Federal Ammunition recently announced a new handgun caliber that has many asking, "What is 30 Super Carry and who is it for?" As frequent shooters with inventory of 24 different calibers kept we too are curious. We've done some digging and have that information for you along with what our thoughts are. All information and images are credited to Federal Ammunition and were pulled from this page.
*At the time this was written information about 30 Super Carry was not available through SAAMI. This either means SAAMI hasn't updated their cartridge list or the round has yet to be approved.
Looking for ammo? Try Here.
Want to safely stockpile ammunition on a budget? Try Here.
The Short: 30 Super Carry is a more compact cartridge advertised as having better muzzle energy than John M. Browning's 1908 .380ACP and consuming less space per round than Georg Luger's 1901 9x19mm; a carry cartridge for the 21st century.
Interpretation: As you can see the current leaders in this size category are over a century old. There has been plenty of advancement, so maybe there's room for improvement. History saw this when Browning created 45ACP as a way to replicate 45 Colt, but with a shorter case thanks to advances in both case design and powders. However, Glock tried to do it again with 45 GAP which only lasted a couple of years before it was forgotten.
It's very difficult to bring a new cartridge to market after firearms chambered in the alternatives have already been on the market for over a century. Additionally, the supply chain has to be there for people to be able to buy the ammo, and retailers have to decide to carry it.
Performance Claim: According to the below images, penetration is deeper than .380 and 9mm with energy landing between the two.
Interpretation: Having tested dozens of loads into gel there are a few thoughts that come to mind. To start, although all three loads tested were Federal HST, the 380 and 9mm projectiles aren't representative of the standard weight. What I'm suggesting is that there are quite possibly 380 and 9mm loads that would have very different results so we can't accept these comparison charts as an absolute. Additionally, the wide expansion of the 380 load tested of course reduces penetration, or to see it the other way around, the 30 Super Carry HST doesn't appear to have as broad of an expansion so of course it would penetrate more. To be fair 30 Super Carry expanded from .312" to .530" whereas 380 expanded from .355" to .530" and 9mm from .355" to .571". When we consider that Federal squeezed an additional 220 feet per second out of 30 Super Carry over .380 while only adding one grain of weight one would have expected 30 Super Carry to expand nearly as much assuming similar projectile construction.
Capacity Claim: As illustrated, Federal points out that the smaller cartridge results in a higher capacity than 9mm in the same magazine volume. They also state that handguns made for this caliber can have a reduced grip circumference.
Interpretation: While grip circumference can certainly be too big for some shooters on certain models, it's tough to tell if this will really be a game changer or not for people with smaller hands. What is certain is that with calibers like 9mm there is such a thing as too small of a grip which typically results in less shooter comfort in the form of greater felt recoil and training challenges as one learns to overcome too short of a trigger reach. We haven't shot 30 Super Carry yet to know, maybe it's a very soft-shooting caliber and so recoil is not an issue. The HST example of a projectile 1 grain heavier traveling 220fps faster leads me to believe it will be a snappy cartridge to shoot. It will be interesting to see what the actual cartridge dimensions are. I wonder if it's an 18mm case length like 9mm Makarov.
Firearm Availability Claim: No cartridge can be fired if there isn't a firearm made for it. With
the launch, Federal announced that Smith & Wesson and Nighthawk are founding partners with firearms for this cartridge.
Interpretation: This is a very tough sell. Outside of first-time gun owners Federal will have to convince us that it's worth buying another firearm to try out a new cartridge. The gesture from Nighthawk and Smith & Wesson is good, but if the frames aren't completely redesigned we won't be able to experience the smaller grip circumference. If that hasn't been done we're simply shooting an adaptation.
Conclusion: It's too soon to pass judgement on the cartridge, and anyone who's watched any of our videos knows a single load is no way to judge a cartridge. It's nice to see innovation, especially when we consider the age of 9mm and .380acp. There has to be something more 21st century out there right?
Initial data is naturally too limited to know if this is the next big thing or not. Personally I'd rather a round stop short in a target but dump all of its energy rather than pass through and hit something else.
Lastly, I find the timing of this release a bit callous. We the consumers are still scrounging for the old calibers only to learn that one of the nation's biggest producers has had resources and loading machines focused on something else. That seems like a convenient way to keep 9mm and .380 prices high while adding something else we can be short of.
What are your thoughts about the 30 Super Carry? Is this something you'll be looking to try out or are you happy with your existing carry caliber?