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.358 Winchester

History

 
Famous for its lever action rifles, it is ironic that Winchester’s attempts to evolve the lever action brush carbine along with potent medium bore cartridges have had only limited success. 
 
In 1902 Winchester chambered the Model 1886 lever action for its first smokeless powdered medium bore cartridge, the .33WCF (see .348 Winchester). This cartridge utilized a 200 grain bullet loaded to a velocity of 2200fps. The .33 WCF was popular for a time but sales eventually waned. 
 
In 1903 Winchester released the .35 WCF for the Model 95 Lever action rifle. The .35WCF fired a 250 grain .358” bullet at 2200fps, a relatively potent cartridge for its time. The .35WCF cartridge suffered the same fate as the .33. That said, the model 95 rifle is highly sought after today for its unique box magazine design. 
 
Four years later Winchester introduced another medium bore cartridge, the .351 Self Loading, designed for the Model 1907 Autoloader. This fired a .351” 180 grain bullet at 1850fps. This too suffered a similar fate to its earlier medium bore kin, retaining limited popularity with police departments for anti-personal use. 
 
Regardless of all new cartridge designs one factor could not be overlooked: the American hunter was beginning to fall in love with the bolt action .30-06 military issue (and surplus) Springfield rifle. Here was a rifle and cartridge that boasted ample power and reach in a well-designed platform.
 
During the 1920’s Winchester focused on bolt action rifle development. The famous model 94 lever action rifle did however continue to enjoy ongoing success, but efforts to develop new brush carbines chambered for more powerful cartridges were, at least for the time being, put on hold.
 
In 1936 Winchester tried once again to release a potent lever action rifle with the introduction of the model 71, chambered for the potent .348WCF. Set to replace the .33WCF, the .348 unfortunately followed past trends with sales eventually waning. Having said this, both the Model 71 and .348 cartridge are highly regarded, saved from oblivion by a small but staunch fan base. 
 
While Winchester focused on rifle development, wild catters continued to experiment with the Springfield action. And by the mid 1920’s, the .35 Whelen had been created based on the .30-06 case, necked up to accept .358” bullets. This ‘poor man’s .375’ would steadily grow in popularity but for the time being, no major commercial rifle or ammunition manufacturer was willing to adopt this as a mainstream cartridge. The same could be said of other bore diameters based on the .30-06 case. It took many years for Remington to adopt the .25-06 and .280; and although the .256 Newton was popular for a time, this has yet to be adopted by any of the mainstream giants.
 
In 1954 the U.S adopted a new military cartridge, the 7.62 NATO. Two years prior to its military acceptance Winchester applied for and received the rights to adopt the 7.62 commercially as the .308 Winchester. This speculative action was highly successful due to the fact its military use would ensure ongoing and overwhelming popularity. Capitalizing further, Winchester necked the .308 case down to 6mm in 1953 which resulted in the equally successful .243 Winchester.
 
In 1955 Winchester once again attempted to design a powerful medium bore cartridge, this time using the .308 case. The .308 case was necked up to .358” to create the .358 Winchester. In its first year of production the .358 was chambered in the new scaled down compact Model 70 rifle that had been designed to house the .308 and .243 cartridges. Also in 1955 Winchester introduced the Model 88 lever action rifle. The Model 88 featured a box magazine rather than traditional tube magazine usually found on lever action rifles, enabling the 88 to be chambered for cartridges loaded with pointed bullets. In its first year, the Model 88 was chambered for the .308Win cartridge. The following year, in 1956, the Model 88 was made available in both .243 and .358.
 
Prior to the introduction of the .358 Winchester, U.S gun writer Jack O’Conner had written articles suggesting that there was a strong demand for a compact medium bore cartridge for hunting medium to large game out to moderate ranges. When Winchester released the .358, much to O’Conner’s surprise, the new cartridge received little attention. Winchester factory loads featured a 200 grain bullet at an advertised 2490fps (24” barrel) and a 250 grain bullet at 2230fps; the 250 grain load was later discontinued due to poor sales. The Model 88 became popular for a time in its various chamberings but sales eventually dropped and the rifle was discontinued. The .358 cartridge however lived on.
 
