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Forum Index > Medium and large game hunting > Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers

Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers

11 Apr 2017
@ 11:39 am (GMT)

Lane Salvato

If you begin reading Nathan's work, and then go try it in the field, you'll find that he's correct. HOWEVER, it seems most gun folk have never studied wound data all that much, and so what you get is a mishmash of opinions based upon external ballistics rather than wound data.

I wish so badly that the 35 calibers were accepted here as readily as the 300's and the 338's. It would be so nice to shoot them anytime anywhere, for most anything and not have to pay so much for the ammo or worry about availability.

I've tried until I'm blue in the face to explain to two or three guides that the frontal area for the 35 caliber makes up for the fact that it's not traveling as fast as the 338 Win. Mag. What do I get? A lesson in powder capacity and the fact that the 35 can't fly as fast out of an '06 case as a 338 Win. Mag can out of the larger case. Um, yes, I know. I wasn't arguing for more speed I was arguing for more frontal area. It's not the worst problem to have, but I'm certainly in the minority who see frontal area as a major consideration when hunting larger game.


30 Apr 2017
@ 07:55 pm (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Hi Lane
the way i try to explain it is.
the difference between a 308 and 358 is roughly the same difference between a 257 and 308.
now if you use a 110-120gr projectile in a 257 its a medium game bullet but if you use a 110-120gr projectile in a 308 is now a varmint grenade.
why you haven't changed the speed or the weight what you have changed is how much energy it can transfer via frontal area.
that normally starts to get people thinking so hope it helps
30 Jul 2017
@ 10:26 pm (GMT)

Vince Le Sabre

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
I often hunt with my custom built 358 Norma MAG. But I hand load it down to .358 Winchester power for deer and wild hogs. Results are often quite dramatic at distances less than 150 yards or so. By dramatic I mean to say that the animals folded up and dropped so quickly that I thought I'd missed!


31 Jul 2017
@ 05:18 am (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
I never argue with guides. Just kill the game really quick and they shut up pretty fast.
01 Aug 2017
@ 04:51 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
What you do is drop a pebble on the non believers foot and say did that hurt? Then drop a big rock on their other foot and ask them why it hurt more than the pebble? Mass x velocity, pressure ÷ area........ many people didn't listen to their physics science teacher and missed out on some fabulous life lessons....... Remember what Forest Gump's mother said about stupid??????? I don't worry about what others are saying or getting wound up with..... What works in practice and truth will do me. . What makes a bigger mess? A car crashing into a house at 100 kmh or a big Truck?
15 Aug 2017
@ 06:06 am (GMT)

James Knight

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
I've killed a lot of mediums sized game with the 35 Whelen AI and both the Barnes 250X and 200X. I found it as easy to hit and kill game as both the 338 caliber mags and the 375 H&H. That 200x load shot as flat as a 300 winmag 180 load. Now, I "was pushing" them at very high pressure, ([email protected] and [email protected] 2970) but the rifle/cases exhibited no harm in 20yrs, the "nature of the Beast" Ackley design, ha.
I found that very few "guides" have any kind of ballistic knowledge, and are too proud to admit it. When I have run into that kind, I just smile and go about my business. However, since I really love rifles/handloading, etc, I very much enjoy comparing notes with a knowledgeable Outfitter/Guide. It adds to the experience for me. I found that even the lighter Barnes 185XLC in a 338 WinMag and 210XBT in the 340W killed extremely well and gave amazing penetration! I just used the 270 Fail Safe/375 H&H load for nostalgia. For grins, I shot a huge 32" Aoudad in West Texas with the 180AB goinf 3500fps from a 338 RUM. Super flat shooting, acted like a 210 partition! I am currently waiting to kill a critter with my 338 Federal and 160 TTSX ( gets 3007fps with TAC!) same principal, high speed/fatter bullet than a 7mm Rem Mag with 160 at same speed. Sure, the 7mm will show it up a very long range, but under 300? I'll take the little lightweight, fast to use Mod 77 338 Fed over a heavier 7mm mag any day!
31 Aug 2017
@ 03:36 pm (GMT)

