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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
  • bullet reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.35 Whelen (using Hornady bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Aug 14 2014

The .35 Whelen dates back to 1922, when Colonel Townsend Whelen was the commanding officer at Frankford Arsenal, and James V. Howe (later of Griffin & Howe) served as toolmaker. Most sources agree that Whelen designed the cartridge and Howe built the reamers. Whelen’s comments in a 1923 American Rifleman article indicate that he designed it. Yet, in two of his books he indicated that Howe was the designer. Regardless, the end result is an excellent big game cartridge based on the .30-06 case necked to accept .358-inch bullets.

The Whelen became very popular, especially for bear and moose hunters that needed a cartridge with significant punch. When Western Cartridge began offering .375 H&H Magnum ammunition in 1925, followed with the Winchester Model 70 around 1935; however, its popularity began to wane.

In 1987 Remington introduced it as a standard cartridge and began offering rifles and ammunition. Several companies have offered rifles. As is the case with most U.S. sporting cartridges larger than .30 caliber, sales were limited. An outstanding big game cartridge with a wide selection of premium hunting bullets readily available, it offers magnum type performance with comparatively light powder charges, from a shorter barrel and a .30-06 case. Remington, Federal, Hornady, Barnes and Nosler Custom offer a variety of factory .35 Whelen loads.

Rifles built before the .35 Whelen became a standardized cartridge may not have correct chamber and throat dimensions. Care should be taken when handloading for these guns (as well as when firing factory ammunition) to be certain pressures do not become unexpectedly high. Some rifles have also been observed with a rather long chamber, which fail to headspace correctly on the case shoulder and can misfire with factory ammunition and handloads. In these instances, try fire forming cases, then size them without setting the shoulder back, which should resolve this issue.

The Whelen thrives on the same powders commonly used in the .308 Winchester. Using 200- and 250-grain bullets, Accurate 2520, Hodgdon H-4895 and IMR-4064 produced notable accuracy. All load data was developed using a standard Winchester Large Rifle primer. Industry maximum average pressure is currently held at 52,000 CUP, and none of these loads exceed that figure.