350 Legend vs 223: Cartridge Comparison

Both these rifles work exceptionally well for medium-sized game providing reliability and accuracy to ensure an ethical kill within 200 yards. The .350 Legend is a straight-walled cartridge designed for hunting deer as an alternative to the traditional bottleneck cartridges regulated in some U.S. states. But how does the 350 Legend perform against the popular .223 Remington – Let’s find out.

Main Differences: 350 Legend vs 223

comparing 223 vs 350 legend ammunition

Cartridge case – The 350 Legend is a straight-walled cartridge, while the .223 is a bottleneck cartridge. The 350 legend also has its own unique parent cartridge. Meanwhile, the parent cartridge of the .223 is the .222 cartridge.

Range – The 350 legend has a better maximum effective range, up to 250 yards. The .223 only has a maximum effective range of 200 yards to ensure an ethical kill. Although the bullet drop on the .223 is less, making it easier to shoot at longer ranges. Range was also a major factor when I compared 45-70 govt vs 308 rounds. As a hunter I want maximum range!

Regulation – The 350 Legend can be used as a hunting cartridge in states that only allow hunting with straight-walled cartridges. The .223 can not be used in every state because it is a bottleneck cartridge.

What Is The 350 Legend Cartridge?

picture of 350 legend ammo with box

The 350 Legend is a straight-wall cartridge developed in 2019 by Winchester Repeating arms. It was designed to be used as a hunting cartridge in the U.S. States which have hunting regulations and only allow hunting with straight-wall cartridges. They are not quite as strong as black tip bullets, but they have some stopping power!

  • The .350 Legend is a straight-cylinder cartridge without the normal characteristics such as shoulders or bottlenecks you would expect to find in a traditional cartridge.
  • It has the same .378 nominal rim diameter as the 223 Rem
  • Shell case of the 350 Legend is designed to maximize terminal performance.


The engineers at Winchester used the .223 bottleneck cartridge and modified it into a straight walled cartridge. Using three draw steps, they modified the mouth to be loaded with 0.357″ diameter bullets. The engineers also spent extra time on tapering to ensure reduced friction when the straight wall cartridge is unchambered—allowing for smooth chambering of bolt action rifles.

The .350 Legend is a small to medium-sized hunting cartridge for hog and deer hunting. I really found this to be true when I compared the 357 magnum vs 350 legend rounds. The .350 Legend cartridge will easily deliver a lethal force to an animal up to 200 yards, but it is advised to be closer for large deer.

What Is The 223 Remington Cartridge?

picture of 223 remington ammo with box

The .223 Remington Cartridge is a specialized centerfire rifle cartridge, the characteristic bottleneck shape allows for more efficient storage space for higher grain loads. Be sure to read up on the difference between rimfire vs centerfire rounds. Designed by Remington arms in 1957, the engineers used the .222 as the parent cartridge of the .222.

The .223 Remington is loaded with a much smaller bullet than the .350 Legend and has a bullet diameter of .224″. The case capacity of the .223 is 31.4 grains. Just like we saw in our analysis of 223 vs 30-06, the 223 is a very popular round!

Just make sure your ammo matches your rifle! Shooters have asked, “can you shoot 30-30 in a 32 Special?” In reality you can. However, it can permanently damage your rifle!

Takeaway: The .223 Remington is popular across the hunting world as a highly accurate hunting cartridge. It is primarily used to hunt small to medium-sized animals such as hogs, deer, and varminting.

Recoil Comparison: 350 Legend Ammo vs 223

A rifle’s felt recoil is important as it contributes to the shooter’s accuracy. More experienced shooters do not mind recoil, but light recoiling rifles are advised for new or novice shooters. Recoil also played a critical role in my comparison of 300 blk vs 6.5 grendel cartridges.

Numerous factors influence the overall recoil experienced when shooting a rifle, such as

  • Rifle weight
  • Type of cartridge
  • Load of the cartridge
  • Platform the rifle is rested on
  • How well it is rested against your shoulder.

