Friday, May 17, 2024

Guest Post: .350 Legend Follow-Up

by George Groot

George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

A few years back I made the case for the .350 Legend cartridge, and this follow-up will address what I’ve learned in the field. This review should have been done two years ago, but life happened, and last year was my first hunting season not interrupted by my job. 

Bottom line, all the advantages I listed back in 2019 are still true. It's a light, handy, low recoil cartridge and it kills deer cleanly. One interesting point that I didn’t bring up then, but I know now, is that there is almost a negligible difference in velocity between a 16” and 20” barrel for the .350 Legend.

As far as accuracy and reliability are concerned, the Bear Creek Arsenal upper I purchased has been completely acceptable, with only a few magazine-related failures to feed from the bench (something I’ve experienced many times with military issue M4s).

However, there are some disadvantages to my particular setup, a 16” AR pattern rifle, when used for hunting whitetail deer. The first is noise: an AR-15 bolt slamming home is a noisy thing, and to compensate I would load my rifle at my truck and move to the deer stand with the rifle on safe. A bolt action rifle like a Ruger American Ranch doesn’t have this problem. 

The second disadvantage is cheek weld. I have a standard M4 style buttstock on that particular rifle, and so getting a good repeatable cheek weld requires consistent training. This is a skill I can transfer over from running an M4 for decades, but not everyone has that advantage so I feel it needs to be addressed.

The third disadvantage I encountered was with Herter’s brand .350 Legend ammunition, a 180 grain traditional cup and core bullet with advertised velocity of 2,100 fps (manufactured for Cabela’s by Winchester). Velocity was not  2,100 from my 16” barrel; it was instead a bit more than that. This additional velocity caused me to miss a shot, which prompted a trip back to the zero range and confirming that my rifle was in fact still sighted in at 50 yards, but was 6” high at 100. I watched a number of videos from other .350 Legend users who experienced the same “additional velocity” phenomena, and while there isn’t excess pressure or any safety concerns, it does mean you need to verify velocity rather than trust the box.  

Things I’ve learned completely unrelated to the rifle and the ammo? Scopes matter, and while bigger isn’t necessarily better, I think the “compact tactical” size actually limited the hunting potential of my setup more than anything else. Last year I used a Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 1.5-4.5x32 optic, but this year I used a Swift 4x32 compact scope. Next fall I’ll transition to something in the classic 3-9x40 variety for better light transmission at dawn and dusk, and I’m debating between a Sig Sauer and a Vortex

Final Thoughts
  • The .350 Legend is great for southern whitetails. 
  • It is the ballistic twin of the old .35 Remington, and that’s a good thing. 
  • It has very low recoil out of lightweight rifles and should be no problem for anyone on the hunt. 
  • It is not a long range hunting cartridge, so if you plan on taking shots beyond 150 yards, you’ll want to look to a cartridge like the 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Winchester, or a .260 or 7-08 Remington if you are stuck with commercial ammunition purchases and need a moderate recoil option capable of accuracy at multiple football fields away.  
  • However, if your hunting ranges are modest, and you are comfortable hunting with an AR platform rifle, you can keep a dedicated upper with two mags around for a very low cost-of-entry modern rifle during deer season.

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