Elton Green

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
I'm new here. I'm retired US Army Infantry, so you'll have an idea of my background. I was raised on a farm in West Texas and began shooting and hunting when I was 12 years old. I own a number of center fire rifles ranging from .223 up to a 35 Whelen. I have two 300 winmags and several 30-06's. I also own 7.62x51/.308 rifles. I use a Ruger 25-06 or a Ruger 6mm Rem. for varmints like prairie dogs. But the real killer is the Whelen. My 35 Whelen is a model 700 CDL with a 24 inch barrel and a Shepherd scope mounted on it. I handload everything for it. I use RL 15 powder and either Speer 250 gr. bullets or Sierra 225 Gamekings in it. On Whitetail deer, the 225gr bullet always exits and leaves a silver dollar sized exit wound at distances from 40 yards out to 450 yards. The Speer 250 gr. will also penetrate like crazy. I've had it go end to end through a Whitetail buck at 250 yards, and this was in Kansas, where a medium buck can weigh 200lbs. The does there average 125lbs dressed. A 300 WinMag doesn't kill as quickly as the Whelen when the rounds are loaded right.
As to reloading, I use the older Alliant manuals for the Speer bullet, which show a maximum load of 59.5 grains of RL15 behind the 250 grain Speer. I use 60.5 grains of RL15 behind the Sierra. The Speer chronographs over 2625 from my CDL and the Sierra clocks 2725 fps at the chronograph. I use a Chrony Beta for velocity data. I use Remington 9-1/2 LR primers and Remington brass exclusively. I have checked the brass for these loads using a micrometer to determine stretch at the case head and overall stretch in length and it mikes out to less than the factory 30-06 brass from Remington after shooting. I used new Whelen brass for these tests. The primers on the Sierra 225 gr. bullets were still rounded and the Speer loads were slightly rounded. I've gone as high as 60 grains of RL15 with the Speer, but the recoil is pretty stout at that level. Group sizes are, however, around 1 to 1.2 inches at 100yds. I examined that brass for signs of pressure, and didn't find any difference with it, either. The Sierras will shoot into .5 inches so I haven't seen any reason to change that load. It is also much easier to shoot with them than the Speer.
As to magnum VS Frontal Area, check with the guides in Alaska. Very few people up there carry a .300 anything for bear when they might have to go into the brush after one that's wounded. They tend toward .375's, 45-70's, 500's, 450's and .458's if they can. Large frontal area means more mass, larger wound channels, better penetration if the bullet is not light for caliber and greater systemic shock due to blood pressure drop. Speed is great, but at distance, the .35 will penetrate simply due to its mass if the bullet is heavy enough. For me, that's 225gr. minimum, and 250gr. if I'm after something larger than elk. Also, either of my loads will shoot about as flat as a 30-06 with 180 grain Corelokts, but hit with more energy than a .300 Winchester Magnum. My .300's are now my backup rifles for the Whelen.
And yes, I know that the current load listed by Alliant using the Speer bullet is 54 grains for around 2250fps. As far as I'm concerned, they have turned the Whelen into a .358. I think they are afraid of liability due to all the old actions that the Whelen has been made on. The .35 Whelen was designed to operate at 30-06 pressures, and with the right powders, it will match 30-06 velocities with much heavier bullets. Buffalo bullets uses the Sierra 225 grain bullet for its loads at a true 2700+ from a Remington CDL with a 24" barrel. Their load is safe in any .35 Whelen made on a large ring mauser or 03A3 action, along with any modern rifle chambered for same.
Finally, I've killed over 40 Whitetail deer in Kansas with the Whelen and the Sierra 225 grain Gameking. If I hit the deer anywhere in the chest, it was down within 10 feet. I have killed at less than 30 yards and at more than 400 yards with this cartridge and bullet combination, and never had to blood trail a deer when it was hit in the vitals. I have had them drop so quickly that I thought I'd missed. With the .300 WinMag, I have had good hits in the vitals result in having to blood trail deer periodically. Not very often, but it did happen. The Whelen either took their legs out from under them, or just dropped them on the spot (or in mid-run in the case of one large buck at 30 yards.). I don't know about the .338 calibers, but the .35 Whelen when loaded right is mostly a DRT round.
02 Sep 2017
@ 11:35 am (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers

I really like what you say here. I'm from West Texas too. I let a gunsmith talk me out of building a 35 Whelen and man I've been kicking myself for a couple of years. It's such a great caliber. Glad to meet another 35 Whelen fan from Texas.

