Ammunition

30 Super Carry Tested! Smith and Wesson Shield Plus

left, a Shield Plus 30 Super Carry with a full load of ammo. On the right, a standard Shield 9mm with a full load of ammo

We gun people are a hard crew to win over. Most new items that stir the tried and true are met with mixed degrees of acceptance or rejection. Such is the case with the new caliber designed to fit between the .380 and 9mm and claiming to be strong enough to fill the role of a personal protection caliber.

Walk with me through my process of deciding whether it’s a gun and ammo combination that I would be comfortable carrying and recommending. Then, decide whether you agree or not. Smith and Wesson sent me a Shield Plus in 30 Super Carry for this evaluation. The gun arrived in a standard S&W blue box with two magazines — one a flush fit and one extended. Neither would be allowed in California. Externally, the gun looks like a regular Shield.

Smith and Wesson Shield Plus semi automatic pistol chambered for Federal 30 Super Carry, right profile
The Shield Plus is the same familiar package on the outside that we’ve known as a Shield for several years. It’s a small, easy-to-carry size.

The 30 Super Carry

One of the objections I have read about the 30 Super Carry was ammo availability and cost. The folks behind this complaint are obviously shopping at the wrong places. True, you can’t expect at this point in the introduction of something brand new to walk into a typical gun store and find the ammunition on the shelf. However, many online providers have at least three brands in stock.

When I found I had a gun on the way, I ordered some Remington HTTP JHP and Gold Dot Personal Protection from three different sources, and it was all delivered within three days. The price per 20 or 25-round boxes of 30 Super Carry self-defense ammo were the same as the price per 20 or 25-round boxes of 9mm self-defense ammo of the same brand.

I wrap my head around new things by comparing them to something existing with which I am familiar. In this case, it was a 9mm Shield M2.0 that I took to a local indoor range to shoot alongside the 30 Super Carry Shield Plus. I hung two sets of targets side-by-side and positioned them at seven yards.

After loading both guns and setting them on the bench was when I had my first “aha!” moment. There were two guns, almost identical, obviously the same size, both loaded to the max with their extended magazines. One of them had nine rounds in it, the other had 17. Did you get that? A Shield, one of the guns we’ve known for several years as a leading entry in the single-stack nine category, is now loaded with almost twice that original capacity.

And those rounds were not .22 cartridges either. They were 7.62mm cartridges. You know the same diameter as the cartridges fired in an AK-47 or an M-60. “But they’re not as heavy.”, you say. No, the typical 7.62×39 cartridge has a bullet weight of 122 grains, and the Speer Gold Dot 30 Super Carry is a 115-grain bullet.

Smith and Wesson Shield Plus semi automatic handgun chambered for Federal 30 Super Carry, top down quartering view
The Shield Plus 30 Super Carry is optics ready, plus it has night sights with the front one being enhanced with an orange ring.

Are you getting this? The 30 Super Carry projectile is nearly the same size as the most common NATO rifle bullet. Of course, the cartridge doesn’t have as much powder and won’t be shot through a barrel pushing it up to 2,400 fps. It does travel at 1,000 to 1,200 fps, depending on the gun. Remember, the rifle bullet typically travels a much longer distance before doing its job and will have lost a lot of its momentum by that point.

At the Range

I started by shooting five rounds from the Shield Plus and five from the Shield. Did I notice a lot of difference in recoil? I can’t say that I noticed any. How about accuracy? Neither pistol was putting rounds in touching holes, but both were putting all five rounds fired in one of those little 4-inch target circles. In other words, if aimed at center mass of an aggressive individual, that individual would have been stopped with either gun.

I continued shooting five round groups, first from one gun and then the other. From a shooting perspective, the only difference I sensed between the guns was one had a better trigger, but it’s a Performance Center Shield. It’s supposed to have a better trigger. The trigger on the Shield Plus becomes flat when the trigger safety is buried and breaks at 6 lbs. No complaints about that trigger at all. I fired 40 rounds that first outing and began looking forward to a weekend outing where I could get feedback from my core shooting group consisting of sons, grandsons, and a friend or two.

