.500 Whelan Mauser


March 12, 2008, 05:57 PM
Can someone provide me some info on this. It's not in "Cartridges of the World". It was to some degree common in Alaska in the '20's.

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March 12, 2008, 06:08 PM
thats a good one, I have never heard of it...

what can you tell us to get started?

March 12, 2008, 06:16 PM
I've never heard of it either.

Somehow, Whelen, Mauser, & .500 just don't seem right.

Whelen was big into 03 Springfields, 30-06's & 30-06 based wildcats, and helping to invent the .22 Hornet.

And a .500 bullet would be bigger around then the case-head of a 30-06.
SO you would have sort of a "reverse" bottleneck!

1920's would have been pre-.348 Winchester, so getting an American made case that big would have involved wildcatting some old rimmed black-power round.


Vern Humphrey
March 12, 2008, 07:38 PM
Are you sure you don't mean the .40 Whelen? This was the first, and didn't set the world on fire.

The problem is, when you neck the .30-06 case up to .40 cal, you don't have enough shoulder left to adequately headspace it.

The solution, if you want to go that way, is to have your reamer made up with a sharper shoulder -- more like the Brown-Whelen shoulder.

March 12, 2008, 08:53 PM
That's what I was thinking too.

The .400 Whelen would have been more in keeping with the time frame in question, and what Whelen was doing at the time.


Bad Flynch
March 12, 2008, 10:09 PM
Well, the very first of the Whelen cartridges was the .35 Whelen and it is still probably the best. It was made by necking up a .30-'06 to take a 35 caliber bullet. It is a very successful cartridge, even today. Someone else, not Col. Whelen, made it up and named it in honor of the Col.

Soo thereafter came varuations on the theme: .375 and .400. Elmer Keith got into the act and tried the .333 OKH.

The .400 had a few problems, most notably was that the shoulder was so narrow that it had a hard time maintaining the cartridge headspace. That, considering that only reloads could be had and that some reloads would naturally be low in pressure and not hold cartridge dimensions well.

The .400 pretty much died a naturaly death. You can read about it in Phil Sharpe's loading book.

March 13, 2008, 01:00 AM
I am pretty sure the 500 Whelen was never very common anywhere. The 400 Whelen just barely functions in the 06 case and not very well (the previously mentioned headspacing issue)or it would be more popular then it is. Fred Zeglin used to have a good rundown of what was possible for the various cases on his website.

Even the 50 Alaskan was VERY RARE and did not come into being until 20+ years after the time frame that you mention. The only 50's that would fit the time frame were the 1886 Win rounds or the earlier single shot rounds. Maybe the 577 Snyder in a Martini (which would make sense)?

As far as bolt rounds I have no idea, but would appreciate you sharing any info you find. Where did you hear about this round? If it truly was in a bolt rifle it would have undoubtedly remained popular in that part of the world up to today.

March 13, 2008, 02:23 AM
Note that I spelled it Whelan--that wasn't an error. Russel Annabel mentions it several times in his writing. I'm not saying 'ol Rusty was perfect, but he was pretty on line. Plus, every story was published in "Outdoor Life". Back in the 40's, 50's and 60"s, "Outdoor Life" was a class magazine, not prone to errors, especially repetitive. I'm not at all sure that the rifle that Rusty referred to was at all related to Col. Townsend Whelen. But it could have been. The .35 Whelen came about in 1922, and Rusty starts referring to it right about then, but possibly earlier. You have to deduce the date based on his claimed age at the time and his birthday (1907). In stories he wrote where he claimed to be 19, he first refers to it. He calls it "the wickedest weapon available in those pre-magnum days". Several of his stories mention it. I thought of the Whelen cartridge deal, to my knowledge based on the '06. No way an '06 can have a .500 slug. I reckon that is maybeso what stimulated my curiopsity. I'm still curious.

March 13, 2008, 02:35 AM
I don't know where they would have gotten the brass, except maybe from the Newtons? Will try to find out, my cartridge books are presently about not where I am at. Best easy way to find out would be to ask over on the wildcat or big bore forums at accuratereloading.

Good Luck.

March 13, 2008, 02:53 AM
Good thought! Off the Newton case it may have been possible.

