COLUMN: Time to chamber more rifles in .357 Maximum | Sports
Knowledge and understanding while both spokes are on the same wheel, so to speak, are very different.
Confuses you Okay, let’s approach this from another level if you’re a shooter or a hunter. The “Bull Moose” of the wooden cartridges in lever rifles, the .348 WCF, was introduced by Winchester in the Model 71, a lever rifle designed by the Model 1886 and built specifically for the .348 cartridge mid to late. 30s I think.
Conceived and designed to allow a lever weapon to compete with the increasing popularity of bolt actions, particularly those used in .30-06, it was a bear killing machine, albeit a bit cumbersome. As far as I know, the Model 71 was the only rifle that was ever used commercially in caliber. I’ve owned a couple of Model 71’s that are so chambered, but can’t say I really enjoyed both of them. They were just too heavy for backcountry packing even though both were carbines.
While the .348 WCF had its followers as a niche cartridge, it never became wildly popular. It was eventually replaced by the .358 Winchester in the mid-1950s, basically the newly introduced .308 Winchester, whose neck was expanded from .308 to .358 to accommodate a larger ball. Originally it was a cartridge designed for both pump and bolt action rifles.
The .358, which was also intended to compete with the .30-06, replaced the .348 as the tallest knocker in the commercial world because the terminal’s ballistics are quite similar and the benefit is on par with the .358 offering. It has also appeared in many more rifles than the .348 WCF, but was never any serious competition for the venerable “06”. However, commercially, the .358 ultimately suffered the same fate as its predecessor, although ammunition is still occasionally available.
The only fly in the ointment I can see is that the .358 is a .35 caliber cartridge and everything is .35 caliber, from the .35 Whelen to the .35 Norma Magnum to a variety of larger ones and smaller chambers that have never taken sports in America by storm. We don’t like them for some unknown reason and basically all but the .35 Remington can be said to have fallen by the wayside. Personally, I like and use most of them.
The .358 is just a .308 designed for a .35 caliber bullet. It also never took the hunting world by storm, which is difficult for me to understand. My newest .358 is in a Browning BLR and can be deadly accurate. On a good day I can group three 220-grain bullets into a group less than 1/2 inch in diameter, which I think is about as good as I can shoot with a commercial rifle with no special pedigree. It’s a stone killer on deer, and if I ever get the chance to use it on a bear or moose, I can imagine it will work very quickly.
If that’s not a minor headache for you, let’s take a look at Winchester’s newest commercial offering, the .350 Legend. Another .35 caliber for light rifles and hunting medium-sized game. It was launched in 2019 and billed as the fastest straight-walled cartridge on the market. It was advertised that it would shoot a 150-grain bullet at over 2,300 fps and more muzzle energy than a .30-30. Oh where do i start
To begin with, the legends fight the same tough battle as the other 35s. Caliber .30 is America’s caliber, right or wrong. As far as the marketing hype is concerned, the .30-30s I know also push bullets with 150 grains out of the muzzle at a little more than 2,300 fps. The last time I chronographed a .30-30 rifle I hunted with, the Winchester factory load with the 150-grain auger pushed it at a little over 2,500 fps from a 26-inch commemorative Buffalo edition Bill.
Chop the barrel down to 20 inches, the standard length of a barrel on a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 carbine, and subtract 25 fps for every inch of barrel under 26 (pretty much an industry standard), and we get almost exactly the same muzzle velocity from the old .30-30 as from the .350 legend. The problem, as I see it, is that nobody in the .30-30 makes a modern sporting rifle (AR). They make a .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, even the .308 and a bevy of other calibers to accommodate an animal with a .450 caliber, but not in .30-30 to my knowledge.
Retracing our steps and returning to the different popularity of the .348 WCF and the .358 WCF – which, as this compatriot can say, are nearly identical cartridges – this time around the difference between the .350 legend and the .357 maximum.
Older Gunnies will remember the .357 maximum as a turret round designed to do their job on the gun silhouette or when hunting guns. However, it was withdrawn prematurely because it developed tremendous heat due to the higher than expected pressures of the cartridge, and that heat made the pressure cones and upper belts of the revolvers in which it was chambered flame-cutting. Or at least that was what the whining was all about. Anyway, the whining eventually led to revolvers being discontinued except for the Dan Wesson revolvers, which fixed the problem. Despite the early problems with some revolvers, the cartridge excelled in single-shot T / C and similar firearms.
A couple of decades ago I had a New England top break single shot rifle with a maximum chamber of .357 and nothing but iron sights. I used it to kill deer, antelopes, coyotes, wild boars and my only mouflon ram. It discharges a 220-grain lead bullet with a gas check at just over 2,200 fps. Imagine a DRT (Dead Right There) range of around 250 meters for deer and the like. It’s about the same as the .35 Remington, another underrated round here in the west.
For several years now, shooters have spurred the industry into creating a lever rifle that used the maximum of .357 and was rejected by a host of lame excuses. And yes, we all know that the existing actions of the current .357-.44 Magnum Chambered Lever Rifles are too short to accommodate the longer .357 max. But it’s not the longer Model 94 Winchester or the 336 Marlin. So why the reluctance?
And again, yeah, I know the .350 legend was created to allow hunters in those backward states like Iowa that only allow cartridges or straight-walled shotguns for big game hunting to use an AR firearm that was in something Less abusive than the chamber is housed in the large .450 Bushmaster. By the way, I understand that Varmint hunters can use any high-powered rifle cartridge, with or without a bottle neck, to shoot Varmints in this condition. You just can’t shoot a deer with one. Also, the .350 Legend was designed to provide less recoil than the .450 Bushmaster or the .45-70 in a lever pistol. It is an alternative to improve harvesting opportunities in these states while complying with the parameters of the existing laws.
I know and applaud, but I don’t understand why they just didn’t use the .357 max in a lever gun? Or even build an AR platform around it? They built modern sporting rifles in damn close to every other off-beat cartridge. Why design a completely new cartridge for the modern sports rifle?
You don’t think it has anything to do with opening up entirely new markets, do you?