Andries
Aug 10, 2017

35 Whelen

82 comments

Edited: Aug 13, 2017

I am re-posting this on behalf of forum member Recoil Junky whose post went to my PM inbox:

 

Allen wrote:

.35 Whelen

I have a deep fondness for my 35 Whelen. It's very potent elk medicine handloaded with 250 grain Hornady spire points. Every elk taken has succumbed with one shot and I've never recovered a bullet due to complete pass throughs. The best part is you can eat right up to the hole. Allen

Andries
Aug 10, 2017Edited: Sep 12, 2017

Good day Allen

 

Thank you for posting about the .35 Whelen - it being totally unknown here because of the proliferation of the 9.3x62 / 30-06 / .308W. We all wait for some US visiting hunter to bring one along.

 

Of course any rifle with a reliable extractor in .308W / 7x57 / 30-06 / .280 Rem (all with sturdy bullets in excess of 170gr) will work just fine on any of the 12 elk sizes species - so your .35 Whelen and 250 gr Hornady bullets will be a most pleasing shooter on all small and big game.

 

The heavier the bullet the lesser the slowing down after impact and the lesser the meat damage is. And if the design is such that it does not discard diverse portions of itself along the way that is maybe the greatest asset of a bullet that we admire out here. I so much wish that US bullet manufacturers will stop designing bullets that throw parts of themselves away inside the animal...

 

Due to the silly costs charged by Delta Airlines for carrying live ammunition you bring your Whelen and some empty cases and we load them with Peregrine or GS Custom or Rhino bullets using South African primers and Somchem propellant and both you and I will have a non-dangerous game story to write about.

Andries
Aug 11, 2017Edited: Aug 12, 2017

Now hear this:

 

Here is a firm proposal for .35 Whelen owners: The 9.3x62 is the legal minimum calibre for dangerous game hunting in South Africa. BUT:

 

Come shoot a very big trophy buffalo cow with 36" bull-like horns with your Whelen for $7,660 and once and for all prove to US hunters and rifle manufacturers, and SA hunting organisations that the .35 Whelen - as is often stated in US gun chats - is the equal of the locally revered 9.3x62. You will be backed by a .375 H&H using 380 gr Rhino bullets @ 2 200 ft/sec. I bet both Winchester and Ruger and maybe even Musgrave will be interested in the outcome of this hunt.

 

The second option for a buddy is to shoot a similarly body-sized cow for $5,660 which has more representative cow-like horns.

 

The hunters supply the .35 Whelen cases and I choose and buy the bullets for testing which will either be Peregrine VRG-2/3 or GS Custom FP in 286gr. We load and test them at the Somchem propellant factory for all internal and external ballistics.

 

The plan will be to visit the Cape winelands where the Somchem factory is, have the ammunition loaded and tested for each rifle, fly back to Johannesburg, drive out for the hunt, visit the taxidermist to discuss the mounts, view and choose the gun cases mentioned in the Shootout. Then, included in the deal, drive for a five day visit to either the Kruger National Park or Mapungubwe National Park before flying back to the US. This is a safari for two buddies and their wives.

 

The financial deal is outlined in the Shootout which will be published shortly.

frhunter13
Aug 12, 2017

I think the 35 Whelen (9.0932) will do as well as the 9.3 actually, for two reasons. First it is a 62,000 psi round over the 9.3's 60,000 psi which at least equalizes the 62/61 powder capacity difference. Second, the diameter is a tad less, so penetration will go a tad easier. If you run the numbers I think you might agree. Makes that heart shot even more important, which fact I learned in spades with the Blue Wildebeest!

Andries
Aug 13, 2017Edited: Aug 13, 2017

Agree 100%. At the same impact velocity the impulse of the 9mm will be slightly better than the 9.3 mm with 286 gr bullets. That is if we can get 2,400 ft/sec from the Whelen like the 9.3x62 does - and if we can find a minimum 280 gr weight premium bullet for the Whelen.

 

We need to establish the .35 Whelen as an acceptable Cape buffalo cartridge with premium bullets like a Peregrine 280 gr VRG-2 and the GS Custom FP.

Andries
Aug 13, 2017Edited: Aug 13, 2017

 

Michael wrote:

"I think the 35 Whelen (9.0932) will do as well as the 9.3 actually, for two reasons. First it is a 62,000 psi round over the 9.3's 60,000 psi which at least equalizes the 62/61 powder capacity difference. Second, the diameter is a tad less, so penetration will go a tad easier. If you run the numbers I think you might agree. Makes that heart shot even more important, which fact I learned in spades with the Blue Wildebeest!

 

Michael maybe you can find time to post this first hand experience of shot placement on Africa game in the Beartooth forum. It is important knowledge for every single US hunter coming to Africa - to follow the front leg up on a side-on animal onto the thick shoulder bulge and put the bullet there and NOT behind the shoulder.

frhunter13
Aug 14, 2017

OK. Check out your "shot placement" blog. I put it there.

