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Published Nov 17, 2022 4:26 PM

Although it’s similar in ballistic performance to the .35 Remington and .357 Maximum, the .350 Legend was a witty grab at a whitetail hunting market that’s purely the result of regulation—straight-wall states and counties. The prospect of a compact straight wall cartridge that delivers more energy than a .30/30 with low recoil, and functions in standard ARs struck a chord with many hunters. Any new cartridge’s success and acceptance depends partly on the availability of ammo—something that’s anything but certain these days. Fortunately, Winchester (who developed the cartridge) threw their weight behind producing a high volume of .350 Legend deer ammo. If this test looks a bit like a Winchester show, it’s because they have put out a wider variety of .350 Legend ammo than any other manufacturer. How good is that ammo? That’s what I intended to find out.

.350 Legend Ammo is Versatile and Shockingly Accurate

Despite some existing straight-wall cartridges that match or slightly outperform the .350 Legend in raw ballistics, the Legend is better suited for modern firearms. This doesn’t mean that those cartridges aren’t great, but there’s a reason the .350 Legend has become popular. As much as some folks believe that it’s all marketing hype, the .350 Legend’s design gives it two advantages that set it up for success—using a .355-inch diameter bullet and having a rebated rim that fits a standard AR bolt face.

Unlike older rimmed cartridges (or the .35 Rem.), it’s both an easy fit for any modern rifle, and legal under straight-wall regulations. The .355-inch diameter bullet might not make sense to some, but it allows the production and easy handloading of cheap plinking and practice ammo—using regular old 9mm FMJ bullets.

I had measured expectations for the accuracy of available .350 Legend ammo and was shocked at how tightly most of the rifles and ammunition grouped. I tested six .350 Legend rifles, and was able to shoot seven different types of ammo through them, using a five-shot-group protocol. Overall, the .350 Legend ammo and rifles averaged a group size of 1.78 inches (counting all groups fired), which was more accurate than the .308 ammo I tested in 11 different rifles.  Those had a total average group size of 2.02 inches. The average group size doesn’t necessarily reflect how the ammo will shoot in your rifle, but how it did across a range of rifles. The standard deviation gives you an idea of the variation of that accuracy. A load that shoots really well in one rifle and really poorly in another will have a high standard deviation.

I didn’t expect ultra-tight groups from any of the .350 Legend ammo, but four loads turned in sub-MOA five-shot groups and averaged just over an inch in rifles that preferred them. Overall accuracy was excellent and consistent for a cartridge that will typically be limited to under 200 yards. It’s notable that these exceptional results are with non-premium ammunition.

Things to Consider When Buying .350 Legend Ammo

Application

Although the cartridge was designed with a narrow focus on deer hunting, it would make a great hog gun, plinker, or even defensive rifle when chambered in an AR. Most of the ammunition you’ll find is intended for deer, and it’s all pretty accurate. That ammo would work well on hogs too, but for other purposes you can find full metal jacketed ammo, defensive hollowpoints, and subsonic loads (which are excellent when using a suppressor).

Cost

As with many products, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to rifle ammunition. In this case, the most accurate and consistent ammo was at the top for price, but even the cheaper .350 Legend deer ammo shot very well. For most purposes within the purview of the .350 Legend’s capabilities, the cheaper hunting ammo should work just fine.

Winchester Power Max Bonded 160-grain

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Award: Best Overall .350 Legend Ammo

Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.42 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .48 inches

Why It Made the Cut

The 160-grain Power Max Bonded load was the most accurate .350 Legend ammo tested, and has a bonded bullet that expands rapidly.

Key Features

  • Protected hollowpoint
  • Notched jacket
  • Bonded jacket and Core
  • Velocity: 2,225 fps

Pros

  • Great accuracy
  • Rapid expansion
  • Bonded bullet gives deep penetration
  • Good for hunting a variety of game

Cons

  • Big hollow point doesn’t help trajectory

Product Description

The .350 Legend’s wheelhouse is 150 yards (and less), on medium sized game, and the Winchester 160-grain Power Max Bonded fits it wonderfully. At its lower velocities, a rapidly expanding, deep-penetrating bullet is idea, and that’s what you get with this jacketed hollow point .350 Legend ammo. The core and jacket are bonded together in this bullet, but the protected hollow point and segmented jacket expand rapidly—even at lower velocities.