The type of cartridge plays a predominant role in the recoil. Both these cartridges have relatively low recoil, although the .223 has significantly less recoil than the .350 Legend. In our analysis of the 450 bushmaster vs 350 legend we breakdown the recoil profile. You can expect 8.5 ft-lbs recoil from the .350 Legend vs 223 giving you a low recoil of only 4 ft-lbs. 

Price Comparison

When someone goes shopping for some ammo, the first question is how much? Shooters ask questions like, why is .380 ammo so expensive? Supply and demand drives the price for all ammo types!

The .223 has been around for decades while the 350 Legend has only for a few years, which is bad for the 350 Legend in terms of price. The price will largely depend on the ammo availability.

Still being a fairly new cartridge, the 350 Legend is not manufactured by many companies, which means the supply is relatively low. However, the .223, being manufactured by almost all ammunition manufacturers, can experience a supply crunch during peak demand, such as deer season. As we know from our comparison of the .17 WSM vs .223 Remington, the 223 is a very fairly priced round.

The ammo cost of .223 ranges from $0.50 – $1.60 per round, and for the .350 Legend is between $0.75 and $3.00 per round. You can expect to pay closer to the more expensive extreme for these ranges if you purchase hunting ammo such as deer season xp.

Takeaway: The 223 will be cheaper in most cases.

Trajectory Comparison

Trajectory is defined as the bullet’s flight path when leaving the rifle, with every 50 or 100 yards, the bullet experiencing a drop that is measured in inches. The trajectory is determined by the bullet style, bullet weights, and the cartridge’s load.

You want a flatter trajectory because it helps with bullet placement, and range adjustment issues are not so heavily felt because the bullet has less bullet drop.  The 35 remington ammo is famous for having a very flat trajectory. Thus assuming a 100-yard zero, the two rounds experienced the following trajectory:

The .223 Remington:

  • -3.4″ drop at 200 yards
  • -12.9″ drop at 300 yards
  • -30,4″ drop at 400 yards
  • -58.6″ drop at 500 yards

The .350 Legend:

  • -7.6″ drop at 200 yards
  • -28.1″ drop at 300 yards
  • -67.2″ drop at 400 yards
  • -131.9″ drop at 500 yards

The winner in ballistic performance in terms of trajectory is the .223, experiencing much less bullet drop than the .350. The .350 Legend has heavier bullets which also explains, in part, the massive difference in bullet drop. Just like we saw in our comparison of
350 legend or 6.5 grendel, the 350 has significant recoil.

350 legend vs 223 Size Comparison

The 350 legend is the overall winner in terms of size when looking at diameter. We saw in our analysis of the 223 vs 556 rounds that the 223 is not the largest cartridge. However, the difference in case length between these two cartridges is dismal.

  • Bullet Diameter: 350 legend: 0.357″ and 223 Rem: 0.224″
  • Neck Diameter: 350 legend: 0.378″ and 223 Rem: 0.253″
  • Base Diameter: 350 legend: 0.390″ and 223 Rem: 0.376″
  • Case Length: 350 legend: 1.71″ and 223 Rem: 1.76″
  • Overall Length: 350 legend: 2.25″ and 223 Rem: 2.26″
  • Grain Capacity: 350 legend: 36.5 grains and 223 Rem: 31.4 grains
  • Max Pressure (SAAMI): 350 legend: 55,000 psi and 223 Rem: 55,000 psi

Stopping Power Analysis

Stopping power, referred to as sectional density, is determined by the bullet’s diameter and weight.

The higher the sectional density, the higher ability of a bullet to effectively penetrate a target, and the better the penetration, the higher the chances of it being a lethal shot. However, penetration is also determined by other factors such as

  • Target density
  • Type of bullet e.g. metal jacket
  • Velocity
  • Expansion

Although the sectional density of the 350 Legend (0.187) is lower than the 223 Rem (0.219), it has 60% more penetration, which can be explained by the heavier bullets used. Be sure to check out post on how fast is a bullet to understand how important bullet velocity is.

The 350 legend is hands down the winner in stopping power. The 350 Legend can be used for hunting large deer such as mule deer, elk, and even black bear, given shot placement is accurate.

