The 30 Super Carry is a handgun cartridge introduced by Federal Ammunition as a new product for concealed carry and self defense applications.
If you’d like to read about why I’m not a fan of this new cartridge, or at least how it has been marketed, make sure you keep scrolling and check out my full 30 Super Carry review below.
Table of contents
30 Super Carry Background
30 Super Carry Specs
- Bullet Diameter 8mm / .313″
- Bullet Weights 100-115 gr
- Muzzle Velocity 1250 fps
- Muzzle Energy 347 ft/lbs
- Cartridge Length 1.169″
- Case Length 0.827″
- Base Diameter 0.345″
- Max Pressure 50,000 psi
The 30 Super Carry (30 SC) is perhaps easiest described as a slightly skinnier and weaker 9mm Parabellum.
The 30 SC is the same length as the 9mm, however, being 1mm narrower in diameter than the 9mm, is slightly weaker than the 9mm (less case volume and lighter bullet) but twelve 30 SC rounds can fit into a magazine that only holds ten 9mm rounds.
However, the trade-off is less energy and expansion. For more, make sure you see the 30 Super Carry vs 9mm comparison below.
The 30 Super Carry was clearly introduced by Federal as a product for the Concealed Carry (CCW) / Self Defense market. This is clear both from the name of the cartridge and also the fact that it is too small for pistol competitions (USPSA/IDPA).
30 Super Carry Review – Our Thoughts
There are two approaches I can take to reviewing the 30 Super Carry:
The “snarky” approach:
If you use a 9mm pistol for defense and you’d rather have a cartridge that has less energy, makes smaller holes in bad guys, has smaller hollow-point cavities for less expansion, is too small to use in competitions for practice, is harder to find in stores, and is more expensive, then the 30 Super Carry is for you!
The “more options are better” approach:
Hey, look! Federal came out with a new cartridge that you might like. It is effectively between a 9mm Luger and a 380 ACP and, if that’s what you’ve been looking for, then this might be a good cartridge for you.
When I first published this article, it was heavy on the snark. This is largely due to how Federal chose to market this round.
However, it is also from my frustration that our industry seems to introduce new products, especially new ammunition calibers, that are usually a couple of minor tweaks to an existing product, touted as “innovation,” and are either a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist or they’re effectively a reintroduction of something that existed previously.
Why does this matter?
Aren’t more options better?
Why do you care so much?
Well, those are VERY fair questions that I’ve been asking myself.
My answer is that I see our role as GunUniversity to educate shooters and share our honest opinions about firearms.
This includes new shooters that may be looking for their first firearm purchase and might be strongly influenced by marketing. This also includes shooters that are always looking for improvements and want to chase the latest/greatest caliber each year.
For the reasons below, I do not think that a new shooter should adopt this cartridge, especially as their first/only cartridge.
Like it or not, you are here to read my opinion. I am a critic, just like a food critic or movie critic, and my job on this site is to make sure you are getting an honest opinion (regardless of whether you agree with it).
If this was FoodUniversity and Taco Bell came out with a hamburger our review of it might very well be negative and encourage you to avoid it and find better hamburgers elsewhere. Our job would be to give you our honest opinion and no claims of “aren’t more options better?” nor “well, I think it’s the best thing ever!” would change our review of that particular product.
Likewise, here we are to give our honest opinion of the 30 Super Carry.
If you agree or disagree with me, please share why in the comments below. We love differing opinions and learning from each other.
Marketing of the 30 Super Carry
You might think that the marketing of a product should not be a part of the review of the product.
In this case, I disagree.
Let me explain…
Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal Ammunition said in a product launch video, “we think it’s very appropriate to launch the biggest product Federal has ever launched in its 100th year anniversary.”
And on their Facebook Page, Federal calls the 30 Super Carry “The most revolutionary advancement in self-defense history.”
Those are VERY bold claims.
Note they didn’t claim in CCW history, or even just firearm/ammo history, but ALL self-defense history.