Andries
Aug 19, 2017Edited: Aug 20, 2017

Proof of concept of the .35 Whelen on Cape buffalo:

 

So I have a sponsor for the new 280gr Peregrine VRG-2 bullets in 358" for thermo dynamic proofing which Somchem will do for free.

 

I am talking to Musgrave to build and initially sponsor a rifle with a 24" standard profile barrel and 1:13" twist rate in their Field Model. Both Lapua and PMP will be approached to sponsor cases for the test phase and PMP to supply the primers. The rifle will be a unique one-off as Musgrave is not interested to commercially produce the .35 Whelen.

 

Once the ammunition and rifle has been proofed at 125% of maximum pressure I shall shoot the load development shots at the Somchem factory. Musgrave rifles already are proofed for 125% CIP and / or SAAMI pressures (whichever is the hightest). The Whelen cases we'll use need the same proofing here - the reason why I chose PMP and Lapua brass for their consistent quality.

 

Andries
Aug 20, 2017Edited: Aug 20, 2017

The Musgrave rifle and the largest of the two buffalo will go on auction to the highest bidder - with bids opening at $7,500, proceeding in 10% increments of the last accepted bid. One South African and two USA gun magazines will be invited to take part in the bidding. Whether any magazine wins the bid to do the hunt or not, the South African magazine - and the US publication with the highest bid - will be invited to cover the hunt.

 

The hunter will be the named individual who proved the viability of the .35 Whelen with THIS bullet at the proofed and proved performance to be accepted by the various South African Hunting associations as a dangerous game cartridge.

 

The often expressed claim that the American .35 Whelen is the equivalent of the German 9.3x62 on Africa Buffalo with a shot through the low shoulder into the heart will finally be cast in 280 gr of South African copper. Presently there is no ammunition that can support this claim.

 

Watch this space.

frhunter13
Aug 20, 2017

I got this from a customer feedback.

 

"Loaded these for Africa. Friend used the 310 soft nose for first shot on a cape buffalo which put him down then two of the solids for insurance. Both solids penetrated through and through. This is from a 35 Whelen at about 2275 fps. Better penetration than my .375 H&H with 300 gr Barnes solids at 2550 fps."

 

So it has been done, Andries, yet I am elated you are going to the trouble to let some professionals prove this one out! Bravo. Corbon makes these at 310g 2300 fps.

frhunter13
Aug 20, 2017

Ohoh. I went back and checked. It's actually Doubletap that made them. I don't know if they still do. They are with the Woodleigh soft and hard 310g bullets. Certainly do hope Peregrine fixes this gap with some monolithic solids in PMP ammo!

Andries
Aug 20, 2017Edited: Aug 20, 2017

Thanks for that, Michael - reminds me of an article (those articles were really shameless advertising) many years ago in Guns & Ammo about the Remington 740 Woodsmaster semi automatic rifle in 30-06. The reporter wrote: "The bull moose was charging and a number of well placed shots put him down." Maybe the added weight of the lead weighed the beast down? "Well placed shots"? One wonders about that...

 

Looking at the 9.3x64 Brenneke one appreciates the gain the hunter gets from increasing the bullet base surface from .1007 square inches" (Whelen) to the .1052 square inches of the 9.3x64. The case volumes of these two are similar.

 

As an example of pressure force on the bullet by the same 62,000 psi peak pressure: An increase of the above 5% bullet surface area increases the pressure force on the bullet also by about 5%; this force increase will accelerate a 225gr bullet in the Brenneke to 3,000 ft/sec (which equals the lower pressure .375 H&H). The Whelen performance is about 2,800 ft/sec. The impact impulse of these are as follows:

 

225 gr bullet:

.35 Whelen: (89 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1007 sq.inch frontal area) = a 884 impulse factor.

9.3x64 Brenneke (96 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1052 sq.inch frontal area) = a 912 impulse factor.

 

250 gr bullet:

.35 Whelen: (93 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1007 sq.inch frontal area) = a 923 impulse factor.

9.3x64 Brenneke: (100 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1052 sq.inch frontal area) = a 950 impulse factor.

 

286 gr bullet:

35 Whelen: (tested): (93 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1007 sq.inch frontal area) = 923 impulse factor.

9.3x64 Brenneke: (110 lb.ft/sec momentum divided by the .1052 sq.inch frontal area) = a 1,046 impulse factor.

 

The .1007 square inch bullet base surface area limits the .35 Whelen with any performance gain beyond a 250 gr bullet weight. This is also the advantage the 9.3x62 has on it.

 

My still unresolved dilemma for the .35 Whelen as a dangerous game cartridge is the lack of heavy bullet stabilisation and accuracy from the generally available 1:16" rifling twist rate. It is all good and well if Musgrave builds a rifle with a 1:13" twist rate but new calculations indicate that will cause an early pressure peak and therefore limit gas volume and will considerably limit muzzle velocity.

