Smith & Wesson M&P 30 Super Carry Shield EZ 13458

The 30 Super Carry pistol is identical to the 9mm version in appearance. Only the markings give it away. The pistol is slightly heavier than the 9mm handgun and holds two more cartridges. While reliable, accurate, and easy to control, we felt the same way about the 9mm. This is a good handgun, but we prefer the 9mm.

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Recently, Federal introduced a new self-defense pistol chambering, the 30 Super Carry. Some may wonder why we need another cartridge, especially when we cannot obtain older cartridges in the quantity and price we need. As a partial answer, the 30 Super Carry is intended to up the ante in power, energy, velocity, and penetration over the 380 ACP. On the other hand, it is intended to perform as closely to the 9mm as possible, with lighter recoil and more rounds in the magazine. We wanted to see if the 30 SC is a neat trick that we could recommend to Gun Tests readers, or is the new round just tricky marketing.

Of course, the 380 ACP and 9mm Luger are well established as self-defense rounds. Compared head to head, the 9mm Luger offers considerable improvement in terminal ballistics over the 380 ACP and is our most widely distributed defense caliber. As such, it is the cartridge for the 30 SC to beat based on performance. On the other hand, for some, recoil is a real concern. So is gun handling and racking the slide efficiently, two aspects where the 9mm Kurz, aka the 9mm Short or 380 ACP, excels. So for those shooters, would the 30 Super Carry offer a viable alternative? To get some data on both comparisons, we looked at the 380 ACP, 9mm Luger, and 30 Super Carry in three nearly-identical Smith & Wesson Shield EZ Rack pistols. We say nearly identical because the markings and weights varied only slightly between the handguns. For all practical purposes, the handguns themselves were identical. We fired them head to head at the range, comparing accuracy and recoil control. We also fired the three calibers in ballistic testing. The difference in sights, handling, and the triggers were minimal. The primary differences were in recoil and bullet performance in water jugs to assess effectiveness on physical targets. Here’s what we found:

Gun Tests Grade: A

$431

Tabs on the magazine follower (arrows) make loading easy.

We paid $431 for the 30 Super Carry pistol. Many paid more than $500 for the first few to hit dealer shelves. This pistol seems identical to the 9mm EZ in every dimension. It also features a dual-toggle safety, as Smith & Wesson calls the ambidextrous safety. The frame treatment is nice, offering a good balance of adhesion and abrasion, the same as the other handguns. The sights are the same as the 9mm and the trigger neatly identical, breaking at a smooth but heavy 5.9 pounds. The difference is in the chambering. The 30 Super Carry allows carrying two more rounds of ammunition than the 9mm. The pistol weighs 21.6 ounces unloaded compared to 20.8 ounces in the 9mm version and 18.5 in the 380 ACP version. This is insignificant when it comes to carrying the pistol. The 30 SC is larger than the 380 pistol but the difference is slight. We cannot imagine this making a difference in carry. The 9mm and 30 SC are identical in outside dimensions. Most of the raters could not detect the difference between 30 SC recoil and 9mm Luger recoil, save when doing a side-by-side test. There is some difference, but an experienced shooter will not notice as much as a novice. The 30 SC is a hot little round and generates 320 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. This far outclasses the 380 ACP. While we prefer the 9mm, by a margin the 30 Super Carry outstrips the 380 and most 32 H&R Magnum loads. Power factor is 120 on average. This means the pistol is easier to fire comfortably than the 9mm. The difference isn’t startling to an experienced shooter, but it exists. Coupled with a small weight gain, the 30 SC seems to be an answer to those who are recoil shy or who simply cannot handle 9mm recoil. We question if the difference will be noticeable to most shooters. One of our graybeard raters drafted his 62-year-old wife into a side test. She has fired two centerfire pistols in the last decade and is loyal to her SIG P250 9mm and Ruger LCP 380. She could not tell the difference between her personal 9mm SIG and the Smith & Wesson 30 SC.

