.358 Norma Magnum


February 11, 2008, 04:33 PM
In browsing through a couple of cartridge books I started to notice the .35 Whelen, which in turn lead to consideration of the .358 Norma as a pretty interesting cartridge.

To date I've never owned any rifle chambered in a larger than standard .30 caliber round. Now I'm thinking that I'd like to get an elk / bear round. .338 WinMag is the obvious choice, and probably where I'll end up. But along the way I got detoured by the .35 Whelen, and then noticed this old and kinda obsolete .358 Norma Magnum.

It seems to have a lot of the advantages of the .338 WinMag, flat trajectory, nice BC, coupled with the energy of the .375H&H. Plus, it does punch a bigger hole. Always a plus on game.

Obviously you're not going to be picking up ammo at WalMart, but on the other hand nobody else in my elk camp is going to have one either. I like that it's a semi-defunct comercial round, there is something interesting about that.

Anybody shot or own a rifle chambered in this round? Of course I'd be interested in outer armchair ballisticians opinions of this round too.

If you enjoyed reading about ".358 Norma Magnum" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
February 11, 2008, 04:41 PM
I have never seen an Elk that would not succumb to the .30-06 with a well placed shot with the proper bullet. A poorly placed shot of waaaay too much gun will not drop one any quicker.

February 11, 2008, 05:00 PM
Yes. No doubt the .30-06 is an effective and tried and true round. Thanks for reminding me of that. Poorly placed shots do not kill. Thanks for reminding me of that, too.

As far as my question on the .358 Norma Mag goes:

I think many guides and professionals suggest that .338 WinMag caliber is to be preferred over the .30-06 and even the .300 WinMag for larger bears. Most say the .375 is as big as you need to go. The .358 sits right in the middle of this group, so I'm not considering it 'waaay too much gun'.

Even on elk most everyone I know uses either .300 Win Mag or .338 Win Mag for them. We'd all like 1 shot kills with perfectly placed rounds, but that doesn't always happen. I think that a little more bullet is not a bad thing.

Of course I have a friend who was hunting them with a .25-06, and I'm sure a "well placed shot with the .25-06" could kill the bear. (He's hunting blacks, not browns.) Still I wouldn't be comfortable with it.

Thanks for your response, but I'm still probably going to buy a medium rifle.
I know some people hunt everything with one gun: and the 30.06 is a top choice for that. I'm just not one of those people

February 11, 2008, 05:12 PM
My apologies... I didn't realize you were referring to brown bears. In that case my advice would be to take all the gun you are able to shoot at least 3 times before not being able to pick it up any more! ;)

That being said (very tongue in cheek), the .338 Winmag is a very capable and popular round. More new .338 Win. Mag. rifles are sold than all the other medium bore rifles combined. There is a reason for that... it is a great round!

If you need better ballistics the only one that comes to me now would be the .338 Lapua. I have never shot one personally, but know some guys that have and they all say that recoil is 'heavy'. I bet it is! :D

February 11, 2008, 06:05 PM
Yes the .338 Lapua is heavy recoiling and most of the rifles I've seen for it are heavy rifles. I think the AR-30 is about 15lbs. They also have big muzzle brakes on them. I suppose some people have hunting rifles chambered for them, but I haven't seen them.

Yes, I know the .338 Win Mag is the most popular round of this type and it's probably where I'll end up. I just won't feel that I did my duty as a cartridge crank unless I at least investigate a few outliers first.

I've shot a buddies .338 quite a bit. It's not a rifle I'd want to spend all afternoon plinking with but it's ok for a few magazines from the bench for sighting in. I've shot another friends .375 H&H a few times. It's a bit more boom but the push is about the same. I think it's more than I need, but he swears by it.

He had a failure with 7mm RemMag to drop a big Colorado elk that soured him on the 7mm for that large an animal. (He got the bull, but not before putting several rounds into him). Perhaps his shot placement was off but he is the best rifle shot among my circle of friends. (Esp. on moving targets. He grew up shooting jack rabbits in Barstow. He's deadly on crows too.)

