The .30 Super Carry is a handgun cartridge recently introduced by Federal Ammunition as a new product for concealed carry and self-defense uses. On their website, Federal Premium calls the .30 Super Carry “The most revolutionary advancement in self-defense history in almost 100 years.” Well, I want to understand their claim, look at the new cartridge specifications and features, compare it to the popular 9mm Luger or Parabellum, 9x19mm round, understand some of its ballistics and performance advantages and limitations, and give my opinions about this new load to help shooters, both new ones and experienced.
I especially want to examine the ammo in our current ammo shortage environment, consider defensive ammo costs, and present low availability. Of course, I also recognize that some shooters are constantly looking for the “latest and greatest” in ammo, gear, and guns, so I want to give my three cents minus one-cent opinions. In addition, I want to see what pistols are currently available in the market that will shoot the new .30 Super Carry cartridge. Overall and very broadly at first glance, the new cartridge seems to be a slightly modified, thinner, and somewhat weaker round, with less energy and expansion than the most common 9mm Parabellum caliber. In self-defense and deadly-force encounters, usually up close at three to seven yards, hollow point expansion, and muzzle energy delivered, in particular, are very important. But, let’s examine it further and understand its advantages and limitations better, along with comparisons to the popular 9mm load for carry and personal defense.
Brief Description and Features of .30 Super Carry – per Federal Premium Website
- Will carry 2 additional rounds than standard 9mm Luger Magazine
- Expands to .530 inches in FBI’s heavy clothing protocol
- Penetrates to 15.5 inches in FBI’s heavy clothing protocol
- Generates between 336 and 347 foot-pounds of energy at muzzle
- Maximum Pressure of 50,000 pounds per square inch
- Felt recoil and muzzle flash is similar to 9mm Luger
- Pistols currently chambered for this new caliber are Nighthawk Custom’s President (MSRP $4,599 for 1911 5-inch) and Nighthawk’s GRP (MSRP $3,499 for 1911 5-inch) pistols, and Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield Plus (MSRP for standard $553) and M&P Shield EZ (MSRP $450 for standard 9mm) pistols.
- Not currently within the parameters required for USPSA (below minimum diameter) and cannot be used in official competitions at this time.
- Federal American Eagle and Remington UMC will offer 100-grain FMJ in .30 Super Carry
- Blazer Brass will offer 115-grain FMJ in .30 Super Carry
- Federal will offer 100-grain HST HP, and Remington will offer 100-grain HTP JHP
- Speer will offer 115-grain in its Gold Dot line
General Description of 9mm Parabellum/Luger Cartridge
In the past, the 9mm round has proven to be one of the most popular, cost-effective, and readily available handgun cartridges. Overall, it is easy to utilize, has sufficient power, is usually more available than other calibers (outside of Pandemic times), reasonably priced (outside of Pandemic times), and can work in a lot of different guns. Among the various manufacturers, the 9mm round velocities, energies, penetrations, bullet mass, lengths, etc., often vary some, especially for Jacketed Hollow Point, Full Metal Jacket, +P, +P+, and other loads.
Recognize that caliber refers to the diameter of the cartridge/internal diameter of the gun barrel bore. So, 9mm rounds have the same diameter, but there are differences among the 9mm rounds, and they can come in different lengths, etc. For example, the common case length of the 9mm Luger is .754 inches versus the common case length of the .380 ACP load of .680 inches, but both have the same bullet diameter of .355 inches. Other 9mm rounds may vary somewhat. Of course, the 9mm’s bullet weight of 115, 124, or 147 grain, for example, have different specifications, like in velocities, energies, bullet mass, etc. Typically, the 9mm bullet has a diameter between .355 and .358 inches, depending on the plating used, etc. But, what about the .30 Super Carry round’s diameter and other specifications?
.30 Super Carry Cartridge Specifications
|Bullet Muzzle Energy:||347 foot pounds|
|Bullet Muzzle Velocity:||1250 feet per second|
|Expansion:||.530 inches (HST in heavy clothing)|
|Bullet Diameter:||.312 inches|
|Base Diameter:||.345 inches|
|Maximum Pressure:||50,000 pounds per square inch|
|Bullet Weights:||100 - 115 grains|
|Cartridge Length:||1.169 inches|
|Case Length:||.827 inches|
9mm Parabellum/Luger 115 Grain Cartridge General Common Specifications
|Bullet Muzzle Energy:||355 foot pounds|
|Bullet Muzzle Velocity:||1180 feet per second|
|Expansion:||.571 inches (FMJ in heavy clothing)|
|Bullet Diameter:||.355 inches|
|Base Diameter:||.391 inches|
|Maximum Pressure:||35,000 pounds per square inch|
|Bullet Weights:||115 grains|
|Cartridge Length:||1.169 inches|
|Case Length:||.754 inches|
General Comparison between .30 Super Carry and 9mm Cartridges
As you can see from the above data, the .30 Super Carry typically has less muzzle energy than the common 9mm round, while its muzzle velocity is slightly higher, in general than the 9mm 115 grain. The .30 Super Carry round expands less than the common 9mm Parabellum round, which self-defenders should consider. The .30 bullet and base diameters are less than the 9mm cartridge, so the .30 is slightly skinner. The .30 Super Carry is the same length as the 9mm, but being narrower in diameter with a lighter bullet weight [e.g., 100 grain v. 115 grain], has slightly less “umph” power than the 9mm. Generally, there is a trade-off between less energy and expansion. Note that the maximum pressure for the .30 Super Carry load of 50,000 is significantly more than the 9mm Luger’s maximum pressure of 35,000 pounds per square inch. Even the 9mm +P load has a pressure limit of 38,500 pounds per square inch. What about Chamber Pressure and its effects?