Action TypeSemi-auto single action, internal hammer fired
Overall Length6.8 in.
Overall Height4.9 in.
Maximum Width1.46 in.
Weight Unloaded21.68 oz.
Weight Loaded27.7 oz.
SlideArmornite-finished stainless steel
Slide Retraction Effort10.2 lbs.
FrameTextured black polymer, 3-slot rail; 18-degree grip angle
Front Strap Height2.4 in.
Rear Strap Height3.5 in.
Grip Thickness (Maximum)1.0 in.
Grip Circumference5.1 in.
Barrel3.675 in.; stainless steel, Armornite finish, tactile loaded-chamber indicator
Magazines(2) 10-rd. detachable boxes
Trigger Pull Weight5.5 lbs., tactile and audible reset
Trigger Span2.8 in.
Front SightFixed post, white dot
Rear SightWindage adjustable, two white dots
Sight Radius5.8 in.
SafetyAmbidextrous safety and grip safety
WarrantyLimited lifetime
Telephone(800) 331-0855
WebsiteSmith-Wesson.com
Made inSpringfield, MA
Disassembly is remarkably easy and the same on all three pistols. Clear the pistol by locking the slide to the rear and removing the magazine. Check the chamber. Rotate the takedown lever and remove the slide. The recoil-spring guide and barrel are easily removed. However, be careful in reassembly. The recoil spring guide has flat spots, and it only returns to its spot on the recoil lug in one way. This isn’t difficult, but it must be understood to properly reassemble the gun.

The 30 SC pistol is slightly less accurate than the 9mm version. We understand that smaller bullet holes in a group on paper give the impression of a less cohesive group, however, the total group, measured from the inside of the furthest spaced bullet holes in to the other, was larger than the 9mm. But not by a significant margin. And that is the difference we kept coming back to.

Our Team Said: The 30 SC EZ kicks less than the 9mm, but not that much less. It does hold a couple more cartridges. In terminal ballistics, the 30 SC isn’t an improvement over the 9mm at all, but it is an alternative. Compared to the 380 ACP on the other hand, the 30 Super Carry is much more desirable based on energy and wounding ballistics. We give the 30 SC Shield pistol a solid A on performance. It isn’t our pick of the three, but it is our number-two pick. For some, it will be the ideal compromise caliber.

The question of light recoil was best summed up by a rater. He noted the 9mm version of the EZ pistols tested recoils less than many of the popular 9mm subcompacts due to its greater weight and length. He felt that this pistol is a good choice for the recoil shy over the very small 9mm handguns. The 30 SC, then, is simply icing on the cake and maybe is not needed in this size handgun.

Expanded Remington Ultimate Defense 124-grain Golden Saber bullets.

The 30 Super Carry is highly developed and does what it was designed to do. We would feel comfortable with any of the 30 SC loads as far as their performance. But if you’re in the market for a pistol today, we note that 30 SC ammunition was difficult to find in May 2022 and could be for some time. In the end, the practical choice is the Shield EZ 9mm based on its ammo, availability, and performance.

380 ACP/9mm Luger/30 Super Carry Performance Data

Bullet Weight (Grains)Chambering, Manufacturer, Brand, and Product NumberAverage Velocity (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)Muzzle Energy (foot-pounds)IPSC Power FactorAverage Accuracy (inches)Expanded Width (inches)Retained Weight (grains)Retained Weight (percentage)Penetration In Water (inches)Gun Tests Grade
60380 ACP Black Hills HoneyBadger D380N420115726178692.20.3660118A
90380 ACP Hornady Critical Defense FTX 9008093412174842.50.590114A
99380 ACP Federal HST P380HST1S96022203952.70.61950.9612A-
102380 ACP Remington Ultimate Defense 2896489930183921.90.591000.9815A
1159mm Luger Winchester Super-X X9MMSHP1180143561361.70.82115112A
1249mm Luger Hornady American Gunner XTP +P 902241214144061502.40.541220.9920A
1479mm Luger Remington Golden Saber Bonded GSB9MMC1030113461512.20.58147118A
10030 Super Carry Remington JHP R200191202183211202.50.52100120A
10030 Super Carry Federal HST P30HST1S120673231201.90.55100120A
11530 Super Carry Speer Gold Dot 242261GD110512312
Notes: Average Velocity and Standard Deviation readings were obtained by firing five rounds over a Competition Electronics Pro Chrono. Ambient temperature: 70 degrees. Elevation: 776 feet above sea level. l The accuracy figures are the average of three five-shot groups. We fired the test guns from an MTM K Zone rest at 25 yards. l To calculate IPSC power factor, multiply bullet weight in grains by the velocity in fps, then divide by 1000.

