Is 350 Legend Good for Youth?

I’ve had a 350 Legend for a while now. It’s an awesome caliber and it’s well earned a place in the front row of my gun safe.

The 350 Legend is one of the best youth hunting calibers ever. Its low-recoil, impressive wound channels, and large bullet diameter make it an excellent rifle for youth hunters. It can shoot 200-yards without compensating for drop, and it’s the hardest hitting of low-recoil rifle rounds. It also works well in barrels 16-inches and under.

What’s all the hype around the 350 Legend? Well, let me tell you. You’re gonna want to read through to the end.

Most Kids Can Handle the 350 Legend With Ease

The 350 Legend is generally a compact rifle. It’s a very natural, maneuverable gun for young shooters. The most common barrel length is 16-inches. Even with the short barrel, it still doesn’t have much recoil. And, unlike most other rifles with a 16-inch barrel, it’s not overly loud and doesn’t have much muzzle flash.

The big question for youth rifles is “is it too much for my son/daughter to handle”. I’ve talked to a lot of dads who bought a 350 Legend for their kids. Some kids as young as 8 years old. Not one of them said their child thought the gun recoiled harshly.

In fact, I think my 16-inch barreled .223 is louder than my 16-inch barreled 350 Legend. It does have more recoil than the .223, about twice as much. But, that’s still pretty light. And, it has a lot more killing potential than a .223 has. I recently talked with someone who killed a moose with a 350 Legend close up.

Let’s compare it to a classic youth gun, the single-shot .410 shotgun. Most .410 single-shots have between 8 and 10 pounds of recoil with various loads. The 350 Legend has between 7 and 8 pounds of recoil. They both average the same weight, but the 350 is usually much better balanced and swings better.

The starting diameter of a 350 Legend is near that of a fully expanded .223

The 350 Leged Does More Damage than other Low-Recoil Rifles

The 350 Legend tends to create a wider wound channel than any other rifle round with under 8-ft/lbs. of recoil. That’s because it has a very wide diameter of .357-inches (9mm) and it comes in heavy options like Winchester’s 180-grain PowerPoint. It’s a big ole, heavy bullet with not a lot of recoil.

In fact, it’s the biggest, heaviest, and most powerful bullet you can find with under 8-ft/lbs. of recoil. It’s my personal opinion that over 6-pounds of recoil is too much for the average young child hunter. I’m a Sunday school teacher, so I’m around a lot of kids. The average 8-year old should have no problem with the recoil of the 350 Legend.

To further put the recoil into perspective, a .243 has about 10 ft/lbs. of recoil, a 30-06 averages 21 ft/lbs., and a 20-gauge shotgun has about 22 ft/lbs. of recoil. You want your kids to practice with their rifle. Kids won’t want to practice if it’s not enjoyable to shoot. One thing said by dads and kids alike is the 350 Legend is fun to shoot.

Skinny bullets expand, but big bullets don’t shrink. Compared against other low-recoil options like the .223 and 6.5 Grendel, the 350 Legend outperforms them all in terms of wound size.

A fully expanded .223 bullet is only about as wide as an un-fired 350 Legend bullet. Even fmj loads in 350 Legend show some impressive wounding. By the way, Winchester does make a less expensive fmj load that’s great for plinking and small game.

The youth setup I recommend is as follows:

The AR reduces recoil, fits smaller frames well, and usually has an adjustable stock that can be lengthened as kids grow. The Vortex Crossfire II scope is inexpensive, durable, and easy for kids to use.

I’ve used the Crossfire II for years. You can read about my experiences with it in this article.

As far as the rifle, I have take a liking to the Side-charging ARs from Bear Creek Arsenal. Because I already had an AR, I just bought a complete upper in 350 Legend and swapped calibers in 20 seconds. Right now that upper is in the possession of a 14 year old girl who has taken two bucks with it. Side-charging ARs are better for kids.

I have bought several of the side-charging rifles from Bear Creek. I would rely on them. Here’s an article about my experiences with them.

200-Yards Without Holdover

The 350 Legend has a max point-blank range of 200-yards. That is, if you sight in the gun at 175-yards, it will not be more than 3-inches up or down from 0 to 200-yards. That’s the point and shoot distance. after that, the bullet drops off sharply.

