Rifle calibers- why are there not more .35+ choices?


Eric F
February 26, 2009, 07:22 PM
In the hand gun world seems bigger is better and well excepted as "target stopers" is 9mm through 45. So in rifles why does it seem .30 to .35 are the most common for "medium to large" targets? Why not more intermediate range stuff like 40 cal to 50 cal? I dont mean pistol sizes I mean do something lie take a 458 mag or 45-70 and cut them down by 25% and then bottle neck to 40 cal. I just think at least in my book even in deer I get clean through and through shots on deer with a 30-30 at 200 yards, and then they still dont bleed out too quick. But with a 40 cal bullet going slightly slower or even the same speed will be more effective.

Am I missing something here or is it just lack of imagination on the manufacturers?

Ant this isnt just a hunting thing its motr a ballistics thing.

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February 26, 2009, 07:25 PM
Well, there are versions of the .458wm, 1.5" and 2" case lengths (vs 2.5") but those are not all that popular. Why? For the same energy level, you will be lugging 500gr bullets vs 150-165gr for a .30 cal. That is a lot more felt recoil, even if you have the same ME. Also, the larger calibers have much worse BC, meaning that your efective range would be quite a bit shorter than most deer cartridges. So, why sacrefice range, and gain more recoil, for somethig that will not get the job done any more than a .30 or smaller will?

February 26, 2009, 08:07 PM
The .30 caliber was the military cartridge. Historically, that makes it very popular, as rifles, ammunition, and accessories will be developed for the demand.

There have been several 35 caliber cartridges developed. .35 Whelan, .35 Allan, .348 Winchester, the .351 Winchester SL, .35 Winchester SL, .350 Rigby Mag, .35 Newton, .35 Remington, .356 Winchester, .358 Winchester, .350 Remington Mag, and the .35 Ackley Improved, to name some.

America found that it could reliable hunt just about anything with the .30 caliber, or the larger .40 calibers for dangerous game.:)

February 26, 2009, 08:07 PM
This is just a guess. But I'd have to say that it has something to do with the cost of shooting a big bore, and the need (or lack thereof) for such guns in the US.

With the exception of Grizzly, Polar and Kodiak Bears, there is really no need for a rifle larger than .284" (7mm) and of standard power. For the bears, in hunting situations, .338 is plenty. Magnums are not needed for either case, but many people choose them because the upgrade in performance is not (terribly) expensive. The upgrade in bore diameter is.

Not many people will pay to target shoot with them. Even fewer people NEED them. So there's not a huge market for them. Makes the cost of the guns and ammo go up (less demand, so less supplied). So that makes even less people want them. It's a never ending circle, and it gets you to where we are today as it pertains to big bore rifles.


February 26, 2009, 08:20 PM
Few people have any serious use for anything bigger than a 7mm Maggie. Most deer hunters do fine with a .243, .270 or .308. There's no market for a new .423 India Magnum, so the companies put their R&D money into stuff that'll sell.

I built a .358 Norma Mag on an old Enfield action just beacuse I wanted a powerful medium bore rifle.
There's damn little chance I'll ever need a 250 gr bullet at 2750 fps, but it's fun to shoot for about 15 rounds.

February 26, 2009, 08:22 PM
Ruger seems to be thinking your way with their reinventing of the wheel lately with the 375 and 416 Ruger. Totally worthless but worthy of this thread no less.

Cover Dog
February 26, 2009, 08:36 PM
Japle....glad to see another 35cal. fan. I bought a 358STA from Winchesters custom shop in 1982. Only had it on one hunt so far. Not yet for big bears, which was it's original purpose. We have a 250gr. bullet traveling at 3060fps for over 5200lb. ft. of energy. And yes, you do know when the gun goes off.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 26, 2009, 08:45 PM
As you go larger, you get:

1. More recoil, to the point of unpleasantness in a hunting weight gun.
2. Less flat trajectory / more basketball like trajectory due to lower vels
3. Only marginally increased performance, wholly unnecessary for the game most people hunt.
4. Larger brass, more powder, and bigger bullet all mean higher ammo cost, whether you reload or not.

Primarily #1 and #2.

As Americans, we seem to have 'speed magnumitis' more than 'size magnumitis' with rifles, but 'size magnumitis' more with handguns.

Medium bores used to be more popular with the likes of .348 Winchester, .356 & .358 Winchester, .375 Winchester & .38-55, etc.

February 26, 2009, 08:55 PM
For some reason, the 35 range just never took hold. Probably had to do with the 30 caliber "magnums" being able to kill everything in north america, while the 35 calibers remained somewhat less powerful. You know america, "more power"! More is better!

