The latest big AR cartridge is the 350 Legend. The 350 Legend came to be in 2019, and it became an instant hit. The AR is a very modular platform and has become an extremely competent hunting rifle. Lots of people hunt these days with AR-15s, and that opened up a new market for ammunition, including dedicated hunting cartridges.
The 350 Legend saw instant adoption by a wide variety of AR manufacturers. Ammo manufacturers jumped all over it, and we got a wide array of high-quality factory cartridges sufficient for hunting a good variety of animals.
History of the 350 Legend
Going all the way back to 2019 doesn’t take a time machine. I think it’s fair to say that the 350 Legend is the youngest big-bore AR caliber on the market. Yet, the success it saw is a testament to the market. The AR market has never been larger, and it’s growing yearly. People who shoot ARs tend to like ARs. As such, when they start hunting, they might as well turn to the AR 15.
The 350 Legend doesn’t use a parent case and was built from the ground up. Winchester designed the round and initially chambered it in the Winchester XPR bolt action rifle. However, the round’s development had AR 15s in mind.
With the urbanization of the world, a wide variety of states have adopted specific regulations to ensure the safety of hunters and homeowners. One such regulation requires rifle shooters to utilize straight-walled cartridges. This prohibits the use of standard bottleneck cartridges like the 5.56. These rounds travel quite far and are considered dangerous for more urbanized or crowded hunting areas.
Straight walled cartridges, like the 350 Legend, use a big heavy bullet that packs a punch but doesn’t have the same range potential as lighter, smaller rounds. Most states also ensure a minimum sized projectile, and this round meets those requirements as well. That was the key to the caliber’s popularity and why it saw such widespread adoption.
The 350 Legend in Real Life
One of the big benefits of the 350 Legend is that it’s not an overtly massive round like the various .45 caliber projectiles on the market. The 350 Legend provides a smaller, faster bullet that reaches upwards of 2,000 feet per second and delivers up to 1,800 foot-pounds of energy into a target. Winchester claims it’s the fastest straight-walled cartridge on the market, which is fair in SAAMI specs. However, other cartridges outperform the round with hot loads.
The projectile weights vary from 160 to 180 grains. The size of the projectiles, speed, and energy exerted make the 350 Legend a solid round for hunting medium game. It will easily take down whitetail deer, hogs, and more. The 350 Legend outperforms the .30-30 by a fair margin.
Another benefit of the round is its very mild recoil. A lot of the bigger bore guns have noticeably higher recoil than a 5.56. The 350 recoils in a manner that’s almost identical to the 5.56. Maybe a hair more, but it’s tough to notice. In a AR 15, the lower recoil provides a faster follow-up shot. That’s perfect for dealing with pack animals like hogs that might present more than one target to the shooter.
In the AR market, CMMG hit the game first. They produced an early 350 Legend rifle, but almost everyone followed quite quickly. We have rifles from BCA, POF, Ruger, PSA, and many, many more. Additionally, the Winchester XPR, the Savage Axis 2, Ruger American Ranch, and many more are bolt guns in the 350 Legend world. Single-shot guns from Henry also exist, as do various models from a multitude of companies.
AR 15 shooters, you should know that you’ll need a specialized magazine, but you can use the same BCG, buffer, buffer springs, and lowers. You’ll need an appropriate barrel, obviously. It’s an easy conversion and makes your AR-15 a hard-hitting and capable hunting rifle inside and outside of states with straight-walled regulations.
The 350 Legend might be the new kid on the block, but it’s become a successful heavy hitter in the world of big-bore AR-15s.