350 Legend vs 5.56 | Is 350 Legend a Multi-Purpose AR-15 Round?

The 350 Legend is becoming increasingly popular as a multi-purpose AR-15 round.

With anti-gun and anti-Second Amendment groups waging war against the AR-15 platform and labeling it an assault rifle, the 350 Legend has been gaining traction.

The 350 Legend is better known as a sporting round used for hunting deer and hog hunting, so it skirts those "assault rifle" labels on the AR-15 chambered in 5.56.

350 Legend vs 5.56 | Rifle
Author’s 350 Legend AR from Faxon Firearms with a 3x Prism Optic from Primary Arms.

While it is less effective than 5.56 past 200 yards, within that 200-yard area, the 350 Legend is quite effective at filling the role the 5.56 does and does it devastatingly well.

And while 350 Legend is not considered a NATO round and is therefore not as plentiful as 5.56, when these groups begin going after the 5.56 ammo itself, 350 Legend will be there to save the day.

Plus, in many places, it’s illegal to hunt with 5.56, whereas you can legally hunt with 350 Legend, so you’re filling multiple roles such as hunting, home defense, and sporting.

The Primary Differences Between 350 Legend and 5.56

The obvious difference between these two is the cartridge specs.

5.56 is a bottleneck cartridge, whereas the 350 Legend is a straightwall cartridge.

The 350 Legend, introduced by Winchester in 2019, was specifically crafted to comply with the regulations for straight-walled cartridges required for deer hunting in states like Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

The 5.56 NATO, created in 1980 by FN Herstal, evolved from the 223 Remington (M193). While the 5.56 and 223 Remington share identical external case dimensions, the 5.56x45mm NATO variant was engineered to accommodate a heavier 62-grain bullet (M855), necessitating a higher pressure and a faster 1:7 twist rate barrel for optimal bullet stabilization.

Not often mentioned, both the 350 Legend and the 5.56 share the same rim diameter of 0.378 inches, simplifying the conversion of a 5.56 AR-15 to fire the 350 Legend with just a barrel swap and a new magazine.

350 Legend vs 5.56
62 grain 5.56 (left) 170 grain 350 Legend (right)

The case lengths of these two rifle cartridges are quite similar, with the 5.56 measuring marginally longer at 1.76 inches, compared to the 1.71 inches of the Legend.

350 Legend vs 5.56
150 grain TCP 350 Legend (left) 62 grain M855 (center) 170 grain Soft Point 350 Legend (right)

Despite their comparable external lengths, the 350 Legend boasts a greater case capacity than the 5.56, holding 36.5 grains versus the 28.5 grains of the 5.56. This increased capacity is crucial for the 350 Legend to effectively propel its heavier projectiles to effective muzzle velocities and energy on target.

Both cartridges are designed to handle similar maximum pressures as specified by SAAMI, with the 5.56 chamber accommodating up to 55,114 psi, slightly higher than the 55,000 psi for the 350 Legend.

Beyond the cartridge specs, there are a few other differences. One of those is recoil. The recoil of a 350 Legend cartridge is slightly more than a 5.56, but not by much.

Regardless of the little bit of extra recoil, the knockdown power you’re getting makes up for it.

The other has to do with the difference in ballistics between the two. When calling the 350 Legend a multi-purpose AR-15 round, we need to take into account the ballistics.

Ballistics Chart Comparing 350 Legend and 5.56

We chose to go out to 500 yards since that is the standard for many training courses and military qualifications.

Range (Yards)350 Legend (150gr TCP)350 Legend (170gr SP)5.56 (55gr M193)5.56 (62gr M855)
02,250 FPS | 1,686 ft-lbs2,400 FPS | 2,174 ft-lbs3,260 FPS | 1,289 ft-lbs3,110 FPS | 1,331 ft-lbs
1001,822 FPS | 1,105 ft-lbs2,023 FPS | 1,545 ft-lbs2,855 FPS | 995 ft-lbs2,794 FPS | 1,075 ft-lbs
2001,456 FPS | 706 ft-lbs1,686 FPS | 1,073 ft-lbs2,485 FPS | 754 ft-lbs2,500 FPS | 860 ft-lbs
3001,179 FPS | 463 ft-lbs1,397 FPS | 736 ft-lbs2,144 FPS | 561 ft-lbs2,224 FPS | 681 ft-lbs
4001,014 FPS | 342 ft-lbs1,173 FPS | 520 ft-lbs1,831 FPS | 409 ft-lbs1,966 FPS | 532 ft-lbs
500915 FPS | 279 ft-lbs1,031 FPS | 401 ft-lbs1,552 FPS | 294 ft-lbs1,782 FPS | 411 ft-lbs


Looking at the chart above, even though 5.56 is moving at a considerably higher velocities, the energy displacement of the HOP Munitions 170gr 350 Legend is superior to the 5.56. At 100 yards and 200 yards, the knockdown power of that 350 Legend round is devastating to say the least.

