358 Winchester - barrel length ???


October 24, 2013, 12:37 PM
Does anyone have a sense (or any data) with regards to the sweet spot for barrel length for a 358 Winchester chambered rifle?

My gut tells me that this chambering will work well in shorter barrels due to its expansion ratio, but I hate to chop my Ruger Hawkeye's barrel down from its factory 22" dimension to something less than that in the absence of some validation of my gut.....

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October 24, 2013, 01:00 PM
308 is only moderately hampered in a carbine

243 absolutely falls on its face from one.

358 win would fare even better than 308

October 24, 2013, 03:30 PM
if I was having a new rifle made up I would think in the 18 to 20 inch length. however I wouldn't go to the trouble of having the barrel cut down from 22 to 20 inch. I had a Browning BLR in 358 a long time ago. it was a well made rifle but I didn't care for the stock design as it really kicked. if Ruger would have came out with a #1A in 358 I would have to have one. the 358 is a good round and I got the accuracy with the 250 grain Speer spitzer soft point

October 24, 2013, 03:43 PM
I would want a 20" barrel on one, though I don't think they would be badly handicapped by an 18"

October 24, 2013, 09:54 PM
I have no data but I have a gut feeling based on the fact the 358 is loaded with medium rate powders that 18-20 inches wouldn't have much of an impact on velocity. Besides, when you are flinging a 35cal bullet at 200+ grains, the loss of a few FPS won't hurt much.

October 24, 2013, 10:06 PM
Here is a guy who has some reload data and chrono results for a 16.5" .358. This guy probably is more knowledgeable about the complete family of .35 caliber cartridges than just about anyone else. He includes lots of reload and chrono data for all kinds of .35 rounds, so it might be worth perusing his site. I bet there are some other .358 pages in there.


October 25, 2013, 05:44 AM
I have owned a number of 358's with barrels from 19" - 24" long and have settled on one that is the 19" gun. A proven killer on a number of critters out to a bit beyond 300 yards on this pig with the 200 gr Barnes TTSX. Yes, a bit of velocity drop but, as usual, zero effect in the effectiveness of the round.

http://i1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa437/boxhead61/Africa420.jpg (http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/boxhead61/media/Africa420.jpg.html)

October 25, 2013, 06:58 AM
Nice warthog!

Always fancied a BLR in .358. Short barrel won't hamper the speed too much and nice big slug for some put down.

I have a 9.3x62 based on the same philosophy.

Is there a formula for working out minimum or even optimal barrel lenghth?

October 25, 2013, 07:25 AM
Is there a formula for working out minimum or even optimal barrel lenghth?

No official formula that I've found. But from my observations it seems that somewhere around 1/2% up to no more than a 1% velocity change per 1" of barrel length change is what I see. Chamberings that should be faster, lose more speed as barrels are cut shorter than slower chamberings.

You often see guys on the internet throw numbers around like 50 fps/inch or 25 fps/inch. It is much more complicated than that and I've never seen a single documented case where someone ever lost anywhere near 50 fps when they cut a barrel back by 1". In fact most of the time it is well under the 25 fps number.

Manufacturers have things pretty well figured out with standard factroy barrel lengths as to optimum length. Most standard chamberings come with around 22" barrels. I've found that you have to go a lot longer than 22" to see any real gains because they come in smaller increments as barrel length gets any longer. Velocity loss comes in larger increments the shorter you go. I'd have no doubts about a 358's perfromance from barrels as short as 16". But personally wouldn't want it much, if any shorter than 20". For me it is about looks, balance, and muzzle blast more than bullet speed.

Here is an interesting read. Even magnum rounds don't lose nearly as much from shorter barrels as most think.


October 25, 2013, 07:40 AM
Well there are two ways to look at it. If you want comfort, speed a short light rifle is desirable but has side effects of more recoil. If you are using iron sights a shorter sight radius etc.

I have such a combo in a 1905 Mannlicher Schoenauer 9MM which is basically same load data as 358 Win. It is light and easy to carry and beautifully machined and I have shot it to 200 yards and it was fine but recoil is a memorable event with it.

If you want to work up Cat Sneeze loads and be nice and quiet during hunting but very effective you will want a longer barrel and loads giving you 1100 fps which are subsonic.

Col Fackler MD who was Director of the Army Wound Ballistics Lab told me his testing confirmed a 222 gr bullet at 800 fps would completely penetrate the biggest guy that could be found. If you have a round that will give a through shot to a 400 lb guy, hunting lighter game is a piece cake.

The Sierra v5 program indicates a 280 gr cast bullet at 1100 FPS zeroed for 125 yards will print 5"high at 50 yards, 5 3/4" low at 150 yards and 24" low at 200 yards and still be traveling at 978 fps.

Thusly I built my 358 with a 26" barrel to take advantage of the heavy bullet penetration factor.

Think of it this way, big bullets make big holes. Big holes leak blood faster than small holes. Two big holes (In and out) leak twice as fast as one big hole.

Right now I have the 358 and also got a Ruger 77MKII all weather in 35 Whelen. I am still shooting the 222 gr cast bullets but shortly I am going to order a 280 gr. from LBT for quiet hunting with both rifles.

My 222 gr loads are just barely louder than a 22 LR and they will punch through two 4X4s at 50 yards just fine.

Also your kids can shoot these big guns and avoid being kicked into last week for their efforts.

October 25, 2013, 06:14 PM
My Savage Model 99 rifle, chambered in .358 Winchester, came with a 22" barrel having a 1:12" rate of twist. I would consider this barrel length close to "optimum" in that it's plenty short enough for hunting in dense habitat and plenty long enough to capture most of the .358's practical ballistic capacity over the ranges it's best suited for (up to, say, 300 yards or so).

October 25, 2013, 11:58 PM
Just referencing the data from the site I posted previously, there are test results for both a 16.5" and 22" Ruger. Unfortunately, only one load is exactly duplicated between the two rifles for testing, but it is a 225 Nosler Partition with the same charge and COAL. For the 16.5" barrel, the average velocity is 2335 fps. For the 22" barrel, the average velocity is 2393 fps. That is an average of 10.5 fps/inch. All barrels are not created equal and one could be fast while the other is slow, but the .308 enjoys a reputation for efficiency and with the larger expansion ratio, I'd expect results like this to be relatively normal for a .358. It's a great choice for a compact carbine.

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