The .358 Winchester currently enjoys a modest following throughout western countries. Those who use it find this cartridge thoroughly effective. It is more common now to see custom built rifles chambered in this caliber, as factory .358 rifles were not built in great numbers. Having said this, one of the more successful factory offerings was the compact Browning BLR lever action rifle in .358Win.
 
Factory ammunition for the .358 Winchester is not overly common however components are readily available for hand loading.
 
During the 1980’s Winchester attempted to create rimmed cartridge variations of the .308 and .358 cartridges for use in their M94 XTR Big Bore lever action rifle design. These cartridges were designated as the .307 and .356 Winchester, even though bore diameters were (are) the same as their parent cartridges. Unfortunately, these cartridges suffered the same fate as their earlier lever action siblings, although both were and are very well designed cartridges; the .356 in particular offering excellent performance.
 

Performance

 
The .358 Winchester has and will always be compared to the parent .308 Winchester chambering. The .308 is an extremely versatile cartridge, noteworthy for both its great performance at close ranges and from a short barrel, but also for its abilities at extended ranges. How then can the .358 possibly compete?
 
The one aspect of the .358 that really shines through is energy transfer. When using heavy bullets in the .308 Winchester for bush / woods hunting, there is at times a risk of using a 180 grain bullet that is too stout for the job at hand. Yet if we switch to a 150 grain bullet, we may find that this is insufficient should large body weights be encountered. These issues can be remedied with careful bullet selection. The .358 on the other hand, is generally more ‘forgiving’. In this instance, a heavy bullet can be selected without the risk of poor energy transfer. From this we obtain both wide wounding and relatively deep penetration. Furthermore, at close ranges where velocity is highest, the forgiving nature of the .358 bore allows some room for shot placement error.
 
When bush or woods hunting, shot placement can be a tricky affair. Ideally we should practice to strike the forwards chest area of game to break bone and destroy the autonomic plexus and forwards section of the lungs. This helps ensure an on the spot kill. In reality however, we cannot always guarantee such shot placement. We may do our best, but mistakes happen, especially when shooting offhand (without a rest). Animals may also be flighty and step or jump as we shoot. It is under these circumstances that the .358 bore comes through, creating heavy trauma, allowing us to take follow up shots. The .358 bore also generally creates a free bleeding blood trail with the exception of gut shots.
 
The trade off is a decrease in effective range. Having said this, the .358 is no slouch.
In the past, certain authorities have been slammed as being responsible for limiting this cartridge’s popularity after stating that it is suited to woods ranges only.
 
Generally speaking, the .358 bore produces its most spectacular results at impact velocities above 2200fps. If we take the 225 grain Sierra Gameking as a basic example loaded to 2400fps, the Gameking breaks 2200fps at around 90 yards. Beyond this range (which we could generalize as being ‘100 yards’), this cartridge may produce delayed killing with rear lung shots, though game do not generally travel too far. Internal wounding is broad and depending on game body weights, a good exit wound helps with tracking. In many instances, game move off in a drunken like fashion, rather than a lengthy dead run. But if shots are kept forwards, killing remains fast below 2200fps.
 
The Sierra Gameking reaches its limit at around 300 yards (1800fps). Those who have a good scoped bolt action rifle, have practiced carefully at 100 yards, understand shot placement, wind drift and bullet drop can make use of the .358 out to this 300 yard range. Beyond 1800fps, the Sierra bullet loses its ability to render fast kills. Wind drift may also cause more dramatic errors.
 
For those who wish to use this cartridge in this manner, the Gameking can be sighted to strike 3” high at 100 yards for a zero of around 200 yards, a drop of (very roughly) 3” at 250 yards (the practical limit for some shooters), 6” at 275 yards and 12” at 300 yards rounding all figures to multiples of three for the sake of hard wiring information. Wind drift (10mph) can be thought of in a similar context, rounding of to 12” at 300 yards.
 
Regarding bullet weights, the .358 Winchester does its best work on light to mid weight game when loaded with 200-225 grain bullets which obtain a balance of high velocity, a reasonable trajectory, high trauma and desirable penetration.  If hunting large and heavy game, the .358 is best loaded with 225 grain premium bullets. If loaded with 250 grain bullets, impact velocities may be below 2200fps, therefore shot placement must be sound (forwards shoulder shot placement). Loaded with suitable bullets the .358 is a spectacular performer at close ranges and in an accurate rifle, is a reliable performer out to a maximum range of around 300 yards.
 
