01.03.2023 | by Craig Boddington

A brand-new Remington cartridge ideal for tubular-magazine lever-actions? Sure, why not? ‘Case you haven’t noticed, the classic lever-action is red-hot right now. Old geezers like me love ‘em because we grew up with them (or, at least, our Dads and Grand-dads did). For us, the lever-action is as American as apple pie and John Wayne. Younger generations are also discovering the lever gun. For us, it’s a familiar old friend. For them, it’s a different platform.

We can all agree the almost exclusively American lever-action is just plain cool, a healthy taste of nostalgia combined with sheer practicality: Perfectly balanced, fast-handling, fast-shooting, easy to carry. What the tubular-magazine lever-action is not is a long-range platform. So what? Despite the current rage for long-range shooting, few American deer hunters need to reach past 200 yards. And, no different now than a century ago, most whitetail deer are taken at half that distance or less.

My home state of Kansas is thought of as wide-open country, but not my farm. Of the two-dozen deer stands scattered around our woods and food plots, exactly one offers a possible shot beyond 200 yards, that one not much more. There, and in so many places, we don’t need reach. We want to hit our bucks hard and anchor them, reducing tracking in thick woods, and avoiding needing to call a neighbor to recover a deer across a fenceline.

That’s exactly what Remington’s .360 Buckhammer is all about, dropping deer-sized game with authority at short to medium range. That was the reputation—and reality—of the .35 Remington, introduced in 1906. For more than a century the .35 Remington has been a legendary thick-cover cartridge, revered for anchoring black bear, deer, and hogs at shorter ranges. The .360 Buckhammer shares the .35 Remington’s .358-inch bullet, and its initial load features a hard-hitting 200-grain Core-Lokt round-nose at 2217 fps.

On the surface, we could say that .360 Buckhammer is an updated version of the great .35 Remington, although faster, so delivering more energy and shooting a bit flatter. That would be true enough, and would be strong praise, but missing important differences. Buckhammer’s parent case is another deer-hunting legend, the .30-30, so it’s a rimmed cartridge ideal for traditional tubular-magazine lever-actions (and readily adaptable to single-shot platforms). Far more importantly, it uses the case necked up to .358, blown out with body taper and shoulder removed, and shortened to 1.8 inches. This makes .360 Buckhammer legal for deer (and other big game) in all states and jurisdictions allowing “straight wall” centerfire rifle cartridges in lieu of shotguns. It does not significantly increase range. The whole point of straight-wall legislation is to increase accuracy and efficiency over shotgun slugs, without increasing risk from stray projectiles.

Buckhammer is thus designed to be, and is, an effective, hard-hitting 200-yard deer cartridge, whether you hunt in a straight-wall state or not. I do not, but in the autumn of ’22 I had the chance to take Texas whitetails and feral hogs with one of the first rifles chambered to Buckhammer, a short, sweet-handling, walnut and blued steel Henry with 20-inch barrel, ideally scoped with a Leupold VX Freedom 2-7x33mm scope. Shots were from 40 to 140 yards, both species properly hammered, provided I did my part.

In tubular-magazine rifles, blunt-nosed bullets are essential, reducing aerodynamics and downrange ballistics. Remembering that Buckhammer is not designed for distance, this is not important, and is actually a plus. In today’s thirst for increased range, many of us have forgotten that round-nosed bullets hit harder, transferring more energy on impact and dealing a noticeably heaver initial blow. On both hogs and whitetails, I was impressed by the .360 Buckhammer and its traditional 200-grain Core-Lokt bullet. With surprisingly mild recoil and report, Buckhammer is a pleasure to shoot, despite being a good-sized hammer!

Without question, hunters living in straight-wall states will welcome Buckhammer. So will many others, wherever they live, who are just now learning—or re-learning—the joys of a classic lever-action. Although brand-new, Buckhammer is a traditional cartridge, perfect for big deer in big woods.