A compact game-changer with a big punch: Federal’s new 30 Super Carry

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I like my Beretta 9 mm. Judging by the volume of 9 mm ammunition that gun retailers in this country move every week, it appears that many people admire this ubiquitous handgun cartridge.

But Minnesota’s own Federal Ammunition in Anoka has built a new round that permit-to-carry holders like me didn’t know we needed. It exploits a gap in the world of defense handguns by delivering the power of the 9mm with the concealability of 380 Auto.

Federal calls the round the 30 Super Carry, and it deploys a .312-inch bullet. That’s slightly narrower than a 9 mm (.354-inch), and its more slender (but longer) profile means permit-to-carry owners can add at least two more rounds to a magazine.

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Tim Lesmeister runs through a full magazine of Federal’s new 30 Super Carry last week. A game-changer in personal defense ammo, the new round cycles well and offers similar punch to the popular 9 mm.

So with the 30 Super Carry, Federal has created a round that delivers the muzzle energy of a 9, yet its physical dimensions allows more ammo capacity and use in smaller firearms.

In recent years, many concealed handgunners looking for a round smaller than the 9 mm have purchased the 380 auto, but that’s meant sacrificing terminal energy.

With the 30 Super, Federal has bridged that gap, and they’ve got the specs and performance to prove it. Here’s the data, starting with muzzle energy:

The 30 Super Carry generates between 336 and 347 foot-pounds at the muzzle, comparable to the 9mm Luger, which averages 347 foot-pounds. Narrower bullet, but similar impact. Meanwhile, the new 30 handily exceeds the 380 Auto’s 202 foot-pounds.

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Smith & Wesson is one of two few gun manufacturers that have built a firearm around the 30 Super Carry so far, but more should be on the market soon.

During a tour of the Federal facility last week, Tim Lesmeister and I watched Craig Peterson, the company’s product engineering manager for handgun ammunition, fire a couple 30 Super Carry rounds into testing gel. The wound channels were incredible. Specifically, when fired with a 3.5-inch barrel through FBI bare gel protocol, the .312-inch-diameter, 100-grain 30 Super Carry HST expands to .590 inch and penetrates 12 inches. That compares to the 124-grain 9mm Luger HST, which expanded to .650 inch and penetrated 13.1 inches. In the FBI’s heavy clothing protocol, the same 30 Super Carry HST expands to .530 inch and penetrates 15.5 inches; the 9mm Luger expands to .571 inch and penetrates 14.5 inches.

So you get a full inch better penetration than the average 9mm and more than 2 inches better penetration than the average 380 auto defensive ammo. Federal’s ballistic geeks explained that excellent penetration is partially due to the 30 Super Carry’s increased velocity and smaller frontal area that reduces drag.

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From left to right, the .380 auto, 9mm, and the new 30 Super Carry. The narrow, physical dimensions of the 30 SC cartridge allow chambering in handguns with smaller grips and overall sizes, yet still offer more magazine capacity than 9 mm Luger. It also delivers substantially more punch than the 380, comparable to the 9.

How about basic shooting performance? Tim and I had the opportunity to fire the 30 Super Carry last week, and running through a couple of magazines left me saying, “I want one.” My full-size 9mm holds up 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, so it was amazing to fire a smaller handgun that somehow contained four additional ammo.

I don’t claim to be a handgun shooting expert, but even in my hands, the cartridge clearly cycled quickly and delivered lethal accuracy. It was comfortable and honestly, just plain fun to shoot, thanks in part to lower recoil and muzzle flash than the comparable compact 9 mm we alternated firing.

Bottom line, this round generates similar energy to the 9 mm and substantially more than the 380 auto, while allowing citizens to carry additional rounds in their magazine. That’s a simple formula for success.

Two gun-makers already have tooled up a handgun in this caliber, but more are coming. Smith & Wesson has several options, as does Nighthawk Custom. There are many more in development.

I still like my big 9 for plinking, and it’s a great handgun for home protection and backup security afield. But for a smaller framed, conceal-carry piece, Federal clearly has found – or rather, created – a brand new sweet spot.

Anyone who enjoys shooting handguns will want to test this new round, and here’s betting the 30 Super Carry soon will become a dominating personal defense caliber.

As for availability, the 30 Super Carry has hit the ground running with not only loads from Federal but also sister brands Speer, Blazer and Remington. Federal American Eagle and Remington UMC both offer 100-grain FMJ target ammunition with a muzzle velocity of 1,250 fps, while Blazer Brass is offering a 115-grain FMJ 30 Super Carry target load with a muzzle velocity of 1,150 fps. For self-defense applications, Federal is offering a 100-grain HST HP 30 Super Carry load at 1,250 fps, and Remington is offering a 100-grain HTP JHP at 1,230 fps. Speer will offer 30 Super Carry in its Gold Dot line, and that load will fire a 115-grain bullet at 1,150 feet per second (all velocities accomplished through 3.5-inch barrel).

Categories: Firearms, Rob Drieslein

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