The tradition of hunting deer in many Midwestern states with shotguns and muzzleloaders is slowly dying. As more states loosen their regulations, centerfire straight-walled cartridges for rifles are taking over as the firearms of choice, namely for deer hunting enthusiasts. Finally, hunters in places like Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and more can comfortably reach out to distances well past 100 yards and harvest deer that may have walked away in years past. It’s arguable the most popular of these new hunting cartridges is the 350 Legend. It was introduced by Winchester firearms in 2019 and its low recoil, flat trajectory, and affordability are excellent when compared to rounds like the 450 Bushmaster or .357 Magnum.
We’ve already discussed the best rifles for the 350 Legend extensively. Now we’re looking exclusively at factory 350 Legend ammo meant for big game hunting. We’ll look at the specs and the features that makes these rounds worthy of consideration this year. We’ll also give you the most important specs you need to know about each of these options before you head to the store. That way you can make an informed decision about the cartridge that is best for your rifle.
Bullet Sizes and 350 Legend Comparable Calibers
The 350 Legend uses a .357-inch diameter bullet and has a 1.71-inch case. Most states have a maximum case length of 1.80 inches for straight walls, so the 350 fits nicely within the regulations. It also makes the cartridges comparable in size to a .223 Remington or 300 Blackout. Although it’s important to note these cartridges are not interchangeable with the Legend.
In terms of ballistic performance, the 350 Legend is nothing like the .233 Remington. The 350 Legend can reach a 2,100 to 2,300 fps muzzle velocity that’s hitting with up to 1,800-foot pounds of energy. We’ll get more into the specs of the individual Legend cartridges listed below. However, in terms of speed and energy, it’s comparable to a .30-30 Winchester. Many hunters also find the recoil comparable to the .30-30. Although it’s not quite as fast as a .243, most shooters find the recoil to be even lighter than that famous round. That’s one of the main reasons this has become the round of choice for anyone picking up a rifle for a youth hunter.
The 350 Legend has proven itself very capable of dropping whitetails and mule deer where they stand in many hunting scenarios. It’s also an effective round for mid-sized big game like pronghorn antelope. We also know of at least one hunter who has used the Winchester 350 Legend for mountain goat. It has also been used effectively on black bears. For the Midwestern hunter, it’s a rather versatile round. Now, let’s look at some of the ammo options you may want to consider.
1. Winchester Power Max Bonded, 160 Grain
These rounds feature a bonded core hollow point bullet that expends energy and expands extremely well on big game, making for fast and humane harvests. Winchester says to expect 2,225-fps at the muzzle, 1,843-fps at 100 yards and 1,509-fps at 200 yards. It’s hitting with 1,759-foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and 1,206 at 100 yards. Winchester has the trajectory at zero at 100 yards and about -8.9 inches at 200 yards. Power Max Bonded sells for about $32 a box, making it a rather affordable option for hunters who want a quality round that doesn’t skimp on performance.
2. Winchester USA, 145 Grain
One of the bigger problems with all these straight wall cartridges is the high cost of ammunition. The great news for hunters who also like some casual time at the range is that there is very affordable ammunition out there. We wouldn’t hunt with them, but these 145 grain Winchester white box cartridges are full metal jackets perfect for sighting in your rifle or some casual target shooting at the range. These FMJs are doing about 2,350-fps at the muzzle and 1,916-fps at 100 yards. Winchester says the drop is zero at 100 and -8.1 inches at 200, where these rounds are still doing 1,539-fps and hitting with 763-foot pounds of energy. For around $16.99 a box, these rounds are also highly affordable for some serious range time.
3. Hornady Subsonic 350 Legend, 250 Grain
Many of the rifles being built for the 350 Legend including Winchester’s own XPR bolt-action rifle are now being built with threaded barrels for a suppressor. Hornady heard the calls from hunters who wanted a slower subsonic hunting option for deer and came out with the Subsonic 350 Legend in response. It’s a 250 grain bullet weight with an advertised muzzle velocity is 1,050-fps with 612-foot pounds of energy. It may be slower, but it’s going hit hard and drop animals fast. It gets down to 969-fps and 521-foot pounds of energy at 100 yards, and 908-fps and 457-foot pounds of energy at 200. This is a great option for anyone looking to keep their shots within that 150-yard window and keep them quieter than normal. At about $32 a box, it’s rather affordable too.
4. Hornady American Whitetail, 170 Grain
This offering has become one of the more popular for factory 350 Legend ammunition simply because of its consistency and knockdown power. These rounds feature Hornady’s 170 grain InterLock bullets with exposed lead tips. This gives them excellent expansion when they strike a deer. The muzzle velocity of these rounds is approximately 2,200-fps. The 100-yard velocity is 1,843-fps while delivering 1,281-foot pounds of energy. Hornady puts the trajectory at zero at 200 yards. These rounds are still doing 1,529-fps and hitting with 882 pounds of energy at that distance, making this a solid option for anyone looking to drop deer at greater ranges than previously possible.
5. Federal Non-Typical, 180 Grain
This is a good option for any hunter who wants to ensure better blood trails. These soft points expand well and create excellent wound channels. These 180 grain bullets are doing about 2,100-fps at the muzzle and 1,793-fps at 100 yards. It’s delivering about 1,280-foot pounds of energy at that distance. This is another option that offers great performance at long range, there’s zero drop at 200 yards. It’s slightly more expensive at $35 a box, but it’s still highly affordable when compared to other straight walls on the market.
6. Browning FMJ, 124 Grain
We appreciate Browning making a bulk ammo option for anyone who wants some extended range time. This round moves a little faster than your standard 350 Legend round, mostly because this is a 124 grain full metal jacket option. Browning says to expect 2,500-fps at the muzzle and 1,721-foot pounds of energy. This isn’t one that we would hunt whitetails with, but it’d be excellent for sighting in. It would also probably be a solid varmint round for coyotes. At $49.99 for a box of 60, you’re looking at only about 83 cents a round, a true bargain as far as rifle ammo is concerned.
7. Winchester Deer Season XP, 150 Grain
The slightly smaller 150 grain bullet weight of this option results in some slightly faster 2,260-fps speeds from these copper bullets. They have a hollow polymer tip that helps with ballistics and expansion. You’re looking at 1,909-fps at 100 yards. The energy is approximately 1,200-fps at 100 yards and Winchester ammunition puts the trajectory at zero for 100 yards. These are some of the more expensive rounds on the market at approximately $40 to $50 a box depending on the retailer. However, these rounds group extremely well and provide excellent penetration on game. If you’re looking for a premium hunting cartridge, this is a solid one to consider.
8. Winchester Super-X Power-Point, 180 Grain
Our last option on the list is readily available at almost all sporting goods stores in the Midwest. The 180 grain Power Point feature an alloyed lead core with a “Power-Point” tip that is designed for knocking deer down quickly. Winchester ammo added some notching that helps with expansion. These are doing about 2,100-fps at the muzzle, 1,762-fps at 100 yards. Expect about 1,240-foot pounds of energy at that distance. Winchester has the trajectory for this rifle ammunition at zero for 150 yards. This is just a solid all-around option. It usually goes for $30 to $35 a box and is available from big box stores like Walmart in a pinch.
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.