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35 Whelen- Need some experience feedback

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Matthew Clark, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    I just picked up a Remington 1917 enfield. The bore will probably not shoot well in the condition it's in so I'm just going to rebarrel it. The action is in very good condition and someone started to sporterize it with a pretty figured walnut stock with a caramel forend cap.
    I just don't need another 30-06 anyway. I only bought it as a project gun. The only useful to me caliber that I have no experience with and would like to experiment with is the 35 Whelen.
    Before you beat me up for not barreling a belted magnum or a 404 Jeffery in it, while those might be fun to play with those rounds hold little interest for me save the 300 H&H mag. Never had one of those either. A 375 H&H sparked a little interest but I don't use the one I have very much already. A 450/400 NE would be fun but not sure it would fit or be pressure safe in that action. So long story short, it's most likely going to be a 35 Whelen.
    Would like to hear experience speaking here on it's capability from real life hunting on elk sized game in the 1000 lb. range of critters. Is it worth my troubles or should I find something else like the 300 H&H mag that I don't have that would be more useful. Also I know it would be cheaper to just buy a factory rifle but that would not be as much fun planning and finding a load for it. Forget about the money and think FUN! Life is too dang short to worry about money all the darn time!
     
  2. Project355

    Project355 Member

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    .35 Whelen is a fantastic round. In my past "range do-everything life", we had a customer, a Mr. Daryl C., who went to Africa on safari, impressed his guide, who hired him on the spot after the hunt. Daryl came back to the USA twice a year and visited the range with his bounty of gift rifles (as is the custom), and had several .35 Whelen rifles built on Mauser and Winchester actions. We shot 300g (from memory) solids and 225g (again from memory, much lighter) pip squeaks in it, plus... I dunno maybe 275g soft points (it was whatever he had with him). All shot well, were actually pleasant to shoot, even the solids which were full house rounds. I did not get to try, but was told that .357 jacketed pistol bullets would also do well, so long as a fibrefill was used over the powder, and velocity kept low to avoid over rotating and self disintegration.
     
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  3. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    Did you get to take any game with one of those Whelen rifles?
     
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  4. Project355

    Project355 Member

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    No, my customer used to come in with his newest gifted rifles, and some ammo, and ee would have a bit of fun just admiring, trying, a bs'ing about guns n hunts after hours. It was all "shoot the sand clod" hunting.....

    Let me add...Daryl, as a guide, would receive the customers rifle after a successful hunt. That is (was?) the custom on big dollar trophy hunts. We just got to drool and try his haul.... I dont think he hunted with them. I dont know his own rifle, but he didn't like "those square receiver Ruger guns".
     
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  5. 35 Whelen
    • Contributing Member

    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    About 30 years ago I began going on elk hunts and decided I'd like a dedicated elk rifle, and decided a 35 Whelen should be just about right. So here's my experience with said cartridge-

    I bought a beat up VZ24 Mauser rifle as the basis, and a .35 caliber 24" Douglas Air Gaged blank with a 1-12 twist. I lapped the lugs of the action and the barrel was chambered and fitted by a local old man who built silhouette rifles for the rich folks south of the border. I fitted a banded front sight to the rifle then drilled and tapped it for a Williams 5-D aperture sight for back-up purposes (at that point I'd already had two rifles bucked off of riding stock) and since I was more interested in a rugged, all-weather rifle than a head-turner, had it black Parkerized, bedded it into a generic black composite stock and mounted a simple Burris 4X scope to it.

    I started out with 225 gr. Partitions at about 2650 fps, but accuracy was somewhat inconsistent. Nevertheless, my first season with this load I jumped a bull and put one in him as he quartered away at about 75 yds. He ran a couple hundred yds. and stopped and I gave him another. I was not really impressed with the performance of the bullet as penetration wasn't what I'd hoped for, but they worked, I suppose. Here you can see the rifle.

    8UbsyMhl.jpg

    I switched to a Barnes .225 gr. TSX and things got much better. I could get close to 2700 fps and the bullet shot with ridiculous accuracy, rarely grouping 3 shots over an inch at 100 yds. The next season my 71 year old dad finally got a whack at a bull. It was a crazy, nail-biter of a hunt and he ultimately had to shoot the bull with my rifle, square in the rectum as it walked away at about 100 yds. distance. The TSX travelled from the butt up through the right shoulder.

    I9f6N98l.jpg

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    sU1GTGbl.jpg

    Then a couple of years later I got a shot at a big-bodied 4x4 walking down the head of a canyon, quartering away, at a lasered 360 yds. distance. The bullet entered behind the right shoulder and exited low in the left side of the neck, no bullet recovered. Another shot of the rifle.

    ywtJsbml.jpg

    My Dad has a Remington 700 Classic chambered in the Whelen, wearing a 4X Leupold, and it's a light, handy rifle, so I decided to work up a load for it for him to carry. The 250 gr. Speer SP shot wonderfully and the best load ran over 2500 fps.

