The concealed carry market is always a fascinating corner of the market. What was once dominated by 5-shot J-frames and SP101s and a handful of clunky .380s is now brimming over with awesome little pistols. Polymer truly changed everything. You can easily carry 10+1 or more in a package comparable to a Chief’s Special. A few months ago, though, Smith & Wesson changed up the supercharged market again by introducing a dedicated caliber just for concealed carry pistols: the .30 Super Carry.
The .30 Super Carry takes direct aim at the 9mm Luger, although it certainly is not limited to competing with only the nine. However, we focus on the 30 Super Carry versus the 9mm. Is it going to be the nine-killer, or more like the .357 Sig? Who knows, but let’s look at what we know.
Image courtesy of The Firearm Blog
Do We Need Another Pistol Caliber?
Well, here’s the thing: do we really need another deer rifle caliber? The .30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield have slayed thousands upon thousands of deer over the decades, yet we find offshoots and hybrids everywhere.
The same sort of thinking holds true with handgun calibers as well. Of course, there are some noteworthy differences. A deer rifle hasn’t needed to evolve much over the years, although an AR-10 with rapid follow-up shots certainly does help. However, semi-automatic pistols more or less made revolvers obsolete. A polymer-frame pistol (G17/19 etc.) is dimensionally comparable to a .38/.357 K-frame style revolver, yet provides up to three times the capacity. You also get rapid reloading, and semi-automatic operating systems substantially reduce felt recoil. Also, production costs are much lower for the “Tupperware” pistols than steel-frame revolvers.
On top of that, the 9mm Luger has more overall stopping power than a comparable .38 Special. But the shooting world being what it is, can’t leave good alone. Besides, we’d all be bored if they did.
In the concealed carry world, capacity is king. Anyone who regularly carries concealed will attest that smaller is more convenient and a lot more comfortable (unless you’re carrying OWB or a shoulder rig, I suppose). To make a pistol small enough to comfortably carry IWB without major printing usually comes at the expense of capacity; magazine capacity only comes in one of two ways: longer magazine (single stack), or wider magazine.
What’s The Main Advantage?
The main advantage of the 30 Super Carry is the cartridge size. Since the Super Carry is not a necked-down cartridge (i.e.357 Sig), you can add capacity to a pistol without adding any size. This is the key.
The 30 Super Carry is not being marketed toward full-size pistols, at least not at the moment. In fact, at the present, only two manufacturers are making anything in 30 Super Carry: Smith & Wesson and Nighthawk Customs.
The main advantage to the 30 Super Carry is that, in a single stack pistol, you can squeeze another round or more in the magazine without changing the pistol's dimensions. This is a worthwhile reason for the caliber. You never know when that one extra shot might make the difference between life and death. After all, this is a dedicated self-defense caliber.
Image courtesy of Federal Ammunition
What Pistols Are Available in 30 Super Carry?
So, for now the options for the 30 Super Carry are limited, at least until it catches on more. Smith & Wesson offers two pistols: the Shield™️ and the Shield™️ EZ®️. These platforms are both dedicated CCL platforms that use single-stack magazines for high concealment.
The Shield™️ Plus carries an admiral 10+1 in 9mm, with a 13+1 option with an extended magazine. However, the 30 Super Carry Shield™️ Plus holds 13+1, with an extended magazine holding 16+1. So, you add three rounds in either configuration.
The Shield™️ EZ®️ is a single-stack pistol with an 8+1 count in 9mm. However, the 30 Super Carry version carries a respectable 10+1.
The third option is by Nighthawk Custom. They offer the 30 Super Carry in a couple of their government models, which would be based on 9mm models. Instead of the usual 10+1 of a full-size 9mm 1911, the 30 Super Carry comes in at 12+1. Not too shabby for a single-stack pistol that packs a punch.
Drawbacks and Advantages of the 9mm
Compared to larger-bored pistol calibers, the 9mm boasts excellent capacity. However, stopping power is no longer dictated solely by the bullet diameter.
The whole point of the 30 Super Carry is to create 9mm ballistics with a projectile and case that are substantially smaller, and it appears they’ve done a pretty good job.
However, the 9mm is the most common pistol caliber in the world. You can find it at every corner of the globe. You can find Glock 9mm magazines everywhere (the assumption being that Glock will eventually adopt a 30 Super Carry pistol), and there are scores of 9mm pistols on the market, more than any other caliber. And the thing is that the 9mm is an excellent caliber and does a fine job stopping assailants.
Image courtesy of Federal Ammunition
Federal Premium is the brainchild behind the 30 Super Carry, so let’s see what they have to say.
According to Federal, their 100-grain HST in 30 Super Carry produces 347 ft-lbs of energy and 1,250fps
The 9mm Luger HST, in comparison, uses a 124-grain projectile. This carries a little more energy at the muzzle (364 ft-lbs) but is a full 100 fps slower at 1,150 fps.
The real contrast is to the venerable .380 ACP, which shows 223 ft-lbs and 1,030 fps at the muzzle. While it has a place and is useful for deep concealment (or board shorts and flip flops), it is outshined by modern advances in ammunition development.
Another point that was set out to correct is felt recoil. While a full-size 9mm is fairly benign, a sub-compact 9mm can be a handful. The 30 Super Carry is designed to carry the wallop of a 9mm, but carry more like a .380 ACP. Bigger shooters may not care too much about felt recoil (or at least won’t admit to it), but it’s a real concern for some shooters, to the point that they are driven away from carrying altogether. Or they carry a sub-optimal caliber.
The 30 Super Carry does offer similar ballistics to the 9mm, and even if the felt recoil is only marginally reduced, it may be enough to woo shooters back into a more potent platform. Besides, anyone who has spent time with “mouse guns” will attest to their overall unpleasantness to shoot. Facts is facts.
The 30 Super Carry is a real contender for concealed carry, at least on paper. It is another matter of whether or not it ends up being a contender in practical terms. It has much history to contend with against the 9mm, and more than history, availability, and cost. The 9mm is available everywhere, and accessories (namely magazines) are easy to find and cheap for most common makes and models. So it isn’t likely that the 9mm will be dethroned any time soon, but the 30 Super Carry is certainly an interesting option.