Townsend Whelen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Townsend Whelen
BornMarch 6, 1877
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedDecember 23, 1961(1961-12-23) (aged 84)
St, Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUnited States National Guard
 United States Army
Years of service1895-1899 (National Guard)
1902-1936 (Army)
Spouse(s)Mary (Pratt) Whelen

Townsend Whelen (March 6, 1877 – December 23, 1961), called "Townie" by his friends,[1] was an American hunter, soldier, writer, outdoorsman and rifleman.

Whelen was a colonel in the United States Army,[2] and a prolific writer on guns and hunting, writing over two thousand magazine articles in his career. He was a contributing editor to Sports Afield, American Rifleman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Guns & Ammo, and other magazines, and author of Suggestions to Military Riflemen, The American Rifle, Telescopic Rifle Sights, The Hunting Rifle, Small Arms and Ballistics, Hunting Big Game (of which he was the editor), Amateur Gunsmithing, and Why Not Load Your Own. An autobiography, Mr. Rifleman, was begun by Whelen, but finished by his family and published after his death.[3] Whelen edited and wrote the introduction to WDM Bell's autobiography "Bell of Africa" and arranged an American publisher.[4] An expert rifleman with few peers, Whelen could reportedly hit man-sized target at 200 yards using the bolt action, open-sighted M1903 Springfield .30-06 service rifle, scoring six hits in ten seconds flat, and could do it on command.

Colonel Whelen experimented with the service .30-06 Springfield cartridge while he was commanding officer of Frankford Arsenal in the early 1920s. Frankford Arsenal machine shop foreman James Howe, who later formed the rifle-making firm of Griffin & Howe, assisted Whelen modifying the .30-06 case to fire bullets of different calibers. Whelen was particularly interested in creating a cartridge to fire heavier bullets from M1903 rifle actions available from the Civilian Marksmanship Program.[5]

Townsend Whelen's great passion was the great outdoors and hunting, and he undertook many expeditions into the wilderness of both North and South America, living off the land, hunting and exploring. Apart from his professional interest in the rifle as a military weapon and competitive target shooting, he also experimented with rifles and cartridges in survival and wilderness applications, using the different loads in his hunting rifles to take both small and large game while on long hunting excursions in the wilds.

The comprehensive knowledge and experience reflected in Whelen's writing covered the black powder era at the end of the 1800s and spanned the transitional period into smokeless arms, resulting in the modern high velocity rifles of the 20th century.


  • "Only accurate rifles are interesting".
  • "The .30-06 is never a mistake".


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petzal, David E. (6 June 2006). "Great American Hunters: Townsend Whelen". Field and Stream. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  2. ^ Folkerth, Mike (29 August 2008). "The Wisdom of Col. Townsend Whelen". Mike Folkerth - King of Simple. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  3. ^ Rocketto, Hap (July 2010). "Townsend Whelen: Mister Rifleman". The Rifleman's Journal (formerly by The Shooter's Journal). Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  4. ^ Bell, Walter. Bell of Africa, 1960 London, Neville Spearman
  5. ^ Sharpe, Philip B. (1953). Complete Guide to Handloading; A Treatise on Handloading for Pleasure, Economy, and Utility (2nd revision, 3rd ed.). New York: Funk & Wagnalls. pp. 206 & 398. OCLC 627391.