super Carry does not. Now, 30 Super Carry was designed by the team at Federal Premium, and they certainly know their stuff when it comes to ammunition. So which one is better?
If capacity is your concern, the 30 Super Carry is the clear winner. Switching to 30 Super Carry requires a new gun, holster, and ammunition. The availability of those things is enormously less than what’s out there for the 9mm. Whether or not availability increases as time goes on depends on how much the market warms up to the 30 Super Carry (and how Federal handles their rights to the cartridge and lets other manufacturers load it).
Tried and true, long-time performance belongs to the 9mm, but 30 Super Carry adds capacity which is a significant bonus.
Which one is your favorite? Why?