The overall accuracy of the .350 Legend ammo I tested was good, but this stuff was right at the top. In one rifle, it averaged 1.25-inch five-shot groups at 100 yards. That’s something that several .308 and .270 Win. loads I’ve been testing can’t claim.

This .350 Legend ammo is a little slower than some 180-grain loads and should really be used within 150 yards. At 2,225 feet per second, the trajectory isn’t impressive. If you zero two inches high at 100 yards, you’ll be about two inches low at 150 yards, and seven inches low at 200 yards. Despite that lower velocity, it should deliver excellent terminal performance and would make a great black bear load at short range.

Winchester Super X 180-grain Power Point

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Award: Best Value .350 Legend Deer Ammo

Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.87 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .58 inches

Why It Made the Cut

This Ammo wasn’t a standout in any single area, but was accurate, has a good bullet, and—at $27 per box—is some of the most affordable .350 Legend Deer Ammo available.

Key Features

  • 180-grain soft point bullet
  • Bonded jacket and core
  • Velocity: 2225 fps

Pros

  • Good accuracy
  • Good expansion
  • Great all-purpose hunting bullet
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Deflected easily by brush

Product Description

Winchester’s Super X line has long been a bread-and-butter ammo for deer hunters, and it’s no different with .350 Legend ammo. In fact, this .350 Legend load is one of the most accurate Super X Power Point loads I’ve tried in any caliber in a while. This simple 180-grain lead-alloy core soft point is a cup-and-core bullet with a notched jacket to aid expansion.  

The non-bonded bullet should retain a high percentage of weight at its lower velocities, especially beyond 100 yards. The .355-inch, 180-grain bullet isn’t very aerodynamic, so it sheds velocity fast—part of the reason cartridges like this are deemed less-apt to travel long distances should they ricochet. With a 100-yard zero, this load will drop almost 10 inches at 200 yards. Set your zero two or three inches high at 100 yards, and you can still be effective to 200, but 150 yards is a more realistic maximum point-blank range.

The accuracy of the 180-grain Super X Power Point wasn’t exceptional, but it was adequate for the basic deer ammo that it is. The Winchester XPR Stealth SR averaged 1.12-inch 5-shot groups with this ammo, which was exceptional. In every rifle tested, accuracy was more than sufficient for the effective range of the cartridge. Because the .355-inch bullet is broad and relatively slow, you might be tempted to poke through some light brush with it—don’t. I did some thorough brush bullet testing and despite the old .35 Remington’s reputation as a “brush buster,” bullets are easily deflected by small twigs and brush.

Winchester Copper Impact 150-grain Extreme Point

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Award: Best Copper .350 Legend Ammo

Average 5-Shot Group Size: 2.02 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .90 inches

Why It Made the Cut

Although some other mono-metal .350 Legend ammo is trickling out, Winchester’s 150-grain Copper Impact is the most available. It’s deep-penetrating, accurate, and lead-free.

Key Features

  • All-copper bullet
  • Solid base with tipped hollow point
  • Large polymer tip to initiate expansion
  • Velocity: 2260 fps

Pros

  • Good accuracy
  • Lead-free construction
  • Excellent weight retention
  • Suitable for large game

Cons

  • Some rifles can be picky with these bullets
  • Expensive

Product Description

As in the name, the Extreme Point Copper Impact bullet is immediately noticeable by its large, pointed, translucent red polymer tip. Part of Winchester’s larger Copper Impact line, this lead-free .350 Legend ammo features an all-copper expanding bullet with that notable tip. The bullet itself is monolithic with a solid base and a wide-diameter hollow point. The large polymer tip sits inside that hollow point, making the bullet more aerodynamic and initiating rapid expansion.

Like other .350 Legend loads, this one is in its prime out to 150 yards. Get beyond that and your trajectory and expansion will begin to drop dramatically. Being that the cartridge is designed for whitetail deer hunting, that’s perfectly suitable. The all-copper bullet will retain almost all its weight and deliver great penetration.

Copper bullets have come a long way in terms of accuracy, but they can still be a little unpredictable. In all the rifles tested, the Copper Impact shot pretty well—except for one rifle that averaged 4.5-inch groups with it. Take those groups out, and the average group size was 1.83 inches. Two of the rifles I tested it in averaged 1.3-1.4 inches, and the Henry Single Shot fired sub-MOA three-shot groups, opening up regularly with all ammo on rounds four and five. Because of the copper projectiles, this .350 Legend ammo is some of the most expensive, but the performance can be worth it.