Not sharp sticks, not knives, not firearms, not the metallic cartridge, not hollow-points, not body armor …. the 30 Super Carry.
I think that these choices by Federal and their words matter.
This is especially true when we’re talking about self-defense.
In this video by Federal ammo, Jim Gilliland (RLTW) introduces the 30 Super Carry cartridge:
Also, here are some info sheets from Federal with information about their new round:
In the video above, Federal spends time comparing this new round to 45 ACP to show increased capacity and less recoil. I think that this is misleading because 9mm Luger, the closest comparison to this new round, also has higher capacity and less recoil than 45 ACP.
As an analogy, imagine that Chevy came out with a new pickup truck that was slightly smaller and weaker than a Ford F-150. It would be a misleading for Chevy to compare the new imaginary truck in their marketing to a dump truck for fuel efficiency and passenger seating.
Instead, since Federal is claiming this bridges the gap between 380 AUTO and 9mm Luger (of which I was unaware there was a gap/need here), the recoil and capacity should be compared to those two rounds.
If that’s what they did instead, there would still be an increase in capacity, although not as drastic, however, the recoil comparisons would likely tell a different story.
The 30 Super Carry should have more recoil than a 380 Auto and just about as much as a 9mm and perhaps even feel a bit “snappier” due to the faster bullet.
In the info sheets above, Federal explains that the ballistic performant of this new cartridge “far exceed[s] 380 Auto.” 380 AUTO is generally known as the weakest commonly available center-fire pistol cartridge. I don’t think that it is something to brag about if your new high-performance cartridge out-performs 380 AUTO.
In fact, using the 380 AUTO as the comparison makes me doubt the 30 Super Carry even more.
Instead, a much more appropriate comparison ballistically is the 9mm Luger. We make such a comparison here in this review and also below.
It’s Weaker than 9mm Luger
It wasn’t too long ago that many people scoffed at 9mm as an effective defensive cartridge because it was “too weak.” In fact, when I took a Gunsite course in 2003, the restrooms had pegs to hang your handgun and the 9mm peg was labelled “380 magnum” teasing that 9mm was nothing more than a stronger 380 Auto.
Thankfully, modern pistol fighting has evolved (sorry, Weaver stance) and with modern 9mm ammo designs and performance, the 9mm is an effective self defense round (and what I carry everyday: a Sig P365).
However, in my opinion, the 9mm is the bottom (or very near the bottom) of effective energy for self defense.
The 30 Super Carry? Even lower energy.
Now, I am NOT saying that more energy is always better.
For example, I don’t recommend 10mm for a daily carry gun.
However, when 9mm is widely available in any NATO country, perhaps the most widely available handgun cartridge, it has been tested and has endured for years, there are many pistols and magazines for it and the ammo is inexpensive for training, I don’t understand why I’d want something that has less energy and performance than a 9mm.
By being a smaller diameter, the 30 Super Carry will make smaller holes in bad guys and have smaller hollow points which will expand less.
The point of using a firearm in self defense is to stop a bad guy from doing a bad thing.
When using a firearm, an accurate shot is crucial. However, with the same shot placement, more energy, bigger bullets and expansion are better.
As pointed out above, the 30 Super Carry has less energy than 9mm. Strike one.
The 30 Super Carry is a smaller diameter than 9mm. Strike two.
As you can see in Federal’s info above, it also has less expansion. Strike three.
Heck, as far as bullet expansion goes, Federal’s own info/graphic above shows that 380 AUTO expands more than 30 Super Carry.
I don’t know the answer here but it surely invites the question: what’s better, 10 effective rounds or 12 less effective rounds?
If you answered the latter, does your opinion change when you take availability and training into account?
More isn’t ALWAYS Better
As explained above in the section on 30 Super Carry vs 9mm, the 30 Super Carry can theoretically fit 12 rounds in magazine that could only hold 10 rounds of 9mm.
