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348 Winchester


Introduced by Winchester in 1936 for co-introduction with the Model 71 lever-action rifle, the 348 Winchester is a shortened and necked-down, 34-caliber, version of the 50/100/450 WCF case loaded at 30-30 pressure.  Original loads launched 200- and 250-grain bullets at similar velocities to what 30-30, 150-grain and 170-grain loads generated at that time.

Winchester’s goal was replacement of the expensive to produce 1886 lightweight 33 Winchester gun with an otherwise similar rifle with similar performance.  The M-71 lacks the controlled-cartridge-feed mechanism of the 1886 but is otherwise functionally equivalent.  When loaded to similar pressure as the 33 Winchester, the 348 has somewhat better ballistics.

The 348 was always recognized as an effective chambering for North American hunting of all non-dangerous species.  It remains so today.

When loaded with the best modern components, the 348 does much better than original loads did.  With the right bullet it is a fine choice for those hunting the biggest bear who cannot or will not tolerate the recoil generated by significantly more powerful cartridges.

For example, with a 24-inch barrel, Rl-17 can launch the 220-grain Barnes X-FP at over 2500 fps.  This bullet has the integrity and mass to penetrate the heaviest bone in the heaviest bear to get the job done while delivering energy similar to what a 300 Magnum can deliver at close range, where such encounters are most likely to occur and a quick stop matters most.

As with all cartridges used in guns with a tubular magazine, a properly applied crimp can smooth and ease chambering and a crimp is critical to lock the case mouth into the cannelure and thereby prevent recoil and chambering forces from driving the bullet into the case.  In some instances, a roll crimp might be the best option But the Lee Factory Crimp Die usually does a better job and the crimp it applies will not damage a cast bullet as chamber pressure drives that from the case.

Heritage of this case dates to 1895 with the introduction of the 50/110 and 50/100 WCF.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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