The .358 can be loaded with either blunt bullets (flat or round nose) or pointed bullet designs. Please understand that bullet shape does have a more pronounced effect in this bore in comparison to the smaller bores. This becomes an important consideration with increased bullet weight. For example, the 250 grain Interlock round nose bullet (now discontinued) is a fast killer of lean game at close ranges while its pointed counterpart is not, though it will generally produce acceptable internal wounding and a good blood trail. As a summary to this, we can say that in the .358 bore we can enhance performance by selecting bullet shape rather than changing bullet weights. However this does have an effect on trajectory, impact velocities and effective ranges.
 
When hunting large bodied deer the heavy pay load of the .358 helps greatly when taking angled shots - without us becoming completely reliant on bullet construction (within reason). Here again we see the more forgiving nature of the .358. The same cannot be said of the .270 Winchester loaded with the likes of the 130 grain Ballistic Tip or SST. These pills can perform extremely well but are also just as likely to suffer shallow penetration on mid weight stags / bucks.
 
When hunting heavy game, the .358 produces a good balance of broad wounding and deep penetration when loaded with premium bullets. Furthermore, premium .358 caliber projectiles are generally versatile. One can hunt both light and lean or heavy game with a 225 grain premium bullet, without great concerns over whether the bullet is either too soft or too stout, though there are limitations to this. If on the other hand we select a 250 grain conventional soft point (e.g. 250 grain Speer Hotcor) in the hope that its weight and low speed will enable it to hold together and penetrate well, we lose some of this versatility. Shot placement therefore becomes critical while ranges should be kept relatively short.
 
Beyond these considerations, the real question is how well can you shoot and how accurate is your rifle. Within this text I have mentioned delayed killing below 2200fps, yet the .358 is a fast killer with forwards shoulder shot placement below 2200fps. This shot placement helps ensure destruction of the autonomic plexus while at the same time, maximizes trauma. But to achieve such shot placement, one needs to have a good rifle, good technique, a good grasp on the trajectory of the .358 and a good handle on wind drift. To further this point, while it is nice to experiment with a range of bullets, best results occur when the hunter takes time to develop an accurate load, tested at 100 yards and then learns how to shoot this one load out to his intended ranges. But in my experience many .358 users never get past the experimental stage - the wow factor that comes when playing with various and interesting bullet shapes. Furthermore, few hunters take the time to explore medium bore rifle accuracy to its fullest extent. We can therefore say that both those who call the .358 a woods cartridge and those who call it a more capable all around cartridge each have valid points.
 
So who does the .358 suit? To me, it suits those who hunt in bush to semi broken country including river flats and open faced gullies. The .358 suits the hunter who needs a cartridge that can help overcome shot placement issues due to difficult conditions, as well as the hunter who wants a mild recoiling cartridge which can tackle light through to large bodied game.
 
There are three general twist rates for the .358” bore which include 1:16, 1:14 and 1:12, the last of which is perhaps now the most common. The 12 twist is quite ideal for pretty much all of the .358’s and generally speaking, only becomes a problem when attempting to drive light (180-200gr) bullets at velocities above 2950fps in the magnums.
 

Factory Ammunition


Sadly, Winchester no longer furnishes ammunition for their .358 creation.
 
One of Winchester’s final loads for the .358 featured the 200 grain SilverTip bullet at 2490fps. This velocity was measured from a 24” barrel, and from the 22” barrels typically found on .358Win rifles velocity loss was around 70fps for 2420fps. This load was suitable for medium game and was adequate for heavier game under ideal conditions. But it was inadequate for heavily boned game unless shots were placed tight behind the shoulder, thus avoiding any risk of bullet blow up on heavy ball joints. As a medium game bullet it could be quite a spectacular performer, and it is a shame to no longer see the SilverTip (in any caliber) on the shelves of gun stores.
 