03 Sep 2017
@ 03:24 pm (GMT)

Elton Green

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
I love this rifle. Not because it is an unusual or older caliber, but because it works. I will say that to make it work right, you need to match the bullet to the game being hunted. The Sierra Gameking bullet has a thinner jacket than the Speer 250 grain Hot Core and will open in even small Whitetails, giving me large (fist-sized) exit wounds out to about 400 yards. These wounds don't seal up due to the exit wound being very large. This collapses the lungs no matter whether hits are forward in the chest or toward the rear of the chest. The Army calls this a sucking chest wound. The Sierra 225 grain bullet is both extremely accurate and devastating on deer at ranges from 30 yards out to at least 350 yards. The Speer 250 grain, however, has a thicker jacket because it is designed for Elk, Moose and big bear. As a result, it doesn't open as well on deer at close ranges or at higher velocities. It still kills very well, but a deer might get 40 or 50 yards after its hit before it drops. Blood trails are good, though. Because of its heavy construction, this bullet will plow through heavy bone and muscle, though. As a result it is excellent on large bodied game such as elk or moose.
My Whelen is currently in the shop to have a muzzle brake put on it. The 250 grain Hot Cores have considerable recoil at 2675 fps or so, and its hard to be accurate with them due to this. But I've spun a deer completely off its feet at 350 yards with this bullet and load, so the recoil is worth it. I have it mated with a Shepherd P2 3x10 scope and have matched the ballistic table for the scope with both bullets for ranges in excess of 600 meters (about 660 yards). This is at an altitude of about 8,000 feet. This rifle and cartridge combination isn't as flat shooting as a wondermag, but it kills better than my .300 Winchester Magnums at distances out to 500-600 yards and has the legs to get there with the right loads. Poor man's magnum indeed. I consider my .300's and my 30-06's to be backup rifles for the Whelen. You should buy the CDL Stainless Fluted that Remington has out. Its a great rifle once you've adjusted the trigger, and my 700 CDL shoots like a target rifle. Plus, it will work on anything from Whitetails up to Alaskan moose or brown bear.
03 Sep 2017
@ 04:21 pm (GMT)

Elton Green

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Something I forgot to mention is the Taylor Knock Out rating for the .35 Whelen. With my hand loads, the 225gr. Sierra is at 31.3 and the 250 grain speer is at 34.23. My 300 Winchester Magnum hand loads with 180 grain Sierras do 3000fps 10 feet from the muzzle using a Chrony Beta chronograph and generate a TKO rating of around 23.7. The Whelen's cross section makes a big difference in energy transfer, and with with the weights of bullets that I use, the 35 Whelen starts with 3725 ftlbs (225gr.) and 4,000 ftlbs (250 gr.) of energy 10ft from the muzzle and has over 2,000 ftlbs at 400 yards. Like I said, I love this rifle because it is accurate, it works and it is God's own hammer with the right bullets. You should try it. For more experimental work on the Whelen and other .35's, check out Whelen's Northwoods Trails at He's done a lot of load development and overpressure testing with the .35's and the results are interesting. I don't recommend using the high end loads he has used, but neither does he. Its just good information as to the potential of the round and the other .35's.
06 Sep 2017
@ 03:08 pm (GMT)

Lane Salvato

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Elton your enthusiasm for that cartridge is catching for sure. I've got to wait awhile before I purchase anything else, but I have a 25-06 that I someday may re-chamber to a 35 Whelen. Shame this round hasn't caught on more. I didn't really know how effective it was until I started reading Nathan's books, but If I had, I think I would have gotten one a long time ago.

I saw a Ruger M77 tang safety with a customer Kreiger barrel on Gunbroker the other day, but like I said, got to watch the money for awhile. Good luck during hunting season.
13 Jan 2018
@ 01:13 pm (GMT)

Kenneth Kephart

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Now i want to get on that 35 Whelen build i have been planning.
05 Mar 2019
@ 02:59 pm (GMT)

Kenneth Johnson

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Elton - I too am a big fan of the .35 Whelen! I have two, one in a Mark X action with a 1:14 twist 23.6" BBL and one in a 22" BBL 1:16 twist Remington 7600. I recently used my Mark X on a Texas (India "transplant") Nilgai. They are "tough" animals and a "double lung" shot (went a couple inches aft of ithe shoulder bone) and it went the standard 65 yards before it realized it was dead. The lungs were "trashed" and it left only one drop of blood; they really have thick hide that tends to "reseal" like an old rubber tire. I witnessed one shot with a .300 WM through the shoulders and it went the same distance; and had members of our "party" with about the same results with a 7RemMag, .300WM, and .338WM. I used a 225gr Nosler Ballistic Tip (obsolete) where all others used 160gr (7mm), 180gr (.308), and 225gr (.338) Barnes TSX bullets. I had mine loaded to 2715fps with 59.0gr of RL12 (also obsolete). While some of the "Ranches" require a minimum of .300WM for Nilgai, I wasn't overly impressed with the "hot magnums", and knew all the shooters were all good shots. I asked the "guide" what he personally used on Nilgai; he said, "270Win with 130gr bullets to the head or neck. (Now the guides on this ranch are not allowed to hunt after initial employment for two years, or allowed to take the "trophy Blue Bulls", which are much larger than the cows.) I guess my point is that like Nathan has stated, and you confirmed, it doesn't take a "premium boutique" bullet, or bullet at the "speed of heat" to make a caliber effective if it is .358 diameter or larger. Speed certainly helps trajectory and "specially" designed bullets keep them "together" at super speeds, but the Whelen works without all the "ballistic fuss" or recoil.
22 Mar 2019
@ 12:53 pm (GMT)

