Straight walled cartridges have been around for numerous decades. It is the cartridge of choice for handguns and lever action rifles, the most recognizable being the .357 Magnum cartridge. However, Winchester introduced the straight walled .350 Legend in 2019 as a long range alternative to its predecessors. Which cartridge performs better in a rifle platform, and which is ultimately better for hunters?
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Which Is Better In A Rifle: 357 Maximum vs 350 Legend?
The .357 cartridge combined with cast bullets has been used in many a rifle for hunting purposes. It delivers a deadly hit within 100 yards and is fairly accurate. They are not as strong as black tip armor piercing bullets, but they will get the job done!
Winchester designed the 350 Legend specifically for rifle use, incorporating the latest technology to make it a frontrunner in the straight walls category in terms of performance. Winchester boasts that the .350 is the fastest straight wall cartridge on the market.
The 350 Legend is hands down the better cartridge for use in rifles. I also found this when I compared the 223 & 350 Legend in the past. It is more powerful and can be used at a longer range. Its sectional density is also higher, making its penetration better for the same bullet size in terms of weight.
Main Differences 357 Maximum vs 350 Legend
1) Ballistic Comparison
Both these cartridges are straight wall. However, the .350 Legend has a higher loading than the .357, allowing it to have a higher maximum pressure. I found the same thing with the 308 Win round when I compared 308 vs 45 70 rounds in the past.
The 350 Legend has a higher ballistic coefficient, meaning it can handle more aerodynamic bullets. Leading to the .350 Legend shooting bullets that will outperform the .357 at 100 yards.
The 350 Legend produces higher energy leaving the muzzle than the .357. Using a 180 gr bullet for both cartridges, they produce a muzzle energy of:
- The 357 – 1,548 ft/lbs.
- The 350 Legend – 1,763 ft/lbs.
The .357 produces less velocity than the 350 Legend. Neither are as fast as the 17hmr velocity, but they’re still fast! Again, using a 180-grain bullet, the muzzle velocity produced is:
- The 357 shot from a 22″ barrel length- 1,900 fps
- The 350 Legend – 2,100 fps
The trajectory is an important factor of ballistics as it determines the bullet path, ultimately contributing to your precision at a longer range. Trajectory is one of the biggest differences in the 17 WSM and 223 Rem rounds I’ve used. A flatter trajectory is desired.
The .357 experiences a bullet drop of:
- 100 Yards – -4.38″
- 150 Yards – -10.41″
- 200 Yards – -19.62″
The 350 Legend, using a 180 gr bullet, has a bullet drop of:
- 100 Yards – 0″
- 150 Yards – -3″
- 200 Yards – -9″
- 250 Yards – -20,5″
2) Stopping Power Comparison
When it comes to stopping power, you want a cartridge that makes a big hole to leave a more prominent blood trial. However, you also want a cartridge with a higher stopping power with an effective initial penetration to ensure maximum organ damage. High stopping power rounds like 6.5 Grendel & 300 Blackout are also great for hunting.
That being said, at 100 yards, the .350 effectively punched its way through 10 inches before settling down at 18 inches in the ballistics gel, producing an ideal mushroom form. The .357, also shot from a rifle, produced weaker results, stopping at 15 inches and producing a less ideal mushroom form.
The energy of the 350 Legend’s bullet is also much higher at 100 yards, leading to a higher impact force than with the .357. The .350 Legend has better stopping power than the .357 and will be better at putting a deer down. The power is very comparable to a 22 bullet in regards to stopping power and muzzle velocity!
3) Hunting Performance
Both these cartridges can be used for hunting. However, the .350 Legend was specifically designed by Winchester as a hunting cartridge to overcome the regulation of hunting with bottleneck cartridges in certain U.S. states.
The .350 Legend has less recoil and delivers higher energy with more penetration than a .223 and a .243 Winchester at 200 yards. I found the same thing when I compared the 450 Bushmaster vs 350 Legend cartridges in the past.
Meaning it is an excellent choice for hunting medium-sized deer at distances within 250 yards.
It also experiences less bullet drop than the .357 with its flatter trajectory, increasing precision at long-range shooting.