30 Super Carry Shield Plus extended magazine
The 30 Super Carry Shield Plus’ extended magazine holds 16 rounds. Pretty impressive for a gun that size.

While waiting for Saturday to arrive, I spent some time reading and watching what other reviewers had to say about the new caliber. Many claimed it was a solution in need of a problem. From my perspective, if reducing recoil was one of the objectives, forget it. There’s just not that much difference. I got that from other reviewers as well.

I watched multiple online ballistics tests and was impressed by the penetration and expansion of the cartridges in ballistic gel. The impression I got from the various testers was that the 30 Super Carry is very close to the 9mm in penetration and expansion. One thing I thought to compare it with was the .38 Special. Hands down, the 30 Super Carry has better ballistics than the .38 Special — the cartridge cops depended upon for many years.

Five shooters of varying experience levels made up my weekend group of shooters. One was a new shooter, one a casual shooter, and the other two were experienced shooters. I brought my M2.0 PC Shield, an EZ-Rack Shield, and the new CSX for them to shoot and compare with the 30 Super Carry. I asked each shooter to load the Shield Plus 30 Super Carry and one of the other Shields, and shoot them alternately — five shots from one and then five shots from the other, paying attention to recoil and doing their best to get rounds on target. After shooting that exercise, and since everyone had expressed an interest in it, I had them shoot the 9mm CSX along with the 30 Super Carry Shield Plus.

Field stripped Smith and wesson Shield Plus chambered for 30 Super Carry
When a Shield Plus is apart for cleaning, you don’t see major differences between it and a standard Shield.

Only one of the five shooters noticed a difference in recoil between the 30 Super Carry and the 9mm Shields. He expressed it as a difference in the push into the heel of his hand. For the rest of us, there wasn’t enough difference that we could quantify it. Our crew agreed with other reviewers who say reduced recoil is not a reason to buy the 30 Super Carry.

However, a reason to consider would be the additional capacity. Everyone loved the extended capacity. Were these shooters concerned about a lack of stopping power? One picked up a 30 Super Carry Gold Dot box and showed me the 115-grain weight asking, “Isn’t this what we shoot in our 9mms?” It is. The 9mm round is shorter and bigger around so it makes a slightly bigger hole. Slightly bigger, but we’ve been using .30 caliber bullets to stop bad guys for a long time.

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How about accuracy? Each of my shooters spent time at seven yards shooting 5-shot groups to see if they could create some spectacular targets for me to photograph and put with this article. We got some good ones, but nothing spectacular was produced. My grandson shot 17 rounds into a Splatterburst target that was pretty impressive. All experienced shooters could put five rounds in a heart-sized space from fighting distance, but none of us could put five shots into one ragged hole. That didn’t bother us. The gun gave us what we would need and what we would expect in a typical self-defense scenario.

Other Considerations

One of the primary questions being asked is if the cartridge will last. I thought about one hit wonder cartridges of the recent past. Rock Island/Armscor’s TCM9R is one. I love that cartridge, but the only gun I have that shoots it is made by Rock Island, and the only place I’ve ever found any TCM9R ammo is from Armscor. It is still available, and there are reloading supplies for it.

The .357 Maximum cartridge developed by Remington to shoot in revolvers built by Ruger didn’t make it. You can find .357 Maximum cartridges from custom reloaders, or you can reload it yourself, but that’s about it. I’m sure some of our readers can think of others.

Splatterburst paper target showing 13-shot offhand grouping with a box of federal ammunition and S&W Shield Plus 30 Super Carry semi automatic handgun
This is one magazine shot offhand from 10 yards by the author’s grandson.

I don’t think 30 Super Carry will be in that class. For one thing, Vista Outdoors with its multiple brands can churn out a lot of 30 Super Carry ammo. Also, there are dies, brass, and bullets already in the marketplace.