Fortunately, Hornady still carry the torch of the .358 Winchester with their 200gr Spire point, listed at 2475fps for a realistic 2400fps from 20 to 22” barreled rifles. This bullet is designed to produce rapid expansion. The 200 grain Interlock has such a low sectional density that it is almost like an ogive missing its bullet shank, though it is certainly a longer bullet than the 180 grain Interlock. In any case, this exaggeration of terms should allude to how this bullet performs.
 
The 200 grain Interlock is a fast killing bullet, ideal for medium game at close to moderate ranges. But from a muzzle velocity of 2400fps the Interlock is about done by the time it reaches 210 yards where it breaks 1800fps. Had Hornady adopted a heavier bullet, hunters most likely would have complained about slow killing due to the bullet quickly passing below 1800fps (unless the heavy bullet would have had a more generous BC). Hornady do tend to hedge their bets, in this case assuming that the .358 is more often used on mid weight game than larger body weights. The more one investigates such things, the greater the understanding of how ammunition manufacturers go about their business. In any case, the 200 grain Interlock makes for an acceptable deer load, a fast killer at close ranges, a clean killer at moderate ranges. As long as hunters do not place unrealistic expectations on this low SD bullet, the Interlock can be put to good use.
 
Apart from Hornady only Double Tap and Buffalo Bore currently offer .358 Winchester ammunition. I have yet to test these loads for myself and unfortunately have no firsthand knowledge of their performance, only the correspondence of a good friend in Portland Oregon who has enjoyed shooting the truly hot Buffalo Bore .358 ammunition, launching 225 grain Gameking or TSX bullets at 2500fps. These are decidedly more potent than Hornady’s offering but can produce maximum pressures in some rifles. 
 
The bullets used by Double Tap and Buffalo Bore feature Barnes TSX, Gameking, Nosler Accubond or Speer bullet loads. Please see ahead for bullet performance.
 

Hand Loading

 
The .358 is a doddle to hand load. Brass can be formed from .308 cases using Hornady dies. Hornady make both .358 Winchester dies along with generic ‘.358 neck’ and seating dies; the latter being useful for a host of .358’s, including wildcat magnums. The Hornady dies feature an oval shaped neck expander button for case neck sizing, and whether one likes the Hornady brand or not, these dies are invaluable for case forming (including wildcat) operations in general.
 
As a further side note on brass, Lapua small primer pocket.308 cases may also be used. These cases may offer increased velocity in the order of 150fps over standard primer pocket brass, as yet another of my correspondents in the fellowship of the .358 has reported. Food for thought.
 
The .358 Winchester performs well when loaded with fast burning powders in the ADI 2207 / H4198 range through to ADI 2206H / H4895 if using 225 to 250 grain bullets. During experimentation it can pay to start with the faster burn rate, adopting the slower burn rate as a course of ongoing experimentation rather than the other way around. This also applies to the likes of the .356 Winchester and .35-303. 
 
From a 22” barrel the upper average velocities include 2700fps with 180 grain bullets, 2500fps with 200 grain bullets, 2400fps with 225 grain bullets and 2250fps with 250 grain bullets. The .358 gains or loses around 35fps for each inch of barrel added or removed. This cartridge is not quite as efficient as the .308 Winchester (case to bore ratio).
 
It should also be noted that with 200 to 225 grain bullets some rifles produce velocities up to 100fps above figures quoted here. However, for those intent on the endeavor of chasing top velocities the .35 Whelen is a more practical cartridge choice; the Whelen produces velocities on average 150fps higher than the .358 Winchester. If that still does not satisfy you, the .358 Norma and STW are the obvious next choices.
 
For hunting light game the .358 can be loaded with .357 Magnum bullets. Hornady’s 180 grain XTP bullet can be loaded to 2700fps; however, this bullet and the 158 grain XTP are better utilized as youth loads, down loaded to between 2200 and 2400fps, so as not to inhibit penetration.
 
The .357” Speer 158 grain Gold Dot hollow point and 170 grain Gold Dot flat point at .358 Winchester velocities are more reliable than the XTP on light game up to 60kg (132lb). The 170 grain Gold Dot used at close ranges performs well from muzzle velocities of 2400fps up to 2800fps.
 
