|Rifleshooter.com’s Classic Series- Select timeless articles republished for today|
35 Whelen: That Whelen Feelin’ Again
I tried to sell it for him at few gun venues, but no one wanted it. It was a piece of obsolete machinery that for the price of the gunsmithing it needed, you could buy a factory new gun. Few such custom jobs have much resale value….. where’s the warranty?
So I was resigned to returning this very un-modern thing to him, when I showed it to Ole Bob, my gunsmith. In a new light, I saw the value that went into the rifle already, that to duplicate would cost many hundreds. Wraparound diamond point checkering on semi-fancy walnut. Solid bedding. A pristine bore. Precise micrometer sights. You know, they don’t make them like this anymore……
To shorten up, I took the rifle for a very fair price (fair to me at least) and had it sporterized further. Leupold 2-piece scope bases. Bold adjustable trigger. Scalloped bolt handle and polished bolt. New recoil pad. Buehler-style 2-position safety. Parts and all, $200 including tip.
The .35 Whelen is nothing more than a .30/06 necked up to .358 calibre. It was named after rifle authority Townsend Whelen, but designed by a co-worker at the U.S. Springfield Armory (the real one, not the latter-day commercial company) around 1925, in his honor apparently. Remington makes commercial cases, but you can form your own using .30/06 cases simply by passing them through a .35 Whelen die. I like that method… it’s more nostalgic.
Even a full case of powder in the .35 Whelen doesn’t need a magnum primer. I use Winchester WLR for all my loading. At one time, before they made a dedicated magnum primer, the WLR was advertised for “standard and magnum” loads. It is the hottest of the standard large rifle primers.
Picking a bullet for this oldtimer takes a little thought. Even at the SAAMI standard of 52,000 C.U.P., a 250 grain bullet only gets 2550 fps max in a 22″ barrel. A 225 grain bullet can reach 2700 fps and a 200 grainer up to 2850 fps.
In spite of their higher velocities, the lighter weights don’t “measure up” to the 250 grainer. Take a look at the energy and drop figures. The higher ballistic coefficient and sectional density of the 250 grain spitzer bullets, while started out slower, differ only 2″ in drop at 300 yards from the lighter faster bullets. Yet energy of the 250 grain bullet is significantly higher. The other aspect is that the penetration of the 250 gain bullet is far better than the lighter jobs.
Which brings up the point of what are you going use this thing for anyway. Despite its relatively low velocity for a bottleneck cartridge, it is remarkable efficient. It is really made for the heavier (500+ pound) animals, and the 250 grain bullet is best. By necessity, it is a short-range cartridge, due to its 2500 fps maximum velocity with that bullet weight. By short-range I mean a little over 200 yards or so for sure hitting. But you would be hard pressed to get even 2400 fps from the parent .30/06 with a 250 grain bullet at the same pressure.
If you have other smaller calibre rifles, there is no advantage to using the Whelen on deer and such light game. But if the Whelen is your only rifle, then you can also load a 200 grain bullet for deer hunting. If 200 grains sounds heavy, remember that it is a relatively short bullet, and although it will strike a heavier blow, it will penetrate LESS than a 200 grain .30 calibre bullet. So it is best for deer in this calibre. At 2750 fps, it flies faster than a 200 grain .30/06, and shoots flat enough for 250 yard shooting.
Sectional Densities and Energy virtually equal at 300 Yards
Which do you think is more effective?