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350 Legend Reloading COL and Pressure vs velocity


Oct 19, 2023
Worcester MA

I'm new to reloading and this is only my second cartridge I am trying to reload for ( the other one being the 223) so if I don't make much sense please point me in the right direction - I would like to learn as much as I can.

I'm using Starline brass, Unis primers, 180 XTP (.357 sized to .356 through the die, the measure at .356 after sizing) and Lil'Gun powder.

I get ~2200fps with a 22 grain charge of powder and the brass ejects nicely after the shot with no signs of pressure that I can see.

What baffles me is the COL, I cannot get it over 1.890in as the cartridge will not chamber anymore (all the online data that I have seen with XTP or other bullets in this weight range is COL over 2in), and from what I see that is actually the bullet getting jammed in the rifling. Also, the loaded cartridges don't chamber very nicely, in fact ejecting one without firing the bullet first requires a slam on the bolt (the bolt recocks easily but feels like the cartridge is stuck in the chamber when trying to eject the unfired cartridge.
I've tried a weight leader from 20 grains to 22 grains and the velocity seems to track the weight of the charge so long as I don't try to push the COL really close to 1.890 and keep it more around 1.880;
Everything above is even more prevalent with Winchester Brass, in fact with the winchester brass I can see how deep the bullet is seated int he brass after seating / crimping it. And ejecting the same load in Winchester brass without firing the gun is a real chore, ....

I am using a very light crimp that barely bring the expanded cartridge back to straight.
The load has an SD in low single digits and an ES in low teens every time I shot a 5 shot string.

My question is, am I doing something wrong or do I have an unusually tight chamber or short throat?
The gun is a Savage Axis.
If it helps, I can take some pictures of the fired brass as well as a semi decent picture of the chamber / throat ( I have a cheap amazon borescope)
I know that your issue seems to be length related, and it is possible that you have a short chamber. But your comments about the difficulty chamber the very short COAL had me wondering about the dimensions I circled.

Are you full length sizing your cases, or just flare, seat and crimp?

Full Resize, every reload. Decap at the same time, Flare, Prime, measure powder, insert .356 sized bullet, crimp with the bullet seating die.
The brass chambers nicely after resize, no resistance whatsoever, neither chambering nor ejecting; just like the brand new brass does as well.
The brass is proper length, measured new at 1.704+-1, now measuring the same.
below is the link to the only data for 180XTP / Lil'Gun combination I've ever found. It was published in the handloader magazine; https://www.handloadermagazine.com/350-legend
Pleas note the COL of 2.0, the 3 grains higher powder charge and the lower velocity achieved.
I did notice the COAL and in fact the Sammi spec above, likely showing a 147g or similar, shows 2.125” oal. That’s why I’m asking about your finished cartridge diameters as noted in the spec.

Do you have a way to measure those diameters?

Tell you what, do an experiment. Use layout dye or a sharpie and color the case of a finished round. Cycle it in and out of the action. Do you see any areas that show friction?

As I already mentioned, it is possible that you have a short chamber, but for it to be that short seems like a stretch. By eliminating other likely possibilities, you can deal with confidence when/if contacting Savage regarding your issue.

Oh, one last question. Have you ever shot factory ammo out of that rifle? Did it work okay?
Shot some Winchester 150FMJ, they work fine but the accuracy is what one would expect from a low price factory ammo.
That's how I got the Win cases that I started reloading with but I ordered some Starline brass because Win brass with these bullets gets stuck pretty bad when chambering and ejecting without firing the gun is a real chore.
I'll try some 147 XTP over the weekend and I'll also measure according to the drawing you posted andd let you know. Hoping to take some chamber / throat pictures as well and maybe some pics of the fired brass so you can let me know if you see any signs of overpressure.
I actually would not really mind firing the 180XTP as I've developed them up to now , even if they are harder to eject if not fired I would be willing to put up with that so long as cases don't show overpressure signs. I'm new at this and I want to be safe, not sorry, ...
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measured the loaded brass:
at 0.200 the brass diameter is .385
at 1.55 the brass diameter is .376

I'll color the cartridge with a marker and see where is rubs tomorrow but if my measurements of the cartridge are correct then I definitely have a tighter than spec chamber.
the brass length is 1.703 and the diameter in there is .375; at 1.710 it's just the bullet which measures at .356
marker colored cartridge shows a rub at 1.365 length and the diameter in there is about .376, maybe a little over.
I chambered some cartridges loaded with Winchester 147gr JHP (9mm bullets) and they can easily be loaded to COL over 2.100; I left them at 2.100 COL; they eject OK but not perfectly and to me it looks like the bullet is rubbing on something, right where it is protruding from the brass.
Still working on how to transfer my pictures from the phone to the laptop so I can attach them, might end up just emailing them to myself.
Looks like that .001, maybe .0015 difference between the 9,, factory bullets and the resized 180gr XTP makes a lot of difference in my chamber.
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I think that you’ve got it.