Hornady offer four Interlock projectiles in the .358 caliber, following their discontinuation of the 180 grain Single Shot Pistol bullet. These include the 200 grain round nose, 200 grain spire point, 200 grain Flex Tip (FTX) and finally the 250 grain spire point.
 
It is only now as I edit these notes and while rechecking the ever changing Hornady website that I have noticed that the 250 grain round nose bullet - a truly wonderful bullet design - has been discontinued. It seems that during the years 2015 and 2016 Hornady have stopped making a great many favorites. This is a great shame. If this trend continues, we may one day end up with a single AR-15 bullet and a single factory load. Gone are the days of diversity and experimentation. However, this does open the door for new manufacturers.
 
Speaking of the two 200 grain Hornady bullets, there is a big difference between the round nosed and pointed bullet designs. The round nosed bullets are extremely fast expanding and in the case of the 200 grain weight this can inhibit penetration. The 200 grain round nosed Interlock is therefore better suited to hunting light bodied deer species at close ranges (also Mountain Lion). Results can be quite spectacular and this bullet works very well down to 2200fps (70 yards), continuing to provide modest performance down to 1800fps (170 yards). From 1800fps to 1600fps (230 yards), this bullet needs to strike the center or forwards shoulder in order to achieve fast killing; therefore shot placement is of great importance.
 
The 200 grain Hornady spire point as already mentioned (Factory Ammunition section) can make for a useful all around deer bullet. This bullet produces slightly more delayed expansion and therefore slightly better penetration than its round nosed counterpart which excels on very lean animals. In contrast to this the 200 grain bullet gives acceptable penetration on mid weight deer from varying angles, but this also has its limits and cannot be used to take tail on shots. From a muzzle velocity of 2500fps the 200 grain spire point breaks 2200fps at 100 yards and gives modest results to 1800fps or 250 yards.
 
The 200 grain Hornady FTX is a very fast expanding, violent bullet. It is well suited to light to mid weight deer species. Bullet weight loss is generally around 50% - like a traditional Interlock or SST; this in plain terms results in excellent energy transfer on lean game but limits its potential with regards to large bodied game. This bullet can produce very spectacular kills above 2200fps (105 yards) and clean killing to 1800fps (260 yards). It is an excellent deer bullet but should never be used for heavy game.
 
 
If used for tail on shots on game weighing up to 60kg (132lb), all three Hornady bullets may reach vitals but can also suffer full disintegration. Recovered bullets from raking shots can display mushrooming back to a point in which no shank remains and the remaining core and jacket are somewhat flattened out. Some hunters complain that when used at ranges beyond 100 yards the 200 grain Interlocks are too stout and do not kill unless major bones are struck. These bullets are in fact extremely soft. The reason for delayed killing is again the low velocity and the resulting absence of hydrostatic shock along with decreased hydraulic shock (disproportionate to caliber wound channel / see Effective Game Killing). The reason why these bullets appear to require heavy bone to initiate expansion is that the autonomic plexus (central nervous center) is located within the line of the forelegs; once the autonomic plexus is destroyed, death occurs immediately. The increased disruption of the projectile striking shoulder bones also helps to promote wounding at low impact velocities along with the destruction of the major locomotive muscles. For medium game the .358 loaded with the Hornady 200 grain bullets is a useful tool at woods ranges because a poorly placed snap shot that strikes too far back into the rear lungs will produce fast killing via fast bleeding. As ranges increase however, more attention must be given to shot placement; fortunately at longer ranges the hunter often has more time to place shots.
 
 
The 250 grain Hornady Spire Point is not well suited to the .358 Winchester for use on light to mid weight deer. Unlike the round nosed bullet, the pointed version cleaves to its energy. This bullet performs best on game weighing over 90kg (200lb) and only at close ranges where the velocity is above 2000fps (the closer to 2200fps the better). This is an acceptable (but not spectacular) woods bullet for hunting large bodied deer; but by the same token is too soft for hunting heavy game, if the hunter intends to break heavy bone. Having said this, low impact velocities do help the 250 grain bullet, lowering the risk of bullet blow up. In any case, the Speer, Woodleigh and Nosler Partition bullets are infinitely better suited to heavy bodied animals.
 