 

There appears to exist valid reasoning why the South African Hunters Associations limited DG cartridges to .366" diameter - and why US manufacturers limited the Whelen's bullet weight to 250 gr.

 

A quote from an experienced Woodleigh bullet user: "The Woodleigh Bullet website advises that "Barrels with a 16” twist will not stabilise these [310gr] bullets, (#54, #55), 12” twist is fine, 14” marginal".

http://www.woodleighbullets.co...e/loading-tips#LOADS

 

I shall check out the "Doubletap" invention again to see what following it enjoys, if any.

frhunter13
Aug 20, 2017

Heh, the 64 has a good bit of volume over the 35 Whelen at 61 and the same pressure, so the Brenke is not the comparison we are looking for. The Whelen is very popular in the US. Lots of people have them. No-one I know has a 9.3x64.

Andries
Aug 21, 2017

The object of the comparison is to highlight the adantage of of allowing the same chamber pressure to create a larger push force by virtue of the larger surface area of the bullet base. Had Mr. Howe decided on a 9.3 mm bullet and not a 9mm the 30-06 based 9.3x63.5 Howe would immediately have been halfway between the 9.3x62 and the 9.3x64.

 

Maybe then Townsend Whelen (who for most had ignored the .35) would have seen the value for Americas first dangerous game rifle.

frhunter13
Aug 21, 2017

He ignored it from what hear because he had no need for that power since all he needed for the game he hunted was what - a 270 or a 3006 I forget which. In fact it gained real popularity only when Mississippi allowed the single shot in smokepole season. It went on from there because of its performance as a bang flop rifle. Before that it was touted as a good Lion rifle I believe - at least here in the US.

Andries
Aug 22, 2017Edited: Aug 22, 2017

Whelen´s favourite indeed was the 30-06 as it also is a bang flop cartridge on deer size animals - as well as kudu as is the 7x57 and .308W with heart shots. Many times an animal does not flop down dead from a heart shot due to prior adrenal gland activity - no matter the calibre and weight of the bullet. I shot a springbok ewe through the low (rear part) of the heart with a 30-06 and a 180gr and she refused to fall down, struggled for about 60 yrds. Turned out she was pregnant.

 

Shot a little duiker ewe for camp meat with the .416 Rigby behind the shoulder (lungs): bang flop - only she got up as we approached casually and disappeared into very dense riverine forest. Gave her 30 minutes and crawled on hands and knees for two hours along what little blood sign there was. Found where she lay down and bled a lot- and probably removed by a leopard as there was no further indication of movement.

 

I believe Whelen's main interest was in a .40"+ bullet from the 30-06 case. Case capacity indicates that a 9.3mm (.366)" (286 gr for copper) is the optimum calibre bullet for stabilised penetration on buffalo shoulder from a 30-06 case.

 

While I believe the 9.3mm conversion is better, the .35 Whelen on Cape buffalo project is going ahead - Peregrine is doing the CAD drawings according to my specifications for the nose cone and will let me know by the weekend about the exact weight and length. Then my final determination of in-flight and in-flesh stability and the decision whether to proceed with the proving of the ability on the buffalo.

frhunter13
Aug 22, 2017

That is super cool. 30 06 case has been necked up and down to almost all the bullet diameters we have up to 375 and maybe even .416 but always the bullet size was the governor for supply. To have a bullet manufacturer to build one especially for the Whelen is remarkabe.

Andries
Aug 22, 2017

I need a cast made of a chamber of a .35 Whelen that has the 1:343 mm twist rate like yours, Michael. Then precise measurement of all the required dimensions: actual neck and throat diameters, distance to the lands from case mouth, actual bore diameter, and between lands, as well as magazine length. Standard neck length of factory cases (I have the SAAMI specs).

 

Recoil Junky, I bet that amongst the coal dust you will find some sulphur powder to do a chamber cast too? Anyone else?

Andries
Aug 23, 2017

"That is super cool. 30 06 case has been necked up and down to almost all the bullet diameters we have up to 375 and maybe even .416 but always the bullet size was the governor for supply. To have a bullet manufacturer to build one especially for the Whelen is remarkabe."

 

Of all the versions of this case I think the original is still unbeatable - with the .280 Remington a close second. :-)

frhunter13
Aug 24, 2017

Andries,

 

I suggest that you guys get a 35 Whelen Reamer set and a GO gauge from somewhere here in the USA. I bet you can use that internet as well as we can! That's how I was going to handle the .458 Win Mag to .458 AR conversion, before I simply bought a .458 Lott.

frhunter13
Aug 24, 2017

To add. You can take a heavy 3006 and use it to build the Whelen using a Reamer and re-bore. They do those conversions quite often here.

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