The 350 Legend, being a straight-walled cartridge, has become a rising sensation in recent years for being the fastest straight-walled cartridge. The 6.5 Grendel was developed to outperform the 5.56mm NATO, yet still be compatible with the AR-15 platform. We put this theory to the test in our post about what are the nato rounds! I love hunting with both these cartridges, but when comparing these two cartridges, the 6.5 Grendel is the evident winner.
Main Differences Between 350 Legend vs 6.5 Grendel
1) Which Is Best For Hunting?
Before we can determine which cartridge is better for hunting, we need to look at the ballistic performance.
Using a 123-grain bullet, the 6.5 has a velocity of:
- Muzzle velocity – 2,580 feet per second
- 100 Yards – 2,375 fps
- 200 Yards – 2,179 fps
- 400 Yards – 1,816 fps
The 350 Legend, using a 150gr Deer Season XP bullet:
- Muzzle velocity – 2,325 feet per second
- 100 Yards – 1,968 fps
- 200 Yards – 1,647 fps
- 300 Yards – 1,373 fps
Again using a 123-grain bullet for the 6.5 Grendel, it has an energy of:
- Muzzle energy – 1,818 feet per pound
- 100 Yards – 1,540 ft./lbs
- 200 Yards – 1,297 ft./lbs
- 400 Yards – 901 ft./lbs
The 350 Legend, using a 150gr Deer Season XP bullet. Just like we saw in our comparison of 270 win vs 270 wsm, muzzle energy is a critical factor in the performance of any round.
- Muzzle energy – 1,800 feet per pound
- 100 Yards – 1,289 ft./lbs
- 200 Yards – 903 ft./lbs
- 300 Yards – 623 ft./lbs
The ballistic performance comparison above shows that the 6.5 Grendel outperforms the 350 Legend in both maintaining initial velocity and energy.
Short Range: Within 100 yards, the difference between these cartridges is insignificant. However, I would opt for the 350 Legend because it travels at a slower velocity, and the meat damage might be less depending on the shot placement. Just like we saw when comparing the 357 Mag vs 350 Legend, this is a solid hunting round.
That fast traveling velocity of the 6.5’s bullet can really cause damage to the soft tissue of an animal at short ranges.
Long Range: For long-range performance, the 6.5 Grendel is hands down the better choice, with a higher velocity and energy at 200+ yards. It is an excellent option for taking down whitetail deer up to 400 yards.
The 350 Legend’s efficacy mostly stops at 200 yards, and I wouldn’t recommend you try to hunt deer beyond that distance with the straight-walled cartridge. This is very similar to the performance of the 7.62 x 54r rounds that we tested.
2) Trajectory Comparison
For a 123-grain bullet, the 6.5 Grendel has a trajectory as follows:
- 100 Yards – 0″ drop
- 200 Yards – -4.69″ drop
- 3oo Yards – -16.73″ drop
- 400 Yards – -37.56″ drop
The .350 Legend, again using a 150gr Deer Season XP:
- 0″ drop at 100 yards
- -7.6″ drop at 200 yards
- -28.1″ drop at 300 yards
- -67.2″ drop at 400 yards
From the trajectory data, we can see that the 6.5 Grendel performs much better. This can be attributed to the lighter bullet construction and better ballistic performance of the 6.5 Grendel. Just like we saw when comparing the 223 vs 350 Legend, the 350 does not have the flattest trajectory.
3) Performance Within 200 Yards
Within 100 Yards: As already mentioned, the performance difference between these two cartridges within 100 yards is negligible. However, the 6.5’s velocity at 100 yards is 400 fps faster.
For this reason, I would prefer the 350 Legend within 100 yards, the meat damage will be less, depending on your shot placement. When I reviewed the 450 Bushmaster and 350 Legend I came to the same conclusion.
Within 200 Yards: Winchester recommends the 350 Legend be kept within 200 yards for ethical kills. Considering this and the ballistic performance, where the 6.5 has a 500 fps faster velocity and 400 ft/ lbs higher energy at 200 yards, the 6.5 Grendel is the clear winner.