What about guns? Smith and Wesson is on board, as is Nighthawk Custom. If Smith and Wesson churn out a noticeable number of these guns, it won’t be long before Ruger, Taurus, Springfield, SIG, and others will join it. Then, 30 Super Carry will be a regular member of the lineup. I’m pulling for that to happen, and whether it does or doesn’t, I plan to be a regular user of my 30 Super Carry Shield Plus.

Seventeen rounds in a Shield that weighs 19.3 ounces, is 6.1 inches long, 4.6 inches high and 1.1 inches thick… Think about that and think about all the 30-caliber rounds that have been considered effective threat stoppers. Tell me, what’s not to like?

Capacity, bigger bullets, lower recoil, better accuracy potential, easier concealability, and the list goes on. Choosing a defensive handgun, whether for the castle or concealed carry, involves tradeoffs. The question falls within your minimum/maximum requirements and finding the best platform that falls within that range. How does the 30 Super Carry compare to your personal preferences? Share your answer in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (35)

    1. Harold, the range comparison pistol is the standard 9mm Shield the author had on hand, not the plus model.

  1. I’d like to add that the LCP II is only available in .22LR in Massachusetts. If it were available in .22WMR or .30SC, that would open some doors, surpassing the .22LR and the .380 ACP. There is nothing else that small here, and it is sorely needed. I think a small carry gun like the P3AT or P32 with more power is desired anywhere.

  2. I’m mostly curious about conserving size, as opposed to squeezing in more rounds in the bigger sized guns. I guess it is the other side of the same coin. Ideally, I’d like to see a gun like the KelTec P3AT or Ruger LCP II size in this caliber instead of .380. It would leapfrog over the current .380 to something closer to 9mm, but still stay in a super compact pistol. I want something very small and very light I can put in my shorts pocket when walking the dog in coyote territory. I was recently on the wrong side of a hunter/hunted equation with a pack of coyotes, and lucked out with rocks and fast walking. I don’t want to be in that situation again, but most guns are too big for gym shorts, and I don’t want to open carry my full size gun, and a pack or even fanny pack is not going to work for me. So, I’m interested, but only in something super small. Maybe Kahr CW-SC30? Thanks.

  3. My S&W EZ in 30 SC seems a bit more “snappy” than the same model in 9mm; not a problem, but a perceptible difference. I’d like S&W to offer their M&P 2.0 compact in 30 SC with an 18 round flush fit mag or 20 round extended mag. The other thing nobody has talked about is the potential for a light weight PCC (pistol caliber carbine) in 30 SC that might be particularly suitable for women or people of slight build, or the elderly. Something around 4 – 4.5 lbs. Paired with a handgun using the same mags would make quite a portable combo. Ballistics, effectiveness and hit probability out of a carbine-length barrel would put the question of stopping power to rest.

  4. Being new to shooting and looking for a good CCW, I had the opportunity to fire both S&W .30 guns and some 9mm guns as well. I am not experienced like so many of you but I will say that I liked the .30’s over the 9mm’s. I know this may sound like heresy to many of you but I’m also considering the S&W Bodyguard, just because of its size as I suspect that if I ever had to use it in a self-defense situation, it will be in close quarters. Fear not, I’m not going to carry until I’m much better trained and experienced a greater sampling of weapons.

  5. I see too many comments saying, “I live in a restricted State or I’m already committed to the 9mm.” First off if you live in a restricted State then that is you choice to live there, you can do what I did and move. I was in law enforcement for 39 years, in all that time we were never committed to any one cartridge even though the .40 S&W was in my holster from 1992 until 2019. If you feel you do not have a open mind to explore intrinsic differences with calibers/cartridges then you need to go back to driving an Edsel. Get with the program and open your mind to the future!

  6. The ONLY issue I have with the concept behind this cartridge is those of us who live in states who have restricted “high capacity magazines”. For me limited to 10 rounds, this doesn’t give me any real benefit. If the list of states going that direction continues to increase (or is done at Fed level), it could reduce the market for this to the point it isn’t profitable.