    Vq80yRgl.jpg

    That season he got a shot at a rag headed bull at 44 yds. The blood trail left by that bullet was incredible and looked it had come out of a garden hose, but the damage the bullet did was something to behold. the bullet entered on the right side, broke 3 ribs then continued into the left shoulder where it pretty much disintegrated.

    09GE7kpl.jpg

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    (Won't be using that bullet again!)

    cZUt1sDl.jpg

    The last bull I shot was nothing spectacular or noteworthy, I rounded a bend in the trail and there not 50 yds. away was a herd crossing the trail. I took a broadside shot at a bull, he ran about a 50 yd. semi-circle and fell dead.

    Hope this helps you with your decision.

    35W
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
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  6. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Then 35 whelen is a nice round. But remember on the U.S. Enfield there is I risk the action will crack when the barrel is removed. I would remove the barrel before you order a barrel.
     
  7. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    I never had much interest in the .35 Whelen until the last year or so but have warmed up to it quite a bit. Still, for me I’d go .300 H&H simply because of its cachet and I’ve wanted one for the longest time.
     
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  8. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    Troy,
    I have heard that can happen. My fingers are crossed. I'm not real deep into the rifle so of it happens it'll be dissapointing but not awful. Thanks for the tip!
     
  9. Matthew Clark

    Matthew Clark Member

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    cdb1,
    I have always wanted a 300 H&H but I settled for a 300 WM. The Holland was too hard to find and I got impacient. I was looking for a Ruger No.1 in the Holland. Never came across one. The Whelen has just got my attention at the moment.
     
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  10. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    The Whelen would have the correct head diameter. Belted magnum would not.
     
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  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I went through a stage where I owned both a 338-06 and a 35 Whelen. Both rounds will kill any animal in North America and both shoot flat enough to do so at ranges farther than most shooters have any business shooting. If you just want to scratch that itch then go for it. Just don't expect to gain much if anything over 30-06. That is the conclusion I came to and ended up selling both.

    Recoil is roughly the same as 300 magnum with similar bullet weights. Most 338-06 and 35 Whelen shooters use bullets in the 200-225 gr weight class. You can shoot those same bullet weights in 30-06 and 300 magnum. They will start out a little slower in 30-06, but the better BC of the same weight 30 caliber bullets means they catch up in speed at around 200 yards. The 300 magnums start the same bullet weights at the same speeds and will out perform the 33 and 35 caliber bullets at all ranges. With those bullet weights either 30-06 or 300 magnum will out penetrate either the 338-06 or 35 Whelen.

    When you move up to 250-275 gr bullets then you start seeing some advantage go to the bigger calibers. But neither 338-06 nor 35 Whelen really gets you into another class of game that a 30-06 or 300 magnum won't handle. With the same or less recoil.

    If I were interested in anything bigger than 30-06 I'd look hard at 9.3X62. The round is based on 30-06 as well and fits in the same rifles. But typical bullet weight is 286 gr and this is where I think you start to see a step up in performance over 30-06. It has a following in both Europe and Africa. In many African countries it is legal for the biggest game, including elephant. Factory ammo is probably just as easy to find as 35 Whelen and easier than 338-06. With the heaviest available bullet weights 35 Whelen will probably match 9.3X62, but it still won't be legal for hunting the big stuff in Africa since their laws place 9.3mm as the minimum caliber.
     
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  12. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    i have not bought or built a rifle i needed since 1953, i owed a single shot shotgun and a marlin bolt action .22 and needed a deer rifle and got a sporterized 7mm. so every thing after that as been, not a need but a want. i own three 35 whelens, a custon 98 mauser, a remington 7600 pump and a ruger#1, so if you want one go for it.
     
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  13. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    If I lived where a 200yrd shot was "long range" and could hunt with a bottle necked cartridge a 35 wheelen would be prefect.

    As-is, the former is true, but not the latter and here shortly after our move it'll be flipped. Maybe one day...
     
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  14. SHOOT1SAM

    SHOOT1SAM Member

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    LOVE the .35 Whelen! Have taken deer, elk, moose, buffalo...and even a forest grouse:what: with it.
    There’s nothing you can take with the Whelen that you couldn’t also take with a .30-06, .338-06, .300 Win Mag, or a plethora of other cartridges, but if you’re of a mind to be in camp with a cartridge nobody else is using, and quite likely have never even seen, the Whelen will do you proud.