Bad Flynch
March 14, 2008, 02:23 PM
>No way an '06 can have a .500 slug<

Well, considering that the case head on a .30-'06 is 0.473" across, then stuffing a bullet of 0.508-0.510" in the case would give it a reverse taper or reverse shoulder. When those arrangements were tried last, they didn't work well, at all.

March 14, 2008, 02:58 PM
The .400 Whelen was the first and only cartridge the widely traveled hunter developed. it is about a straight case 06 with only the merest shoulder. Elmer Keith (surprise!) liked it but mentioned the problems with headspacing.

The .35 Whelen was a tribute to Col Townsend Whelen. He never had one or used one, IIRC. It was released as a Remington cartridge some time later.

Wil Terry
March 14, 2008, 03:20 PM
Mr Howe, GRIFFIN&HOWE, most certainly DID make a 35WHELEN for Col. Townsend Whelen. REMEMBER, this cartridge goes back into the 1920'S and Howe named it after his pal Col. Whelen who was the superintendent of FRANKFORD ARSENAL at the time.
[ ...if I remember it all correctly at this late date...]

March 14, 2008, 03:55 PM
Mr. Terry, that's a pretty bold statement, especially since you took the liberty to change the spelling I gave and explained. I've already said that I don't think it has anything to do with Townsend Whelen. Of course it couldn't have been made on an '06 case. That's obvious, but I believe maybeso it could have been on a Newton case. I pretty strongly believe it did exist, as I have seen it referred to in old writings more than a few times. Still hoping someone out there has the skivvy on it.

Wil Terry
March 15, 2008, 05:04 PM
There were a bunch of 'em all gone and forgotten now. The 35 caliber one was the only one to survive to modern times.
PS: Col. Whelen furnished ALL the 30/06 brass used in the experiments as he was the Chief, cook, and bottlewasher at FRANKFORD ARSENAL, the U. S. of A.'s government ammunition plant where almost ALL--ALL!!!---of the ammunition experimenting going on in this country was being carried out.

March 15, 2008, 06:14 PM
I've done a google search and looked at accuratereloaders site and can't find anything on a .500 Whelan. I suspect that if Cartridges of the World doesn't have anything on it, it most likely doesn't exist.

The other poster, Wil Terry is one of the most knowedgeable gun guys around. If HE hasn't heard of it then i doubt it was ever made.

That being said i hope that moose can come up with an article or other proof that the round was made. There is good documentation of rounds made in the past. It should have come up on a google search if it ever exsisted.

March 16, 2008, 08:50 PM
Can't disagree with most of your comments, Mr. Ratshooter. I have seen it, the .500 Whelan, referred to several times in articles by Russel Annabel in "Outdoor Life" back in the 50's, 60's. That is why I was/am curious about it. I also have been unable to find anything on it, but there are those references to it. Mr. Terry is hung up on Whelen cartridges associated with Townsend Whelen. I doubt you could find 10 people that don't know that all the Whelen cartridges were made off an '06 case. A .500 obviously wasn't. This one is also not spelled Whelen; it's Whelan. Mr. Terry apparently doesn't want to hear that nor consider anyone other than Townsend Whelen.

The Newton case is a possibility. It was around in the 20's (1913, I believe) and has (had) a base diameter of .523. Granted, it still would need to be nearly a straight case with a .500 bullet, but feasible.

March 17, 2008, 04:49 PM
Well Mr. Moose i guess the ball is in your court. If you have an old article you can scan in and post it would help also.

I sent an E-Mail the Wolf publishing hoping one of the writers would know if this round existed. This is the answer i received:

"I haven't been able to find anything on the .500 Whelan, anywhere. John Barsness"

Notice he spelled the name correctly. I hope you know who he is also.

Between John Barness and Wil Terry if those two haven't heard of it then i'm sure at at loss as to how to verify its existance.

Let us know if you find something.

March 17, 2008, 05:30 PM
With all due respect, if it's not in Cartridges Of The World, and Mr Terry and Mr Barsness have not heard of it, I doubt the existence or at least significance.

Some of the writers in the 60's were trying to keep up with Elmer Keith and others of significant stature. Their writings were sometimes less than factual. There was one writer (forget the name) that made up about 90% of his stuff.

March 17, 2008, 05:37 PM
From P.O.Akley book Volume Handbook for shooters and Reloaders

.577/450 Martini-Henry

British Military cartridge and a large number of the Enfield-Martinis were imported...
.505 Barnes Supreme. This cartridge could be made on an Enfield action and fired a 600 gr. bullet It was based on a .460 Weatherby case which would have come later.

