The pair of hogs popped out of the South Texas mesquite over 100 yards away and made straight for the deer feeder. I shifted in my seat and got ready for a shot—and for my first hunting experience using the new 350 Legend cartridge from Winchester Ammunition.
The two hogs came up against the back of the fence surrounding the feeder, but they knew their way around. Literally. They slid along the far side of the chest-high fence and angled back into the feeder area proper, the ranch staff here had left the fence gate open the last several days in anticipation of this hunt.
I’d sat in this elevated hunting blind for nearly two hours, sipping water and sweating it out, the temperature in the high 90’s and very little breeze. The private ranch I was the guest of was about four miles from the Mexican border and near the town of Eagle Pass, Texas. The land was rolling and rocky, covered in large swaths of short mesquite and brush interspersed with stony stretches of open.
The land, according to the ranch staff was also home to hundreds if not thousands of hungry hogs.
Time to put a tiny dent in the population.
The two boars were inside the fence now, and one stopped along the far side, nose down to feed. I lined up the crosshairs of my Leupold VX Freedom scope onto his heart-lung area and squeezed off a shot. The 180-grain bullet from the 350 Legend SuperX round dropped the hog almost instantaneously.
But, before he hit the ground, the other pig was already scurrying for the gate.
That second hog, though, slowed his pace and kept glancing towards the feeder as he retreated, his nose up to the air. I knew he was smelling that good corn the feeder had dropped out an hour earlier and was unwilling to let it go.
I worked the bolt on my Winchester XPR rifle and chambered another 350 Legend SuperX round.
The hog trotted into the mesquite behind the fence, then almost immediately turned and got back to the fence. He followed the fence line for many yards, then put his head down to eat some corn that must’ve made it just outside the enclosure.
The wire fence was made of rectangles that looked about six inches long by four inches high. And the hog’s head was framed in one of those rectangles. I hadn’t had much time with the Winchester XP rifle rig, but it pegged 1.25-inch groups at 100 yards a few hours earlier.
I lined up for a headshot, set the reticle below the hog’s ear and squeezed the trigger. Hog #2 flopped onto the dry South Texas dirt as if hit by a sledgehammer.
The hog hunt occurred on April 2019, my first exposure to Winchester’s new ammunition, the 350 Legend cartridge. The hunt was at Winchester’s invitation and included Dusty Gibson of Winchester Ammunition, Shauna Campbell of Winchester Repeating Arms, and social media influencer Nikki Boxler. We took down over a dozen South Texas hogs, nearly all of them with single shots of the 350 Legend in the SuperX load. Ranges were from 50 to 125 yards.
While “new” in the ammunition market often means different packaging and tweaking the round’s name, the 350 Legend actually represents a useful and handy hunting load. One element in the “new” is that the 350 Legend does what the 300 Blackout was supposed to be doing but has generally, in my opinion, failed to do: anchor big game with one shot, especially tougher game like hogs. In fact, it looks to me like the 350 Legend makes the 300 BLK obsolete for hunting.
Plus, the new Winchester round provides another option for deer hunters who live in states which only allow a straight-walled cartridge for deer hunting with centerfire rifles.
According to Gibson, Ammunition Product Manager for Winchester, the 350 Legend got its start when the Winchester marketing and research teams got together and asked themselves what could be done with existing 223 Rem brass to create a new round for hunters and recreational shooters. They were hoping to make a straight-walled cartridge for those states that required straight-wall centerfire for deer hunting. They also wanted a more powerful round than the 300 BLK.
As to why they looked at 223 Rem brass for ideas?
“Our thinking was, if we based this new cartridge on the Rem 223, we’d have a round that could be used in AR-platform rifles as well as bolt actions,” Gibson told me. “So, what we did was to cut off .223 brass at the bottom of the case’s shoulder. That gave us a straight-walled cartridge which, it turned out, had an opening at the mouth essentially of a .357 Magnum bullet.”
Winchester eventually moved away from using the .223 brass and came up with its own, similar brass, added a .35-caliber bullet, and started experimenting with powder loads and primers. When Winchester was done, the result was the 350 Legend Cartridge.
Basic 350 Legend cartridge specs:
- Bullet Diameter: .357 inch
- Shell case Length: 1.71 inches
- Overall Cartridge Length: 2.26 inches
The 350 Legend line was introduced by Winchester at the SHOT Show in January 2019; the cartridge was accepted as an industry standardized cartridge by SAAMI, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, in April of this year.
Winchester currently offers the 350 Legend in five different loads:
–USA White Box, 145-grain FMJ Flat Nose,
for practice and plinking
–Deer Season XP®, 150-grain Extreme Point, for hunting
–Power Max Bonded®, 160-grain Bonded JHP, also for hunting
–Super X® PowerPoint, 180-grain Power-Point, hunting.
–Super Suppressed™, 265-grain Open Tip, for use with suppressed rifles.
Winchester claims the 350 Legend is the world’s fastest straight-walled cartridge and has more energy than the 30-30 Win, 300 Blackout and 223 Rem. It also boasts approximately 20-percent less recoil than the .243 Win and has less recoil than the 450 Bushmaster.