Yes, it is true that more rounds in a gunfight, all else being equal, is better.
I added the “all else being equal” above because it is not true to just say “more rounds is always better.”
For example, a Kel Tec PMR-30 pistol holds 30 rounds of .22 Win Mag ammo. If Federal wants to make the point that “more is better,” then perhaps they’d agree that 22 Win Mag is even better?
On that point, if the marketing for this round is “outperforms 380 Auto and more capacity than 9mm,” (it is), then 22 Magnum is even better than 30 Super Carry!
You can fit 30 rounds of 22 Magnum in a handgun compared to 12 of 30 Super Carry and 22 Magnum has 324 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. That surely outperforms 380 Auto by over 100 ft/lbs and is as close to 30 Super Carry in energy as 30 Super Carry is to 9mm Luger.
Of course, I’m not claiming that Federal is trying to say more is always better, I am merely pointing out that “more is better” and “outperforms 380” without other considerations makes 22 Win Mag even more convincing that 30 Super Carry.
And, in this case, getting more ammo into a handgun with the negative trade-offs of less energy, smaller holes in bad-guys, smaller expansion, rarer ammo, more expensive ammo, also the magazines and guns that have nowhere near the history of testing as 9mm is not worth it in my opinion.
You may completely disagree and love this new round. That’s great and exactly what the free market is for.
However, if you’re a new shooter, please don’t jump to this round just yet or you may be stuck having a hard time finding affordable ammo to practice with.
Federal makes this point in their marketing of this new round: “in armed threat scenarios, only one in five shots find the mark.”
If that’s true, that’s shocking.
However, as someone pointed out on social media in response to this review, 10 rounds of 9mm results in 2 fatal/effective hits whereas 12 rounds of 30 SC results in 2.4 fatal/effective hits.
First, I see that math shows still less than three effective hits. 🙂
Second, if capacity was everything, the Kel Tec PMR30 would result in 6 effective hits from its 30 round capacity. So would the Kel Tec CP33 with its 33 round capacity.
There is one area where there is not “more” when it comes to 30 Super Carry: Availability and Practice.
If you’re going to carry a firearm for self defense you should train – a LOT!
And although shooting competitions are NOT intended to replace training for self defense scenarios, they are EXCELLENT and getting you comfortable and familiar with a firearm and how to operate and shoot it quickly and accurately under stress.
Unfortunately, the 30 Super Carry is too small to be used in the two most popular action shooting competitions, USPSSA and IDPA.
This is especially true if the 1 in 5 statistic above is true. I think MORE training, for everyone, is better.
30 Super Carry is going to be more expensive than and harder to find than 9mm. This means that training will be more difficult and more expensive. This will surely result in LESS training.
For me, I’d rather have more ammo at home with which I can practice and compete with more energy for CCW than two more rounds of weaker and rare ammo in my gun.
30 Super Carry is More Expensive than 9mm
30 Super Carry is more expensive than 9mm ammo and up until it surpasses 9mm Luger in popularity world-wide, it will likely always be more expensive.
This matters… a lot. If you’re going to effectively train with your handgun, which you should, you can afford more training with 9mm than you can with 30 Super Carry.
Just due to economy of scale, 9mm will be cheaper to manufacture as long as it is extremely more common than 30 Super Carry.
It is Less Available
30 Super Carry gives me serious concerns about availability: for both itself AND 9mm.
Let me explain.
We are currently in an ammo shortage where manufacturers can not keep up with ammo demand.
The most popular pistol cartridge is BY FAR is the 9mm and manufacturers simply can not make enough.
When Federal, for example, dedicates machines in their factory to make 30 Super Carry, those machines can not be used to make more 9mm.
Therefore, resources dedicated to 30 Super Carry are resources that could have been used to catch up on 9mm supply. This means less 9mm on the shelves than otherwise there could have been (even if they only add new machines for 30 Super Carry, those machines could have been added for 9mm).