I realize these are not on the Mauser action as stated above

Just for information

March 18, 2008, 01:43 AM
Annabel used the name Mauser with regard to the cartridge, but didn't actually say it was a Mauser rifle, though one would get that idea. He was writing about this in the 20's, so of course there weren't .460 WB's, but, there were Rigby cases, and a .460 WB is just a .416 Rigby case with a belt added. Mr. Ratshooter, I have no way to send you a copy, but if you'll read some of Russel Annabel's old stuff, you'll read about it. It is mentioned in several of his Alaska articles that I've read, and I haven't read them all by any means. These were before he left and went to Mexico. This may be a dead end, as Rusty's deader than hell, has been for nearly 40 years. But I'd sure like to know what he was talking about. Barnsness is a pretty knowledgeable guy, so if you know him, maybeso you could discuss it with him in more detail, mentioning the source (Annabel, not me). I don't know the man, or I'd contact him myself.

Vern Humphrey
March 18, 2008, 10:01 AM
How about scanning the article and posting it here -- or at least the part where he describes the cartridge?

March 18, 2008, 12:59 PM
I guess many of you never read the gunzine articles of the 50s and 60s where there was a new wildcat cartridge touted every month. Most were also never heard of again. PO Ackley was one of the wildcatters and there were a few more.

Vern Humphrey
March 18, 2008, 01:05 PM
The question is not "were there lots of wildcatters" but rather "was there a .500 Whelen?"

March 18, 2008, 01:39 PM
The guy said Whelan, not Whelen. To my knowledge, "no," but there could have been based on the new "cartridge of the week" developed by the wildcatters.

March 19, 2008, 01:52 AM
Mr. Humphrey--I don't have a way to do that. At any rate, he doesn't really describe or discuss them; simply mentions that his hunter was using a .500 Whelan Mauser--more than once, more than one hunter, more than one article, incidently. Actually, one was a woman! All he ever said in-so-far as discription was "the wickedest thing going before the time of magnums". He does refer to "significant" recoil! And Big G, it was in the 20's, not the 50's or 60's that he was talking about.

There were cases in existance at the time that could handle a .500 bullet. I've also considered that it could be a printing error and that indeed it was a .400 Whelen, but it seems strange that the printing error would occur more than once, and in different articles. Obviously, if I knew the answer, I wouldn't have asked the question!

Vern Humphrey
March 19, 2008, 11:14 AM
Well, I wish there were some way we could read the articles -- this is really a mystry.

March 19, 2008, 09:06 PM
Sorry I can't help on that aspect. I well remember reading all his stuff when I was younger in the 50's and 60's. They have mostly all been compiled into book form (4 books), and that is where I have been re-reading them lately. The books go all the way back, way before the 50's. Excellent reading, whether I ever find out about the .500 Whelan or not.

March 20, 2008, 12:20 AM
Hello moosehunt thanks for replying. I looked on google (my new source for all info) and couldn't find any Annabell writings. I believe there was someone else doing research on his writings but nothing posted i could read for free.

I have an old Guns and Ammo annual from about 1980 with a R.A. article titled "Little Gun, Big Medicine" talking about using the 22 caliber pistol in Alaska. Past that i have no more info.

Also i not a friend of John Barsness he just answered the question i sent to Rifle Magazine. I would like to meet the guy though, thats for sure.

March 20, 2008, 03:20 PM
moosehunt--where can the books be purchased.

I also remember reading his articles in the 50's and 60's. I enjoyed his style of writing.

March 21, 2008, 09:56 AM
Oh yeah - a lot of the stuff I read in the 50s and 60s were old articles dating back to the early part of the century. Elmer Keith, PO Ackley, and Townsend Whelen were old writers.

March 21, 2008, 02:44 PM
ADKWOODSMAN--I got mine from Safari Press, but I think maybeso they are sold out. I reckon one could check places like Barnes & Noble. The books:

Volume I Alaskan Adventures The Early Years
Volume II Adventure Is My Business
Volume III Adventure Is In My Blood
Volume IV The High Road To Adventure
Volume V The Way We Were

Excuse me, I said there were 4 books. Obviously there are 5.

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