Rambling Thoughts About the 350 Legend
by Greg Ritchie
I like the 35 caliber. I was at first excited to see a new 35 caliber cartridge enter the market. That interest quickly waned. Why?
First, Winchester opted for something other than a .358 bullet. This made absolutely no sense to me. The .358 bullet is the standard for every other 35 caliber rifle round out there. I know, there are 357 Magnum Rifles and they are extremely popular. But they are pistol caliber rifles. They do not attain the velocities that the 350 LGND is capable of. Most .357 bullets are designed for the slower velocities of the 357 magnum round. They just don’t play well with higher velocities. I almost immediately thought of a stretched out 9mm and took to calling the cartridge by it’s nickname. The 9mm Legend.
Second, it does not have a parent case. Having the 223 Remington as a parent case would have been be a boon to reloaders. At least 350 LGND ammunition can be bought cheaply. Just not as cheap as free. At most ranges all you have to do to score 223 brass is to bend over and pick it up. I honestly believe that part of the reason for the new case, along with the special .357 bullets needed for the cartridge is so the unique components would have to be purchased by reloaders.
Third, the case has a rebated rim. Rebated rims are notorious for functioning problems. Plain and simple, the extractor can not get as good a bite on the rim of a rebated rim cartridge compared to a standard rim.
Fourth, the case head spaces on the case mouth. Roll crimps are best for cartridges that have to endure the harsh trip from the magazine to the chamber in semiautomatic rifles, and in the end, the semi auto was what the cartridge was designed to be shot through. Roll crimps are not possible with the 350 LGND. If you do you lose your headspace. Taper crimps are the only crimp allowable. But they have to be just right. Too little and you suffer bullet setback, too much and you lose your headspace. Which brings up trim length. When cartridges are fired, cases stretch. When the case is resized it stretches some more. I would think to keep the case mouth the proper distance for the headspace, and to keep your crimp properly set up, you will be doing a lot of case trimming. The case would be so much better if it had a belt on it.
Finally is Winchester’s claims. The 350 LGND is a better cartridge than the 30-30? The 243 Winchester? Really? Winchester’s own information belays that claim. All you have to do is not look at the comparisons. Look at the individual boxes of cartridges and make your own comparisons. Don’t forget the worlds fastest straight walled cartridge claim. The 444 Marlin and the 458 Winchester Magnum, both straight walled cartridge puts their 240 grain, 265 grain, and 350 grain bullets at 2400 FPS or better. Winchester lists 2350 FPS with the lightest 145 grain bullets. The velocity slows down from there, with the 180 grain bullet at 2100 FPS.
And the name? How can something new be a legend? But I must say that the cartridge seems to be selling well. At least in the states where straight walled cartridges are required. And the cartridge gets rave reviews. The reviews as well are coming mostly from the Midwest states where straight walled cases are mandatory. In my home state, which does not mandate straight walled cases you hardly even see a rifle or the cartridges.
For a real comparison I think the 350 LGND must be compared to the 35 Remington. Remington lists a 150 grain bullet at 2300 FPS and a 200 grain bullet at 2080 FPS. Compare this to the 350 Legend with a 150 grain bullet at 2325 FPS and a 180 grain bullet at 2100 FPS. Since the 350 LGND is a modern 35 caliber rifle cartridge a comparison to Hornady 200 grain FTX is definitely in order. At 2225 FPS the 350 LGND just can not compete.
Sectional density is important in a hunting cartridge. A 150 grain .35 caliber bullet has a SD of .168. It is a known poor performer on CPX2 class game. Why would the 150 grain bullet out of the 350 LGND prove any better? The SD of the 200 grain .35 caliber bullet with a SD of .223 is recognized as a very good performer on CPX2 class game. The best the 350 LGND can do is the 180 grain bullet with a SD of .202, which is just above the .200 threshold that is considered adequate for CPX2 class game. I do not know of any factory cartridges that use the 180 grain bullet. But a look at the Lee Modern Reloading load manual shows that a starting load of H4895 will push the 180 grain jacketed bullet out of the 35 Remington rifle at 2029 FPS, a max charge of the same powder shows 2232 FPS. I think there is no doubt that the 350 LGND falls just short of the performance of the 35 Remington.
I do have a 350 LGND barrel for my AR15. I have yet to install it, but I do intend to soon. I like the fact that except for the magazine, the 350 Legend uses standard AR15 parts. Plus you do not have to worry with enlarging the ejector port. I do intend to load my 350 LGND with the Speer 180 grain .358 bullet, Lil’Gun powder. I will start at minimum listed powder charges. I will stop when I reach 2100 FPS, or when accuracy falls off, whichever comes first. Despite the 350 Legends shortcomings, I am really looking forward to having a modern rifle in the 35 Remington class again. It will be used on deer and pigs. Will be my open woods rifle where I expect any shots to be less than 100 yards, but I would have no problem stretching the range to perhaps 150 yards if the opportunity presents itself.