Certainly, that last claim is correct. I’ve shot many 450 Bushmasters in bolt actions and AR’s, and the 350 legend Hog Special has much less recoil than its Big Cousin. Less recoil than the .243 Win? Maybe in the lighter loads. Yet, the SuperX loads I used had all the recoil of a .243 Win, if not a little more.
Fastest straight-walled cartridge, and more energy than the 30-30 Win, the 300 BLK, and the 223 Rem?
I suspect these claims are true, though I must note I did not have a chronograph with me on the hunt. So, for now, I must rely on Winchester provided ballistics.
Gibson said Winchester did an “apples-to-apples” comparison examining the 350 Legend Deer Season 150-grain load to the Winchester Deer Season 30-30 Win, also with a 150-grain bullet. For both rounds, Winchester used rifles with 20-inch barrels. The results:
350 Legend Deer Season XP, 150-Grain Extreme Point
Muzzle Velocity: 2,325 FPS
Muzzle Energy: 1,800 ft/lb.
30-30 Win Deer Season XP, 150-Grain Extreme Point
Muzzle Velocity: 2,205 FPS
Muzzle Energy: 1,619 ft/lb.
Then, Winchester compared the same 350 Legend load to their Winchester 300 BLK with a 150-grain Extreme Point Bullet and their own 223 Rem load firing a 64-grain Extreme Point bullet. In this test, 16-inch barrels were used to replicate using the round in AR-platforms.
350 Legend Deer Season XP, 150-Grain Extreme Point
Muzzle Velocity: 2,225 FPS
Muzzle Energy: 1,649 ft/l
300 BLK Deer Season XP, 150-Grain Extreme Point
Muzzle Velocity: 1,900 FPS
Muzzle Energy: 1,202 ft/lb.
223 Rem Deer Season XP,64-Grain Extreme Point
Muzzle Velocity: 2,655 FPS
Muzzle Energy: 1,002 ft/lb.
Based on those numbers, the 350 Legend does what Winchester claims. Of course, I will be doing my own comparisons in the future once I receive bolt action and AR rifles in the new cartridge.
But the 350 Legend SuperX PowerPoint is definitely a pig killer. In my admittedly short time with the 350 Legend, I found it much more powerful than the 300 BLK rounds I have used in the past. 300 BLK, for hogs especially, has always been a “two-shot-and-hope” round. Yes, even with direct shots into a hog’s heart-lung region.
But my first shot with the 350 Legend SuperX PowerPoint, for example, traveled 100 yards or so, went through both sides of the hog and exited through the very tough shoulder bone on the far side. Other hunters may well have different experiences, but that amount of penetration and damage in not 300 BLK territory to me.
Nikki Boxler took down a good-sized hog Day Two of our hunt at approximately 125 yards using the SuperX load and a single shot. Back at the hunting lodge, one of the guides and myself cut into the hog to retrieve the bullet.
That 180-grain 350 Legend bullet first traveled through the hog’s .5-inch-thick shield (the tough, flexible cartilage material hogs develop over the chest and sides), broke rib bones, smashed through the boar’s lungs, took out rib bones on the far side, and then veered up into the shoulder. In all, I measured over 12-inches of penetration.
The bullet held together very well. It also expanded to double its original diameter and measured at .712-inches.
According to Winchester’s data, the SuperX rounds I used, fired from a 20-inch barrel, have the 180-grain Power-Point bullet leaving the barrel at 2,100 fps and muzzle energy at 1,762 ft-lbs. At 100 yards, the bullet is traveling at 1,762 fps, with 1,240 ft-lbs. of energy; at 200 yards, the bullet has slowed to 1,456 fps and 859 ft-lbs. of energy.
Which is certainly more than enough power to take down a hog or deer at 200 yards.
During a short-range session after my morning hunt on Day Two, I shot a three-shot group of 1.18-inches with the SuperX load. A four-shot group came in at 1.70-inches, with three of the shots pegging in at 1.22-inches. These groups were shot at 100 yards from a sandbagged rest and were more than accurate enough to hit a deer or hog’s vital areas out to 200 yards.
In addition to the Winchester XPR rifle I used on my hog hunt, several gun companies are producing rifles chambered in 350 Legend. This includes CMMG with its new AR the RESOLUTE, Ruger and the AR-556 and Ruger American Ranch Rifles, and Savage which is chambering no less than 14 of its current rifles in the 350 Legend.
Other ammunition makers apparently think the 350 Legend will find good reception among hunters, too. Federal Premium already offers three loads in the 350 Legend, while Hornady recently debuted a 350 Legend option in their American Whitetail line.
Winchester is on to something good and very useful here. They’ve developed a new cartridge which can be used in those states requiring straight-walled cartridges for deer hunting. It’s a handy round for hunters who’d like more power than the venerable 30-30 Win and considerably more punch than the 300 BLK.
With rifles being offered in AR platforms and bolts with 20-inch and shorter barrels, the 350 Legend looks to be a fine cartridge for a brush gun, too.