.35 Whelen

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.35 Whelen
Type Rifle
Place of origin USA
Production history
Designer Col. Townsend Whelen / James Howe
Designed 1922
Parent case .30-06
Case type Rimless, bottleneck
Bullet diameter .358 in (9.1 mm)
Neck diameter .385 in (9.8 mm)
Shoulder diameter .441 in (11.2 mm)
Base diameter .472 in (12.0 mm)
Rim diameter .473 in (12.0 mm)
Case length 2.494 in (63.3 mm)
Overall length 3.340 in (84.8 mm)
Rifling twist 1-16"
Primer type Large rifle
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
180 gr (12 g) FN 2,963 ft/s (903 m/s) 3,510 ft·lbf (4,760 J)
200 gr (13 g) SP 2,798 ft/s (853 m/s) 3,478 ft·lbf (4,716 J)
225 gr (15 g) SBT 2,613 ft/s (796 m/s) 3,412 ft·lbf (4,626 J)
250 gr (16 g) RN 2,523 ft/s (769 m/s) 3,535 ft·lbf (4,793 J)
Test barrel length: 24
Source(s): Accurate Powder [1]

The .35 Whelen is a powerful medium-bore rifle cartridge that does not require a magnum action or a magnum bolt-face. The parent of this cartridge is the .30-06 Springfield, which is necked-up to accept a bullet diameter of .358 in (9.1 mm). This cartridge is more powerful than its parent, especially in killing power on large game.


The .35 Whelen was developed in 1922 as a wildcat cartridge. Remington Arms Company standardized the cartridge as a regular commercial round and first made it available in the Remington model 700 Classic in 1988.[1]

One version of its origin is that it was designed by Colonel Townsend Whelen when was he was commanding officer of the Frankford Arsenal. In a 1923 issue of American Rifleman Col. Whelen refers to it as "the first cartridge that I designed" and states that, "Mr. James V. Howe undertook this work of making dies, reamers, chambering tools, and of chambering the rifles, all in accordance with my design." James V. Howe was a toolmaker at the Arsenal and later a founder of Griffin & Howe.

In his 1940 book The Hunting Rifle: Design, Selection, Callistics, Marksmanship, Col. Whelen gives a different version of its origin after describing the .400 Whelen.

About the time we completed development of this cartridge, I went on a long hunting trip in the Northwest, and when I returned, Mr. Howe showed me another cartridge he had developed. The .30-06 case was necked to .35 caliber to use existing .35-caliber bullets. Mr. Howe asked my permission to call this cartridge the .35 Whelen, but he alone deserves credit for its development.[2]


Suitable .358 in (9.1 mm) bullets range in weight from 150 to 300 grains (9.7 to 19.4 g). Using a 250-grain (16 g) bullet, the .35 Whelen will generate 3,500 ft·lbf (4,700 J) at the muzzle from a 24 in (61 cm) barrel.

Internet rumors state that the .35 Whelen rifle can shoot .38/.357 pistol cartridges for cheap practice. This is incorrect in that the .38/.357 has a rim that is .440" while the case measurements for the .35 Whelen are .473" at the rim (its widest point) and .443" at its tapered smallest diameter (where the case shaft meets the shoulder). As such, the .38/.357 would slide too far into the breech due to the widest part of the .38/.357 being smaller than the smallest part of the .35 Whelen chamber until it reaches the shoulder which tapers to a diameter less than .440 (.415" at a 17 degree angle). The firing pin would then be unable to reach the primer of the .38/.357, rendering it unable to be fired.[3]

However, it is possible to reload .35 Whelen cartridges with the same bullets used to reload .357 Magnum cartridges. Leading or bullet fragmentation within the barrel could be an issue with full power loads, so extreme care should be taken not to push the selected bullet beyond the velocity for which it is designed.

The .35 Whelen is the ballistic twin of the .350 Remington Magnum. With the correct bullet choice this cartridge is suitable for virtually all thin-skinned large and dangerous game. The European designation for this cartridge would be 9 × 63 mm; with its wide bullet selection and high muzzle energy it is in the same echelon as the venerable 9.3×62mm.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b .35 Whelen load data
  2. ^ Whelen, Townsend (1940). The Hunting Rifle: Design, Selection, Ballistics, Marksmanship. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Sons. p. 271. OCLC 323400. 
  3. ^ Lee, Richard (2003). Modern Reloading (2nd ed.). Hartford, WI: Richard Lee. pp. 551, 561, & 590. 

External links[edit]