.350 Remington Magnum
Date: Aug 01 2012
While the popularity of modern “brush” cartridges can be a topic of much lament, the .350 Remington Magnum produces some very useful levels of performance. With power treading on the heels of the mighty .375 H&H and trajectories running neck and neck with the .308 Winchester, there’s no question the .350 can perform.
Brought out in 1965 in conjunction with the futuristic Model 600 carbine, the new cartridge started life in a compact and handy “woods-wise” package. Despite these qualities, the .350 Remington Magnum never really gained a large following, even when chambered in more conventionally styled rifles such as later offered by Ruger and Remington. One might argue that a good medium bore, by definition, will be a pragmatic balance of compromises, and that it hardly offers much in the way of Madison Avenue flash and record-setting sales numbers. Undoubtedly, the presence of other fine medium bores like the .35 Whelen, the .338 Winchester Magnum and the old standard .30-06 had much to do with the fate of the .350, but let’s not focus on popularity and talk about performance instead.
When working with a .350 Remington Magnum, one quickly runs into discussions of case capacity and magazine length. Remington’s original offering in the Model 600 carbine was quickly criticized for its short magazine, limiting overall cartridge length to 2.80 inches. That left only 0.63 inch of bullet protrusion beyond the 2.170-inch case length and required deep seating of longer spitzers and heavyweight bullets beyond 250 grains. This led to laments that the reduced case capacity and increased bullet jump resulted in velocity limitations and larger group sizes. Even so, reports indicate that velocities in excess of 2,650 fps with 200-grain bullets and 2,350 fps with 250-grain bullets are to be expected from these stubby carbines. In light of the fact that these numbers come from 6½- pound, 18½-inch barreled carbines, one can hardly complain about case capacity.
Remington’s later offerings in the short-action Model 700 will accepts lightly longer cartridges and, according to Ken Waters, case capacity gains of approximately 4 grains of water. All Ruger rifles chambered in .350 Remington Magnum will also accept rounds longer than 2.80 inches; my recent M77 MKII All-Weather preferred a maximum length of 2.890 inches. At this length, practically all the test loads failed to fill the available powder space, so take the complaints of deep seating and limited capacity with a grain of salt in rifles other than the 600 series.
One thing noticed while handling this short, fat round is that it is not necessarily the overall length perpendicular from bullet tip to case head that determines easy fit in a magazine box but the length along the diagonal from the bullet tip to the edge of the cartridge rim. A round that just fits when fed parallel to the magazine might bind fore and aft in the magazine when tipped.
The other area of complaint commonly heard regarding .350 Remington Magnums is that the rifles do not feed well. Although nobody seems to mention it, it is common to all short, fat rounds, especially with controlled-round feed actions like the Ruger. In a CRF action, the case rim must also slip under the extractor during the feed cycle in addition to being released from the feed rails and captured by the chamber. Other than fastidious design and execution of magazine boxes, feed rails and extractors, there is little that can be done to change the fact that fat rounds stack farther out of alignment with the chamber and that shorter cases turn tighter corners in traveling up the feed ramp from the magazine to the chamber. One possible solution to a rough feeding .350, easily done with a Ruger, was recently suggested by Rick Steinhour of Extreme Rifle Works in Arapahoe, Nebraska. A single-feed magazine box utilizing Ruger Scout rifle components might be a slick way to address feeding problems with the .350 Remington Magnum or other short magnums.
Once you work past the issues of limited case capacity and magazine length and have a rifle that feeds well, the .350 Remington Magnum really is a honey. Bullets of .358 inch are readily available, and slugs meant for .35-caliber rifles commonly range from 180 to 280 grains. Lightweight pistol bullets starting at 110 grains running all the way to heavyweight rifle bullets such as Woodleigh’s 310- grain duo are also available in this diameter. Be aware that the SAAMI spec twist is one in 16 inches and may not stabilize the longer slugs, although Ruger’s latest rifles came with a one-in-12-inch twist. The rifle used here has this tighter twist and showed no problems whatsoever in digesting the long Woodleigh 275-grain Protected Points and Swift 280-grain A-Frames.
The .350 has a solid reputation as a good gun for naked lead, no doubt helped by the slower 16-inch standard twist and the parallel throat design that Remington prefers. In the test rifle, the four random loads tried with 165-grain semiwadcutter gas check (SWC GC) bullets printed into 1.5 MOA or less. Be aware, though, that some flat-point bullets will only exacerbate feeding issues, especially when trying out short pistol bullets for plinking loads.
Excellent velocities were easy to obtain with readily available powders. Whatever the reason, the two spherical powders tried, BL-C(2) and H-335, produced a prodigious muzzle flash and blast. Magnum primers did not help. In addition to excessive muzzle blast, loads with these powders failed to fill the case, so they are not recommended. The old adage that the .350 and .35 Whelen are ballistic twins proved to be true, and load data for the Whelen proved to be useful in the .350. No mystery here, their case capacities are identical. As always, begin with starting loads and work upward with caution.