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Federal Premium’s 30 Super Carry: Is this shiny cartridge in fact, super? We review it here.

When it comes to an EDC, it would be a fair assumption that a large majority of us opt for a 9mm or 380 Auto. The 9mm is a classic round with effective power and terminal performance but leaves us wishing for a few more rounds. Secondly, a thinner frame for better concealment. The .380 was all the rage years back due to its compact size and ease of concealment, however, it has been criticized for its limited power and terminal performance. Which is very true.

So, what if there was a cartridge that utilizes a smaller case than 9mm but has the same power and performance? Or better? I set out for answers.

Federal Premium 30 Super Carry Ammo Review

Federal Premium 30 Super Carry Ammo Review

The Tour of The Federal Ammunition Plant

Arriving at the Federal Ammunition plant in Anoka, Minnesota, to review their newest round, the 30 Super Carry, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I was walking into the lion’s den being guided by the public relations guy. You could imagine how it might go: “It’s the best round yet, yada, yada, yada… On with the dog and pony show,” was my expectation. 

Federal boasts of the round: “Shooting’s biggest cartridge introduction in decades is getting off to a powerful start with Federal Premium HST. Federal’s all-new 30 Super Carry bridges the largest performance gap in handgun self-defense. Its .312-inch diameter projectile carries as much muzzle energy as a 9mm Luger, with terminal performance that far exceeds that of .380 Auto. The proven HST bullet design gets more from the cartridge.

Delivering even deeper penetration and larger expansion. The physical dimensions of the Federal Premium 30 Super Carry cartridge allow chambering in handguns with smaller grips and overall size. Also, they offer more magazine capacity than 9mm Luger.”

“Let’s test that statement,” I thought.

Testing Federal 30 Super Carry

Stepping onto the firing line, I was handed the exact same Smith & Wesson pistols with one exception, one was chambered in 9mm and one in the new 30 Super Carry. The burden of proof was on me to discover. With the PR guy stepping aside, no bias was present—just me and the guns.

First, I loaded a magazine of 9mm and squeezed off 8 rounds. The round performed exactly as expected. It felt like an old friend in my hand, delivering the same recoil and accuracy I’ve come to know. Next, I loaded 30 Super Carry, with two added rounds to the magazine.  Squeezing off the first round it felt kind of familiar, but I had to let a few more fly to make sure I was truly feeling a difference.

Smoother, Less Harsh, & Crisp

Was I imagining things? I was not. I literally loaded the magazines again and popped off one round of 9mm and then one round of 30 Super Carry. I repeated this process until the mags were empty. There was a difference and not in the .380 vs. 9mm way, in a way I can only describe as a “9mm-redefined”. It was smoother and had less “harshness” to it if you could say that of a 9mm. It seemed to shoot “crisper” and allowed for better recoil management. My aim returned to the target quicker and while shooting at short intervals between rounds. The accuracy was noticeably improved. It just felt better.

That all being said, the proof is in the pudding or this case the ballistics gelatin. The round can poke holes in a piece of paper nicely, but what does it really do? How far will it penetrate a threat? How will it perform while traveling through clothing, etc?

Results After Shooting Federal Premium 30 Super Carry

The answer: better than a 9mm by approximately an inch. It will deliver a more robust wound channel with larger expansion. Just as JJ (the PR guy) and the fine folks at Federal Premium boasted.

When fired with a 3.5-inch barrel through bare gel, measurements are taken of the depth of penetration to the nearest .25 inch. Also, data is collected on the expansion of the projectile and retained weight of the projectile. The .312-inch-diameter, 100-grain 30 Super Carry HST expands to .590 inches and penetrates 12 inches. The 124-grain 9mm Luger HST expands to .650 inches and penetrates 13.1 inches. In the FBI’s heavy-clothing protocol, the same 30 Super Carry HST expands to .530 inches and penetrates 15.5 inches. The 9mm Luger expands to .571 inches and penetrates 14.5 inches. You get a full inch better penetration than the average 9mm. Also, more than two inches better penetration than the average .380 Auto defensive ammo. This penetration is partially due to the 30 Super Carry’s increased velocity and smaller frontal area that reduces drag. 

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “In the first test, the 30 Super Carry actually penetrated less…” True, but how often are you shooting a naked person? (Don’t answer that.) It’s far more likely that the threat will be wearing heavy clothing aka jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket.

In terms of energy, Federal Premium 30 Super Carry generates between 336 and 347 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is like the 9mm Luger, which averages 347 foot-pounds. It handily exceeds the .380 Auto’s 202 foot-pounds.

Final Thoughts: Federal Premium 30 Super Carry

The bottom line of the Federal Premium 30 Super Carry is this: it hits like a 9mm and carries a lot more like a .380 Auto. Which means easier concealment without sacrificing performance. It’s a more comfortable round to shoot and delivers, based on my experience, higher accuracy. It is a decidedly better round than its old friend the 9mm while offering another advantage—two more rounds in a standard magazine.

I don’t know about you, but if you told me I would get better results and added firepower from a more compact weapon, I’d be all in. Just don’t take my word for it—trust but verify.

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