If you have been paying attention to firearms related news you've probably seen articles and videos about Federal's new cartridge, the .30 Super Carry. It is being released under Federal's various lines of ammunition including Remington, Federal, and Speer, and will be available in HST and Gold Dot defensive loadings.
Based on the articles and videos I've seen, the .30 Super Carry was intended to fill the performance gap between .380 ACP (9x17mm) and 9 mm Luger/Parabellum (9x19 mm) rounds. The 9x19 is the most popular round for pistols for self-defense, law enforcement, and even the military. The .380 has always lagged in popularity--at least in the United States--because it just doesn't offer the speed necessary for both good penetration and reliable expansion. Even though modern bullet designs have mostly addressed this issue, it would still be a little iffy when shot through heavy clothing. But what the .380 has going for it is that it is just enough shorter than 9 mm Luger to offer a smaller grip for those with smaller hands or for better concealed carry; and it can, with the right weapon, offer lower perceived recoil than the full sized 9 mm. The lower pressure of the .380 also makes it easier (and less expensive) to design and manufacture a handgun because it can work in a simple blowback design.
So, one would expect that a new cartridge to bridge the gap between the .380 and 9 mm would try to keep the good points of .380--the lower recoil and slightly smaller length compared to the 9 mm--while giving better velocity. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be what Federal did with the .30 Super Carry.
The new cartridge is smaller, but only in diameter (it uses a bullet of .312" diameter). The case length is apparently just a tad longer than the 9x19 mm. This allows an increase of one or two rounds for a given magazine size, but will otherwise require the same sized grip as the 9 mm.
If offers muzzle energy comparable to some 9 mm loads. For instance, Shooting Illustrated reports:
The 100-grain Federal load will provide 347 ft-pounds of muzzle energy; Remington’s 100-grainer offers 336. Meanwhile, the Speer 115-grainer generates 338 ft-pounds. Those numbers compare well to the 381 and 313 ft.-pounds produced by Federal’s 124-grain and 147-grain 9 mm loads, respectively. Moreover, JHP bullets in the new cartridge expand 1.9 times original caliber, almost identical to the best 9 mm loads, which expand 1.915 times initial diameter.
But it does this because of it is a very high pressure pistol load: 50,000 psi. As the video, above, explains, you potentially are facing problems with blown primers at those pressures. And it will be louder than either .380 or 9 mm. Perhaps more importantly to the end user, however, is that this high pressure and fast moving smaller bullet results in recoil that is reported as largely indistinguishable from the 9 mm.
It appears that there are two pistols available or that will be available soon for this cartridge: a ultra-premium Nighthawk Custom pistols, specifically the President and GRP; and the S&W Shield EZ. Smith & Wesson will also be introducing a Shield Plus in .30 Super Carry.
The price of the ammunition, according to Federal, will be comparable to .380 ACP. In other words, slightly more expensive than 9 mm, at least for practice and plinking ammo.
Test results in the articles indicate that the cartridge was accurate, although that might be more the result of the firearm than anything inherent in the round.
Although there is a lot of luck in whether a cartridge will take off and become popular--basically, is it the right cartridge at the right time--there is always the issue of whether the new cartridge can do something better than some other cartridge. (Of course, an influential figure in the gun community could also boost the popularity of a cartridge).
In this case, because of the harsher recoil, higher pressure, and a longer cartridge overall length, I don't believe that the .30 Super Carry is going to displace the .380 for those people that are already using the .380. That is, if those people wanted what the .30 Super Carry brings to the table, including the recoil and length and higher pressure than can be used in blowback designs, they would have already been using 9 mm.
Because the performance largely mimics the 9 mm, the .30 Super Carry is largely going to be competing against the 9 mm. Now, if this cartridge had been release about 5 years ago when single-stack 9 mm's were all the rage, it would have offered a significant advantage over the 9 mm by the simple fact that it would allow you to carry 7 to 9 rounds of ammunition versus 6 or 7 rounds of 9 mm in the same size magazine. Thus the probable reason for the first two pistols released being essentially single stack guns. (Interestingly, development started before the introduction of micro-9s).
But with the introduction of higher capacity micro-9s, does the .30 Super Carry bring enough to the table to convince people to abandon their 9 mm? I don't know; but as for me, it does not.
- "Welcome 30 Super Carry: a new caliber for 2022" by David Reeder, The Mag Life Blog.
- "First Look: Federal Premium 30 Super Carry Ammunition" by Daniel T. McElrath, Shooting Illustrated.
- "Federal .30 Super Carry Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know" by Jerry Stafford, Guns & Ammo.
- "Nighthawk Custom 1911 in 30 Super Carry" by Daniel T. McElrath, Shooting Illustrated.