Townsend Whelen

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Townsend Whelen
Born March 6, 1877
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died December 23, 1961(1961-12-23) (aged 84)
St, Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States National Guard
 United States Army
Years of service 1895-1899 (National Guard)
1902-1936 (Army)
Rank Colonel
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] contributing editor to Sports Afield, American Rifleman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Guns & Ammo, and other magazines, and author of 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] He was a major influence in the autobiography of Walter Bell called Bell of Africa as explained in the introduction of that book. Bell had died in 1954 whilst working on his autobiography. Whelen edited and finished the work and wrote the introduction.[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]


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



  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.