hunters carrying dead turkeys on their backs

Big Green Blog


10.31.2023 | By Mark Hampton

rifle laying against a rock with a box of Core-Lokt 360 Buckhammer

When ammunition manufacturers introduce a new cartridge, the news seldom piques my interest. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Remington announces the 360 Buckhammer and I immediately wanted to learn more about the .35 caliber cartridge. Knowing several states have adopted criteria for straight-wall cartridges, you get a better understanding why deer hunters pursuing whitetail in these regions are searching for a better mouse trap. Not being intimately involved in legislative matters anymore, I’m not certain the reason behind 1.800” case length imposed by several states. As they say, "It is what it is.” So Remington cleverly devises a straight-wall case, 1.800” to accommodate those length restrictions and tops it with a .35 caliber bullet. Someone in the Big Green tent, dreams up the brilliant idea of using a trimmed, 30-30 Win. case, without the bottleneck treatment, which will obviously work well in a classic, traditional whitetail hunting lever-action rifle. The rimmed case will also be welcomed by single-shot aficionados.

After reading all the press releases and fanfare, I had to see for myself what this cartridge was all about. I called my friends at SSK Firearms and requested an Encore barrel. When the 180 gr. 360 Buckhammer Core-Lokt ammo arrived, I hit the range immediately. Boy was I surprised to see three-shot groups from 100 yards hovering around 1.5” out of a handgun! I sighted-in a little high at 100 yards. Backing off to 150 yards, I could keep three shots in two inches and I was dead-on at this range. Now I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of this straight-wall design. While this cartridge is not intended for long range pokes, I couldn’t help to see what it would do at 200 yards. Well, there wouldn’t be any whitetail safe at that distance even though I probably won’t be shooting that far.

Like most hunters, I won’t be punching holes in paper with the 360 BHMR. I wanted to see how the cartridge would perform on game. My wife and I were celebrating our 44th anniversary overseas in Macedonia and I forgot to mention we would be hunting. Feel free to reach out for any marriage advice. We spent our first evening in a blind hoping for a big, European wild boar to step out. Shortly before sunset, a sounder came strolling in to the field we were watching. Mostly sows and young ones with a few small boars among the group. Just before last shooting light a dandy boar with decent cutters showed up. At 73 yards, he stood broadside momentarily. When the hammer fell, Remington’s 180 gr. soft point punched through both lungs and made an exit. The boar took off like a bolt of lightning but didn’t make it 40 yards. My first experience with the 360 Buckhammer was in the books and we were headed for the skinning shed.

hunter sitting behind a dead hog with a hunting rifle in front

A couple of days later we bumped into a lone water buffalo. At first, I was a bit hesitant to give this .35 caliber the green light on a large bovine. Curiosity won the day. I felt like a well-placed shot with the 180 gr. Core-Lokt would work. We managed to get within 75 yards and I found a good rest to help steady the crosshairs and enhance shot placement. The guide whispered in my ear, “Take a heart shot.” Good advice from an experienced guide. At the shot, the buffalo took three steps and fell over. I don’t know who was in shock the most, me or the guide! In the past, I’ve taken nine water buffalo in Argentina and Australia and this was only the second one taken with one shot. You know, if the 360 Buckhammer can handle a water buffalo, it will surely tackle the biggest whitetail buck, wild boar, or black bear roaming the woods.

hunter sitting behind a dead bull with a rifle and box of Core-Lokt 360 Buckhammer

The remainder of our hunt was spent pursuing red stag. We were running out of time and the stags were simply not cooperating. The rut hadn’t kicked in yet and the hunting was most challenging. Our last day approached and I was hoping for the best. Perseverance paid dividends when we located a group of females with one decent stag in the fray. Trying to get a clear shot from 80 yards was most frustrating as there were always other animals either in front or directly behind the stag. Finally, a clear, unobstructed shot materialized and the 180 gr. Core-Lokt landed slightly behind the shoulder. The stag bolted out of sight along with the rest of the herd. We didn’t have a long tracking job, maybe 40 yards. The bullet had made a complete pass-thru and exited on the opposite side. That is penetration I did not expect on a 400 pound animal!

2 hunters sitting behind a dead red stag with a rifle

At the end of our anniversary celebration, all three animals had been taken with one shot each. Even with this abbreviated experience, I’m impressed with the 360 Buckhammer’s performance on big game. Next up, black bear in New Mexico and my wife will be hunting with a Henry lever-action. I’ll be packing a BFR revolver. There is not a doubt in my mind, the 360 Buckhammer will handle any bear encountered – and I’m hoping for a monster.