Mike Kanak

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
You guys have room for a dissenting opinion? First off, I've had my 35 Whelen for 30 years. It was a present from my wife just before we got married, and I still have both. I'm not going to say it doesn't work, it even smacks things around fairly well at short range. Trouble is, I've got about 100 guns sitting around in racks and cabinets, safes and corners and they pretty much all smack things around fairly well at close range. Frankly; it just doesn't take much. My smokeless muzzleloaders seem to kill deer, moose and bears just fine, and if its about caliber 45 is bigger than 35. If I want a mild medium caliber there's always the .375. Maybe there's a reason why I have four .375s and only one Whelen.

Once I get away from the closest of ranges the looping trajectory quickly has me wondering why I brought a Whelen along. Again, that's not saying it cant be made to work but why bring your own handicap on purpose? Why would I want to have 4 MOA drop at 300 with a 200 yard zero, or a point-blank of 250 when I can have a 4 MOA drop at 500 with a 300 yard zero or a point blank of right around 400 with the performance 7s and 30s that I seem to gravitate too? Then there's wind. It hasn't escaped my attention that the 300 yard drift of my Whelen looks suspiciously like the 700 yard drifts of some of my favorites. Why would I want to do that to myself, on purpose?

Again I'm not saying it won't work, but I see way to much downside for an upside that I'm not even sure is there. Probably why I never use mine any more.
08 May 2019
@ 09:42 am (GMT)

Kenneth Johnson

Re: Magnum Speed vs. Big Frontal Area and the Much Maligned 35 Calibers
Mike - you bring up an interesting point we U.S. hunter, collectors, re-loaders, and shooters have - hundreds of choices in firearms and calibers to choose from. I, like you, have had dozens (never a hundred) firearms on hand at one time that could kill medium or large game on any hunt I was on; however, because I had so many guns and the terrain and circumstances of the game encountered, I seldom had the exact "tool" to do the job as effectively as with one I had back in the gun safe. Therefore, unlike Nathan's "hunting block", while long shots were a possibility it was not the "norm". Thus, i seldom failed to chose the right tool for "prairie dog" hunting, but many time did chose the wrong tool for deer hunting because of terrain. I guess that is why the 30/06 became so popular for most U.S. hunters in the first place; for it worked extremely well for most game encountered up to 300 yards (a distance most could learn to shoot without special training). With training a good "marksman" could "stretch" that distance far beyond the average if they were willing to learn how to "dope the wind", factor in elevation effects, and figure "drop" better than the average hunter. (it sounds you are in that category.)

Now our hunting fraternity has "specialized" tools, and "long range experts" (Nathan among them) that, with practice (a lot), make shooting beyond 300 yards much easier if one shoots often, "fine tunes" his equipment, and makes sure he is "mentally" capable of "focusing" on the job at hand. The .35 Whelen falls into the category of the 30/06 (some say .308) where one can "up" the size of the quarry without concern about being "under gunned". Of course you can end up having it in your hands when a really long shot may present itself, but like the 30/06 you are not "hobbled" like with a .35 Remington or a "muzzle loader" that is shooting a rounded bullet or round nose bullet. Even your "whiz bang magnums" require you to be careful which bullet weight and design you chose for the mission and many of us do not like being"assaulted" by extra recoil or noise where the rifle needs extra weight in the stock and barrel; or a barrel the length of a "cane pole" to get the advertised velocities (no offense to long barrel advocates).

I particularly like the amount of "terminal" effect on game the .35 Whelen has that is within the recoil, and rifle weight parameters I can enjoy. It is not the "ideal" for any one given task, but will handle most hunting situations well without having to depend on specialized bullet construction or a heavy "target" rifle to accomplish the job. (It is not exactly a "Putter" trying to do a "Driver's" job.)

Your experience or style of hunting evidently makes the Whelen a "slow horse" in a "faster race" category. I respect your choice to by-pass its "offering". Like my prairie dog gun, I carry my 7Mag when I expect the "long shot" will be most common opportunity on big game and select a bullet that can make the long shot while (hopefully) still handle the 50 yard "jump shot". All the best, Ken


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