30 Super Carry Review: How Does It Stack Up Against 9mm & .380? [2022]

The all-new 30 Super Carry cartridge is a game changer for concealed carry. Read our 30 Super Carry review to see why!...

30 super carry 380 auto ammo 9mm reviews
30 Super Carry Review: How Does It Stack Up Against 9mm & .380? [2022]
ImageProductPrice
federal 30 super carry American Eagle 30 Super Carry 100-grain FMJCheck Price
Speer 30 Super Carry 115 Grain Gold Dot 30 Super Carry 115-grain Gold Dot HP Check Price
CCI Blazer 30 Super Carry 115gr FMJFN Handgun Ammo - 50 Rounds Blazer Brass 30 Super Carry 115 grain FMJ Check Price
Remington 30 Super Carry 100 Grain FMJ Remington 30 Super Carry HTP 100-gr JHP & UMC 100-gr FMJ Check Price
federal-premium-personal-defense-30-super-carry-100gr-hst-jhp-handgun-ammo-20-rounds-1726092-1Federal  – HST 30 Super Carry 100-grain HST JHPCheck Price

Intro

You may have heard of the new 30 Super Carry cartridge from Federal and wondered as I did, What’s all the hubbub, bub? Initially, like many, I started with the assumption that this would be another solution looking for a problem, ending in a new bright cartridge dying on the vine as many have in the past.

I had seen many different calibers come and go while teaching concealed carry and firearm classes since 2010 and wondered if this would go the way of many other commercially failed cartridges. Upon further review, I think this cartridge has the potential for a successful foray into the concealed carry pistol arena.

I was kindly provided 200 rounds of Federal American Eagle 30SC and 200 Rounds of Remington HTP 30SC and headed out to Inner 10 Weapons and Training, who loaned me a trio of Smith & Wesson Shield EZ’s in .380 auto, 9mm Luger, and 30 Super Carry to do some research. Thanks to GunMagWarehouse and Inner10 for the logistics support.

Background & History of the 30 Super Carry

Introduced in 2022, the 30 Super Carry was developed by Federal as a new caliber aiming at the self-defense pistol market. Federal states that the “30 Super Carry was fully developed from the ground up with no parent cartridge. 

Utilizing modern materials and designs, it provides vastly superior performance to seemingly similar historic cartridges.”

While similar in dimensions to older cartridges like 7.65×21 Parabellum, 7.65×20mm Longue, and 32 Auto, it surpasses all of these in terms of performance.

30 Super WHAT! A 30 Super Carry Review

The Cartridge

30 super carry cartridge
30 Super Carry cartridge

The 30 Super carry cartridge from Federal is a new offering to the CCW & self-defense market.  It is a high-pressure cartridge (50,000 psi) traveling faster than both the .380 auto and the 9mm Luger.  Performing closely to 9mm and easily outpacing the .380 auto, it has all the chops to become a standard in the self-defense realm and possibly beyond.  30 SC  presents an alternative to 9mm in CCW pistols due to the smaller diameter cartridge facilitating smaller guns with increased capacity and comparable performance. 

Let’s start with some stats on the three calibers for a quick comparison:

Physical Dimensions & Specifications

From left to right: .380 AUTO, 9mm Luger, 30 Super Carry
From left to right: .380 AUTO, 9mm Luger, 30 Super Carry
Specifications.380 Auto9x19mm30 Super Carry
Bullet Diameter.355 inches.355 inches.312 inches 
Overall Length.984 OAL1.169 OAL1.169 OAL
Bullet Weight70 – 99 Grain115 -147 Grain100 -115 Grain
Velocity1030 FPS1150 FPS1250 FPS
Energy223 Ft-LBS364 FT-LBS347 FT-LBS

Magazine Capacity Measured in the S&W Shield EZ Platform  

From left to right: 9mm Luger, 380 Auto, and 30 Super Carry cartridges
From left to right: 9mm Luger, 380 Auto, and 30 Super Carry cartridges

While capacity is not the holy grail of specs, having more is rarely a detriment.  Below you can see that the slimmer design of the 30 Super Carry gets two more rounds over both the 380 Auto and the 9mm.  I consider that a standout feature of the new caliber. 

CaliberCapacity
.380 AUTO8 round magazine
9mm Luger8 Round Magazine
30 Super Carry10 round Magazine 

Terminal Performance as Measured Against Heavy Clothing

Stats being what they are, the numbers make some things clear the 30 Super carry is an obvious contender in performance.  While ammo manufacturers keep coming up with new recipes in different delivery systems, it still seems plain that the skinny Super Carry has some niche benefits of its own. See the numbers from Federal in our chart below.

CaliberBulletExpansionPenetration
380 Auto99 Grain HST.588 inch9.95 inches
9mm Luger124 grain HST.571 inch14.5 inches
30 SuperCarry100 grain HST.530 inch15.5 inches
30 super carry ammo provided by GunMagWarehouse for review
The ammo provided by GunMag Warehouse used for this review.

The Experience: 30 Super Carry vs. 9mm vs. 380 Auto

I took my newly arrived package of ammo from GunMag Warehouse and set out to my favorite blasting palace to get a feel for 30 Super Carry in comparison to the 380 auto and 9mm Luger. I got S&W Shield EZ  in all three calibers, providing a good comparison platform.  

Shield EZ Chambered in 9mm, 380 auto, and 30 Super Carry
Shield EZ Chambered in 9mm, 380 auto, and 30 Super Carry

I was intrigued to see how much of a difference the cartridges make compared to the same delivery system. I loaded up five rounds of each to get a general feel for the comparison and shot these one-handed, two slow fires, then three rapid fires with a complete two-hand grip.