Speer bullets include the 180 grain flat point Hotcor, the 220 grain flat point Hotcor, the 225 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, the 250 grain soft point Hotcor and the 250 grain Grandslam - a bullet I seldom write about due to past bullet failures.
 
Both the 180 and 220 grain flat point bullets have great merit for use in the .358, though effective ranges are somewhat short whether as a result of trajectories, impact velocities or wind drift. Regardless of these factors, these two bullets can be used to cover a full range of game body weights out to moderate ranges, boasting excellent energy transfer and deep penetration - especially the 220 grain bullet. From a muzzle velocity of 2700fps, the 180 grain Speer gives excellent results out to 140 yards (2200fps) and modest results (clean but delayed killing) out to 260 yards (1800fps). The 220 grain Speer driven at 2500fps breaks 2200fps at 100 yards and 1800fps at 250 yards. I doubt there is much that the 220 grain Speer bullet could not tackle, save for the heaviest of game animals. Please note however, in order to achieve fast killing with these bullets (and others) below 2200fps, hunters are advised to aim at the shoulder or forward shoulder. This will invariably produce excellent results in the absence of velocity.
 
The 225 grain TBBC is a rather tough bullet. This and the Barnes bullets can perform either extremely well or very poorly depending on game body weight resistance and point of aim. Field reports vary accordingly. One hunter will love the TBBC or TSX while another will loathe it. In any case, these bullets are best utilized at impact velocities above 2200fps (basically 100 yards) and when driven into shoulder bones. With rear lung shots, results can be confusing. On the one hand wounds can be wide, yet game may run some distance before expiring. One wonders how such a thing is possible. And so I refer back to my often quoted description of clean but delayed killing. There is often a great delay with these in comparison to other bullets in the case of rear lung shots at ranges of 100 to 200 yards. In some ways however, this underutilizes these bullet designs. Few other bullets can compare to the TBBC or TSX when either of the two are used on very large bodied game at close to moderate range. This is their true forte. 
 
The Speer 250 grain Hotcor is a stout bullet and not all that well suited to the .358 Winchester due to low muzzle and impact velocities. It can be used in place of a premium bullet, the low muzzle velocities ensuring deep penetration on very large bodied game; however, shot placement must be sound.
 
Sierra’s only two projectiles for the .358, the 200 grain round nosed Prohunter and the classic 225 grain GameKing. The Prohunter is somewhat tougher than Hornady’s offering, though it does not feature an interlock mechanism, relying solely on its cannelure to arrest expansion. In any case, this is a good fast killing woods bullet. Like the Hornady round nose this bullet is designed for the slower .35 Remington, yet it excels in the .358 Winchester when used for snap shooting lighter bodied deer at close ranges. This bullet produces a wide exit wound and will handle raking shots but is not ideally suited to tail on shots. The Sierra bullet is slightly superior to the Hornady bullet if tackling Mule / Red deer body weights.
 
The 225 grain Sierra is a true classic but is also vastly misunderstood. It is also correct to say that the entire premise of the GameKing (Sierra philosophy) is misunderstood. Sierra have deliberately made this bullet frangible to ensure maximum energy transfer and maximum wounding potential on game. This particular bullet does however have a somewhat stout jacket. But unlike the stout jacketed .338 caliber bullets, and an important factor to understand, the increased frontal area and low SD of the .358 bullet greatly aid energy transfer. Along with this the 225 grain bullet weight is a great aid to penetration. The net result is a bullet that works well across a wide range of game body weights and across the impact velocity spectrum. From a muzzle velocity of 2500fps, the Sierra breaks 2200fps at 140 yards and then coasts along until it breaks 1800fps at around 340 yards. Put simply, when used out to moderate ranges the Sierra creates a wide fast bleeding wound channel. The GameKing allows some room for poor shot placement when snap shooting at close ranges and with a steady rest and good shot placement, can be used out to relatively long distances. This is a great all around bullet for the .358 Winchester and will handle all manner of light to large bodied deer species. The GameKing by its nature is not suited to large heavy game.
 