Once again, that’s impressive for a 35-caliber bullet with so little recoil. You do have to know approximate distances or have a rangefinder handy if you want to play at the further end of its effective range of 250-yards. The bullet stays pretty flat shooting up to 200, but it starts hugging the ground soon after.

Basically, the furthest that most people could shoot off-hand is just a point and shoot distance. And hunting in brushy or wooded areas, as long as I can get a clear shot, It’s point and shoot.

Both recovered at 100-yards, a fully expanded .223 and 350 Legend showing frontal surface area.
The .223 fragmented a bit but the 350 Legend stayed intact.

The 350-Legend will Kill Deer, Hogs, and Bear at 250-Yards

The 350 Legend has an approximate max effective range of 250-yards. After that, the bullet slows down and drops too much to be practical. It still has enough power for bigger animals. Any animal 400-pounds or under won’t stand a chance at 250-yards with a 180-grain bullet as long as you make a good shot.

The 350 Legend is proven effective on deer, hogs, and bears across the country. It’s gaining popularity with hog hunters in the south and bear hunters in the west who just want a handy brush gun that will punch a big hole, yet has low recoil. I’ve even seen people use it for elk. Although, that’s stretching it a bit.

It’s becoming very popular among the younger generation of hog hunters. They’re learning to appreciate lower recoiling options than the previous generation. Mainly because low-recoil means faster shooting and staying on target better.

On another note, the 350 is a good brush gun. By that, I mean it tends to remain stable after impacting a leaf or small twig. The longer, skinnier, spitzer-style bullets tend to lose stability and tumble. I’m not saying you should shoot through brush. Often when hunting, we don’t notice every small twig between us and the animal.

Heavier, wider profile bullets at slower velocities do tend to remain stable and on target better after going through brush. It’s been thoroughly tested.

AR With Adjustable Stock for Growing Children

The AR-15 is a great rifle for small kids because most have an adjustable stock that can slide to fit small people. And, as a child grows, they can just slide the stock out to the next adjustment. The adjustable position stock is now standard on AR-style rifles, which is awesome.

One dad told me he was struggling to find a deer rifle for his son. Being a small boy, his dad thought an AR would be the only gun to fit him well. Plus, the Semi-auto action reduces recoil a bit. But, he was uneasy about shooting deer with a .223. When learned about an AR in 350 Legend, it solved both his problems.

It’s a low-recoil round with a big bullet, a lot of energy, and it fits in an AR which is the easiest rife to operate. Now, I know that it has a shorter range than the .243 and 6.5 Creedmoor. But, as a youth gun, it rocks. Most kids don’t shoot well when they have to start compensating for drop and windage.

I actually wrote a really great comparison of the 350 Legend and 6.5 Creedmoor. Here’s a link to it.

I always will recommend youth to simply shoot within the point-blank range of their rifle. With basically all rifles, that’s 200 to 250-yards before you need to adjust the scope or guess holdover and memorize the bullet’s drop. So, you want them to wait for an easy shot, which is good hunting ethics, right? And you want them to have success early on.

I do recommend a rangefinder to be sure deer are in range, just because kids can have a tough time judging distance. Shucks, sometimes I have a hard time guessing distance. You can also rangefind and mark distances before the hunt so you don’t have to bother when deer are around. That’s what I do.

350 Legend is Good for Plinking and Small Game

The 350 Legend is a fine option for small-game, plinking, and target practice. Winchester makes a less expensive, 145-grain fmj load that’s got a higher velocity than hunting loads. The higher velocity makes it a bit flatter shooting to 200-yards.

It’s a pretty nice option for varmints and small-game. It’s also somewhat popular for home defense. The flatter shooting lets you hit smaller targets like fox or raccoons easier

The Winchester load tends to run around 200 fps faster than standard 350 hunting ammo. Browning makes a 124-grain fmj load that’s cruising at 2500 fps. That’s literally a 9mm bullet at three times the velocity and over four times the bullet energy of 9mm loads.

It’s not as cheap as the Winchester, but it’s more precise ammo. It’s gaining popularity as an all-purpose utility load and for target shooting. with small game, these bullets don’t tear them up too much. But, they sure work. They do a great job on coyotes.

Here are two other great articles I wrote about the 350 Legend: 350 Legend vs .223 and Best Barrel Length for 350 Legend

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

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