Both the 350 and 223 are recommended to shoot up to 200 yards. Although, the 350 can be used to make ethical kills at 250 yards.

Another critical factor to consider is that the .223 with the lower penetration creates small holes and most often does not exit the deer and creates an exit wound. Thus, blood trails are insignificant compared to the bigger hole created by the 350 Legend.

Takeaway: The 350 Legend has more stopping power.

Which Is Best For Hunting?

It depends on your use case, for deer hunting, the 350 Legend will work better as it ensures better penetration leading to a higher success rate on ethical kills. However, the trajectory of the 350 legend limits its long-range use.

Another key factor to consider is the price. 223 rounds are much cheaper than 350 Legend rounds, making it a much better option for varminting and hunting hogs. Although, it makes for a great whitetail deer hunting cartridge using deer season xp ammo.

If you want the most versatile option, then the 350 legend is the best option, enabling you to hunt larger animals. It also allows hunting in tapered or bottleneck cartridge-restricted states such as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Iowa.

Which Is Best For Home Defense?

Even though it is unpractical to use bolt action rifles, or any rifle for that matter, for self-defense – if it is all you have, you are sure to use it for personal protection.

Both these cartridges are available in the AR platform. The 350 Legend is the preferred choice for home defense, chosen for its better stopping power. Meaning it is less likely to penetrate multiple walls and harm surrounding civilians.

350 vs 223 Rifle Price & Availability

The .223 is the most abundantly found, as it has been available for decades to the North American hunting community. It is available to to hunting rifles and modern sporting rifles.

The 350 Legend will set you back $360 for a Savage axis and $550 for a Ruger American Ranch. The 223 is priced similarly, but there are more options available to choose from in terms of rifle manufacturers. Just like we saw on our post comparing the difference between 223 and 556 nato, price largely is a result of the ammo availability. 

History Of The 350 Legend

Following the profound success of the 450 Bushmaster, Winchester ammunition sought it beneficial to create a specialized cartridge. It would have less recoil yet still enough energy to take down deer-sized game and black bears.

Finally accepted in 2019 by SAAMI, this cartridge boasts as the world’s fastest straight walled cartridge available. The 350 Legend would provide a low recoil solution to regulated hunting with tapered and bottleneck cartridges in some U.S. states.

History Of The 223 Remington

First appearing in 1957 as an experimental cartridge and then officially introduced in 1964, the .223 Remington is a highly versatile cartridge. The U.S. military took a specific interest in the .223, adopting it as their main rifle ammunition for use in the M16 rifle.

The .223 was created by elongating the .222 Remington by 0.06″ and shortening the neck – allowing for 20% more powder capacity.

The AR-15, the semi-automatic civilian version of the M16, has become the modern sporting rifle of choice for most Americans. The bolt action is vastly popular for varminting as it offers low recoil and cheap ammo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 350 Legend comparable to?

The 350 legend can be compared to the 5.56 mm NATO and .223 Remington. However, when compared to the 6.5 Creedmoor, its ballistic performance was found to be lacking, but it has less recoil and is cheaper. If the .243 Winchester is compared to the 350 Legend, the 350 Legend will outperform penetration by 20%.

Can a 223 shoot 350 Legends?

No, the 350 Legend has different cartridge dimensions and can not be shot from a 223.

Is 350 Legend big enough for deer?

Yes, the 350 legend works exceptionally well for hunting deer-sized game but should be kept at distances within 200 yards to ensure an ethical kill.

How much drop does a 350 Legend have at 200 yards?

Assuming your 350 Legend is zeroed at 100 yards, it will experience a -7.6

The Bottom Line

Both these cartridges are exceptional options for deer hunters in general. The 350 legend performs better for hunting larger game, yet the 223 will be cheaper long term.

The 350 legend has the added luxury of being a straight-walled cartridge, meaning regulation on hunting with tapered cartridges does not apply to the 350 Legend. Overall, it comes down to personal preference, but until the masses adopt the 350 Legend – the 223 will remain the winner.

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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