 
Barnes have experimented with various .358 bullet weights. Current bullet designs include the 180 and 200 grain Tipped TSX along with the 200 and 225 grain TSX designs. Of these the 180 grain Tipped bullet has some merit, utilizing high velocity as a means to promote trauma, a factor which homogenous bullets are very much reliant on, more so than other bullet designs. The Barnes bullets work best at impact velocities above 2400fps though wounding remains vivid in the .358 caliber down to 2200fps. The 180 to 200 grain bullets are best suited to large bodied game while the 225 grain bullet is best suited to heavy bodied game. All four homogenous copper bullets require more selective shot placement for optimum results, even though each is capable of rendering wide wounds at close to moderate ranges. Further to this, wounding can be extremely violent at these ranges, yet a slight delay in expansion can be enough to inhibit hydrostatic shock, resulting in dead running game. To get the best out of these bullets, aim forwards, aim to break bone. The Barnes bullets produce the deepest level of penetration that can be obtained from the .358 bore without adopting solid, non-expanding bullets.
 
Like Hornady, Nosler have unfortunately dropped a very good bullet, the 225 grain Ballistic Tip; a frangible bullet that had to be seen in use in order to be fully understood. Now in the name of ‘high weight retention’, without asking hunters if and when they needed it, we have the core bonded 225 grain Accubond. A bullet that is an acceptable performer but not ideally suited to low impact velocities. This bullet does its best work on elk sized animals at close ranges and can perform admirably in this role. It can also work well on light framed animals, but ranges should be kept short to keep impact velocities high. Shot placement is critical between 2200 and 1800fps regardless of game weights. The Accubond should never be used on heavy game, because although it is tough - it isn’t that tough. I cannot make this any clearer.
 
Other bullets from Nosler include the wonderful 225 and 250 grain Partitions. The 225 grain bullet is particularly well suited to the .358 Winchester. This bullet opens as quickly as the 200 grain Hornady and 225 grain Sierra but holds its shank for deep penetration. For those who need a bullet suitable for taking tough game at various angles the 225 grain Partition is the way to go. This bullet has only one weakness. If it hits bone on truly heavy game, its low SD can allow it to roll and it will at times shed its rear core. If this were to happen on deer sized game (it wouldn’t), this would be quite acceptable due to the size of the remaining fragments; but on heavy game this can be a disaster.  Aside from this limitation, the 225 grain Partition can be a joy to use and can be called a go-to bullet. Its bullet weight and SD are such that it has no trouble imparting energy down to 2200fps, but like the Sierra and others it does require care with shot placement down to 1800fps.
 
The 250 grain Partition is a great bullet, but unfortunately it too heavy to be driven fast in the .358 Winchester. To those who wish to use this bullet on large game, the key factors are to load as fast as is safely possible, keep ranges short, aim forwards and aim small.
 
Woodleigh bullets (Australia) make a range of excellent .358 caliber bullets in the weights, 225, 250, 275 and 310 grains. Of these the 225 grain bullets are simply brilliant for use in the .358 Winchester. Woodleigh offer two bullet styles, protected point and round nosed. These do display differences in performance. The round nosed bullet is faster in expansion, versatile across a wide range of game weights and often simply more emphatic. The protected point is also very good, but this bullet holds back some energy for a deliberate purpose. It utilizes this slower rate of expansion for deep penetration, making it more useful on larger animals with thick hides or for raking shots on large medium game. Personally speaking, I am a great fan of the 225 grain round nose bullet and am happy to take game of all sizes with this. The core bonding of the Woodleigh helps greatly with penetration, yet the wide frontal area ensures excellent and immediate energy transfer. Velocity parameters are the same as for other bullet designs: fast killing to 2200fps (100 yards) and clean but sometimes delayed killing to 1800fps (250 yards); yet this remains an enhanced bullet design. With this one bullet it is possible to hunt a very wide range of game body weights from 130 to 1400lb and not feel either over or under gunned. The Woodleigh does display room for poor shot placement when snap shooting at standing or running game, a factor I have tested rigorously when exploring the limits of this wonderful bullet design.
 
