The .348 Winchester

By Chuck Hawks

The .348 Winchester was introduced in 1936 in the Winchester Model 71 lever action rifle. The .348 cartridge was a modernized replacement for the old .33 Winchester and .35 Winchester cartridges and the Model 71 was essentially an improved Model 1886 rifle. The Model 71/.348 combination was eventually replaced in the Winchester line by the Model 88 lever action in the ballistically identical .358 Win. caliber.

The current Winchester .348 factory load uses a 200 grain Silvertip bullet (SD .236) at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2520 fps from a 24" barrel. The muzzle energy (ME) of this load is 2820 ft. lbs. The figures at 200 yards are 1931 fps and 1656 ft. lbs. The trajectory of the Winchester factory load looks like this: +1.4" at 100 yards, 0 at 150 yards, -3.4" at 200 yards, and -9.2" at 250 yards. Winchester recommends this load for medium to large and heavy game and it is a good killer. The primary drawback is substantial recoil in the Model 71 rifle.

The reloader is handicapped by the small selection of .348" bullets. To the best of my knowledge no other cartridge uses bullets of this diameter, so .348 bullets are not big sellers for the independent bullet makers. However, there are a few available. Hornady offers a 200 grain Flat Point in .348 caliber, for which they claim exceptionally reliable expansion and sure killing power. And Barnes offers two .348" bullets, a 220 grain Original, and a 250 grain Original.

The Hornady 200 grain bullet (SD .236) can be used to essentially duplicate the Winchester factory load. The third edition of the Hornady Handbook shows that maximum loads of several powders, such as 54.1 grains of IMR 4320, will give that bullet a MV of 2500 fps. If one wants to stretch the trajectory of the .348 to its practical maximum, zero this bullet at a MV of 2500 fps at 200 yards. Then the path of the bullet will look like this: +3.1" at 100 yards, +2.6" at 150 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -5.2" at 250 yards, and -13.5" at 300 yards. Hornady recommends this bullet for medium and medium-heavy big game.

Note: A complete article about the .348 Winchester can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.