Review Of The Winchester 350 Legend

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago

Shooting Illustrated.

Winchester began development of the 350 Legend in 2017. The primary motivation was the need for a straight-wall cartridge that would meet the legal requirements in several states previously only allowing shotguns and muzzleloaders for deer hunting. Though I would not call it a revolution, this straight-wall resurgence has increased the popularity of cartridges—like the .450 Bushmaster—that were waning in popularity. The 350 Legend fills this “specialized” need, but the question of whether it has any practical or tactical application beyond whacking deer somewhere in the Midwest remains.

[ … ]

… from inception, the 350 Legend was intended to work with the AR-15 platform. The 350 Legend case is only about a tenth of an inch longer than the .357 Maximum and just .12-inch longer than the .357 Mag. The real difference is the 350 Legend’s rimless design and operating pressure. The .357 Mag. is only loaded to 30,000 psi and the .357 Maximum to 40,000 psi. And, of course, neither of these revolver cartridges are compatible with Stoner’s semi-automatic (AR-15) design that has essentially become “America’s Rifle.”

[ … ]

Current count shows more than a half-dozen available factory 350 Legend loads. Winchester offers a 145-grain FMJ load rated at 2,350 fps, a 150-grain poly-tipped bullet at 2,325 fps and a conventional lead-tipped 180-grain Power Point at 2,100 fps. Hornady is offering a 170-grain Interlock at 2,200 fps, and Federal is on board with two 180-grain soft points at 2,100 fps and a 160-grain Fusion load. For the hunter, all of these—with the possible exception of the 145-grain FMJ—are more than sufficient for any whitetail deer or feral hog.

[ … ]

Some cartridges chambered in the AR-15 will shoot fast and flat, while others will hit harder. Picking one over the other means you must plant your feet on one side or the other of the fence or try to walk a balance right down the middle. The .223 Rem. will shoot the fastest and flattest—at 300 yards the bullet will drop half as much as the 350 Legend. The 350 Legend on the other hand will hit harder—almost 50 percent harder at the muzzle than the .223 Rem. At distance, cartridges like the 25-45 Sharps and .300 HAM’R offer more middle-of-the-road performance between the .223 Rem. and the 350 Legend.

So, what you have with the new 350 Legend is the hardest-hitting factory cartridge that will work in a standard AR-15 with the standard .373-inch bolt face. (Of course, the .450 Bushmaster will hit even harder, but requires a different bolt.) This means any AR-15 originally chambered for the .223 Rem. can be converted to 350 Legend. What you sacrifice is the ability to carry that power anywhere past what most shooters now consider short range. Due to the low ballistic coefficients of the bullets used in a 350 Legend—compared with the bullets used in other cartridges designed for the AR-15 platform—velocity falls off fast. From the general-purpose standpoint, the 350 Legend is at its best inside of 250 yards, which, of course, is more than fine for defensive purposes.

[ … ]

The niche the 350 Legend fills is that of a one-gun solution for self-defense and big-game hunting inside of 300 yards in a compact carbine—bolt-action or semi-automatic. The 350 Legend should be of particular interest to self-defense-minded deer hunters in the several states that require the use of straight-wall cartridges. Essentially the antithesis of the .223 Rem.—a tactical cartridge sometimes pressed into duty as a big-game round—the 350 Legend is a hunting cartridge that can excel in a tactical environment.

I think that’s what would be it’s attraction for me.  A legitimate multipurpose tool is always better than a tool that does one thing.  The thing you lose is the ability to reach out to 400-500 yards.  On the east coast, that’s not an issue.  This is a hunting and self defense gun for the bush, with ammunition that is significantly cheaper than the .458 SOCOM or .450 bushmaster, and not nearly the recoil.

And I’d like to have one, but don’t.


Comments

  1. On December 10, 2019 at 11:13 am, Andrew Miller said:

    Ohio is one of those states.
    I’m not a hunter but I do note trends, and the local Meijer had both some of the 450 Bushmaster and 350 Legend last trip I perused the ammo aisle.

    (they also have 243 270 and 30-30 and a few other rifle rounds I consider strange for an “only shotgun up to a couple years ago state”)

    Tempting to look into the 350 Legend at least, it’s not a bank breaker.

  2. On December 10, 2019 at 11:20 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Of course, 243 and 270 are NOT straight-wall cartridges.

  3. On December 10, 2019 at 11:45 am, Andrew Miller said:

    Right.
    I just meant it’s strange that being Ohio they have 243 and 270.
    They used to have a few other, larger rounds like 300 Win Mag and the even odder 35 Remington…

    They must sell a bit of it, because Meijer always seems to have a decent variety of rifle cartridges.
    Sometimes they’ll have cans of 223/556 and while not beating “online” prices, it was there for sale.
    I bought a large stock of .22LR back before the “Panic of 2012”, it was easy, a brick here a brick there (Remington Golden) every couple of grocery store runs and it added up.

  4. On December 10, 2019 at 1:59 pm, Sanders said:

    Looks like it is pretty much a barrel change. I was reading a review somewhere that you could Dremel the ridge down the middle of a Magpul magazine and it would accept the .350 Legend without having to buy a special mag for it.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published December 9th, 2019 by Herschel Smith.

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