View Full Version : .35 Whelen

Paul B
03-09-2013, 06:14 PM
How many here shoot and reload for the .35 Whelen? That's a cartridge I've had an interest in ever since I read Elmer Keith in "Hell, I Was There" and his misadventure with a Grizzly Bear. Then Remington came out with the Classic and I missed the boat on that one mostly because money was a tad tight at the time. One day at a gun show, I found a Ruger M77RS new in the box for a decent price so it came home with me. At another gun show there was a fellow selling off his late father's rifles and thet was one of the prettiest custom Oberndorf Mausers I ever saw in, you guessed it, .35 Whelen. Normally I haggle on price but on this one I paid the tariff and it has been my most favorite rifle ever since. At another gun show I finally got my hands on a Remington M700 Classic chambered to the Whelen.
The Ruger it turns out has a bit of excessive headspace problem and I've had factory ammo do full case head separations. Not good at all. I've set that one aside to shoot cast bullets. I use a 280 gr. Lyman #3589 bullet seated out to jam into the rifling with just enough powder to fireform the brass to that chamber. Brass is converted Korean 30-06 which surprisingly turns out to pretty darn good stuff. Brass for the Remington M700 is converted WW2 LC43 and it too is good brass. The custom rifle gets Remington factory brass.
I've been doing most of the load work with the Mauser and for a rifle built in 1935, it really is a sweetheart. It will take loads that give the other two rifles heartburn. I give my pet load with that rifle with some reluctance as it is way too hot for the other two rifles. I load 60.4 gr. of RE15 and the 225 gr. Barnes TSX bullet for a muzzle velocity of 2710 FPS. The two elk I have shot with that load have been one shot, bang flop DRT's on the spot. Any travel after bullet impact was one way only, straight down.
The only down side was on a deer hunt up in the Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona. I only saw one deer that I would consider shooting but he was standing with a bunch of does. He'd spotted me 35 yards away and if I shot him with that Barnes bullet, it would have taken him out and a couple of does as well. Arizona Game & Fish frown on such stuff. Why the barnes bullet for a deer hunt? The Arizona Game & Fish ask hunters to voluntarily use them as the area is part of the endangered Condor flyway. If you use conventional bullets, you were supposed to bring a big garbage bag to the offal and haul the mess out.
I had no use for 200 gr. bullets for the Whelen and if I'd been using a conventional bullet such as the Speer or Hornady 250 gr. bullet, the outcome would have been the same, A dead buck and a few dead does.
Accuracy? Well the Mauser really loves that Barnes bullet. When I do my part off the bench, it will usually put three shots into a half inch and five shots into three-quarters of an inch.
Oh! But you say the .35 Whelen is a short range gun. Well, my first elk was at 150 yards so that one don't count but this year's animal was shot at 350 yards. Over on the Nosler forum, there was a thread on long range shots with the Whelen and 400 yard comments were quite common.
I do have to "fees up" a bit on this year's elk. I hd a good solid rest and was aiming at her chest for a typical lung shot. At the shot she went down. When we got to her I coulldn't find the bullet hole going in or coming out.??? At the place that processes big game, once they had the hide off, we found that I'd hit her in the neck at the base of the skull. My hunting partner and the guide were giving me the glad hand and good shot comments but I had to say that that wasn't where I was holding. I said that I thought my scope was acting up. When I got home I rested up a couple of days and then went to the range. I shot a six inch group. I wasn't shooting all that well anyway as I had another rifle that shot tight groups so I paccked up and called it a day. Couple of days later I went back out and was shooting quite well so I tried the Whelen again. This time the group was eight inches. When I got home I pulled the scope from the rifle and sent it back to Leupold with a note explauning my problem. I got it back just this last Thursday and the paperwork lierally says they replace almost all the gut inside that thing. The whole erector set up had gone kaput. To be honest, It was total luck I even got my elk. Guess that .35 Whelen is one very lucky rifle. it definiely is a keeper
I've been playing with the Nosler 225 gr. Accubonds and partitions. So far the Partitions do right at 1.25 inches but the Accubonds more like 1.75". Got to play a bit more with those bullets. I also want to play with the 250 gr. Speers and Hornady bullets. Two Canadian web pen pals use the Whelen for moose and Grizzly bear, their preference being the Speer Hot Cores. What little I've done with those two bullets shows the Hornady bullet being slightly more accurate that the Speer but I won't let a .25" difference bother me. Years ago, I came to the conclusion that if a rifle will do 1.50" CONSISTANTLY, then that was good enough to hunt big game. It hasn't failed my yet. I do try for tighter groups and most of my rifles will beat that by a large margin but 1.5" is my maximum grouping that I will accept for most of my hunting rifles. My .404 Jeffery and .416 Rigby shoot 2" groups on average but since they'e design for critters the size of a Sherman tank, I'll accept tha level of accuracy with those two.

03-10-2013, 03:49 PM
One of my shooting buddies has a Whelen barrel for his Encore. I gave him some .35 Ranch Dog bullets for his .35Rem for deer season a few years back and he got curious as to how the Whelen would do with them and reduced charges of 4895. He brought me a 100yd target after the first test loads with one hole in it. I told him he needed more than one shot to call it a group. He said that it was a 5shot group. With my calipers it measured just about .375" (- .360 = .015"). The rest of the groups were all around 1" he said, but he had to show me "the bragger", his best cast group ever. Oh how I wish I had got a 6cav of that mould before RD closed, but my 2cav is definitely not for sale. He wants a few hundred more of them to play with. Me. I'm thinking he's already found "The Load" for it. I have no idea how fast they're moving, but 35yds is the average shot at a deer in these parts. I'm thinking it might be good for moose too if it's up anywhere near 2000fps. I don't know what he shoots for jacketed bullets in it, we always talk cast loads, but he did say he had yet to try a bullet that wouldn't stay in 2" or under. I want one.

Paul B
03-11-2013, 06:26 PM
I have a few molds for the .35, two old Lymans, two RCBS #35-200 FN, a lyman #3589 and a custom clone of 3589 with a slight flat added to the nose. That one was made by David Mos. Pricey, but does it cast a nice bullet. I haven't done a lot of cast shooting for some time due to other interests but with component in such short supply, now's the time to start back up. At least the bullets are made up.
I have at least two more .35 Whelen builds in mind. One will be on a 1917 Eddystone Enfield I got for $150 with a nice 1950'd era Bishop stock and most of the metal work already done. I'll run up to Prescott AZ and have Danny Pederson rebore it to the .35. The other will be a rebarrel of a Ruger #1B I have in 30-06 that has never shot worth a damn. probably one of those bad Wilson barrels. From what I understand, Pederson does not like doing Ruger barrels, at least in the #1. Oh well, can't have everything my way. Dammit! I guess you can tell I really have a thing gong for that cartridge.
Paul B.

10-16-2013, 05:49 AM
A 35 Whelen has been one of my pet rifles since the 1960s and is now on its second barrel.
My Dad bought it for me at a gun show in Montana in 1960, a Remington Mod. 30 Exp. with a Buhmiller barrel and a Bishop stock.
Over the years it has put a lot of Moose and Deer in the freezer, about 12 years ago the Buhmiller barrel was replaced by a Bevan King stainless.
The old gun originally wore a Weaver K 2 1/2 and now a Leupold 1.5X5.
Probably the most dependable gun I have ever owned, it has never let me down.