350 Legend, with the right equipment and shooting skills, can make hits out to 700 yards. Although you’re making extreme corrections to make those hits, it can be done. Check out the following video to see for yourself.

Speaking of equipment, let’s take a look at the Faxon Ascent AR-15 chambered in 350 Legend. One of our favorite AR platforms that is chambered for this impressive straight-walled cartridge.

Faxon 350 Legend AR Rifle for Home Defense and Hunting

When looking for an AR chambered in 350 Legend, the Faxon Ascent 16" 350 Legend AR-15 Rifle stands out as one of the best on the market.

Faxon Ascent 16" 350 Legend AR-15 Rifle

at Faxon Firearms
Prices accurate at time of writing

Faxon Firearms, known for their commitment to quality, brings their expertise to the forefront with the Ascent Rifle, a testament to their dedication to the industry.

The rifle’s standout feature is its 16" Gunner Profile Barrel, coated with nitride for increased durability and corrosion resistance.

This barrel length, coupled with a 1:16 twist rate, is perfectly suited for the heavier 350 Legend bullet. This combination ensures that the bullet is stabilized effectively, maintaining the necessary velocity for the best possible terminal ballistics.

350 Legend vs 5.56 | 350 Legend Upper
Faxon Ascent 16" 350 Legend Upper Receiver Group

The result is a rifle that not only hits its target with remarkable accuracy but also maintains a manageable weight for comfortable handling and a durable build that can handle any environment.

Best Multi-Purpose 350 Legend Ammo

HOP Munitions 170 Grain Soft Point

The HOP Munitions 170 Grain Soft Point stands out as our top choice for a multi-purpose AR-15 round in the 350 Legend category.

350 Legend – 170gr Soft Point – 20 Rounds

at HOP Munitions
Prices accurate at time of writing

This ammunition is expertly crafted to offer a perfect balance between accuracy and stopping power, making it ideal for a wide range of applications.

The 170-grain soft point bullet is designed to expand upon impact, ensuring maximum energy transfer and effective performance on target.

Whether for hunting or tactical use, the HOP Munitions round provides reliable performance under various conditions, making it a versatile and dependable choice for AR-15 enthusiasts.

Winchester Super X 180 Grain

Winchester’s Super X 180 Grain in 350 Legend is a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality and performance.

WINCHESTER Super X 350 Legend 180Gr Power Point

at Kentucky Gun Company
Prices accurate at time of writing

Known for its exceptional precision, this round is engineered to deliver consistent accuracy at various ranges. The 180-grain bullet weight adds to its versatility, making it suitable for medium to large game hunting.

Its controlled expansion and deep penetration characteristics ensure that the Super X 180 Grain round is a reliable option for hunters seeking a robust and effective ammunition choice for their 350 Legend AR-15.

Federal Power Shok 180 Grain

The Federal Power Shok 180 Grain is another excellent choice for 350 Legend shooters looking for a multi-purpose round.

Federal Power Shok 350 Legend 180gr SP

at Sportsmans Warehouse
Prices accurate at time of writing

This ammunition is renowned for its superb knockdown power, a critical factor for hunting and self-defense scenarios. The 180-grain bullet is engineered for optimal performance, offering deep penetration and consistent expansion upon impact.

The Federal Power Shok’s reputation for quality and reliability makes it a favored choice among AR-15 users who demand top-tier performance from their 350 Legend ammunition.

RELATED – HOP Munitions: Innovating with Leading Poly Ammo

All This said, why should you favor the 350 Legend over 5.56?

The biggest reason is that 350 Legend can be used in an AR-15 platform, giving you multiple capabilities with a single rifle.

In the Eastern Woodlands, where I live, I’m never going to take a shot past 200 yards, so the 350 Legend just makes sense. I can hunt with it, defend my homestead with it, and take it to the range for sporting purposes.

Terminal ballistics within that 200-yard area are devastating. At 200 yards, the energy displaced with a 350 Legend is roughly 1,073 ft-lbs. Compare that to the roughly 812 ft-lbs from 5.56 or even 790 ft-lbs from 300 blackout.

Whatever you hit with 350 Legend within 200 yards is not getting back up.

Combine HOP Munitions 170-grain Soft Point loads with the Faxon Ascent in 350 Legend for unrivaled precision and power.

Table of Contents

  • The Primary Differences Between 350 Legend and 5.56
  • Ballistics Chart Comparing 350 Legend and 5.56
  • Faxon 350 Legend AR Rifle for Home Defense and Hunting
  • Best Multi-Purpose 350 Legend Ammo
  • HOP Munitions 170 Grain Soft Point
  • Winchester Super X 180 Grain
  • Federal Power Shok 180 Grain
  • All This said, why should you favor the 350 Legend over 5.56?

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