The Problem with .30 Super Carry

In the middle of the great COVID ammunition shortage in 2022, Federal Premium introduced the .30 Super Carry cartridge. It was built from the ground up as a dedicated concealed carry pistol cartridge. It has increased in popularity since its introduction, but it also has its fair share of critics, among them our own Jeremy Stone of GunMag Warehouse. Be sure to watch the full video!

What Is .30 Super Carry?

.30 Super Carry: Worth the Trade Off? Cartridge
It’s still early for the .30 Super Carry. Time will tell if it becomes a popular alternative for self-defense. [American Handgunner]
Jeremy interviewed Chris Laack of Federal Premium to understand the “why” behind the new round. Laack said most of the pistol cartridges out now are over a century old and modern bullet technology does not require the same girth as older cartridges did.

Take the 9mm Luger as an example. The 9mm is not known for being a particularly large and powerful cartridge. But the 9mm itself was born from the 7.65×21 Parabellum round. The German government refused to adopt their homegrown design because the 7.65 mm bullet was deemed too small to effectively stop a threat. In a world of nonexpanding bullets, going bigger made sense. As such, Luger created the 9mm round and the German government adopted the iconic version of his pistol in 1908.

Developing a new round that can take advantage of modern expanding ammunition, opens the door to a round that can perform similarly, but in a smaller package. Smaller ammunition allows pistols to be made thinner and have larger capacities. The .30 Super Carry uses a .312 diameter (.32 caliber) 100-grain bullet traveling at an advertised speed of 1,250 feet per second. Standard .380 ACP runs between 85-95 grain bullets that struggle to break the 1,000 feet per second mark. In typical pocket pistols commonly found in that caliber, 850-950 is more accurate.

30 super carry and 9mm magazines
One advantage of .30 Super Carry is the additional magazine capacity. The disadvantage is that the .30 is not quite as powerful as standard pressure 9mm ammunition. [GMW]
Its performance is closer to 9mm Luger, with only 20% less energy compared to 9mm 124 grain loads. The 9mm has the advantage of a physically larger 115-124 grain bullet that yields more energy. But the .30’s smaller profile allows the user to have a few extra rounds of capacity. The .30 Super Carry debuted with the new Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, which was originally a thirteen-shot 9mm pistol. The .30 version holds sixteen rounds. The Shield EZ, which holds eight rounds of 9mm, now comes with a ten-round capacity in .30 Super Carry.

On The Range

Jeremy had the chance to take the Shield Plus models in both 9mm Luger and .30 Super Carry for a test run at the range. He came into the test believing more rounds on board is ideal, given how our training decays in a stressful encounter. A few extra rounds of the newfangled caliber might be of value. A bit less recoil could change the calculus further. That lighter, 100-grain load, means less mass pushed down bore on the same powder charge, thus less felt recoil and easier follow-up shots on target.

30 super carry and 9mm recoil
The 9mm Shield Plus (left) recoils more than the .30 Super Carry Shield Plus (right). But is it twenty percent more? [GMW}
Jeremy benched both pistols side by side to test the muzzle rise of both, using a slow-motion camera. He fired three rounds of Federal HST 124 grain 9mm Luger, followed by three rounds of the Federal HST .30 Super Carry 100 grain. While he did not feel a difference in recoil, the camera recorded slightly less muzzle rise with each shot using the .30. But it was not 20% less muzzle rise for 20% less recoil.

ruger lcp max 380
The .30 Super Carry is not as powerful as 9mm, but it might be too powerful for pistols intended for the low-pressure .380 round. It has a loaded pressure of 45,000 PSI, much higher than .380 and somewhat higher than 9mm!

The Problem with .30 Super Carry

Jeremy couldn’t argue with the range results and the perceived benefits of .30 Super Carry. The Super Carry seemed like a no-brainer compared to the .380 ACP round, and the comparability to the 9mm Luger could be the juice that’s worth the squeeze. The one major downside Jeremy alluded to is the sheer lack of available pistols. Currently, the .30 Super Carry is available in the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus and EZ pistols. Nighthawk produces a few custom pistols for the new cartridge as well.

Greater acceptance of the new round will make it less of a risk for manufacturers to offer a pistol of that caliber. As it stands, what currently exists cannot take advantage of the new round because of their needlessly big size. The .30 Super Carry’s case might be better if there were smaller available pistols. This could capitalize on the compact nature of a “pocket” .308 with similar ballistics to a 9mm. Whether or not existing pocket pistol designs are durable enough to handle this higher-pressure round and whether or not manufacturers are willing to take the leap of faith to produce a pistol that is more size-appropriate, remains to be seen.

Terril is an economic historian with a penchant for all things firearm related. Originally a pot hunter hailing from south Louisiana, he currently covers firearms and reloading topics in print and on his All Outdoors YouTube page. When he isn't delving into rimfire ballistics, pocket pistols, and colonial arms, Terril can be found perfecting his fire-starting techniques, photographing wildlife, and getting lost in the archives.

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