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What is 30 Super Carry?

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.

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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?

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Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes

While I like options and the idea of similar performance with smaller dimensions and higher capacity, why would we go out and buy this when I could simply have my wallet destroyed trying to get ammo for guns I already have. I've only been shooting for a few years so I haven't had the time to develop a stash yet. So why on earth would I pay money that took me months to save, in order shoot only a 50 round training session, with a caliber that will be more expensive? Where I live 9mm is hovering around $20 for 50. Now count the cost of a range trip because I don't have a place to shoot. That session for…


I think your comment about timing is spot on. Why now, when 9mm and .380 is still more than twice the price pre-plandemic? It seems like a slap in the face. Keep the presses rolling on what we already have and want. If the industry was in a slump and new innovation was going to give the industry a boost, then sure, bring it. But now?


I wonder if Federal is trying to get on the same band wagon as Hornady? Hornady did well for themselves with some of the innovative cartridges they have released in the last few years. Your right though, lets get the supply chain issues fixed before we start on the next great thing.



This .30 S.C doesn't seem worth all the fuss. There are other calibers, rarely mentioned, like the 9mm Major, which I think is much more interesting. and the Russian Udav (9mm) which I barely hear anything about.


I'm not seeing significant improvements over existing cartridges. That is going to make it a harder sell, why change for a small advantage. Will my existing accessories fit the new cartridge or will I need another round of things like magazine loaders, cleaning rods and brushes. One or two loadings of 30 super carry won't see me rushing to change.

Graham Baates
Graham Baates

All valid points. It's one thing for a company to introduce some new specialty rifle cartridge for the long range or competition crowd, it a completely different beast to try to introduce a new handgun cartridge. I'll wait to see what other loadings of 30 Super Carry do, or maybe if an interesting handgun comes out.

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