Value Guide: 380 ACP Semi-Auto Pistols

Gun NameIssueGradeComments
CZ 83 380 ACP, $330Jan. 2022ADid not suffer any type of stoppage. It was reliable, well made, and perhaps even overbuilt.
Bersa 380 Thunder Plus THUN380PM15 380 ACP, $352Jan. 2022A-Best Buy. Carries on for the affordable Bersa Thunder. Never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject.
Tisas Fatih B380 F380B 380 ACP, $434Jan. 2022BAn attractive pistol with good fit and finish and good accuracy. It also fired high, which isn’t easy to fix.
Glock 42 UI4250201 380 ACP, $360Nov. 2020A-Best Buy. The Glock 42 handled well and offered the best accuracy of the test.
Colt Government Model MK IV Series 80 380 ACP, $400Nov. 2020A-Because of the Glock’s availability as a current product, we would pick the Glock before the Colt MK IV.
Ruger LCP II No. 3792 380 ACP, $300Nov. 2020BThe Ruger LCP II is reliable, reasonably accurate for short-range use, and not difficult to control.
NAA Guardian 380 ACP, $350Nov. 2020C-This NAA was well made, and its fit and polish were good. Accuracy was poor even for a pocket pistol.
S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ 180023 380 ACP, $384Aug. 2018AThe Shield is EZ-ily among the most useful and attractive 380 ACP pistols we have tested.
Springfield 911 Bi-Tone PG9109S 380 ACP, $559Aug. 2018AThe Springfield 911 is suited to carrying hammer down instead of cocked and locked.
Walther PPK/S 4796006 380 ACP, $700Aug. 2018CNot reliable with a modern load designed to maximize the cartridge. We would not buy the Walther PPK/S.
Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 51912 380 ACP, $356Aug. 2016ACombat shooting with the Baby Rock gave good results. Accuracy was excellent for a pistol this size.
Ruger LCP 3701 380 ACP, $229Aug. 2016B+We would pay more for the LCP Custom, which has better sights and trigger.
Remington RM380 Micro 96454 380 ACP, $341Aug. 2016B-Heavy stacking of the trigger led to poor accuracy. The RM380’s sight regulation was also badly off.
Ruger LCP-C Custom No. 3740 380 ACP, $419Oct. 2015AThe Ruger’s sights and trigger are great improvements over previous versions of the LCP.
Taurus Curve 180CRVL #1-180031L 380 ACP, $380Oct. 2015CThe bottom line is that a pistol without sights isn’t useful, in our opinion. Pass on the Curve.
Kimber Micro Carry Advocate 380 ACP, $796Sep. 2015AThe Kimber was well finished and demonstrated excellent reliability and accuracy.
Browning Black Label 1911-380 051904492 380 ACP, $620Sep. 2015BThe Browning is a reliable handgun with familiar operation. Less accurate than the smaller Kimber.
Glock 42 380 ACP Subcompact Slimline, $480Nov. 2014BWith a Viridian green laser on it, we’d bump up the Glock 42’s grade to an A- and probably buy it.
Kahr CW 380 No. 3833 380 ACP, $419Nov. 2014BWe didn’t like the Kahr’s sights, the short grip, or the long DAO trigger pull.
Colt Mustang XSP Pocketlite O6790 380 ACP, $649Nov. 2014C+The XSP costs a lot of money, and there are many pistols that work better for less money.
SIG Sauer P238 238-380-NBS12 380 ACP, $710Nov. 2014CIts controls should have produced a 1911-like feel, but the P238’s inconsistent trigger pull affected accuracy.

