The 350 Legend and 44 Mag (in a rifle) are popular rounds for deer and bear hunting. I enjoy shooting them both. Ballistically, they are actually a bit similar in some areas
The 350 Legend is 10 percent more powerful and has 25 percent more velocity at the muzzle than 44 Magnum. The 350 Legend has a slightly higher Ballistic Coefficient which means it takes longer to slow down than the 44 Mag. The 44 Magnum has 100-yards less effective range than a 350 Legend. Both work well within their effective range.
There really is a lot to consider when deciding between these two cartridges. I’ve gone over every difference I can think of in this article. This should help you make a good decision.
The 350 Legend is More Powerful than 44 Magnum
The 350 Legend is faster and more powerful than a 44 Magnum, but they are similar in bullet energy. The 350 Legend is flatter shooting, and less affected by wind. Recoil is similar for both and easily manageable by small shooters. The deciding factor is often cost and availability of ammo.
There are a lot of different loads in 44 Mag and the 350 Legend, but in no load combination will you find the 44 Magnum edging ahead in power. It’s not a huge difference between the two, but it’s certainly enough to make a difference.
The difference is around 10-20 percent, depending on the load and what distance you are measuring it at. The 350 Legend tends to hold on to its energy for longer because of a higher Ballistic Coefficient (BC), but there are higher BC bullets for the 44 Mag too. They’re just not too common. it’s hard to find a 44 Mag bullet over 240-grains.
The Hornady 240-Grain FTX, which is a really good bullet, has a BC of .205. The Winchester 180-Grain PowerPoint, an old-fashioned lead round nose, but the popular bullet, has a BC of .210. That’s not really much difference. Side by side, the 44 Mag may hold its energy a tad better, but the 350 starts out a lot faster.
An interesting point is that the 350 Legend was introduced alongside ammo with a near-maximum bullet weight of 180-grains. The heavier the bullet, the higher its Ballistic Coefficient (sort of). The 44 Mag has much heavier bullet weights available from specialty manufacturers, but 240-grain is the standard in gun stores.
The difference is one of sectional density. A big part of the ballistic coefficient is sectional density, which gives us a ratio of Bullet energy: Bullet drag, in other words, a high sectional density penetrates deeper than a low sectional density.
The approximate sectional density of a 240-grain hunting bullet in .44mag is 0.185. The 180-grain 350 Legend has a sectional density of 0.205.
The 350 Legend is a lot faster than a 44 Mag, but the 44 Mag can shoot a much heavier bullet. Just for kicks and giggles, let’s consider both cartridges of the same weight. Both came in 180-grain options. Generally speaking, the 180-grain 350 Legend is 200 fps faster than a 180-grain 44 Mag in a rifle.
Not, generally speaking, the 44 Mag is powerful and heavy while the 350 Legend is a bit more powerful and significantly faster.
Not all 44 Mag Ammo will Hold Up to Rifle Velocities
350 Legend hunting ammo is designed to function well between 2200 fps and 1000 fps. Since the 44 Mag was designed first for pistols, a lot of the ammo is designed for the lesser pistol velocities of around 1300 fps. That means that certain ammo will completely fall apart at the increased 1600 to 1700 fps.
If you had to shoot a deer through the front shoulder (deer angled towards you) at 20-yards, the bullet may fall apart in the shoulder and not reach a vital area. At closer range, this problem is exaggerated. Once the bullet slows down, say 40 yards or so, there is very little issue with bullet fragmentation.
In order to avoid this, I suggest using Hornady LEVERevolution ammo. I don’t know all 44 Mag ammo, but I know that this one is designed to hold up to the increased velocities, even at 5 feet from the muzzle.
At first, gun experts were worried about the 350 having the same issue since all bullets in the .355 category were previously for handguns, but Winchester developed new bullets specifically for the 350 Legend velocities. Like I said, They expend well and hold together from the muzzle, all the way down to around 1000 fps (250-yards or so).
The extra velocity is what makes the 350 better at penetrating body armor than a 44 mag. Assuming both cartridges are using basic fmj ammo, the 44Mag will not penetrate level 3A armor, but the 350, even in a pistol, will slice it like butter. The 350 legend in a rifle is no joke.
By the way, if you are thinking about body armor, I own and recommend level 3+ steel armor from RTS Tactical. It’s not going to give to any ar15. Level 3 is rated for .308 fmj ammo at point blank. level 3+ is a bit tougher yet. Here’s a link to the setup I own and recommend.
