350 Remington Magnum Ballistics
350 Remington Magnum Trajectory
Shooting and Reloading the 350 Remington Magnum
By Ken Dyck
I must confess, I’m not a real advocate of the larger caliber rifles. I’ve owned, shot, and subsequently sold a 458 Winchester Magnum, a 375 H&H and a 8mm Remington Magnum. My 458 was a very nice looking and finely built post 64 Winchester Model 70, I had planned to re-barrel it to something smaller, but I sold it instead.
Each person has certain recoil tolerance level, practice can raise that, and increase ones proficiency, but the 458 was too much for me. I practiced, but that 458 would concuss me, making load development impossible. The 375 H&H was a beautiful Sauer 80 and although the recoil was less than a 458, the recoil still bothered me and I really saw no need to keep it any longer. After 30 years, most of which was spent as a safe queen, it got sold.
Thus ended my big bore era, I moved down in calibers. My collection became small bores, a 30-06 being my largest rifle. I again became comfortable with the 270 Winchester. I did venture upwards in caliber, buying a FN98, 8×57 Husqvarna to fill my Mauser itch, but for the most part I avoided recoil.
Why do I now own and shoot a 350 Remington Magnum? It is not a big bore, but being over 8mm it is well into the larger medium bore category. I was not shopping for a 350 RM, but life has a way of making stuff happen. A very good friend no longer hunts big game and he wanted me to buy his rifle. The rifle is a Remington Classic, and being in 350 makes it a 1985.
My friend had bought the rifle new, put a 2 – 7 Leupold on it and had fired a total of 2 boxes of factory through it. The package came with a set of RCBS dies, also of 1985 production, the scope in Redfield rings, a box of 200 gr. Sierra RN bullets and the 2 boxes of once fired brass. Being somewhat of a package deal, it also included a nice Baikal IJ-58MA. I remember when my friend bought the 350 RM and I helped him sight it in. I remember it being accurate, but what I really remember is how much recoil it had. I also remember commenting that I was glad it wasn’t my rifle.
And so the project began. I’m retired, so I can set aside time for projects. Unfortunately, sometimes the project consumes me. One of my work mates had an expression, “Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you”. The “bear” and I are still fighting over this one. I replaced the Leupold scope with a Bushnell 4200 1.25 – 4, not because I had to, but because I wanted a dangerous game scope to make the rifle look more “Safari” or “African”. The Bushnell worked excellent for about 20 rounds; it then became an out of focus example of bad parallax. After a short time Bushnell sent back my scope, having replaced the erector assembly, on warranty, no charge.
I removed the scope and mounts. I added a Williams receiver sight, removed the factory rear sight and replaced the factory front sight with a Williams streamlined ramp and a .406 high Williams bead. While I was at the front of the gun, out came the Manson military re-crown kit and the muzzle now sports a fine 11 degree crown. I may relocate the front swivel, a barrel band swivel mount would probably be better. I have since replaced the recoil pad with a Limbsaver pre-fitted pad, and am pleased with it, the poke that I used to get from the edge of the dried out Remington pad is no more.
35 caliber rifles are somewhat of an oddity; they are effective at getting game, shoot accurately as a rule, working well in both short and long barreled versions and they all seem to become obsolete at an alarming rate. Shortly after the factory stops chambering rifles in a caliber, factory ammunition becomes an issue and obsolescence soon follows.
The list of effective 35 rifle calibers include the 35 Remington, 35 Winchester, 358 Winchester, 9 x 56mm Mannlicher, 9 x 57mm Mauser, 350 Remington Magnum, 35 Whelen, 350 Rigby Magnum, 358 Norma Magnum and the 358 STA. I’ve included the 9 x 56mm Mannlicher and 9 x 57mm Mauser in the list as they are very nearly 358 and show that European 35’s trend the same as their American cousins.
The 350 RM sits in the middle of the pack and as such, you’d expect it to shoot average weight bullets at average velocity and be effective over average ranges. I can live with that. What is an average weight bullet for 35 caliber? For that matter what is the average weight of bullet for any caliber. Bullet weight is relative, it’s best to categorize using sectional density.
In general a bullet with a SD near to .300 is in my books a heavy bullet for the caliber, likewise a SD of near .250 puts it in the middle weight category and a SD of .200 would make a bullet a light weight. To affirm my categories an internet search yielded these generalities for most hunting calibers;
The Sectional Density for various 35 caliber bullets goes like this, 150gr. = .17SD, 180gr. = .20SD, 200gr. = .22SD, 220-225gr. = .25SD, 250gr. = .28SD, 275gr. = .31SD and a 310gr. 35 caliber bullet has a SD of .346. I’ve rounded some of the SD’s, no need to be anal.
“A bullet for CPX1 game will usually have a SD less than .200, a bullet for CPX2 game will be near .230 in SD, and a bullet suitable for CPX3 game will have a SD of between .260 and .270, and when it comes to big bore rifles for CPX4 game most have a SD over .300.”
In order to make my 350 into a CPX4, dangerous game, rifle it would need to shoot at least a 275 grain bullet, perhaps perfect would be a well constructed 285gr. bullet at 2400fps MV. That would be a twin of a 286gr. 9.3 x 62mm Norma load, a dangerous game round, for perhaps all but the big five.