  7. Nice article, nicely written. I read it. I read it again. Then I hunted down a Shield Plus in 30SC and bought it. Nice addition to a collection already spilling over with 9mms. Variety is the spice of life. Bring it on! I expect this gun will be replacing my SIG P365. 16 + 1 is unbelievable!

  8. I’m not part of the spray and pray fraternity. I’m not laying down cover fire or barrage. What i want from this round is a 6 shot J frame or a 10 shot LCP. I’ll be watching for this

  9. As a former owner of a CZ-52, and a handloader using .30 Carbine 110 gr. HP bullets in my CZ-52, the muzzle flash was amazing. Never had a .30 Carbine handgun, but understand that at close range, (~20 feet), if you didn’t hit what you were aiming at, the fireball would ignite them. As I have not seen any reloading data for then .30 Supper Carry, I don’t know if the powder(s) used would produce a large fireball. I do understand that a .312 dia. is a common pistol bullet size, and the .327 cartridge name is already in use. But calling it the .30 Super Carry??? Wonder how long before this cartridge goes away, or if some manufacturer will design a pistol to take advantage of the smaller cartridge (diameter) size.

  10. It does indeed have a “healthy” muzzle blast/flash. Thats half the fun. If you don’t hit them it’ll scare them off.

  11. I appreciate the compliments on my writing, and I agree I was a little out there on the comparison to the 7.62 x 39 rifle cartridge, BUT guys, it’s 17 rounds in a SHIELD! And those 17 rounds are more powerful than a .380. Something to think about. As far as recoil goes, I didn’t notice enough difference in recoil to make that a selling point and neither did the other guys shooting the .30 Super Carry with me. I think capacity in a small gun is going to be a good selling point.

  12. For a “fun gun”how about the Czech loaded 7.62×25?
    Would the M1Cartridgeusg with its horrendous muzzlelblast in a revolver or auto be a viable anti-human defense??

  13. Anyone else remember the 45. GAP Cartridge. Yep my prediction for the 30 Super . It will go the way of the Doo Doo bird and even the venerable 357 Sig. It was a solution to a question that no one asked? It also a waste of brass, powder and primers when ammo is just getting back on shelves like it was pre-Pandemic!

  14. Good article, and it sounds like a great day at the range, especially given what your grandson was able to do! Having said that, I’m gonna take a hard pass at this new cartridge. I agree with others that comparison of rifle and pistol projectiles is probably not valid. I personally am wondering if the longer, skinnier bullet that is the same mass as a 9mm is going to cause concerns of overpenetration. Lastly, there is SOOOO much 9mm ammo out there, and SOOOO many different platforms that shoot 9mm, that it seems to me that for the forseeable future, another new cartridge is going to end up as a hard-to-find side show in the greater scheme of things. I know, engineers are paid to innovate, not to duplicate, but I see little advantage to many of the new rifle and pistol cartridges that have been developed in recent years, except maybe to a very few folks with extremely specialized needs. Just the humble opinion of a geezer. I still enjoyed the article!

  15. Already committed to the 9mm.I don’t see any significant reason to change that.most of my friends seem the same way.Will this interfere with there ability to produce other ammo?

  16. I am already committed to 9mm.Do not see any significant reason to change that and my friends seem to feel the same.

  17. Thank you for this Article, and may I say up front that I own the original Shield and the Shield EZ
    (my wife’s), and we like them both. I have to ask then, because it appears that your BIGGEST positive attribute for the 30 is the capacity, WHY wouldn’t you compare it to the Springfield XD-M Elite Compact which has the capability of 20 rds. ?? Yes, it is heavier, but that also compensates for recoil. The size is comparable in MOST ways, with the total length being less than 3/4″ longer but the height is the same. When the PROFESSIONALS go through the Ballistic Tests and say that the 30 cal is comparable to a 9mm, I will wake up, although, I doubt that will happen.

