Best Barrel Length for 350 Legend

I Love the 350 Legend. It’s one of my all-time favorite cartridges. I have an AR-15 chambered in 350 Legend and it’s a great rifle.

The best barrel length for a 350 Legend is between 24 and 16-inches. A 24-inch barrel averages 100 fps faster and 10 percent more bullet energy than a 16-inch barrel. A barrel shorter than 16-inches will begin to reduce the effective range below the established 250-yards.

Take a look at this chart. It’s a good representation of the scale at which the 350 legend performs at various barrel lengths.

350 Legend Velocity Chart, by barrel length

Winchester 145-grain fmj, rated at 2,250 fps in a 16-inch barrel (shot a bit faster in this test barrel)

Barrel length (in)25242322212019181716151413121110
Velocity (fps)2377237823752348234623362320230922772268225022222186215521252071
Bullet Energy (ft/lbs.)1819182118161775177217571733176116691656163015901538149514541381
Drop at 200 yards7.897.907.928.

There is no appreciable gain with the 350 Legend after 24-inches of barrel length. The most power is at 24-inches barrel length, but there is no significant difference in ballistics between a 24 and 16-inch barrel.

The 16-inch barrel performs very well. This 180-grain bullet was recovered at 100-yards from a ballistic medium.

Handiest barrel length for 350 Legend.

Most hunters agree that the best barrel length for the 350 Legend is 16-inches. That’s the shortest you can go and still expect 250-yard hunting potential. The 24-inch barrel creates around 150 ft/lbs. more energy than the 16-inch, but that only equates to about 30-yards more effective range.

I recommend Bear Creek Arsenal for 350 Legend AR rifles and complete uppers. Click the ad below to see their products.

Here’s another chart, this time comparing the average energy of 16 and 24-inch barrels using 180-grain hunting bullets. In order to stay into a highly effective range, the 350 bullet needs at least 750 ft/lbs. of energy. let’s see how they actually compare.

*your rifle may differ up or down, but this will show the scale of difference in barrel lengths.

Barrel length200 yards250 yards275 yards300 yards
16-inch906 ft/lbs.755 ft/lbs.690 ft/lbs.633 ft/lbs.
24-inch1002 ft/lbs.834 ft/lbs.761 ft/lbs696 ft/lbs

So, here we have the max effective range (approximately) of a 180-grain Winchester bullet, a superb hunting load, in a 16- inch barrel as about 255 yards. That’s the threshold of 750 ft/lbs. of energy. The 24 -inch barrel, even though it starts out with seemingly significantly more energy, hits the threshold at about 285-yards.

That’s a difference of 30 yards effective range. On the other side, it will cost you a bit more money, add a pound to the gun’s weight, and eight inches of length on the end of the barrel. If you are hunting deer, I can see no difference at all ineffectiveness or ballistics of the 16 vs 24-inch barrel.

I would advise going with what feels better. Go to the gun store and pick up some guns. shoulder them and see what feels well balanced and holds up easily. A lot of folks are finding the shorter barrel to be better balanced and easier to point and handle.

Some will argue the 650 ft/lbs. is a better threshold, and sometimes I agree, but that’s not important. The important part is the difference between these two barrel lengths being basically non-existent past 200-yards. Surprising? I thought so too. Now, there is a functional difference at closer ranges. Say, up to 150 yards.

If you want to read a bit more in detail about the 350 Legend effective range, Here’s an article I wrote about it.

The 24-Inch Barrel is Better for Bigger Animals under 150-yards

This chart shows the ballistic advantage offered by the 24-inch barrel up to 150 yards. Once again, using data from the 180-grain Winchester loads.

barrel length25 yards50 yards75 yards100 yards125 yards150 yards
24-inch1862 ft/lbs.1711ft/lbs.1570 ft/lbs,1478 ft/lbs.1316 ft/lbs.1203 ft/lbs.
16-inch1697 ft/lbs.1557 ft/lbs.1426 ft/lbs.1305 ft/lbs.1192 ft/lbs.1089 ft/lbs.

The 350 legend is a light recoiling cartridge. That means it’s also low energy. If you want to shoot a deer, no problem out to 250-yards. But if you want to take a larger animal, you may need a bit of an edge. For an elk-sized game, the threshold of bullet energy is about 1,200 ft/lbs. once again, only the slightest edge in effective range.

But at close distance, there is more of a difference in bullet energy. I’m really stretching here, but it’s one of the only reasons why the 24-inch barrel may have an advantage. It’s a very slight advantage at best, but if you want the extra bullet energy for elk or big bears, you might want a 24-inch barrel. Or, just get a 450 Bushmaster.

I do know that 350 Legend revolver with a 12-inch barrel will shoot through a pistol-rated armor vest. The mighty 44 Magnum will not. It’s really an impressive feat. One of the benefits of writing these articles is doing tests like that.

The Added Weight Reduces Recoil

The extra pound of the 24-inch barrel reduces the recoil of the 350 Legend by 20-percent compared to a 16-inch barrel. That is a noticeable reduction in recoil and can make the recoil more comfortable for small shooters. It may be a good choice for youngsters hunting in a blind where they won’t be carrying the rifle long ways.

All in all, I’m struggling to find a reason to have the longer barrel. I really thought it would make a bigger difference in ballistics than it does. Get what you like, but now you know the actual number and data involved. Good luck shooting.

If you liked this article, you will probably be interested in these:

350 Legend vs .223 and 350 Legend vs .357 Magnum

Jordan Buck

Jordan Buck is an outdoor writer, a man of faith, and a family man. He grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping. Jordan has taught marksmanship, woodsmanship, and self-defense classes. He has earned black belts in four martial arts and is a certified Krav Maga instructor. He also runs his own Gun Blog and YouTube Channel. Jordan enjoys giving his time and resources to help others and has spent 15 years volunteering in a boy's mentoring program He is and will always be an American Patriot. MOLON LABE

Recent Posts