February 26, 2009, 09:25 PM
There is nothing in North America that cannot be killed very effectively with a 30-06 and most can be taken with much smaller rounds. There has been no real need for anything larger for at least 100 years.

That does not mean they are not fun to hunt with. I sometimes use a 45-70 or hunt with a bow to make hunting more challenging. Lots of people use different calibers just because they have a sentimental attachment to that particular cartridge.

February 26, 2009, 09:44 PM
Something like a 35 Whelen makes an outstanding hunting rifle. Big bullets, going moderate velocity, should make a big hole. However, such cartridges are often referred to as “300 yard” cartridges. Only good out to 300 yards.

Which is a darn long distance anyway.

However it is hard to sell something that does not have a straight line trajectory out to 500 yards. Gunwriters are always promoting less bullet drop at 400, 500, 600, plus yards. Have we all not read all those rubbish articles comparing cartridges, like the 30-06 and 270 at 400 yards? Gunwriters love to point out the differences in drop, which are often less than an MOA, proving that the one with 2 inches less drop is so much better than the other. The average shot cannot hold an 2 inches at 400 yards, and it is worth considering whether that same average shot could hit anything consistently, other than a mountain, at that range.

I doubt many people could shoot it a 35 caliber bullet which has the same flat trajectories as a magnum 7mm or a 30 caliber. The recoil must be terrible.

Deer Hunter
February 26, 2009, 09:53 PM
I want a gun chambered in 9x39...

February 26, 2009, 10:31 PM
I want a gun chambered in 9x39...

Don't we all?:p

February 26, 2009, 10:53 PM
Heck, I was going to say there aren't more choices because the .35 Whelen, .458 Winchester Magnum, and the .375 H&H Magnum will do everything anybody would want from a large caliber rifle.

Oh, the .45-70, .35 Remington, and .358 Winchester are pretty excellent medium range cartridges in their own rights.

February 26, 2009, 11:11 PM
Flat shooting.

Modern rifles are designed to shoot at high velocities. Larger-diameter bullets slow down faster and drop faster at distance.

.30 is about as big as you want to go if you want flat shooting. Other popular hunting calibers (.270, 7mm Rem Mag, etc.) are typically designed to outdo it in that arena.

February 27, 2009, 11:29 PM
One reason for the 35 caliber (other than low power 35 rem) was Americans wanting 375 performance in standard length actions. 35 Whelen was a good easy cartridge made from the 30-06. The 338 Winchester fits this niche as well. 50 years ago bullets were not as good as they are today therefore bigger was better. Today bullets are much better and Magnum rifles are allot easier to buy. For this reason there is not a larger demand for in the 35 caliber. The 338 has stole the show. 338/08, 338/06, ect. The smaller calibers do almost anything you would want. All that said the Whelen is still a great elk gun.

February 28, 2009, 12:57 AM
I agree with the guys who say they want something chambered in 9x39. I hadn't been reminded of it for a while, but that sounds like something fun to try.

February 28, 2009, 04:50 AM
I'd say that one reason may be a lack of need for something bigger than .30 something.
You get yourself a good .30 something and you can kill pretty much anything just as dead as you'd kill it with a .35 something. Since the .30 somethings are already around, there probably isn't enough market to justify trying to sell us .35 somethings.
Then when you step up to big calibers you're already getting out of .35 something territory.

February 28, 2009, 07:19 AM
Take a look at history.

Militaries and hunters were using big slow bullets. Firearms chambered in such cartridges as 45-70 and 45-577 were common.

The small caliber spizter was invented and blew these old dogs out of the water performance wise.

yes, there was a little bit of toothing problems. One of the earliest of this type of round, the british .303 in blackpowder didn't get enough velocity (used 70 grains of blackpowder, pressed into pellets so it would fit, and only acheived 1800 fps) to really lay a man or animal out, but as soon as they switched to cordite, and hit some good velocities, then the man stopping power was there.

This means to really equal a 30-06 or a 7x57mm or a 7.62x54R or whatever, you are going to need something big and powerful. A shortened 45-70 necked down to 40 caliber would have all the worse attributes of both classes.

It would be slow and hence have both a rainbow trajectory and not have sufficent velocity to do the truely spectacular wounding a 2500+ FPS

On the flip side, a 40 wouldn't have the massive flat SLAM that a 45 or higher caliber can deliver, at least not in something the size frame you are discussing.

