350 Legend My Take On It
HOT from the SHOT Show.... the "NEW" extra long, rimless .357 Maximum! .357 Rem. Maximum is simply a deer killing machine! However, "the industry" has miserably ignored shooters with factory ammo for .357 Maximum. Now shooters can expect factory ammo on their dealer's shelves for a .357 Maximum (+), and also the first bolt action repeater with more repeaters bound to follow! ......
another .1" of powder capacity for the single shots! 1.6" vs. 1.7"
Shooting Sports Retailer was already in the loop.
In any other language it is .357x.223 Remington like I did years ago, "New" only to "the industry" but soon to be on dealer's shelves!
About 5 years ago I straightened out .223 Rem. brass, trimmed it back to 1.6", and loaded it with .35 cal. bullets. Craddock Precision made up a 16 1/2" AR-15 barrel for me to chamber for this cartridge. Next up was a 1.7" Savage barrel I chambered for the full length .223 Rem. case straightened out to .35 cal.
Feeding a 1.6" case from AR magazines does not work for more than just a few rounds loaded in a magazine with some of the case shoulder ribs in the box removed.
A friend/customer/machinist in Ohio got the AR-15 barrel after another friend/customer gave up finding a magazine that would feed more than 1 or 2 rounds. This highly experienced Ohio associate proceeded to shoot the AR barrel's very first 5-shot 100-yard group with a random load just thrown together into .530"...... from a 1-10 twist barrel, no less. He and his sons went on to make up a total of three more 22" AR-15s chambered for my rimless .357 Maximum which have taken a total of 15 deer with only 15 shots, and with no deer going no more than about 10 feet. So much for the "need" for a semi-auto when only one shot is needed!
Their AR-15 1.6" rimless .357 Max. loads are producing 2,500 fps with 180 gr. .358" Speer bullets.
The only .350 Legend ballistics I have seen so far are for 200 gr. bullets at around 2,000 fps, which is on the anemic side of the cartridge's potentials. Expansion at long range discourages using common 200 gr. bullets, so I discourage using 200 gr. bullets in the Max. Winchester, on the other hand appears to have the right 200 gr. bullet for reliable expansion, but they may not be considering their .35 as a 250 to 300 yard cartridge either. Experience will tell.
I'm waiting to physically verify whether Winchester used the .223 Rem. case head diameter or the slightly larger .357 Maximum head diameter.
.357 Rem. Maximum averages several thousandths larger at the head, as do the chamber diameters found in factory barrels.
I can chamber for both, but if the Winchester factory ammo is the larger diameter at the head, rechambering .357 Maximum barrels to .350 Legend will have less bulge at the "pressure ring" in front of the case head.
Direct from the Winchester engineer's mouth at the SHOT Show by a friend's phone as I write this, the engineer said the case IS slightly larger in diameter where the taper starts! I just need my hands on some Winchester ammo to verify! .... but looking VERY encouraging!
Why rechamber single shots to the .1" longer .350 Legend?
1) If you don't reload, factory ammo favors the Legend.
2) The extra .1" of case and with bullets seated out, the increased powder capacity bumps .357 Maximum from a 2,350 - 2,400 fps proposition to another 100 fps for 2,500 fps with 180 gr. bullets, the optimum weight for both trajectory and more reliable expansion at longer ranges.
3) You can still shoot .357 Maximum ammo in the .350 Legend chamber I cut..... unless the factory product is not true to form as described. With only an extra .1" jump to the throat, accuracy should still be essentially the same, similar to shooting .38 Specials in .357 Magnum chambers.
TC Contender, TC Encore, H&R, Savage 110 types, and the new Henry single shots are all candidates for chambering or rechambering to your choice of .357 Maximum or .350 Legend. (I have not rechambered Traditions' .357 barrels yet, but am open to it.)
.350 Legend, like many cartridge names is something of a misnomer since Winchester specifies .357" bullets, and bore size for .357 is actually .349." Just some trivia. However, to save you some effort and my time. After chambering for .357 Maximum for over 35 years and thousands of reports back from shooters shooting both .357" and .358" bullets:
1) Bullet diameter does not matter, though .358's tend to shoot the tightest since they fit the throat best.
2) Groove diameter does not matter. TC, H&R, and Henry barrels run about .355" groove diameter while most custom makers use .358" groove diameter barrels. FWIW, my son Kurt shot a 1" group at 300 yards from the .358" groove diameter Bergara barrel I chambered for him.
3) Throat diameter DOES matter and proper throat dimensions give superlative accuracy in everything from .355" to .359" groove diameters barrels.
4) Twist rate simply does not matter. That AR-15 rimless .357 Maximum barrel was made from a cheap 1-10 twist, 9mm Luger blank. At the other extreme, MGM's range tests produced 1/4" groups from their 1-20 twist barrels with bullets up through longish, pointed .358" 225 gr. bullets!
5) Changing reloading dies should not be necessary. .357 Magnum dies WITH APPROPRIATE SEAT STEMS FOR POINTED BULLETS should continue to work fine. I'm still using primarily the Herter's .357 Magnum dies I bought nearly 55 years ago! Current Redding dies come with a universal seat stem that works well for most pointed bullets tried.
What matters most is how the barrel is throated, and we'll just have to wait and see what SAAMI and Winchester came up with for .350 Legend throating..... or more likely, the lack thereof since bullets are seated with all the bullet shank inside the case.
Tired of trying to shoot your best with .45 & .50 cal. guns? Ditch 'em & go .35 cal. It only makes good sense!
Give us a call today for a custom 350 LEGEND barrel or complete rifle.