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  • Post last modified:September 8, 2023

In this guide, let's break down 350 Legend VS 556 in detailed specs. Both rounds are their pros and cons when it comes to specific applications. 350 Legend is a great hunting round and 556 is much more readily available for training and defensive use.

Here are their differences:

350 Legend VS 556 - Key Differences

350 legend vs 556

The main difference when it comes to ballistic energy between 350 Legend and 556 is that the 350 Legend delivers much more stopping power at around 900 ft lb energy. More so than 300 blackout, 30-30 Win and 556.

350 Legend In AR15 Platform

Hunting - The 350 Legend has several advantages, including its compatibility with AR 15 type rifles. The cartridge was designed specifically for these rifles, which are not only popular but also easy to shoot, modular, lightweight, and easy to accessorize. The AR 15 platform has become a mainstream hunting rifle in recent years. 

Recoil Performance - In addition to AR 15 rifles, the 350 Legend can also be found in a variety of rifle types including bolt guns and single shots. Another major strength of the 350 Legend is its low recoil, which is similar to that of a 5.56 round. This makes fast follow-up shots possible and reduces the risk of a bruised shoulder. 

Muzzle Performance - The 350 Legend also boasts minimal muzzle blast, with no real concussion or violent explosion at the end of the barrel. This level of comfort can be achieved with a standard 16-inch rifle, and the ballistics hold up well even with shorter barrels such as SBRs or AR pistols.

556 In AR15 Platform

Hunting - The 5.56 is a versatile cartridge that is suitable for hunting a wide range of game, including medium-sized game such as deer and feral hogs. Its flat trajectory and moderate stopping power make it a good choice for hunting at intermediate ranges. However, it's important to note that the 5.56 is not ideal for hunting larger game, as it may not have enough power to penetrate through heavy bones.

surefire muzzle brake in action

Recoil & Muzzle Performance - The 5.56X45 cartridge offers versatility in managing recoil through the use of various type of AR15 muzzle devices. Its moderate levels of muzzle blast, although noticeable, are less intense compared to other cartridges, making it an ideal choice for hunters and shooters who are sensitive to loud noises. Minimizing recoil can enhance accuracy and improve shooting habits, making the 5.56 a practical option for hunting and tactical shooting purposes.

350 Legend vs. 556 Dimensions

350 legend vs 556


350 Legend


Parent Case


222 Rem

Bullet Diameter



Neck Diameter



Base Diameter



Case Length



Overall Length



Max Pressure



350 legend specs

The 350 Legend and 223 Remington have different bullet diameters: the 350 Legend has a diameter of 0.357-0.003 in and the 223 has a diameter of 0.224 in. This difference also affects the neck diameter, with the 350 Legend having a diameter of 0.378 in and the 223 having a diameter of 0.253 in.

556 nato casing

The rim diameter of both cartridges is 0.378 in, making it easy to integrate the 350 Legend into the AR-15 platform with just a barrel change. The base diameter of the 223 is 0.376 in, while the 350 Legend is 0.390 in, and the case length of the 223 is 1.76 in and the 350 Legend is 1.71 in.

bear creek arsenal 350 legend upper

Check out 350 Legend AR15 uppers here

The overall length of both cartridges is similar, with the 350 Legend being 2.25 in and the 223 being 2.26 in. The 350 Legend has a larger case capacity of 36.5 grains compared to the 223's 31.4 grains, due to its straight-walled design. Both cartridges have a max pressure (SAAMI) of 55,000 psi.

ar15 dirty upper receiver

350 Legend VS 556 Trajectory Ballistics

The 556 is better for long-range shooting due to its flatter trajectory compared to the 350 Legend.  

A flatter trajectory provides fewer adjustments to firearm optics and reduces ranging errors. The bullet's trajectory depends on factors such as bullet weight, style, and powder amount.


Comparing the trajectory of the 556 and 350 Legend is not straightforward, but we can give an idea of what to expect.

Using Federal Premium Gold Medal Match 223 69 grain bullet as an example, the 556 has a bullet drop of -64.3” at 500 yards and -475.7” at 1,000 yards, while going subsonic around 850 yards. 

federal premium 223 69 gr

The 350 Legend, designed for deer hunting within 250 yards, has a bullet drop of -7.6" at 200 yards with a 100-yard zero, but has a steeper trajectory due to its heavier bullet and similar amount of powder. 

350 Legend VS 556 Ballistic Coefficient 

The Ballistic Coefficient (BC) for the 350 Legend is between 0.186 to 0.264, while the BC for the 223 Remington 77 gr SMK bullet is 0.372. The BC measures how well a bullet handles wind drift and air resistance and shows the bullet's aerodynamics in a number.

Headwind and TailWind

A high BC is better because the bullet will resist wind better. Heavier bullets often have a higher BC because it takes more force to disrupt their flight. The BC depends on bullet design, weight, and other factors.

Even if two bullets are the same caliber, they can have different BCs based on their weight or design. The 350 Legend has an effective range of 250 yards and performs best at ranges below 200 yards, so a high BC is not necessary.

On the other hand, the 556's inherent higher BC makes it a better choice for longer-range shooting.

350 Legend VS 556 Cost

ammo prices

The 5.56x45mm NATO is the clear winner in terms of cost and availability, making it the better option for hunting. The 5.56 is more popular, so many ammunition manufacturers make it, leading to competition and lower prices.

People can buy bulk 5.56 ammo to save money, but be prepared to pay more upfront. The average price of cheap 5.56x45mm NATO ammo is $0.52 per round and the average price of expensive 5.56x45mm NATO ammo is $1.60 per round. As of now, 5.56 ammo is easy to find, but that could change based on the economy.

ammo shelf at the store

In addition, 556 has plenty of reloading supplies available, and empty casings are much easier to find at any range than 350 legend.

On the other hand, the Winchester 350 Legend is a newer cartridge with fewer ammo manufacturers, making it more difficult to find and more expensive. The average price of inexpensive 350 Legend ammo is $0.75 per round and the average price of expensive ammo is over $3.00 per trigger pull.

In terms of rifles, the 350 Legend is priced similarly to 5.56x45mm NATO rifles, but if you don't hunt a lot with it, a 350 Legend chambered rifle may not be a good option.

5.56 ballistics

Referenced The Firearm Blog

Personal Defense Applications

cloud defensive rein with eotech exps3

350 Legend can be used for personal defense, but the problem is with its over penetration characteristics that make it not favorable inside a home. In the context of close quarter use, 350 legend isn't the go to.

350 legend vs 556 magazine

556 however offers plenty of home defense round that won't penetrate through walls to reduce collateral damage. In addition, 556 is also great to train with.

350 Legend VS 556 Effective Range

thermal hunting hogs

The maximum effective range of the 350 Legend cartridge is around 250 yards with plenty of ballistic energy for hunting medium-sized game like deer, hogs, and coyotes. It's designed to deliver fast follow-up shots and has mild recoil, making it a good choice for hunters who want an easy-to-shoot rifle.

The 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge, on the other hand, has a longer effective range of around 500-600 yards, making it better suited for military and tactical use. However, the 5.56mm has more recoil than the 350 Legend, making fast follow-up shots more challenging for some shooters.