The .358 Winchester is a rifle cartridge based on a necked up .308 Winchester, and was created by Winchester in 1955. The cartridge is also known in Europe as the 9.1x51mm. It uses .358 caliber bullets, and was geared largely toward lever-action rifles, but has been offered as a chambering option in other action types as well. Winchester and some others ammunition manufacturers do still produce this ammunition in limited runs, and the Browning BLR is also still offered in this chambering. However, the .358 Winchester has mostly faded into obscurity in the modern day.
History and Design
The .358 Winchester cartridge came out over 30 years later than the .35 Whelen which is based on the .30-06 Springfield. Both higher-caliber cartridges are based on similar overall principles. That is, beefing up an existing cartridge with a heavier, larger diameter projectile for increased knockdown power on game. The difference in performance between the .358 Winchester and .35 Whelen cartridges is relatively similar to the performance differential between the .308 Win and the .30-06, perhaps with a slight edge to the .35 Whelen.
Some think that the cartridge is only good as a short-range and woods round, but it is adequate for any North American big game. Another benefit is that this round can be loaded with very light loads for informal shooting using smaller powder charges and bullets designed for the .38 Special and .357 Magnum. If the 250 grain bullet is used, it is reliable against the great bears.
Popularity of this cartridge has dwindled but Browning Arms Company still produces the Browning BLR in .358 and numerous other rifles, such as the Winchester Model 70, Winchester Model 88, and the Savage Model 99 are available on the used gun rack; a number of companies (see availability below) still produce the ammunition. Noted web firearms author Chuck Hawks agrees with the Speer reloading manual that "the .358 Winchester is one of the best woods cartridges ever designed."