    Sam
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  15. 35 Whelen
    • Contributing Member

    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    A few observations here-

    Back when we were still elk hunting (My dad is about to turn 86, so walking 11,000' mountains isn't going to happen anymore) Dad was shooting a couple of 338-06's extensively and I would hate to have to pick between one of them and the Whelen, but since larger bullets make larger holes, I'd probably pick the Whelen.

    No offense, but comparing a .30 caliber bullets of similar weight to .33 or .35 caliber bullets is folly. If a .30-06 or .300 WM is as, or more effective than a Whelen, then they would be as or more effective than a .338 WM, since a handloaded 225 gr. bullet loaded in a Whelen is within about 100 fps of a factory loaded 338 WM, and in some cases (Buffalo Bore) the same as the .338.

    In our day and age, sectional density is not nearly as applicable where penetration is concerned as it once was. Now we can choose the amount penetration we desire simply by choosing the style bullet, that is why I switched to the TSX in my Whelen. As I related in my post, that one penetrated the entire length of the body of a mature bull, how much more could a man want? We all know with any of these cartridges and a proper bullet, we can kill pretty much the same game, but where's the fun in that? Am I the only one that has grown weary of the endless stream of belted magnum cartridges??

    During our years of chasing elk, dad had a 9.3x62 built on a CZ action. It is to my eye one of the most stunning rifles I've ever seen-

    s2nWt8Kl.jpg

    With a 1.5x5 scope mounted it shot tiny groups with 270 gr. Speer and 286 gr. Hornady bullets, but for me it also crossed a couple of thresholds.
    For hunting where ranges might exceed 250 yds. or so, a .36 caliber bullet in an '06 case is past it's limit. One can load a 250 gr. bullet in the 9.3 and achieve about the same velocities as the Whelen, but there's less than 10 thousandths difference in the diameter of the bullets, and .36 caliber bullets aren't exactly common! With a 270 gr. bullet one can expect about 2450 fps and maybe 2400 with a 286 gr. bullet.
    The other is recoil. Maybe it was just that particular rifle, but with the heavier bullets that rifle beat the soup out of me and the bolt handle whacked the knuckles of my right hand mercilessly.

    35W
     
  16. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    I happen to have a couple of "Bubba-built".35 Whelens on Mauser actions, shown attached. One being the AI version which was my go-to for elk back in the day, and is worth considering if you handload. Not necessarily because of the additional powder capacity, but for better defined shoulder and headspaceing.. The Whelen is now a better cartridge than ever because of better bullet selections . DSC_0099.JPG DSC_0096.JPG 35impa.JPG DSC_0291.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
  17. EO1

    EO1 Member

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    Instead of re barreling, consider a re bore by JES. There are many positive testimonials to his work.
     
  18. tdbmd

    tdbmd Member

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    I have owned a .35 Whelen for over 20 years. Mine is a Remington 700 Classic. It has taken trips for elk and deer across the US, been to Canada for moose, used for black bear and been to Africa twice. It is a wonderful round that kills all out of proportion to its "on paper" ballistics. I have shot animals weighing well over 1000 lbs with the round, requiring only a single shot. I pretty much settled on either the 225 gr. or 250 grain bullets as I feel like those weights are really in the wheelhouse for the round. If you are going to shoot lighter bullets, you might as well get a .30-06. If you practice, it is easily a 350 yard rifle and maybe a bit more. Most of the animals I have taken with it have been inside 250 yards but one of the moose in Canada was taken at a lasered 410 yards in the last few hours of the hunt, with a single 225 grain Nosler Partition. Great for wild hogs as well. Drops them with authority.
     
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  19. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I have a bit of experience with 35 Whelen AI. It can send a 225 grain bullet upwards of 2700 FPS from a 24” barrel. A 250 gr bullet can go 2500 FPS. That is 375 H&H territory.
     
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  20. tdbmd

    tdbmd Member

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    I would get about 2625 fps from my 225 gr. NP handloads and right at 2500 with 250 grain Speer Hot Cor. I have also used the factory 250 grain Nosler Custom loads and they were 2525 from my rifle.
     
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  21. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Those sure are ugly bubbas.:thumbup:
     
  22. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    goes to show you, you can turn a pigs ear into a silk purse.
     
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  23. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    Anyone have experience using pistol bullets and hunting varmints with the Wheelen?
     
  24. 1948CJ2A

    1948CJ2A Member

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    I had JES rebore a 1903 Springfield from 30-06 to 35 Whelen and they did a great job. The rifle shoots great
     
  25. earplug

    earplug Member

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    I'd look at a 338 wild cat so you can take advantage of the longer magazine length and better selection of bullets. Probably won't notice the results in the field but its a nifty thought.
     
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