  18. Hmmm
    Comparison of .30 Super to .30 rifle is absurd. By that reasoning my .22 caliber Buckmark would be in line with 5.56mm NATO.
    The real point is that the .30 Super Carry offers a lower recoil alternative to shooters who may be wishing for lighter recoil than the 9mm and who would go to the .380 ACP. .30 Super Carry much better than .380 or .32 H R Magnum. Still- not a 9mm by any means. Comparison to .38 Special?
    .38 Special will push 158 grain LSWCHP to 830 fps. So– no plussed with the Super Carry.
    I bet it is a fun gun.

  19. I have to admit, I love my 9mm revolver and the XDm. Of course these days it is the 9mm revolver, and lately I have been using a 380 Walther. As I age, I find that the bigger handguns are a bit difficult for me to use. I used to carry a .40 S&W and / or the XDm 9 mm. Both are just to heavy for continual use on the range. I can take a couple hours at the range just enjoying the practice with the 380. I think I will have to sell the bigger guns though and maybe purchase this newer model. If as you have noted above, it will work with a slightly larger round than the .380, and about the same amount of kick. Looks to be a win win. Thanks for a really well written article.

  20. With a few gazillion 9 mms already out here, yet 9 mm ammo can still be found even during ammo shortages (might be pricy, but found), and to pick the 9 mm cartridge to go head to head with? That is a huge, steep, mountain to take on. Add to that, many high capacity micro 9’s already available, AND proven. I am thinking the 30 is already DOA.

  21. Seems that everyone has an idea of some new whizz bang cartridge. .357 MAX is an example of a cartridge that should have made it as a commercial venture, but didn’t. BUT – .350 Legend, with a .355 bullet, appears to be successful. Who knows what will work. If a .30 Carbine case was cut down, and stayed with a .308 bullet. would it be the true .30 Super Carry??? (Image a .30 Carbine .308 110 or 115 grain HP bullet at ~1200 fps from a pistol.) The real test of the new .312 – .30 Super Carry round will be how it works in a PCC, with a 16+ inch barrel. A prime example is the 7.62×25 Russian TOK cartridge, used in both the T-33 pistol and numerous subguns, which does work as an effective round, and does use 110 gr Carbine HP bullets. Will we see a KELTEC or RUGER PCC in .30 Super Carry in our future???

  22. A very silly invention. Almost as good as a 9mm. But not quite. So why? If 30SC was available in 380 sized frame, like LCP, it could eliminate 380. Other wise fohgettiboutit!

  23. YAWN,ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO SELL another gun&ammo.A gimmick like 300AAC[7.62×39 is more available]
    I’ll stick with 9mm,45ACP[preferred],38Spec+P/357Mag,45Colt
    Yes I like the 357MAX,too bad not available in lever action rifles.

  24. I stopped using social media for the simple reason of being tracked, being outed as a conservative, and being censored. I f I wanted to alert the anti me crazies, I could not think of anything better to use.
    And now that using it is a must for your business or you’re not invited only tells me it’s time to unsubscribe from you.

    1. I am not sure what you are talking about. No one requires you to use or have social media for our blog. ~Dave

  25. lookin for a clip tofit s/w shieldmp29mm/the clip has a button on the side 2 hep load // my 380 mp2 shield has 2 clips like this
    need 1 for 9mm

  26. This is a nice entry in the concealed carry arena. I like the increased capacity comparable to my Glock 22 (.40 S&W) on a lot smaller package. I own a S&W Shield 2.0 9mm as I did not have much respect for the .380 which is smaller than my 9mm. But I would pick up the 30 super carry. Going to watch for this as it becomes available.

  27. When I first heard about this I thought Oboy, another one for the cartridge collection. Then I thought, the bullets might be good for reloading in 30 carbine. For my Ruger Blackhawk. If they ever become available. But I see that they’re .312 or .313 according to what I’ve read. Thats 8mm. So explain the 30 super carry ?

  28. Interesting, but I’ll wait this time to see if the cartridge catches on or fizzles out.

    I bought a new Jericho 941 in both 9mm and .41AE in the 90’s and liked the .41AE cartridge for carry over the lesser 9mm, but nowadays you can’t get .41AE unless you’re willing to manufacture your own.

    I learned my lesson and will have to wait.

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