Last year I experimented with a straight-walled .30-caliber pistol cartridge that fit in between .32 ACP and .30 Luger called the 7.8 x 19mm. It started because I had a Helwan with a broken locking block that I’d converted to straight-blowback, some .30 Carbine brass and a distinct lack of adult supervision. You can read the start of that journey here. In the end I discovered I had basically duplicated 7.65 x 20mm Longue, an obsolete pre-WW2 French service cartridge.
In the end I got a new 9mm barrel with a good locking block and I side-lined the project, debating whether to line the new barrel and proceed with testing hotter 7.8x19mm loads through the locked-breech system. No Point now, because Federal Premium ammunition has done it for me.
OK, you can just stop that right now. I do not for one single instant believe that Federal ‘stole my idea.’ I’d be shocked to learn they had even heard of me. A number of people over the years have speculated that since 7.65 x 20mm French was fired through locked-breech pistols that it ought to be able to handle much hotter loads, and the idea of hotting-up various .32 cartridges is hardly new (.32 H&R and .327 Magnum anyone?) It was inevitable that someone would revisit this idea. I just didn’t expect it to ever reach production.
This really does look for all the world like 7.65 x 20mm, though exact specs are not available at the time of this writing. Federal touts this as the first full-power cartridge designed for civilian self defense. OK, whatever. The idea is you can get more rounds on target faster. Power is comparable to 9 x 19mm, you get a couple more rounds in the magazine. What’s not to like? Yeah, let’s get back to that in a bit.
Expansion and penetration look good too. .30 SC comes in bullet weights ranging from 100-115gr, so it is heavy for caliber (for pistols at least) which gives it a high sectional density. This gives it good penetration even with expanding bullets. The fact that these bullets are lighter than many popular 9mm loads means less muzzle-flip.
Not Much Good Without Something to Shoot it Out of…
You’re in luck there; S&W is chambering the Shield EZ and Shield Plus for this cartridge, and if you really insist on spending ten times as much Nighthawk Custom is offering a gun as well. Seriously, almost ten times as much; the Nighthawk is a skosh over $4000, and you can order it now.
That Whole, ‘What’s not to like’ Thing…
OK, it looks like it’s got the performance. You get a bit more ammo and less muzzle flip. But seriously, is this really the right time to introduce a new cartridge? In the middle of the longest civilian ammo shortage since WW2? Where everyone is struggling to stock the current popular calibers and you can basically forget about it if you have an unpopular caliber? Really? If they’ve lost their minds, well it isn’t just Federal and S&W boarding the Crazy Train.
That’s right. Big Green is reportedly on-board also. I really, really don’t know what this all means. I have a suspicion that we’re looking at the semi-auto version of .327 Federal here. Huh… Federal again. Anyway, it seems like a decent idea, but it’s the answer to a question no one was asking and that usually doesn’t bode well for a new cartridge’s future.
I do know that if this ammo is as hard to get as most calibers these days that is going to seriously hurt it’s prospects. I suspect customers are going to shy away from the cartridge and guns in the current market atmosphere. That’s kind of a shame; I like it when people try to innovate and think outside of the box.
OTOH I reload my own ammo and care not a whit if I can’t find it on the shelves. I have visions of an alloy-frame 1911 with an 3.5″ barrel chambered for this cartridge…
I have to say I’ve been really enjoying watching Fudd’s heads explode over this and laughing at their ill-considered and usually spurious objections. Always a good time! We’ll just have to see how it is received, and I wish Federal, S&W and all the best of luck with this. In this day and age it might take more than luck to succeed with a new cartridge.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 5 January 2022
PS: Hey Federal, if you are reading this send a box or two my way… I’ve got a Helwan itching to get to work again.