The .357 is not so well equipped for deer hunting, as already described with the stopping power comparison. Nonetheless, the .357 in a rifle chambered can effectively take down small to medium-sized game at distances within 200 yards.
Also, remember to not mismatch your ammo. For example, you would not want to shoot a 30-30 round in a 32 Special because it can break your rifle!
4) Which Is More Popular?
The .357 is definitely the more popular choice to shoot from a handgun. It delivers a heavy blow at short range, and ammo for .357 guns is relatively cheap.
As for hunters and sport shooting, the .350 Legend is more popular, even though it is still a new cartridge (available to the public since 2019). The .350 Legend can easily take down a medium-sized deer with a single shot at distances well above 100 yards.
The cartridge is also excellent for use in an ar platform as it is remarkably similar to the .223, yet better. Some rounds, like the 35 Remington, have become very hard to find in recent years. In fact, some people think the 35 Remington ammo discontinued altogether.
Hunting From 75 Yards vs 240 Yards – Which Performs Best?
To ensure a lethal blow to a deer, the bullet required a minimum energy threshold of 1000 ft/lbs upon hitting its target. The energy threshold is indirectly correlated to distance, decreasing as the distance increases.
A .357 will take down a deer at 75 yards if you use a heavy loaded round and your shot placement allows it. The .350 Legend will follow, also ensuring an ethical kill at 75 yards.
The .357 will not deliver a lethal hit at 240 yards, and shooting a deer at 240 yards with a .357 should not be attempted. Whereas the .350 Legend was specifically designed for long-range hunting, it will comfortably take down medium-sized deer up to 250 yards if using heavier bullets.
Which Is Best for Shooting From 100 Yards?
Both will work well when shooting from 100 yards. You can comfortably take down a deer at 100 yards with a .357.
However, the .350’s performance at 100 yards is, for the most part, better, delivering a heavier blow with higher accuracy, making it the better option for shooting from 100 yards.
What Is A Straight Walled Cartridge?
A straight wall cartridge is a cartridge without the typical characteristics of a traditional cartridge, such as shoulders or bottlenecks.
Due to its design, straight-walled cartridges produce less pressure from the gasses when fired—leading to a reduction in velocity and accuracy compared to a bottleneck cartridge.
To compensate for the decrease in velocity, a straight walled cartridge uses a larger diameter bullet to still allow a lethal blow. However, the increased bullet diameter leads to a restriction in range and accuracy.
Straight walled cartridges are most often used in handguns. However, in recent years more manufacturers have started producing straight walled cartridges specifically for hunting. As is the case with the .350 Legend, which is the fastest straight walled cartridge fired from a gun.
It makes sense for manufacturers such as Winchester to invest in the straight walled cartridge sector because there is a massive demand for these cartridges in U.S. states that regulates hunting with a bottleneck cartridge.
Main Differences Between 357 Magnum vs 357 Maximum
The .357 Mag is the parent case of the 357 Remington Maximum, however, there are two main differences:
The .357 Maximum has length of 1.99,” and .357 Mag is shorter with a length of 1.59″.
The maximum pressure of the .357 Magnum is 35,000 PSI (SAAMI specs), and the .357 Maximum is 40,000 PSI (SAAMI specs).
As a result of the higher maximum pressure, the .357 Maximum has higher velocity and more energy than the .357 Magnum – making it a better hunting cartridge.
However, the higher pressure and velocity of the .357 Maximum caused flame cutting of some revolver top straps when using the lighter 110 and 125 grain bullets. Causing manufacturers to discontinue its use in revolvers, an example is Ruger, who only managed to produce 7,700 Blackhawks that chambered the .357 Maximum before dropping production.
Single shot pistols and rifles such as the Henry single shot are still available, and Remington still produces unprimed brass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 350 Legend the same as a 357 magnum?
What is the 350 Legend comparable to?
What caliber is closest to 350 Legend?
Is the Legend 350 powerful?
Is 350 Legend powerful enough for deer?
The Bottom Line
The .357 Mag is an excellent cartridge, but it is better for a handgun platform. If you want a straight walled cartridge that will chamber in a rifle, it is better to go for the .350 Legend. The Legend provides pin point accuracy while delivering a greater blow at longer distances, putting it ahead of the .357 Mag and making it an overall better rifle cartridge.