The Greatest Huge Sport Cartridge You’ve By no means Heard Of

A gun retailer worker shocked me lately when he stated he’s seen an uptick in requests for rifles chambered in .35-caliber cartridges. And he wasn’t simply speaking concerning the .357 Magnum or the .350 Legend. Requests for the .35 Whelen and .35 Remington are additionally on the rise, he stated, however he couldn’t level to any compelling motive for the development.

One gun store in East Texas doesn’t a motion make (because the outdated saying goes), however not lengthy after, a reader wrote in to counsel I cowl one other .35-caliber cartridge: the .358 Winchester.

The .358 Win. was launched in 1955, loved some recognition within the a long time that adopted, however has since languished in relative obscurity. That is considerably puzzling as a result of it was (and nonetheless is) by all accounts a wonderful huge sport cartridge.

It occupies a center area between a .308 Winchester and a .45-70 Authorities, providing each whomping energy (that’s the technical time period) and medium-to-long-range capabilities. Why such a cartridge isn’t extra common in a time of hybrid cartridges just like the .300 Blackout is a query value asking.

What’s a .358 Winchester?

The .358 Winchester is, primarily, a necked-up .308 Winchester. It was developed for Winchester’s Mannequin 70 bolt-action and Mannequin 88 lever-action, and it’s additionally been chambered in Savage’s Mannequin 99, Ruger’s Mannequin 77, and Browning’s BLR.

Loading knowledge signifies it might probably push a 180-grain bullet about 2,700 feet-per-second (fps) on the gentle finish and a 250-grain bullet about 2,200 fps on the heavy finish. The most typical bullet is a 200-grain tablet, which it might probably eject from a 22-inch barrel about 2,500 fps.

By comparability, a .308 Winchester strikes a 175-grain bullet about 2,600 fps, and a .30-06 Springfield shoots the identical bullet about 2,700 fps. These numbers are variable, after all, but it surely’s protected to say that the .358 can compete with among the hottest .30-caliber cartridges whereas producing an analogous quantity of recoil.

The .358 may also shoot a lot heavier bullets than both the .308 Win. or the .30-06. These 250-grain projectiles touring 2,200 fps provide 2,687 foot-lbs. of power on the muzzle, which is probably going why Frank C. Barnes stated in “Cartridges of the World” that the .358 is “higher than the .30-06 on heavy sport at shut ranges.” That’s excessive reward.

It’s additionally extra highly effective than the .45-70 whereas nonetheless being chambered in useful, short-action rifles. A .45-70 can fireplace a 250-grain bullet somewhat over 2,000 fps, which produces about 15% much less power than the .358.

A bigger diameter bullet touring about as quick as a .308 with extra energy on faucet than a .45-70? It’s not arduous to see why Barnes additionally factors out that the .358 is “satisfactory for any North American huge sport,” together with moose and grizzly bear.

So, Why Isn’t the .358 Winchester Extra Well-liked?

Regardless of this glorious load knowledge and Winchester’s brand-name recognition, the .358 Win. in all probability isn’t in your go-to record of cartridges for this fall’s huge sport season.

An absence of rifle and ammo availability is actually a motive extra hunters don’t go for the .358 in 2023, however that’s true of just about each cartridge sooner or later in its historical past. The actual query is why the cartridge hasn’t been common sufficient to warrant higher rifle and ammo choice.

One motive for that obvious discrepancy is perhaps that “middle-ground” cartridges typically have a troublesome time competing within the free market (the .257 Roberts and different quarter-bore cartridges are prime examples). Cartridges have to supply sufficient variation to justify the expense of the gun. Since a .308 Win. can do most of what a .358 Win. can do, for instance, it doesn’t make sense to buy each of these cartridges together with a extra highly effective magnum cartridge for longer ranges or bigger sport. A .243 Win., a .308 Win., and a .300 Magnum can cowl just about any hunt in North America. Including a .257 or a .358 in these center slots isn’t definitely worth the expense for most folk.

The .358 additionally suffers from a critical lack of bullet availability. Probably due partly to the U.S. army’s desire for .30-caliber cartridges, there have been vital R&D efforts round .30-caliber projectiles. Yow will discover an enormous vary of bullet weights and constructions together with the lengthy, high-BC bullets so favored by hunters and aggressive shooters. Reviewing bullet choices and factory-loaded cartridges for the .358 appears like wanting again in time. Most are brief and fats, and never splendid for longer ranges.

That doesn’t imply the .358 Win. is solely a short-range or “woods cartridge,” and I feel gun author Rick Ryals is correct to level out in his protection of the .358 that the majority hunters by no means take a shot past 250 yards anyway. Nonetheless, in a time when long-range looking is all the fashion, hunters would somewhat personal a cartridge extra able to that occasional 400-yard shot.

To take only one instance, these 200-grain .358 Win. hundreds drop about 50 inches at 400 yards with a 100-yard zero. These 165-grain .308 Win. hundreds from Sig Sauer, in contrast, drop half that–24 inches–at 400 yards and are packing double the power. A hunter must appropriate holdover for both shot, however a flatter trajectory and a higher-BC means the bullet shall be much less affected by wind, which is the true enemy of a long-range hunter.

Final Shot

Some nonetheless preserve that the .358 would have been a preferred cartridge if not for the machinations of uninformed gun writers.

“Gun writers have the ability of life and dying over rifle cartridges,” opines the aforementioned Ryals. “They’ve typically wielded this energy to cripple enormously helpful cartridges, and the .358 Winchester has been one in every of their victims. It has been depicted time and again, each in magazines and reloading manuals, as a short-range woods cartridge. This notion, greater than the rest, could clarify the thriller of the .358’s unpopularity.”