Sure, your theoretical catridge would outperform your 30-30, but then, pretty much everything outperforms the 30-30 anyways. You don't get a 30-30 for it's ballistics, you get a 30-30 for it's soft kick and to have a light, fast handling carbine.

If you want to step up to something that is an 'improvement' of the standard 30 caliber moving at about 2700 fps, you either go a LOT bigger (and a LOT slower) to get the advangates of a huge bullet, OR, you got a LITTLE bigger (and a little slower) to retain the advantages of high velocity.

Going medium big and medium slow you just get junk.

Going to something like a 338-06 or a 35 whelen is what you should be thinking of. Or maybe a 444 marlin

February 28, 2009, 08:08 AM
Ever shoot a .45-70?

They work very well, but the trajectory is like a rainbow.

.30 calber (probably many would say 7mm or even 6.5) is a sweet spot that balances flat shooting with effectiveness on game.

The whole reason for modern rounds is flat shooting. When it comes to effectiveness on game, there was never anything wrong with .38-55 or .45-70. The old big military rounds were deadly, too.

When you get up to and past .35 or so, your trajectory isn't so great unless you make the bullet pretty heavy and push it really fast. You're edging either back towards the trajectories of the old black powder cartridges or short range "express" roounds, or you get massive, high-velocity boomers that aren't exactly meant for hand-held rifles, like the .338 Lapua and larger sniper rounds.

Of course all sorts of calibers exist, for all sorts of reasons and applications. But the reason that so many fall in the "general purpose" range between 6mm and 7.62mm is the above.

February 28, 2009, 08:57 AM
The incredible and legendary success of the 30-06 in the hands of our soldiers in two world wars and Korea pretty much led to the demise of any caliber dethroning .30 caliber as the standard. Granted, 7mm calibers have become very popular as well, but nothing stands a chance of taking .30 caliber off the top of the hill. 35s are indeed effective, within the limitations of their range. When I lived in the east, a lot of guys still used .35 Remingtons in Marlin 336s for deer. They were super effective.

March 7, 2009, 09:46 PM
Because there aren't more .35+ buyers. Rifle sales fall off dramatically after you pass 30 caliber.

March 8, 2009, 08:36 AM
True, the >.35 caliber class doesn't seem to suffer from the same superfluity as the <.35 caliber classes. In fact, we could name a few off the top of our head which are obsolete that possibly shouldn't have become so: the .35 Winchester (for the 1895 Winchester lever action), the .350 Remington Magnum, 9mmx57 Mauser, etc. But IMO there are still quite a few really good mid bores from which to choose: .35 Whelen, .35 Remington, 9.3x62, 9.3x74, .375 H&H, etc. (The 9.3x62 and .375 H&H are my personal favorites.)

March 8, 2009, 11:18 AM
If I had a Grizzly chasing me I'd want a .450 Marlin over a .308 any day.

March 9, 2009, 03:25 PM
the lack of effectiveness, range and accuracy would be a few reasons. I have a nice antique .35 Rem deer rifle that has killed a lot of deer but I haven't shot it for years. The smaller faster rounds, according to the laws physics, have more energy and are capable of a lot more, given enough barrel length to get up to speed. They do more internal damage. In pistols, you don't get that speed so a larger caliber works better. The .35 rem is available in break action pistols and is great there.
The idea of a bigger slower round being effective was proved wrong over a 100 years ago. Somebody on this forum still thinks arrows are good weapons
so I guess technology doesn't get much play here.

March 9, 2009, 05:04 PM
Because the 35 Whelen is about as good as it gets for hunting in North America.

March 9, 2009, 05:27 PM
To the OP

Because in order to have a 35+ caliber shooting as flat as the modern 30 cal. you need emormous rounds and a heavy and long rifle in order to tame the recoil and withstand the pressures...for example a 416 Barrett or a 50 BMG...cost rise exponentially and there rifles are not very practical.

Even the flattest shooting shoulder fired big bores like the 375 H&H or the 378 Weatherby have trajectories worse (375 H&H) or, at best, matching your run of the mill 30-06 load.

In fa ew words, they are specialized expensive rounds for specialized tasks....not very versatile.

In North America the only practical application for these rounds is a defense against a charging bruin ...but you can be as effective spending way less money for that...a $200 Mossberg 500 filled with inexpensive Brenneke 3" Black Magic is as effective as a 375 H&H for a fraction of the cost....or if you want a rifle solution, a $400-500 338 Win Mag fits the bill perfectly too.

March 9, 2009, 10:31 PM
Another weapon I though would be fun is a .44 mag. or .357 lever action for deer hunting. Even shorter range than a .35 Rem but good up close.

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