Chamber Pressure and Its Implications
What is maximum chamber pressure? Well, my physics friends tell me chamber pressure is simply the average force applied per square inch to a surface. They tell me that the part of a gun’s barrel that is subject to the highest pressures is the throat closest to the chamber, so this part of the gun erodes faster under high pressure. Firearms produce tremendous internal pressure, and it is exerted in all directions after cartridge ignition to push the bullet forward out of the muzzle as well as backwards effects.
Generally, the higher the pressure, the higher the velocity, with several factors involved. Very high chamber pressure can have dangerous effects in a firearm, but there are many factors to consider. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) specifies maximum chamber pressures and sets upper limits of safe chamber pressure levels for each caliber/cartridge, which, if exceeded, can have very dangerous effects, damage to the gun, and/or injury to the shooter and observers. The .22 Long Rifle cartridge has about 25,000 pounds per square inch of maximum pressure, for example, while the .45 ACP has about 21,000 pounds per square inch. A few pistols have higher chamber pressure, like the FN Five-seveN and Ruger 57 duty pistols with about 50,000 pounds per square inch, with their 4.8 inches or longer barrels, rather than typical 3 to 4.5-inch barrel carry guns.
The .223 Remington has about 55,000 pounds per square inch. Keep in mind that pressure will not significantly have an adverse effect on recoil, but bullet weight/grain, velocity, and barrel length will significantly affect felt recoil. And a smaller amount of powder in the case will cause a smaller explosion inside it, resulting in less pressure.
Comparison of .30 Super Carry and Common 9mm and .380 ACP
|.30 SC||.380 ACP||9mm|
|Bullet Muzzle Energy:||347 foot pounds||193 foot pounds||355 foot pounds|
|Bullet Muzzle Velocity:||1,250 feet per sec.||1,050 feet per sec.||1180 feet per sec.|
|Expansion:||.530 inches||.360 inches - FMJ||.571 inches - FMJ|
|Bullet Diameter:||.312 inches||.355 inches||355 inches|
|Base Diameter:||.345 inches||.374 inches||.391 inches|
|Maximum Pressure:||50,000 psi||21,500 psi||35,000 psi|
|Bullet Weights:||100 - 115 grains||85 grains||115 grains|
|Cartridge Length:||1.169 inches||.984 inches||1.169 inches|
|Case Length:||.827 inches||.680 inches||.754 inches|
|Pricing - Federal - Feb. 2022||LIKE .380 ACP||85 gr-JHP-$1.53/rd||115 gr-FMJ-$.43/rd|
|70 gr-Lead Free-$.98/rd||150 gr-TSJ-$.45/rd|
|95 gr-FMJ-$.95/rd||147 gr-JHP-$1.35/rd|
Federal Premium has just introduced their new .30 Super Carry ammo designed for carry and self-defense. It is marketed as the “most revolutionary advancement” in self-defense in almost 100 years.” It has advantages and limitations, which each shooter should judge for him/herself. “Try before you buy” is a worthwhile slogan, but this author contacted Federal Premium and could not get any for field testing at this time. As we know, during the Pandemic, now availability is very important, ammo is in very short supply, and is priced higher than just a short while ago. I believe it will have to be available soon and at a reasonable price, based on supply and demand. Shooters should know this new caliber requires a handgun chambered for this new .30 round, and at the time of this writing, in early February, there are only 4 guns available from two manufacturers. But more may become available. The price of these guns is mostly uncertain and will probably not be under $450. Time will tell. The .30 Super Carry cartridge has more muzzle energy than the .380 ACP but slightly less energy than the 9mm Luger. Self-defense shooters should recognize that the .30 Super Carry load expands more than the .380 and less than the 9mm round. A price check just now found that the 9mm ammo is less expensive at this time than the .380 ACP, which the .30 Super Carry cartridge is supposed to be priced near. And here comes inflation in our economy. Is the .30 Super Carry round a viable replacement and/or a compliment for either the .380 or the 9mm load is up to you and your needs, uses, and pocketbooks. A lot of complex variables to consider. As the Kung Fu Master in the television series said, “Choose wisely grasshopper” to his pupil, so did the Grail Knight in the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” saying “choose wisely” because your life may be taken from you.
Continued Success and Be Safe!
Photos from Federal Premium website.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2022 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.