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Whelen Elk bullet / loads?

22 Nov 2020
@ 01:25 pm (GMT)

Daniel Schindler


I am a relatively new owner of a 700 Classic in 35 Whelen. That I am a Whelen fan is a HUGE understatement, for all the reasons I know you are aware of. I put the very nice wood in the attic and installed a B&C Medalist stock. Recent range time confirms this rifle has great accuracy potential based on factory ammunition MOA results @ 100 yards. The original trigger was replaced w/a Timney, no doubt contributing to the accuracy results along with the Swaro Z5 2.5x12 scope. Hand loading will begin shortly.

This entire rifle/cartridge/scope assembly was purchased for a specific purpose – Elk hunting. 2021 trip plans are already being explored. I’ve read the Cartridge Research column on the Whelen too many times to count – Thank You Nathan. I have the 225 and 250 Partitions and today purchased the 225 Game Kings per Nathan’s research recommendations. Everything seems to be coming together nicely, leaving only some good work in front of me.

I’m requesting your personal experience and recommendations with 35 Whelen bullets, powder, velocities…emphasis on Elk sized game. Sorry, I’ve no interest in Barnes or any other type of copper monolithic bullets.

Thank you.




23 Nov 2020
@ 06:55 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
Hi Daniel. Sorry, I can’t tell you from personal experience what’s the best elk medicine in your favorite caliber. Nathan’s book, “The Practical Guide to Long Range Cartridges,” covers bullet-construction in great detail. I think it would help you select the magic bullet, and also put to rest any fears you might have that your selected cartridge is not a “magnum.” Regarding elk in particular, take a look at the topic “Head shot” under the “Medium and large game hunting” section. The title, “Head shot,” is misleading. The comments from the forum members cover all the possible shots, and are all based on personal experience.
23 Nov 2020
@ 07:14 am (GMT)

Daniel Schindler

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
Thank you Scott and will do. Much obliged.
09 Jan 2021
@ 05:12 pm (GMT)

Jim Beck

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
Noslers always a good choice. Sectioned some Ballistic Tip 225s and the jackets are elk hefty. My late stepfather swore by Speer 250s in his 35 Brown Whelen at just under 2600 & he never got any fancier. Said the were great on mule deer too. These were big Idaho bulls. Some shots were up to 300yds. They still make them and the price is reasonable. Never tried Grand Slams in 35...think they have been dropped. All I can add is one big spike (170lbs boned meat) shot at 50yds with a 250 Hornsby RN at 2550 MV from a 350 Rigby - dropped in his tracks. Bullet broke up pretty well but chunks exited. In Western WA these days so have trended towards my 405 & 400 Whelen. Good luck Jim
10 Jan 2021
@ 06:10 am (GMT)

Ed Sybert

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
I too am a 35 Whelen fan. My rifle is an older Winchester M70 that was originally a 30-06, but some previous owner had let the bore acquire pitting. So, I had it re-bored/re-rifled to the standard 35W. My loads with both the 225 grain and 250 grain Nosler Partition over Varget power are very accurate. As are the 225 grain Ballistic Tip and 225 Sierra. Again using Varget. I've also tired H-4895 and like it as well. Please keep us posted on your progress with the 35W.
11 Jan 2021
@ 07:43 am (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
One thing about the Whelen that can't be overlooked is that you are into the caliber where frontal area actually makes a difference in terminal performance. I think that Nathan's book earlier referenced makes this distinction quite well. If you read his work on the 338 Win. Mag. and then look at the 35 Whelen you see a big contrast in bullet performance as it relates to frontal area. So bullet choices may be affected based upon this factor.

I screwed up a few years ago and let a gunsmith talk me out of a 35 Whelen and into a 338 Win. Mag. Although it works great I've regretted not building a Whelen ever since.
02 Feb 2021
@ 06:17 pm (GMT)

Matthew Maxwell

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?
Hi guys,

I am new here. Researching the 35 Whelen is what brought me to this excellent website. I really appreciate Nathan and Steph putting this great wealth of knowledge together for us.

Daniel, I am looking forward to seeing the results you find in your handloading.

I have an old Savage 110 in .30-06 that will be my next project gun, and I am giving serious thought to re-barreling in 35 Whelen, possibly Ackley style.

Anyway, the main reason for my post. Have any of you gentlemen seen the data in the Sierra manual regarding the use of slower burning powders like CFE 223 and AR Comp with the 225 grain GameKing? They are showing 2800fps+ with pretty high powder charges. In fact, they are listing the max charge of 70.0gr CFE 223 at 2900fps. Out of a 24", 1-12" twist barrel, using Norma Brass and a WLR primer.
I am very surprised by this because, I assumed the Whelen would be staying down in the 2600-2700fps muzzle velocity range.
It is also very interesting that those are some of the best powders for .223/5.56 77 grain match bullets, which I already handload for.
It really tips the scale in favor of ditching 30-06 barrel for the Whelen.

I guess my main question, is do you guys think the Sierra numbers are possible or totally unreasonable?
03 Feb 2021
@ 08:54 am (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Whelen Elk bullet / loads?

if you read anything much of Nathan's books or look at his replies on here you're going to see a common theme. Some barrels are fast, and some are slow and you have to live with what you get. It's random. So is it possible? Maybe.

The thing about the 35 Whelen is that you don't need speed. You have a major frontal area and a lot of mass. So look at bullet construction and find something that works for you at the distances you shoot with the animals you hunt. You are more or less using mass instead of a great deal of speed to get the job done.

I became fascinated with large frontal area calibers after reading a lot of Nathan's work and I'm telling you it is a factor that you don't encounter with the 30-06, etc. Read Nathan's work on the 338 Win. Mag. and he talks about bullet construction vs. frontal area.

If your'e a speed demon it might be best to look at the 338 Win. Mag. but the 35 Whelen is a killing machine. I wish I had purchased one 20 years ago.


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