There will also be availability concerns for 30 Super Carry. Not only because it is a new cartridge but also that will not have near the widespread adoption as 9mm and therefore some retailers just may not even carry it, or if they do they’ll carry one SKU.
Also, just as it will be more expensive to make 30 Super Carry (above), the process will also be slower. Components, dies, and know-how will be scarcer for 30 Super Carry and manufacturers won’t be able to make as much in the same amount of time as they can for 9mm.
UPDATE: Jim Gilliland, the man in the Federal video above, came by for a comment about this review and I’m glad he did. I’m always happy to learn more about something and change my opinion. Hopefully Jim and I can connect and we can have a good discussion about this round – who knows, I might be educated and change my thoughts. I don’t know him personally but I respect his background and reputation. Fingers crossed.
He made a great point about 6.5 CM that I agree with. It took me a while to adopt that cartridge and I’m glad I waited or I would have a bunch of guns in 260 Rem (which came out years earlier and is effectively the same thing).
He also made a point that Federal doesn’t just have one machine that needs to be switched off to run this cartridge and that I am ill informed. Respectfully, I was a Vice President for Remington Outdoor Company and do understand firearm and ammunition manufacturing (although maybe not too well if you look at Remington now – see, I can pick on myself, too).
Regardless of the specific manufacturing details of this new round, I can safely assume a few things: MANY dollars and man-hours were spent on this new round. This includes R&D, sourcing, manufacturing, and marketing. All of these “business calories” could have been spent improving and increasing 9mm, and other in-demand calibers, production.
There is at least one machine making 30 SC that is not making 9mm. There is at least one materials sourcing person finding resources for 30 SC that is not finding them for 9mm. There is at least part of a shipping truck used for 30 SC that is not filled with 9mm.
30 Super Carry Summary
As if I haven’t already made enough bold statements, here’s another:
I feel so strongly that the 30 Super Carry is a bad idea that I’m going to use it as a measuring stick to see who in our industry is being paid for their opinions.
Of course, people can disagree with me. However, absent a compelling counter-argument to each of my issues with this new round above, I am going to assume that anyone who calls this “ground-breaking” or the “best new self defense round” is a shill and is getting paid to pretend like they like the round.
This is a problem for me – your life may depend on an opinion that you didn’t realize was a commercial.
Keep an eye out for me and see if I’m right.
As far as innovation goes, I applaud it. You may have just rolled your eyes at that sentence coming from me after reading this article. If you did, please hear me out.
Innovation is GREAT!
However, I do not consider this to be “innovation.”
Most new cartridges, like this one, are just shifting some dimensions around. Just look at how many wildcat cartridges are made in garages and basements across America every year. They might be cool, but they’re not “innovation.”
For example, I could cut the 30 Super Carry brass down a bit, make a reduced load for it and call it the 30 Super Lite and claim how it bridges the gap between 30 Super Carry and .380, it allows less recoil for recoil sensitive shooters, and allows for a smaller grip size for shooters with smaller hands.
All of those claims would be true.
None of what I would have done in this thought experiment should be considered “innovation.”
For example, here’s a cartridge designed in 1917 by Remington that is effectively the same dimensions and designed for a pistol: 7.65x20mm Longue Or, does anyone remember the 45 GAP where Glock made the 45 ACP shorter for a smaller pistol grip?
Again, if you disagree with me, that’s great! If we completely agree on everything then one of us isn’t necessary. 😉
I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments below.
And remember, before you cry about me crying, understand that my whole point is to give an unvarnished opinion on things at Gun University, good or bad. You won’t find paid shills here.
And, when the company claims that this product is the greatest innovation in the entire history of self-defense, it’s asking for a critical eye, no?
You may also think I’m just negative about this new round for the sake of stirring up controversy or being negative. Unfortunately that’s the reality I deal with on both ends. When I think that 300 PRC is an incredible new product (which I did), I received a LOT of complaints that I was overly excited about it and hyping it up too much.