Hornady American Whitetail 170-grain

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Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.71 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .63 inches

Why It Made the Cut

Hornady’s 170-grain American Whitetail .350 Legend ammo is an accurate, good-quality deer round at a great price.

Key Features

  • 170-grain soft point
  • Secant ogive design for better ballistics
  • Designed for easy expansion and good weight retention
  • Velocity: 2200 fps

Pros

  • Good accuracy
  • High weight retention
  • Bullet profile gives a good trajectory
  • Excellent price at $29 per box

Cons

  • Mediocre accuracy in most rifles, no standouts

Product Description

Hornady’s American Whitetail line is intended to bring good quality deer ammo at an affordable price. In that line, the .350 Legend ammo does just that. There aren’t many frills here, just a soft point and the dependable Interlock bullet which features a locking ring inside the jacket that keep the core from separating during expansion.

One interesting feature of the .355-inch interlock is that it has a secant ogive design—it’s gradually rounded nose profile—that gives this bullet a better trajectory than many other .350 Legend bullets. Even with the same velocity as other loads tested, this ammo gives the shooter a little bit more effective range. If zeroed two inches high at 100 yards, you should only be impacting two and a half inches low at 200 yards.

This .350 Legend ammo’s accuracy wasn’t bad, but it’s middle-of-the-pack. Many loads excelled in one or two rifles, but this one just shot a reliable good average. At only $29 per box, it’s one of the most affordable varieties of .350 Legend deer ammo.

Federal Power Shok 180-grain

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Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.97 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .70 inches

Why It Made the Cut

This .350 Legend ammo is a good combination of accuracy, terminal performance, and affordability. It has a 180-grain soft-point expanding bullet and costs about $30 per box.

Key Features

  • 180-grain bullet
  • Lead soft point
  • Velocity: 2100 fps

Pros

  • Good expansion
  • Good trajectory
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Accuracy was ok, not great

Product Description

Federal’s Power Shok 180-grain is another affordable .350 Legend deer ammo that performs well. The soft-point Power Shok bullet isn’t bonded, but it’s designed to give good expansion. It’s heavy enough to maintain weight at .350 Legend velocities. Simple, affordable, and reliable is what puts meat in the pot for most hunters, and this fits the bill.

This .350 Legend ammo has a slightly better trajectory than some of its competitors, dropping only about four and a half inches between 100 and 200 yards. That seems to be a pretty accurate claim, and if you sight two inches high at 100 yards, you’ll be about two and a half to three inches low at 200 yards. In other words, you can hold dead nuts and be right in the money out to the .350 Legend’s reasonable effective range.

The accuracy of the Federal Power Shok wasn’t as tight as many of the other loads, but it’s about what I expected from the .350 Legend, so I don’t find it disappointing. Some other loads simply surprised me. Averaging just about two inches for five-shot groups at 100 yards is completely sufficient for any deer or hog hunting you’d do with one of these rifles.

Winchester Deer Season XP 150-grain

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Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.60 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .74 inches

Why It Made the Cut

This .350 Legend deer ammo was surprisingly accurate in a number of rifles and is built for rapid expansion and terminal performance on whitetails.

Key Features

  • 150-grain Extreme Point bullet
  • Large-diameter polymer tip
  • Lead core
  • Velocity: 2325 fps

Pros

  • Great Accuracy
  • Dramatic expansion
  • Ideal for deer or black bears
  • Good trajectory

Cons

  • Likely wouldn’t have the best penetration on larger game

Product Description

Like the Copper Impact, this Extreme Point .350 Legend ammo has a large-diameter polymer tip that’s designed to initiate rapid expansion. Unlike the Copper Impact, this Deer Season XP ammo has a cup-and-core lead-core bullet. The bullet also features a notched jacket that guides expansion, and the higher velocity of this ammo gives it a more reasonable 200-yard effective range than some other Winchester loads.

Coming out of the muzzle at 2325 feet per second, the bullet has about seven and a half inches of drop between 100 and 200 yards. If you zero about 3 inches high at 100, you will be able to hold slightly above middle of a deer’s vitals and hit them reliably at 200 yards. The easy-expanding design of the bullet will ensure that you get good terminal performance at slightly slower downrange velocities.