Value Guide: 9mm Luger Handgun Rankings

Gun NameIssueGradeComments
Springfield Armory SA-35 9mm Luger, $699May. 2022ABest Buy. The SA-35 is less expensive, has a better trigger, better sights, and is completely modern.
Browning P35 Hi-Power 9mm Luger, ~$1000May. 2022B+If you want a great historical firearm to collect and shoot, then the Hi-Power is your only choice.
Langdon Tactical LTT Beretta 92X 9mm Luger, $1184Feb. 2022ABest Buy. Trigger action is superb, and all parts fit correctly. Accuracy is excellent.
Kriss Sphinx SDP Compact 9mm Luger, $999Feb. 2022A-A great-handling pistol, accurate, reliable, and with a good trigger action.
SIG Sauer P229 Elite-Compact E29R-9-BSE 9mm Luger, $1313Feb. 2022A-With aftermarket night sights and a flat trigger option, we upgraded the pistol into a superior performer.
SIG Sauer P365 365-9-BXR3 9mm Luger, $599Dec. 2021AOur Pick. Small enough to fit in a pants pocket. Carries 10+1. Felt recoil is less than with a 38 Sp.
Ruger MAX-9 No. 3500 9mm Luger, $544Sep. 2021AOur Pick. This is a sophisticated pistol. No fault with the magazines, capacity, or general accuracy.
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus 13246 9mm Luger, $553Sep. 2021AA step up from a previously 9mm Shield. The new pistol has an improved trigger and greater capacity.
Taurus GX4 1-GX4M931 9mm Luger, $398Sep. 2021A-Best Buy. The Taurus is the most compact, and the Taurus is the only pistol with a changeable backstrap.
Guncrafter Industries Exec.CZ 75B 9mm Luger, $1875Aug. 2021AThe Executive is among the most eye-catching, attractive, and well-finished pistols we have tested.
Beretta/Wilson Combat 92G Centurion 9mm Luger, $1250Aug. 2021AThe Wilson Combat gun is a top choice for tactical and service use. Comes with light rail, 20-round mag.
Browning Hi-Power 9mm Luger, $1860Aug. 2021BCompared to the more modern pistols, the Hi-Power simply isn’t practical.
CZ-USA CZ 75B Omega 91235 9mm Luger, $631Aug. 2021BReliable, accurate, ambidextrous safety, an 18-round magazine, good sights, and is suppressor ready.
Ruger SR1911 6722 9mm Luger, $775June. 2021AOur Pick. The most expensive gun tested. We liked the fit, finish, handling and accuracy.
Tisas Regent BR9 9mm Luger, $558June. 2021A-We like this Tisas rendition. Downside: The cocking effort is severe, which may disqualify it for some.
Citadel M1911A1-CS CIT9MMCSP 9mm Luger, $479June. 2021BBest Buy. Reliable and handles well. Less accuracy than the other pistols. Front sight is too gray.
Zenith Tisas ZIG PCS9 9mm Luger, $549June. 2021DDownsides: Extractor problems and the slide-lock safety wasn’t properly fitted.
Shadow Systems MR920 9mm Luger, $799Apr. 2021AOur Pick. The Shadow Systems Multi Role (MR) pistol is basically an improved Glock 19. Excellent buy.
Sarsilmaz SAR9 9mm Luger, $400Apr. 2021A-Best Buy. Many good features. We would have liked a lighter trigger action.
Tisas Zigana PX-9 9mm Luger, $330Apr. 2021BReliable. Will appeal to those who like the Springfield XD-9. The primary drawback is a heavy trigger.
Ruger American Pro Duty 10 08607 9mm Luger, $579Feb. 2021AOur Pick. $100 more than the others, but it was the most accurate pistol and had surprisingly light recoil.

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