Winchester Repeating Arms has a long and glorious tradition, going back to the middle of the 19th century. Every now and then, it introduces something new to the marketplace, be it a rifle, cartridge, or accessories. Sometimes, that something new ushers in a small-scale revolution, not to mention a great amount of hype. That’s sort of what happened at SHOT Show with Winchester.

Winchester unveiled its newest round at SHOT Show: the 350 Legend – and it’s got the community buzzing.

As a firearms and ammo manufacturer, Winchester undoubtedly feels the need to innovate, and also to keep up with the trends set by others. In doing that, a company always runs the risk of striking out on something.

Overall, Winchester has managed to make only few mistakes in what is otherwise considered to be a great ongoing run in the firearms market within the U.S., and the world.

So, what’s the deal with their newcomer, the 350 Legend?

350 Legend Winchester

This is a round based on the .223 case, but without a shoulder (straight-walled) and with no neck. It uses a .357 diameter bullet, which makes many heads turn immediately in the direction of the 357 Maximum.

The goal of this round – heck, of any round really – is to be the fastest and most powerful, while providing the deepest penetration and the least amount of recoil. Winchester claims that this round will be able to do all of that.

350 Legend Ammo
350 Legend Ammo Deer Season XP

Obviously, some of these claims are marketing tactics, and some of their stats could be seen as them cherry-picking the right ones to display. Okay, I get that. A lot of companies do it, and that’s fair. It’s part of the business of being in business.

On the surface, it sounds as if it is too perfect, though. And let’s face it: calling the round “Legend” could seriously and ironically backfire. Don’t get me wrong, it may reveal itself as a true legend indeed, but still, something about the name irks me just a little. Let the market decide that, you know?

350 Legend Ammo
350 Legend Ammo Power Max

This round will be available in different variants:

  • Deer Season XP – 150-grain Extreme Point
  • Super X – 180-grain Power-Point
  • Hog Special – 180-grain Power-Point
  • USA White Box – 145-grain FMJ Flat Nose
  • Power Max Bonded – 160-grain Bonded JHP
  • Super Suppressed – 265-grain Open Tip

Some states, which until recently were primarily or exclusively shotgun zones, have been changing their regulations to include straight-walled hunting cartridges the likes of the 350 Legend. This invariably means that the cartridge will find its market, one way or another, the question is for how long?

Because it is Winchester, people will want to give it a go, and you will always find loyal consumers willing to shoot it and try it out. But is this new round necessary? Do we really need another bullet in that category? And more importantly, will it be able to deliver on its promise?

A centerfire cartridge – Winchester’s first centerfire in over a decade, if I am not mistaken – the Legend is said to outperform their own .243 round. Honestly, I didn’t see how that was a claim they could make. I spent some time digging, because I don’t know the ballistics and stats offhand, and it still doesn’t seem logical that such a bullet will be able to surpass the 243. But I am not making any claims, certainly not before firing the thing!

350 Legend Ammo
350 Legend Ammo Super Suppressed

Based on the numbers, the 350 Legend will probably be a fine cartridge for shorter ranges, say up to 100, 150 yards. But at 200 yards – which is a distance Winchester has been citing in regards to the bullet’s effectiveness – it is possible that they are over-reaching. They claim that it will be able to perform like a 30-30, and dish out about the same amount of recoil as a 223 round.

To be clear, I am not doubting Winchester’s engineers or ballisticians, but they are marketing this cartridge as something, well, legendary, when it hasn’t been proven quite yet. Like I said, that could backfire.

Ammunition will be made available starting April 2019.

Winchester 350 Legend Rifle

In addition to the new round, Winchester is also introducing a corresponding XPR model. The new XPR Kryptek Highlander in 350 Legend is the latest addition to the XPR line of firearms. This is a line which Winchester has been manufacturing since 2015, and it is aimed particularly at hunters.

XPR Varmint Rifle
XPR Thumbhole Varmint

As mentioned, the 350 Legend is positioned to become a real favorite among those whose state’s hunting regulations limit them to straight-walled cartridges for hunting deer.

Other than the caliber change, this XPR is no different than its predecessors, in so much as it is seems to be another affordable, accurate, reliable, and right-off-the-bat successful piece of weaponry.

XPR Hunter Mossy Oak
XPR Hunter Mossy Oak Break-up Country

Judging by the previous XPR variants, there is a good chance that this rifle will live up to the hype, and be able to sand on its own two feet sooner than later. Winchester have always proved they know how to produce a high-quality bolt rifle, and there is no reason to think they will start failing now.

This new rifle will feature several finishes, an Inflex Technology recoil pad, a MOA trigger system, and a detachable box magazine.

  • Barrel Length: 22”
  • Overall Length: 42”
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 12 oz
  • Mag Capacity: 3

Upon release, the XPR Kryptek Highlander rifle chambered in 350 Legend will be available at a MSRP of $599.99.

XPR Hunter
XPR Hunter in Kryptek Highlander

Because the new 350 Legend cartridge is essentially based on the 223, there was immediately talk of who would be providing AR-style weapons chambered in that caliber. The 350 lends itself easily to AR-style platforms, but since ARs are not Winchester’s forte, someone else had to step up. And that someone was CMMG.

Shortly after Winchester introduce its newest caliber, CMMG introduced the newest addition to their line of Resolute 300 MK4 rifles, and this one was chambered in Winchester’s 350 Legend. This was all going on during SHOT Show itself, and it made me smile since I love seeing collabs take place.

The new arrival from CMMG currently has a MSRP of $1,549.95, and many of its specs are typical Resolute 300 features: superior grip and handguard, improved trigger and trigger guard, ambi controls, and CMMG’s limited lifetime warranty.

CMMG MK4
CMMG Resolute MK4 Rifle

Conclusion

Will this round – and its corresponding rifles – be everything Winchester (and CMMG) claim it to be? Are we going to witness a Legend turn into a straight-up myth, and disappear?

Some may claim the 350 Legend is not a necessity. Some may say that it is all hype, and that Winchester are simply blowing smoking up people’s cans, just to make it look as if they are more advanced. I understand that claim, actually. The hype is real and the shooting crowds love it, until the product fails to meet expectations in the range and in the field.

I think we will have to wait for the spring and summer of  2019, or some considerable time after that, before we will be able to make any accurate judgements about the true nature of this cartridge.

And even then, there is still a lot to be contended with. It’s not just about the promises made by the company regarding range, ballistics, and penetration. It has to also do with budgets and with state regulations.

It seems that the 350 has a pretty tall order to fill. Will it be able to do it? I am excited to find out!


Sam M

Sam is an avid firearms enthusiast who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow gunivores.

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