It appears that if I am “too positive’ or “too negative” about a new product, it makes some people unhappy.
I can only promise you one thing: my true opinion that is not influence by a paycheck, free product(s), or advertising dollars.
If I’m wrong about this new cartridge, and it takes off to be the hottest new thing ever, I’ll be happy. But, until then, I will not recommend this when I’m asked “what gun/cartridge should I get for my ccw?”
30 Super Carry Pros and Cons
- Higher potential capacity than 9mm
- Less energy than 9mm
- Smaller expansion than 380 AUTO
- Rarer / More Expensive than 9mm
- Similar recoil to 9mm
- Can’t be used in competitions
- Limited firearm/ammo options
- Very high pressure cartridge
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger
The 30 Super Carry by Federal Ammo is the same length as and slightly narrower/skinnier than 9mm Parabellum.
Both are 1.169″ long as an overall length but the 9mm has a base diameter of 0.391″ and the 30 Super Carry is 0.046″ (just over 1mm) skinnier with a base diameter of 0.345″
It shoots a 100 gr .312″ diameter projectile at 1250 fps (according to federal for their HST load of this round) which results in 347 ft/lbs of muzzle energy.
Compare that to 9mm Luger which shoots a 124 gr .355″ diameter projectile at 1150 fps (again, using federal’s HST numbers for a fair comparison) which results in 364 ft/lbs of energy.
When compared to the 9mm +P HST load by Federal, the 30 Super Carry looks even worse.
|Specifications||30 Super Carry||9mm||9mm +P|
|Bullet Weight||100 gr||124 gr||124 gr|
|Muzzle Energy||347 ft/lbs||364 ft/lbs||396 ft/lbs|
|Energy @ 50 yds||283 ft/lbs||303 ft/lbs||323 ft/lbs|
There is one metric that is “better” for the 30 Super Carry when compared it to the 9×19, and that is magazine capacity.
Federal claims that a magazine which can only fit 10 rounds of 9mm can fit 12 rounds of 30 Super Carry. More on this below our feature by feature comparison.
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Energy
Although it is close, 9mm Luger has more energy in available and comparable loads (see the data from Federal above).
The 9mm HST load from Federal produces 364 ft/lbs of energy (396 ft/lbs for +P) whereas the 30 SC produces 347 ft/lbs of energy (5% less energy for standard, 12% less for +P).
WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Recoil
Although it is close, the 30 Super Carry has less recoil. According to the JBM Recoil Calculator, the 124gr 9mm load above should have 7.3 ft/lbs of recoil energy and a recoil impulse of 0.7 lb/s. The 30 Super Carry has 5.8 ft/lbs of energy and the same recoil impulse of 0.7 lb/s.
It is unclear if these are real-world numbers. However, here is a video where Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, James Reeves of The Firearm Blog, and Jeremy of The Truth About Guns say that they can’t tell the difference between the recoil of 9mm and 30 Super Carry
WINNER: 30 Super Carry
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Expansion
Expansion size of a hollow point bullet is important when determining its effectiveness for a self defense round. According to Federal, their 9mm load above expands to 0.571″ and their 30 Super Carry expands to 0.530″
WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Penetration
According to Federal (this has not been tested), the 30 SC penetrates 15.5″ into ballistic gel and their 9mm load penetrates 14.5″.
It is unclear whether this is better or worse.
A minimum of 12″ of penetration is typically the standard for self defense handgun ammunition. Therefore, it could be argued that more is better and 30 SC would win.
However, over penetration is undesirable as energy is wasted outside of the target (stopping power) and bullets may continue to fly and impact others. Therefore it could be argued too much penetration is worse and 9mm Luger would win.
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Availability
Without a doubt, 9mm Luger is WAY more available than 30 Super Carry and this will continue until and if 30 Super Carry becomes a more popular cartridge and is adopted by militaries world-wide.
WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Cost
With a simple supply and demand argument, 9mm should be more cost effective as long as it is more popular and made by so many manufacturers world-wide. Additionally, the current supply of existing 9m Luger ammo in the world will help keep its cost down.
WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Capacity
You can fit more rounds of 30 Super Carry into a magazine than 9mm Luger.
WINNER: 30 Super Carry
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: Platforms
There are many more platforms available for 9mm Luger (handguns, rifles, parts, etc) than there are for 30 Super Carry.
WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry vs 9mm Luger: CONCLUSION
When comparing the 30 SC to 9mm in the categories of energy, recoil, expansion, penetration, availability, cost, capacity, and available platforms, 9mm ends up with 5 wins and 1 tie whereas 30 Super Carry ends up with 2 wins and 1 tie.
Even if we give the draw above to 30 SC, 9mm Luger would still win 5 to 3.
OVERALL WINNER: 9mm Luger
30 Super Carry Ballistics
We have found some information online about the specifications for this cartridge. However, we can NOT verify the accuracy of the information. It seems legitimate, but until we see the actual info from SAAMI or Federal, we should assume that this might be inaccurate.
According to the information found here, the 30 Super Carry, which looks like it was previously being called 8mm Super Carry, has a chamber pressure of 50,000 psi.
If this information is accurate, this is absurdly high!
Let me compare this to some other calibers to give you a reference as to how high these pressures are. I will use cartridges that I already consider high pressure or, at least, powerful for comparison.
When I think of a high pressure and/or powerful handgun cartridges, I think of things like 10mm AUTO, 357 Sig, and .40 S&W.
Here’s a table of handgun cartridge pressures for comparison to see how high the 30 Super Carry’s pressure is:
|30 Super Carry||50,000|
To put this into even better perspective, a “proof load” is a cartridge in a certain caliber loaded to a pressure (up to 130%) greater than the maximum pressure for that round to test the safety of a firearm. When a firearm has been fired with this ultra high pressure round, the firearm is said to have been “proofed” and deemed safe.
Proof loads are no joke – they are literally made to determine if a firearm will explode under high pressures. When firearms are proofed, they are typically fired within fixtures within a safe container so that nobody is hurt if the gun explodes.
10mm Auto handguns are known for beating themselves to death eventually because it is such a powerful round. Therefore, a 10mm Auto proof load is SERIOUS business.
A 10mm proof load is still less pressure than a standard 30 Super Carry round. (10mm AUTO max pressure of 37,500 psi x 1.3 = 48,750 psi)
For another interesting comparison, .223 Remington’s max pressure is 55,000 psi.
An image of the supposed dimensions of the cartridge was also found:
Federal has promoted the new cartridge with muzzle velocity and energy but they have not shared all of the ballistic data for it that they do for their other cartridges. Hopefully, Federal will share this soon and we’ll update this when they do.
Ammunition Available for 30 Super Carry
We only know of 4 brands of 30 Super Carry ammo so far: Federal, Speer, CCI, and Remington.
Note, all four of those brands are owned by the same company, Vista Outdoor, which is the company that came out with this new round.
The Federal brand is offering a range load in their American Eagle line and a self-defense load in their (excellent) HST line.
American Eagle 100gr FMJ
Federal HST 100gr JHP
The Speer brand is offer a self defense load in their (excellent) Gold Dot line.
Speer Gold Dot 115gr HP
The Remington Brand is also offering a target and self defense load.
Remington UMC 100gr FMJ
Remington HTP 100gr JHP
And CCI is offering a 115 gr target load.
CCI Blazer Brass 115gr FMJ
Handguns Available in 30 Super Carry
We only know of two handguns available so far in this caliber…
Davidsons currently only lists Smith & Wesson Shield EZ in 30 Super Carry but there may be more available at that link soon.
Federal has announced that they worked with Nighthawk Customs for a 1911 in this new Caliber.