(If you buy one. I will make a small commission from it)
The 350 Legend Comes in More Guns, Including the AR-15
The reason I have a 350 Legend is that I could get it in an AR upper. For $250, I bought an inexpensive barreled upper that will kill deer at 200 yards without reserve. Since I already had the AR to put an upper on, it made sense. Plus, I really like the AR platform. I may not have gotten one if it wasn’t available in an AR.
The value of having 350 Legend in an ar, for mem is huge because it’s now highly applicable to any scenario from hunting to home defense. Plus, I really really like the way the AR handles recoil.
My only gripe with the 44 Mag is that there are almost no semi-auto options. Once upon a time, Ruger made a beefed-up version of the 10/22 in 44 Mag. People loved it, but they must have had manufacturing issues because they didn’t make many of them.
The 44 mag rifle/carbine is mostly a lever action. There have been some single-shot rifles made here and there, but most are Lever guns. I like a classic lever action, but I find them hard to keep my sight picture with follow-up shots. Plus, most of them seem to have a more compact stock which I don’t prefer.
Ammo Cost, 44 Mag vs 350 Legend
44 Magnum hunting ammo can be twice as expensive as 350 Legend ammo. A box of 350 Legend ammo costs $30-$40 and 44 Mag costs $45-$60. The extra cost of 44 Mag gives no additional function, use, or energy over the 350 Legend. The 350 Legend is a more economical option.
The Cost of 44 Mag ammo can be prohibitive. 44 Mag is an expensive caliber to feed. The expense is primarily because it’s never been all that popular. Less popular ammo means lower availability and usually, higher expense. For a new hunter, I wouldn’t advise getting a 44 Mag carbine unless you just really want a 44 Mag.
The 350 Legend is cheaper and offers more utility. It has more power and penetrates deeper with normal ammo than a 44 Magnum. A rifle chambered in 350 Legend is a better choice, cost-wise, than a 44 Magnum carbine.
Which is Better at 100 Yards?
There is little discernible difference between 44 Magnum and 350 Legend at 100 yards. The 350 Legend will tend to have more penetration, but the 44 Mag will still penetrate enough for deer and black bears. The 350 Legend has around 200 ft/lbs. more energy than a 44 Magnum at 100-yards.
Here is a chart of bullet energy in both cartridges.
|Cartridge||100 Yards||150 yards||200 yards||250 yards|
|44 Mag (240-grain)||1037 ft/lbs.||857 ft/lbs.||721 ft/lbs.||624 ft/lbs.|
|350 Legend (180-grain)||1218 ft/lbs||1005 ft/lbs.||828 ft/lbs.||685 ft/lbs|
Both cartridges are ballistically sufficient for hunting at 100-yards. A 350 Legend with a 180-grain solid lead-nosed bullet will penetrate further than most options you can get with a 44 Mag. in some instances, penetration can be the difference between making a clean kill and needing follow-up shots.
Realistically, the 44 Mag has plenty of penetration for an average deer at 100-yards. the issue may arise if you were trying to hunt one of the legendary northern giants that have been known to breach the 300-pound mark. Similarly, if you were bear hunting, you may want something that can penetrate fairly deep.
Going past 100-yards, the 44 Mag slows down pretty quickly and loses its potency. Neither the 44 Mag or 350 Legend are long-distance cartridges. Both slow down fast, but the 44 mag slows down faster.
Max Effective Range for 44 Mag in a Rifle
A 44 Mag will kill deer reliably out to around 150-Yards. The 350 Legend is good to a max of 250-yards. Because the 44 Mag is larger than a .357, it requires more energy to fully penetrate a game animal. Simply put, it has more bullet drag.
With the 350 Legend, I estimate that 650 ft/lbs are the bare minimum for effective wounding capabilities on deer. with the 44 Mag, it’s closer to 850 ft/lbs. It needs a little more force because it’s a fatter bullet.
44 Mag Ammo can be Hard to Find, so can 350 Legend
The everyday availability of ammo is a huge point to consider when looking for a hunting rifle. Both the 350 Legend and 44 Mag can be hard to find. The 44 Magnum has been out for a long time, but there never was much of a call for it on the market. The 350 Legend is new, but it’s been getting fairly popular in several areas.
I am of the opinion that the 350 Legend will continue its rise in popularity. In some areas, it probably won’t become popular enough to find ammo in a small gun store, but seems to be available in most of the larger gun stores I’ve been in throughout the country.
Go and check your local stores to see what they carry. Sure, You can order any ammo online, but it’s nice to know you can just run down to the store and get what you need for a hunt.
I tested out various 350 Legend ammo in barrel lengths from 25 to 10-inches and wrote an article on the max range of 350 Legend. Here are the articles.