Recoil

I made a nice little arts and crafts project to help visualize muzzle rise.  I shot a video of the three pistols against a striped target to see the difference.

recoil test 30 super carry
Background I used to demonstrate recoil from each of the cartridges.
shield ez 30 super carry
Shield EZ 30 Super Carry
shield ez 30 super carry
Shield EZ 30 Super Carry

.380 Auto

Starting with the .380 auto EZ. The ride was easy and enjoyable. The gun is light in the 380 Auto caliber, and the recoil is milder than the rest. This makes for a light pistol with a pleasant recoil impulse that would be easily controlled by a small framed or elderly shooter.

30 Super Carry

Next up, 30 Super Carry; I figured putting it in the middle would give me the best comparison to the other two calibers. This time around, the ride was a bit spicier. The gun is noticeably heavier but not what I would consider a heavy pistol.  The recoil reminded me of some of my other 9mm pistols, but not close to a 9mm fired from my Springfield Hellcat. I think the recoil impulse of 30 Super Carry is a bit more mellow than that of a 9mm.

9mm Luger

Last up, the Shield EZ running 9mm. This gun felt lighter than the 30 Super carry model but still noticeably heavier than the 380. The recoil was similar to the 30 super carry, but the impulse felt a touch sharper than the 30 SC.

.380 Auto vs. 9mm vs. 30 Super Carry   

Overall the shooting experience of the three calibers from the S&W Shield EZ was an interesting comparison, mostly in felt recoil and muzzle rise. Felt recoil in order of least to most: 380 Auto, 30 Super Carry, 9mm Luger.  It was a close call between the 9mm and the 30 SC, but the 30 Super Carry is just a bit milder.

Muzzle rise followed the same order 380, 30 SC, then 9mm. Again, the last two were close, but the video I shot showed the 9mm had just a bit more upward travel of the muzzle.

The S&W Shield EZ paired with the Federal 30 Super Carry was a fine round with interesting stats. The recoil was more than the same pistol in .380 AUTO and similar to a 9mm but with a different recoil impulse, not more or less but different at least going by feel. The 380 Auto has had a much-welcomed increase in carry ammo performance lately, but the new 30 Super carry looks to have what it takes to give it a real challenge in that area of Self defense & CCW pistols.

Pistols that Run 30 Super Carry

Smith & Wesson Shield EZ & EZ Plus 30 super carry handguns
Nighthawk Customs 30 super carry
Nighthawk Customs 30 Super Carry

As of this writing, two companies are making pistols chambered in 30 Super Carry, S&W and Nighthawk Customs.

ImageProductPrice
shield plus 30 super carrySMITH & WESSON SHIELD PLUS 30 SUPER CARRYCheck Price
shield ez 30 super carry S&W M&P SHIELD EZ MS 30 SUPER CARRY Check Price
nighthawk custom president cut 30 super carryNighthawk Custom President 30 Super Carry IOS Cut Check Price

Where To Buy 30 Super Carry?

ImageProductPrice
federal 30 super carry American Eagle 30 Super Carry 100-grain FMJCheck Price
Speer 30 Super Carry 115 Grain Gold Dot 30 Super Carry 115-grain Gold Dot HP Check Price
CCI Blazer 30 Super Carry 115gr FMJFN Handgun Ammo - 50 Rounds Blazer Brass 30 Super Carry 115 grain FMJ Check Price
Remington 30 Super Carry 100 Grain FMJ Remington 30 Super Carry HTP 100-gr JHP & UMC 100-gr FMJ Check Price
hornady critical defense Hornady 30 Super Carry 100 gr FTX® Critical Defense®Check Price
federal-premium-personal-defense-30-super-carry-100gr-hst-jhp-handgun-ammo-20-rounds-1726092-1Federal  – HST 30 Super Carry 100-grain HST JHPCheck Price

Frequently Asked Questions

Will 30 Super Carry work in 9mm?

No. 30 Super Carry will only work in firearms chambered specifically for it.  The dimensions of 30 Super Carry will not properly chamber in either 9mm or 380 Auto.

Is 30 Super Carry worth it?

If the features of 30 Super Carry (higher capacity, high performance, etc. fit your needs, and you find a good 30 super carry pistol, it will be an excellent tool for all types of shooting, especially self-defense.

Final Thoughts

shield ez with 380 auto, 9mm luger, and 30 super carry cartridge lined up

The 30 Super Carry round seems to be primed to replace the .380 AUTO as the preferred caliber for micro and compact pistols and to possibly compete with 9mm by allowing for higher capacity in the same amount of pistol real estate.  I look forward to seeing other manufacturers delve into this cartridge and what their new designs might be. 

The diameter of the 30 Super Carry generally results in a plus two in total capacity.  That can be a big bonus in a little pistol and provide for some interesting carry pistol designs in the future.  Maybe Walther would be interested in upgrading one of James Bond’s old carry pistols like a PPK or PPK/S to a 30 Super Carry. Heck, even Mr.Bond’s first gun, the Beretta 418, could be interesting using modern engineering to become a tiny pocket 30 SC!

The 30 Super Carry Cartridge delivers quality performance compared to a 9mm Luger but is sized to bring superior performance and capacity to what traditionally would be the realm of the 380 Auto.

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Shawn Steiner

Shawn Steiner is a longtime professional firearm and martial arts instructor. He has taught firearms classes and concealed carry training since 2007 and is certified by many national organizations. A longtime martial arts student, he has been Chief Instructor at his school since 2008. He holds continuing education a high priority and is always learning. He considers helping people learn and improve a rewarding experience.

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