The heavy Woodleigh bullets are equally well designed but are not entirely well suited to the .358 Winchester. Both the round nosed and protected point 250 grain bullets are rated to 1800fps and they will expand. However, with this bullet weight at these impact velocities it is difficult to create wide, disproportionate to caliber wounding relative to large and heavy game. Nevertheless, for those who wish to use these bullets, clean kills can be achieved on heavy animals by keeping shots well forwards while keeping ranges short.
 
A final word must go to Swift who produce 225, 250 and 280 grain .358 bullet designs. These behave much like the Woodleigh protected point, leaning towards maximum penetration while trying not to sacrifice wounding potential. At close ranges the 225 grain bullet can tackle a wide range of game weights, but once this bullet breaks 2200fps, it is best used on larger bodied game and with select shot placement as with all .358 bullets. The 225 grain Swift holds together well if encountering heavy bone and is quite simply a reliable bullet.
 

Closing Comments


The .358 Winchester is capable of producing wide wounds and some room for shot placement error at close to moderate ranges, though this should never be an excuse for poor shooting. It can also be loaded with one bullet and used to tackle a wide range of game weights. It is much more forgiving across the game weight range than for example the .270 Winchester when fed a generic 130 grain bullet.
 
Energy transfer with this cartridge can be so dramatic as to cause what I call bullet blow back. This looks like surface bullet blow up but is instead such a rapid transfer of energy that water particles are forced back out of the entry wound. In such instances entry wounds may be as wide as exit wounds. This generally only occurs at close ranges using flat or round nosed bullets, but can at times occur with the likes of the Sierra GameKing.
 
Although premium bullets are readily available for the .358, generally speaking most .358” bullets are designed for medium game. In other words, this is a medium game cartridge and not an ‘elephant’ cartridge. Nobody should feel over gunned when using the .358. The .358 bore in general can teach us a great deal about ballistics and anybody looking to increase their knowledge of terminal ballistics is encouraged to give this bore diameter a try.
 
As ranges increase the .358 does lose some flexibility, but with care towards shot placement it can perform extremely well. One way to describe the .358 is that it can be whatever you ask it to be. When you need a fast killing woods / bush rifle, it excels. When you need some reach across a gully, it can do that too. If you want to hunt larger animals, it will do its best to help. But it does have its limitations and can be pushed only so far. The larger .35s won’t make game anymore dead or punch a great deal more daylight through than the .358 is already capable of, but the big .35’s can increase effective range and decrease wind drift.


 
Suggested loads: .358 Winchester Barrel length: 22”
No ID   Sectional density Ballistic coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL Hornady 200gr SP .223 .282 2400 2558
2 HL 180gr Speer FP .201 .236 2700 2913
3 HL  200gr  Hornady SP/ FTX .223 .300 2500 2775
4 HL 200gr Hornady / Sierra  RN .223 .200 2500 2775
5 HL  225gr Nosler Partition .251 .430 2400 2877
6 HL Speer 220gr FP (also 225gr Woodleigh RN) .241 .286 2400 2813
7 HL 225gr Sierra BTSP .251 .370 2400 2877
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths       
1 Yards 100 197 230 250 275 300
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -5.6 -9.3 -13.8
2 Yards 100 218 252 275 300  
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -5.8 -9.5  
3 Yards 100 207 241 275 300  
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -7.2 -11.1  
4 Yards 100 195 225 250 275 300
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6 -10.8 -16.2
5 Yards 100 207 242 275 300 325
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6.9 -10.1 -14.9
6 Yards 100 197 230 250 275 300
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -5.5 -9.2 -13.7
7 Yards 100 205 239 275 300 325
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -7.4 -11.2 -15.7
 
Sight height 1.6” (Scope).
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 200 6.3 1840 1503
2 250 10.5 1834 1344
3 250 8.9 1835 1495
4 200 9.1 1699 1282
5 300 9.2 1849 1707
6 250 10 1723 1450
7 300 10.5 1790 1600
 
Note: Please pay attention to 1800fps velocity cut off points.

358 Winchester final
 
.358 Winchester Imperial Metric 
A .473 12.01
B .470 11.94
C 20 deg  
D .454 11.53
E .388 9.85
F 1.560 39.62
G .365 9.27
H 2.015 51.2
Max Case 2.015 51.2
Trim length 2.005 50.9
 
 
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