Editor’s Note: On July 31, Henry issued a safety warning and recall for its Single Shot rifle. Read more on Tactical-Life.com.
There’s something about hunting with a single-shot rifle. It just brings out the best in marksmanship. One good shot was good enough for longhunters, mountain men, pioneers and soldiers through the late 1800s. Even after repeating rifles became the norm, hunters and trappers kept the single-shot market alive. Due to the economics through the Great Depression, many woodsmen couldn’t afford repeating rifles or a large supply of ammo to feed them. Besides, most woodsmen were excellent shots and didn’t feel the need to shoot quickly multiple times. Besides, there’s a certain amount of pride in making one good shot count.
I grew up on a homestead where our only rifle was a single-shot Remington Model 33. We used the little .22 for everything from dispatching foxes threatening our chickens to killing hogs to feed the family. Money was in short supply, and when it came to squirrel hunting, my dad expected a squirrel for the dinner pot with every shot fired. That early training made me a single-shot fan to this day. During my long outdoor career, I’ve been blessed with hunting big game in many countries, and various single-shot rifles have been my rifles of choice.
So when Winchester recently introduced the new .350 Legend, a cartridge designed primarily for the AR platform, my first thought was, “This just might be an interesting short-range, single-shot rifle cartridge for hunting in tight cover.”
Welcome the .350 Legend
When Winchester introduced the .350 Legend, it became the hot new cartridge of 2019. It was designed primarily to offer a centerfire AR option for deer hunters who live in states that only allow deer hunting with straight-walled cartridges like the .375 Winchester, .444 Marlin, .450 Bushmaster and .45-70 Government.
The .350 Legend is also an economical option for ammo companies that load .223 Remington cartridges, thus it costs less for consumers to purchase. The straight-walled case, which is 1.71 inches long, is very similar to a .223 case, so it requires only a few changes for an ammo company to make it on the same equipment.
.350 Legend Manufacturers and Ballistics
As of this writing, Federal, Hornady and Winchester are producing several
different loads for the .350 Legend. Federal has 160-grain Fusion and 180-grain Non-Typical and Power-Shok loads, while Hornady offers 165-grain Custom FTX and 170-grain American Whitetail rounds. Winchester offers five different loads, including 145-grain FMJs, 150-grain Deer Season XPs, 160-grain Power Max Bonded rounds, 180-grain Super-X Power-Points and 265-grain Super Suppressed subsonic rounds.
According to published ballistics, most of the .350 Legend loads have a muzzle velocity in the 2,100- to 2,200-fps range. The data also shows an average of 1,525 foot-pounds of energy (fpe) at 50 yards, 1,280 fpe at 100 yards and 900 fpe at 200 yards. With the heavier hunting bullets, this puts the .350 Legend in the killing range of thick-skinned feral hogs and black bear out to 100 yards and thin-skinned deer out to about 200 yards. For those who consider 1,000 fpe necessary to cleanly kill big-bodied rutting bucks, the .350 Legend is a 150-yard cartridge from a rifle with a barrel at least 20 inches long. This puts the .350 Legend into the short-range brush gun category. Now all I needed was a compact single-shot rifle in the caliber.
The Henry Single Shot
Finding a high-quality single-shot rifle in .350 Legend presented a challenge, partly because there are very few single-shot centerfire hunting rifles offered today. Also, the cartridge is so new that no company had a single-shot rifle in that caliber available.
For some time, I had wanted to try one of Henry Repeating Arms’ Single Shot rifles, and during a call with the company’s president, Anthony Imperato, I learned that the company was working on adding the .350 Legend to its Single Shot lineup. Thankfully, he agreed to send me a pre-production rifle to test for this article.
The Henry Single Shot is a top-notch American-made rifle, yet it’s simple in design with just a few components, so there’s little chance of a malfunction. The steel receiver has a beautiful blued finish (brass-finished receivers are available for a few of the other chamberings). The gun uses a non-ejector case extractor. To break the action open, you simply pivot a tang-mounted lever to the left or right, so it’s essentially ambidextrous. Then there’s the rebounding hammer, which can’t touch the firing pin unless the trigger is deliberately pulled. There’s no other external safety.
The blued, 22-inch barrel comes with a brass bead front sight as well as an adjustable folding-leaf-style rear sight. The barrel is also drilled and tapped so it’s easy to install a scope.