February 11, 2008, 09:13 PM
Been there and done that with the .358 Norma, INCLUDING a not too shabby Brownie on Kodiak in 1984. I had Col. Art Alphin, of A Square fame, make me up a .358 on a much modified 1917 action which held 5 rounds of .358 Norma with a countercoil big old stock. . The gun scoped (with an old Leupold 3.5-10x Varix 3)weighs just over 10 pounds so it doesn't kick. It has a thick 26" barrel to hurl 250 grain Bullets at 3000fps. I also shot a few elk with it up to 350 yards.The problem used to be the lack of .358 premium bullets- I used Hawk custom ones with complete satisfaction. I retired the old blaster and use a much lighter .375 H&H Rem. 700 Brown Precision rifle for the same stuff these days (no more brownies how ever:what:). The .358 Norma is experiencing a slight resurgence these days because folks are awed at the results of the fine old super accurate round at long range elk hunting it is every bit as good as the .338s IMHO.:cool:

35 Whelen
February 11, 2008, 09:22 PM
I own a 358 Norma...and a 35 Whelen. The Whelen came first. Dad and I have both shot a big 6x6 New Mexico bull apiece with the Whelen. Mine with a 225 gr. Nosler Partition @ a little under 2700 fps. Very disappointing performance. Had he been closer to timber when I shot him, I'd have lost him. Took two shots, and yes, both shots were well placed and with 3-4" of each other. Anyhow...switched to a 225 gr. Barnes "X". Dad shot his square in the **** as it walked away, and the bullet traversed all the way up and thourgh the right shoulder. Now THAT'S whay a bullet should do!!
Anyhow, about the 358 Norma. I didn't need another rifle, but my father, now entering his "give back" years, wanted to have a nice rifle built for me. I have more rifles than I can use..from 22 Hornet through the 45-70. So, I thought about and decided on the 358 Norma. WOW...what a cartridge. Way, way, way underated. Ballistically, about the equivalent of the 340 Weatherby and almost equal to the 375 H&H (I take my comparisons from Lymans #47 manual).
I began working up a load for the 225 gr. Barnes X. I started out fairly light, not interested in hot loads. I had to check my chronograph....the velocity with this bullet was almost 3000 fps!
Norma loads this round, so factory ammo is available, though it's not cheap. As a handloader, I much prefer 35 caliber rifles over 338 because I can use pistol bullets, which includes my own cast bullets (which are for all practical purposes free), for practice, plinking, and small game hunting. Personally, I don't think the fire-belching monstrosities such as the 338 Lapua have any advantage over the 358.

February 11, 2008, 09:55 PM
Another medium bore that might be worth at least a glance is the .350 Remington Magnum. Just another fish in the kettle. :)


Float Pilot
February 11, 2008, 11:29 PM
I had a Model 70 that was rebarreled for 358 Norma Mag. I had to sell it a couple years ago to pay off some bills. I really miss that rifle.
It had an MPI fiberglass stock and a 3 x 9 Leupold scope. It would shoot a 2.75 inch group at 300 yards.

I was using Norma brass and 250 grain Speer spitzers. When loaded with IMR 4350 I was able to push that 250 grain slug at 2,800 fps with no problem. I tried the old Barnes 275 grain slugs and they were not all that accurate. I also tried the Sierra 225 grain game king boat tail. For some reason they did not go any faster than the 250s even with more powder.

The recoil was not all that bad and it was the perfect round here in Alaska. Plus you can still find some Norma factory ammo up here if you really look. I chronographed those rounds as well and they were very consistent in the velocity spread.

About a year ago I bought a 350 Rem Mag Ruger M-77MKII. It does not develope the same power as the Norma Mag. The 350 RM is right about the same poop wise as the 35 Whelen. ALTHOUGH,,, the 35 Whelen has a push for recoil and the stubby 350 Rem Mag slaps you.. To me it seems that my old 358 Norma Mag was easier to shoot than this 350 Rem Mag.

The Norma Mag was the victim of poor public relations and the idiots at Norma marketing lost the chance to grab a big chunk of the market. They should have called it the 360 Alaskan Magnum or something catchy like that.

February 12, 2008, 09:30 AM
Just thinking out loud here... if you ever hope to go on Safari, the .375 is very often sighted as the minimum caliber.

February 12, 2008, 01:56 PM
Thanks for all the great responses!

Markbo, that's a smart point you made there. I've never really dreamed of Africa the way some friends do, but I'd love to make the trip someday. I have read "Use Enough Gun", what a great book that is.

Float Pilot
February 14, 2008, 01:03 AM
I was out loading some 350 Remington Magnum loads tonight (the original short magnum) And noted the case length difference between the 358 Norma and the 350 Rem Mag. The stubby 350 Rem Mag really makes loading the longer & heavier bullets a real chore.
I wonder what is with the photos not posting lately? It is small enough....

If you enjoyed reading about ".358 Norma Magnum" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!