Regarding posting pictures. It’s as easy as going to your photos (on the phone) choosing a photo, copy, and paste in a new post. Viola!

Like so:
First 6 images are the fired cases, 5 individually and then all 5 together.
Please let me know if you see anything that would lead you to believe they are over pressure.
The last 2 pictures are the cartridge as loaded and the spot where it seems to rub on the chamber, feels like that is exactly where the bullet ends.
Not sure it can be seen in these pictures but the bullet shows signs of rubbing on the throat as well.
Trying to get a different bore scope, if you have any recommendations let me know, the one I got provides miserable images.


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I think that this pretty much confirms that things are tight in the end of the chamber. Whether or not Savage will think so is the question. If you could swage the bullets down another 0.001-0.002”, it might make the difference you need.

As to pressure signs, I do see ejector marks on the last two. Not a lot, but there are also some primer signs. Again not a lot. To me, this is most likely due to the small diameter of your chamber at the end.

Especially in production rifles, reamers are known to wear. Just a reality of machining.
I'm not really concerned about having a tight chamber, it's something that can happen on a production rifle, although based on what I see it's outside SAAMI specs. When I get a proper bore scope I'll decide if I need to contact Savage.
In the meanwhile I would like to see how accurate this thing really is because if it's accurate I would be willing to live with the tight chamber.
I'm more concerned about having a mishap, do you think I should load a grain less?
I honestly don’t know. Maybe find another option for the heavies? I’ll bet there are some here that would know.
I grabbed a piece of fired brass and tried to seat the 180XTP sized to .356 in it, it can be seated easily with the hand and taken out just as easily with no tools. So I seated a bullet really long and chambered the dummy round, it chambers just fine but when ejected the COL is 1.940; It works the same with Winchester as well as Starline brass as long as it is fired brass.
I loaded a round with brand new starline brass, same load as before, the only change being the 1.940 COL.
Fired it and got 2115fps, about 100fps less than before. At least to me it looks like the pressure signs are gone and the velocity is more in line with the published data, especially if accounting for the decreased case volume due to short COL.
Besides issues with feeding from the magazine (these short cartridges feed like crap, by the 4th shot they migrate forward and the bolt doesn't engage them enough to strip them and feed them into the chamber), are there any other dangers / issues with using SHORT COL cartridges?
I'll post a picture of the fires case in a few, got to grab my phone. If someone has the time, can you please confirm there are no visible pressure signs?
These 4 images are all the same case, just at different angles to make sure the glare doesn't obstruct any of the image.
At least to me, the primer looks not as flat, not as cratered and I can't see an ejector mark. Maybe I'm just overly optimistic.


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The issue you are having with the magazine is common for that rifle (I also ran into it). From what I've read they altered a .223 magazine instead of designing a new one from scratch.
Contact Savage to see if they will send you a new magazine as that's what they did for me (I assume a newly designed/diff mag)...no issues since I've got the new one from them. BTW great customer w/service as they also sent me a new scope with rings bc I had issues with the bolt hitting the scope when ejecting

I've also had issues reloading 350L with H110/Lil' Gun (like 100/200/300 FPS over published data) and decided I'd move over to IMR4227 instead. From what I've read online H110/Lil' Gun is finicky and for the loss of only about 100FPS I'll see what IMR4227 can give me

I moved over to factory WIN 180 grn ammo. At times it also seems to have issues ejecting so maybe the WIN brass has that issue in general

FYI for my story if you're interested (Mods, hope this is OK ) https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...e-and-high-fps-reloads-in-savage-axis.924673/
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I solved my problem with my 350 legend reloads jamming in my Savage Axis by removing ALL lube from my cartridges and any lube left in the gun. Even though I was confident that I cleaned the lube off my cartridges before attempting to shoot, there must have been some residual lube left on them.