The .358 Winchester

By Chuck Hawks

The .358 Winchester was introduced in 1955 in the Model 88 lever action rifle as a modern, short action replacement for the aging .348 Winchester, which was available only in the Model 71 lever action. Although its case is smaller, ballistically the .358 Win. is nearly identical to the larger .348. This miracle is achieved through higher pressure, up to 52,000 cup in the case of the .358 Win. The .358 is a fine medium bore and, in addition to the Model 88, it has been offered in the Savage 99 and Browning BLR lever actions, as well as the Winchester Model 70 bolt action.

The current Winchester factory load propells a 200 grain Silvertip bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2,530 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 2,840 ft. lbs. The figures at 100 yards are 2,210 fps and 2,160 ft. lbs. Midrange trajectory for the 200 grain bullet is 3.6 inches over 200 yards, which makes the .358 Winchester about a 200 yard big game cartridge.

The .358 is best served by medium burning rate rifle powders such as H335, IMR 3031, VIHT N-135, and W748. Bullets from 180-250 grains are most appropriate.

Here are some specifications important to reloaders: bullet diameter .358", maximum COL2.780", maximum case length 2.015", trim to 2.005".

The Speer Reloading Manual Number 13 shows that their 180 grain Flat-SP bullet can be driven to a MV of 2511 fps with 48.0 grains of H335 powder, and 2,732 fps with ME of over 2915 ft. lbs. by a maximum load of 52.0 grains of H335. At 2700 fps the tajectory of that bullet looks like this: +2.5" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -11.3" at 300 yards. With this load the .358 becomes a 250 yard deer cartridge.

The Speer 220 grain Flat-SP bullet can be driven to 2328 fps by 48.0 grains of W748 powder, and 2481 fps by a maximum charge of 52.0 grains of W748. These Speer loads used Winchester cases and CCI 250 primers and were tested in a 22" rifle barrel.

The trajectory of the 220 grain bullet at a MV of 2450 fps looks about like this: +2.9" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -4.6" at 250 yards, and -12" at 300 yards. This is the type of bullet in the velocity range that Jack O'Connor recommended as an ideal load for a woods and brush rifle.

Note: A full length article about the .358 Winchester can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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