Furniture and More
The furniture is made from choice American walnut, and you’ll find checkering along the forend and pistol grip. Henry also equipped the stock uipped with a solid rubber recoil pad. It also wisely included sling swivel studs at the front and rear. Overall, the Single Shot is rugged and compact—important traits for hunting in thick cover—with an overall length of just 37.5 inches. It weighs 7 pounds unloaded.
Of course, I needed a few accessories to get the rifle ready for hunting. To install a scope, I first added one of Henry’s EGW Picatinny rail mounts. I ended up choosing a Nikon 3-9x40mm Buckmasters II scope set up in Weaver Quad Lock rings. Due to the rifle’s hammer, you’ll need high rings; even then, the Nikon still left little room for me to reach the hammer spur, so I attached a GrovTec hammer extension. This addition made cocking and uncocking the hammer quick and easy.
Since I like to carry extra ammo on the stocks of my rifles, I slipped an elastic GrovTec cartridge holder over the Single Shot’s buttstock. Finally, an Uncle Mike’s camo sling rounded out the items necessary to get the rifle ready for the field.
Henry Single Shot Range Time
All of the range testing was done at 100 yards. Since Winchester developed the .350 Legend cartridge, I thought it made since to sight in with Winchester’s 180-grain Power-Point load. I also scoured a variety of published trajectory tables and found that sighting in 2 inches high at 100 yards would put a shot cleanly in the vitals at 200 yards. And shooting from a Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest, it took very few rounds to get the Henry and Nikon zeroed; my three-shot groups with that Winchester load averaged 1.8 inches.
With the rifle sighted in, I began to test all of the hunting loads I had on hand. I shot several five-shot groups at 100 yards using the Lead Sled for support. The Winchester 180-grain Power-Points had an average group size of 1.4 inches. Meanwhile, the Federal 180-grain Power-Shoks consistently produced 1-inch groups. The Hornady 170-grain American Whitetail groups were all under an inch, with the best being 0.81 inches. Finally, the Federal 180-grain Non-Typical rounds had a group average of 0.98 inches. It was obvious that the Henry liked the heavier bullets, and the Hornady 170-grain ammo was the standout.
To further test that 170-grain load, I set up a life-sized black bear target at 100 yards. I then shot another group from some hunting sticks. While the group opened up a little to 2 inches, the shots were consistently in the vitals.
The Henry Single Shot is certainly accurate enough to make it a serious midsize game rifle out to about 200 yards, especially when you consider that the .350 Legend still has 900 fpe at that distance. For larger whitetail deer, I’d feel more confident with 1,000 fpe. That being said, it is my opinion that this cartridge is a short-range, 150-yard-maximum hunting cartridge when hunting larger rutting bucks. For black bears and feral hogs, it should get the job done nicely within 100 yards, where most shots are taken.
My range time with the Henry Single Shot was also perfect. There was just one small exception: I’d like the trigger to be a little lighter. According to my Lyman trigger pull gauge, my test rifle had a trigger pull of 7.4 pounds. To me, a 3- to 4-pound trigger pull would be more desirable for accurate shooting under hunting conditions.
More importantly, however, the .350 Legend’s recoil in the Henry was noticeably lighter than the .45-70 or .450 Bushmaster. The report also seemed milder.
After many hours of range testing, it was a pleasure to field-strip the rifle for cleaning. The process is quite simple. With the chamber empty, break the rifle open and remove the pivot pin by tapping it out from either the right or left side with a 3/8-inch brass rod. Then remove the barrel assembly from the receiver. Resist the temptation to unscrew the forearm. The rifle breaks into three parts for easy cleaning.
For those states that require straight-walled cases for deer hunting with a rifle, the .350 Legend is a very good option for shorter ranges, especially if you want to hunt with a single-shot rifle. For those of us who hunt whitetails, wild hogs and black bears where the range is short, the Henry Single Shot in .350 Legend is an excellent choice. The recoil is light, the report is mild, and ammunition costs about the same as .223 Remington ammo. For more information, please visit henryusa.com.
Henry Single Shot Specs
- Caliber: .350 Legend
- Barrel: 22 inches
- Overall Length: 37.5 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds (empty)
- Stock: American walnut
- Action: Break
- Finish: Blued
- Sights: Brass bead front, adjustable rear
- Capacity: 1
- MSRP: $510