The 1985 Remington Classic is not suitable for that. It has a 1:16 twist which is better suited for lighter weight bullets. It has a magazine of 2.800, and that’s it, which even precludes (arguably) the use of 250gr. bullets. A 350 Remington Magnum, in a different rifle, with a magazine of at least 3.1 inches and a twist of at least 1:12 may be capable of duplicating that load, with a premium bullet.
I’d really like my 350 to be a moose rifle. The 350 Remington Classic should be capable of accurately shooting a 225gr bullet at a MV of 2600fps. Woodleigh makes a 225gr PP SN Weldcore with a BC of .372. When I plug that data into the Hornady H.I.T.S. calculator it comes up with a score of 1327, well into the “Large Game” category.
With a sectional density of .25 it sits between bullets normally used for CPX3 and CPX4. The premium 225 grain bullets come with a price, that being around 70 $ for a box of 50. I will load some of these bullets, later, after I learn more the nuances of the 350. Let’s see what can be done with a more economical 200 grain bullet. I chose the .358 200gr. Hornady FTX with its BC of .300, and with a muzzle velocity of 2800fps the 100 yard velocity is 2500fps. H.I.T.S. calculates it with a score of 1115, a decent “Large Game” load.
This bullet, with a SD of .22 puts it in the CPX2 category, with a BC of .300 it has a decent point blank range and having the cannelure in a good location is beneficial as well. The short magazine and 1:16 twist should pair up nicely with either the 200 or 225 grain bullet. The bottom of a 200gr. FTX seated at a C.O.L. of 2.775 (crimped in the cannelure) sits even with the shoulder of the case.
For clarification, Hornadys H.I.T.S. explains the categories thusly:
Small Game; less than 500 H.I.T.S. The basic rule of thumb is that an H.I.T.S. rating of 500 or below describes a bullet/cartridge combination best suited for small game animals weighing less than 50 pounds.
Medium Game; 500-900 H.I.T.S. A rating of 501 to 900 applies to bullet/cartridge combinations that are applicable for medium-sized game such as deer, antelope, black bear, and caribou, or game weighing 50 to 300 pounds.
Large Game; 901-1,500 H.I.T.S. A rating of 901 to 1,500 specifies cartridge/bullet combinations well-suited for large and heavy, but not generally considered dangerous game. This includes elk, moose, African plains game, red stag, American bison, and other animals weighing between 300 to 2,000 pounds.
Big Five/Very Large Game; over 1500 H.I.T.S. A rating of 1,501 or greater indicates cartridge/bullet combinations that are suitable for very large game – game that is content hunting you back. There is no weight rating on this category since animals like African lions may weight only 400 pounds.
As data is readily available, I began by loading the 200gr Hornady FTX bullet with H4895. I used this load for sighting in and test firing. I used F210M primers and settled on a load of 58 grains, seating the bullet for a C.O.L. of 2.775 inches and crimping in the cannelure. A normal 350 RM chamber comes with a leade of just over a quarter inch, and my chamber is normal. That and the 2.800 inch magazine make it impractical if not impossible to seat this bullet close to the rifling.
An important criteria when seating bullets is to have all of the neck of case contacting the shank of the bullet, it helps with bullet alignment. The 200gr. Hornady FTX seated to utilize the cannelure for crimping, C.O.L. = 2.775, is fully supported by the neck of the case. The 58gr. load of H4895 was a decent load, accurate and reliable. I did not chronograph the load.
However, I really wanted to use Hodgdon CFE 223, it had worked so well in the 8 x 57mm with 150gr bullets, accurate and over 2900fps MV. The difficulty is finding any data for CFE 223 in the 350 RM. I categorize CFE 223 as being somewhat similar to BLC-2 with an additive for limiting fouling.
Hodgdon data for BLC-2 lists a starting load of 55gr. and a max load of 60gr. I decided that a starting load of 59 grains of CFE 223 should be safe. When using ball powder in medium capacity cases I usually use CCI 250 Large Rifle Magnum primers, they are formulated to give enough heat for igniting ball powder.
To determine the chamber pressure I measured the pressure ring as described by Ken Waters in his book “Pet Loads”. Measuring the pressure ring expansion or PRE, 59gr was a good starting load, giving less expansion than a factory round. Because the 59gr load was milder load than factory I increased the load in 1 grain steps. I stopped at 65 grains. 65 grains is nearly 100% load density and as a rule I avoid compressed loads of most ball powders. The PRE for this load is about 0.0005 larger that of a factory round. I have fired this load repeatedly and I’m on reload #4 and #5 for some of the cases and there are no signs of loose primers or over expansion at the belt.
On most magnums it’s fairly easy to “see” the effect of higher than normal pressure, the distance from the edge of the belt, the headspace lip, and the beginning of the body that gets sized by the die starts to shrink, and in extreme cases the die will actually form a new lip. That is more of a guideline than a rule, as it is dependent on “normal” dimensions, of the brass case, the FL reloading die and the rifle chamber.
The ¼ inch leade tends to create a situation where high pressure loads are the most accurate and it also tends to smooth the pressure curve. I refer to this as the Weatherby factor or to be technical, the freebore effect. I suspect that if Hodgdon ever lists data for CFE 223 in the 350 RM it will probably have 62grains as the max load, to cover those situations, where the bullet may be able to be loaded just off the rifling, as pressure will be higher.
This picture shows the loaded rounds. It also shows the un-sized ring just above the belt lip. The brass is reformed, previously fired 458 Winchester Magnum brass and the diminished ring on the right case is the product of a higher than normal 458 load.
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