4) Size & Weight Comparison
- Bullet Diameter: 0.264″
- Neck Diameter: 0.239″
- Base Diameter: 0.439″
- Shell Case Length: 1.52″
- Overall Length: 2.26″
- Case Capacity: 35 grains (water)
- Max Pressure (SAAMI): 52,000 psi
The bullet weights are predominantly in the 90-123 grains range, with most preferring the 120 and 123-gr options.
The 350 Legend ammunition:
- Bullet Diameter: 0.357″
- Neck Diameter: 0.378″
- Base Diameter: 0.390″
- Shell Case Length: 1.71″
- Overall Length: 2.25″
- Case Capacity: 36.5 grains (water)
- Max Pressure (SAAMI): 55,000 psi
Several bullet weights are available for the 350 Legend, ranging from 124 to 180 gr. However. the Deer Season XP 150-gr is the most popular.
5) Stopping Power Comparison
Stopping power, in part, determines how efficiently a caliber with the given bullet can take down a target.
Even though the 6.5 Grendel has a higher energy on target at 100 yards, the bigger bullet of the 350 Legend allows it to deliver a higher stopping power at 100 yards. Not as much as black tip rounds, but still enough stopping power to do serious damage!
For anything beyond 100 yards, the 6.5 Grendel will be the better option, delivering a higher stopping power with better penetration.
6) Recoil Comparison
The recoil experienced by a rifle can influence the accuracy of the shooter. A good shooter will be okay with recoil, but light recoiling rifles are advised for new or novice shooters.
- When you shoot with the 6.5 Grendel, a recoil of 4.02 lbs can be expected.
- With a recoil of 8.5 ft-lbs.The 350’s recoil is more than double that of the 6.5.
We have compiled a list of the best scopes for the 350 Legend based on rigorous testing. If you want to check out rounds with high recoil, review our comparison of the 50 GI vs 50AE rounds!
7) Ammo Availability & Price Comparison
- 6.5 Grendel – $1 per round
- .350 Legend – $0.75 and $3.00 per round
Being a more established cartridge, the 6.5 Grendel’s ammo availability is much better than the 350 Legend. Just like the 223 and 3006, the 350 Legend can be hard to come by at certain times of the year. However, the 350 Legend’s hunting ammo can be purchased at almost any major ammo retailer. A supply crunch can occur during deer hunting season.
Who Is The 6.5 Grendel Best For?
Designed by Alexander Arms and introduced in 2003, the 6.5 Grendel is an intermediate mid-power 26-caliber cartridge. It is a highly accurate, low-recoil rifle cartridge specifically designed for use in the AR-15 platform for medium to long-range shooting (200 to 800 yards).
Similar to the 300 Blackout, the 6.5 Grendel was originally designed to replace the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. Alexander Arms used the .220 Russian as a parent case and modified it to have a characteristic shorter but larger diameter case to allow high powder volume. Yet still, allow enough space for the long 6.5mm bullets.
The 6.5 Grendel is best for hunters wanting a cartridge with excellent long-range performance and can take down medium-sized game animal.
Who Is The 350 Legend Best For?
Winchester Repeating Arms developed the 350 Legend in 2019 to be the fastest straight-wall cartridge on the market. The straight-walled design allowed for hunting in certain U.S. States with hunting regulations and only allow hunting with straight-walled cartridges.
The .350 Legend is an excellent small to medium-sized hunting cartridge, specifically for hunting hogs and deer at medium ranges. The .350 Legend cartridge will deliver a lethal force to an animal up to 200 yards, but it is advised to be closer to large deer to ensure an ethical kill.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a 6.5 Grendel compare to?
What is a 350 Legend comparable to?
What's the killing range on a 350 Legend?
Is 6.5 Grendel enough for deer?
What military uses 6.5 Grendel?
The Bottom Line
I really enjoy both these cartridges, the 350 Legend is an excellent option for hunting at short range and in bottleneck-regulated states. However, the 6.5 Grendel outperforms the 350 Legend in almost every aspect. The better long-range shooting capabilities are too much of a factor to forget, which is why I would choose the Grendel.