Fall hunting seasons are still months away, but it’s never too early to consider acquiring a new tool for your hunts. One you should see in stores by midsummer is Winchester Ammunition’s newest offering, the 350 Legend.
Introduced at the 2019 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show in Las Vegas, the 350 Legend garnered a lot of attention. It’s a straight-walled cartridge designed for deer-sized game and sport shooting, and Winchester says it’s the fastest such cartridge in the world.
I recently attended the Western Hunting Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, where I had a chance to talk with someone official about the new cartridge.
“As everyone knows, your lifeblood is new products,” said Scott Grange, public relations and shooting promotions manager for Browning, which owns the firearms side of Winchester. Olin owns the ammunition side, and Grange said the two are “hooked at the hip.”
“Well, they decided to take the 223 case and do away with the shoulder, neck it up to a 35-caliber bullet. And that’s basically what you have. You have a cartridge, we call it a modern 30-30 cartridge, if you will,” he added.
According to Winchester’s ballistic charts, its 150-grain Deer Season XP in 350 Legend produces 1,800 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, 1,289 at 100 yards and 903 at 200 yards. On the other hand, the 30-30 version of the same load produces 1,902, 1,351 and 936 foot pounds of energy at those same distances. Both loads were tested with a 20-inch barrel.
When it comes to speed, the 30-30 is the fastest, but not by much. It leaves the muzzle at 2,390 feet per second and is still traveling 1,389 fps at 300 yards. For the Legend, those numbers are 2,325 and 1,373 fps.
“We didn’t have to do a whole lot of research and development, and a lot of retooling expenses and whatnot to move one of our platforms into that cartridge,” Grange said. “All we had to do is take our current XPR bolt-action Winchester rifle, that we are currently producing, change the magazine around a little bit, slap a different barrel on there and we have the 350 legend in the XPR bolt-action rifle.”
In a real hunt situation, Grange said the Legend has performed well on deer, but my guess is the cartridge won’t be a bolt-action-only offering for long, especially since it’s built on the 223 case.
Grange said the company has received interest from companies that build rifles on the AR platform. Another area where he sees the cartridge flourishing is in the Deep South, where hog hunting is big.
“The guys that are shooting hogs in Texas and the Deep South and whatnot … that will be a cool hog cartridge, I guarantee it,” Grange said.
Out of the XPR platform, Grange said the effective range of the 350 Legend is about 150 to 200 yards, but even in a day when so many hunters are looking for long-range opportunities, Grange said he thinks the Legend has what deer hunters need to fill their freezer.
“Yes, the rage is to shoot a moose at a mile, but the reality is that the majority of deer are still being taken at 200 yards and under,” he said.
Grange said it’s uncertain whether Browning will make the 350 Legend available in other models of firearms.
“It’s kind of a let’s see where this thing goes and what kind of fun we can have with it,” he said. “Whether or not you’ll ever see anything in a lever action, probably not. If you do, it will be from the Browning side in the BLR because that would accommodate that kind of a cartridge more than an old-fashioned tubular magazine would.
“We’re always looking at fun things to present the customer with.”
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.