Although the Deer Season XP wasn’t the most accurate ammo in the test, I was consistently impressed with the accuracy of this .350 Legend ammo, and it averaged 1.1-inch five-shot groups in two different rifles. That accuracy is important when shooting at or near 200 yards because the trajectory of the .350 Legend doesn’t offer much ballistic forgiveness.

Winchester 255-grain Super Suppressed

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Average 5-Shot Group Size: 1.74 inches

Standard Deviation in Group Size: .69 inches

Why It Made the Cut
The .350 Legend is an excellent cartridge to suppress, and it’s perfect for heavy subsonic bullets. The Winchester 255-grain Super Suppressed ammo is accurate, effective, and whisper-quiet.

Key Features

  • 255-grain bullet
  • Jacket designed to reduce suppressor fouling
  • Open tip for expansion
  • Velocity: 1060 fps

Pros

  • Great accuracy for a subsonic
  • Ideal subsonic suppressed cartridge
  • Open tip helps with expansion
  • Ultra-quiet with a suppressor

Cons

  • Not the best choice for hunting big game
  • Poor trajectory

Product Description

The .350 Legend is already a good cartridge to suppress, and supersonic loads take to a suppressor well. In fact, some of them showed better accuracy when shot through a can in my testing. A benefit of the cartridge like the .350 Legend is the ability to seamlessly handle both supersonic and subsonic bullets. This wide-diameter 255-grain open-tip bullet carries a lot of mass and is very quiet. The open tip isn’t deep, and probably won’t give dramatic expansion, but subsonic ammo doesn’t deliver dramatic terminal performance anyway.

Through the Ruger American Ranch Rifle, the Super Suppressed delivered an excellent 1.33-inch five-shot average group size. The trajectory is anemic, and that slow bullet drops like a rock between 50 and 100 yards. Beyond that, it drops off even faster (as subsonics do). An upside is that this .350 Legend ammo (and .350 Legends in general) don’t seem to heat up barrels and suppressors nearly as fast as other rifle ammo—even .300 BLK.

The 255-grain Super Suppressed would not be an ideal big-game hunting ammo simply because subsonics don’t perform to the same level on game that supersonic bullets do. I’m sure it would be hell on hogs and small game though.

How We Tested .350 Legend Ammo

To test the accuracy and functionality of this .350 Legend ammo, I used it in conjunction with my test of six .350 Legend Rifles. I fired five-shot groups at 100 yards from sandbags on a bench. Groups were fired in succession without breaking position (when possible) and barrels were allowed to cool completely between groups. I recorded a minimum of six groups per load, depending on available ammo. For most selections, I recorded between 15 and 25 groups. Average overall group size is listed here, as well as the standard deviation in group size. Most rifles had their preferred loads, but ammo with small standard deviation shot relatively uniformly in all rifles.

FAQs

Q: What is the best .350 Legend deer ammo?

There are many excellent loads for deer, and many of them are affordable. Generally, a soft-point bullet that is affordable and shoots well in your rifle will work just fine.

Q: What is the best .350 Legend ammo bullet weight?

A: That depends on the application, but most good hunting bullets are in the 150-grain to 180-grain range and are effective to about 200 yards. If you’re looking for the best penetration, use a heavier bullet. If you’re looking to maximize expansion on lighter game, use something on the lighter end of that spectrum.

Q: What is the fastest .350 Legend ammo?

A: Winchester’s Deer Season XP 150-grain Extreme Point was the fastest ammo I tested, but some plinking and range ammo like Browning 124-grain FMJ is as fast as 2500 fps. Lighter mono-metal bullets could be loaded to high speeds, but 150-grain loads will typically be the fastest for lead-core big-game loads.

Read Next: The Best .308 Hunting Ammo of 2022

Final Thoughts On .350 Legend Ammo

Living far, far away from any straight-wall cartridge restrictions, I never gave the .350 Legend a second thought. I still don’t have a specialized use for one in Alaska but shooting this ammo and these rifles have made me appreciate the cartridge’s accuracy and versatility for those who do live in those areas.

The accuracy of these loads impressed me thoroughly. None of them are premium or target loads built specifically for accuracy, but it’s probably the most accurate batch of regular ammunition in any cartridge that I’ve recently tested. I don’t think you could really go wrong with any of this ammunition.