Handloads: A Faster .35 Whelen

posted on July 15, 2023
.35 Whelen

.35 Whelen specsHandloaders are always on the watch for new bullets or propellants that improve the performance of their favorite cartridges. One such advancement that caught my eye was in the Speer Handloading Manual Number 15 that listed the .35 Whelen shooting 250-grain bullets at a velocity of 2,709 f.p.s. from 66.2 grains of Alliant Power Pro 2000-MR.

That velocity is about 300 f.p.s. faster than any safe handload I’ve shot in my .35 Whelen, and I immediately set to work at the reloading bench. To start, 63.0 grains of 2000-MR fired Speer 250-grain Grand Slam bullets at 2,538 f.p.s. and 64.0 grains launched them at 2,570 f.p.s. I stopped at 65.0 grains because accuracy was good, and bullet speed was more than respectable at 2,610 f.p.s. The recoil was quite substantial. In fact, it seemed just as stout as a .338 Win. Mag. also firing 250-grain bullets.

The Whelen has always produced even velocities and a good return on propellant burned to attain velocity with a variety of handloads. The 65.0-grain charge of 2000-MR and the Speer 250-grain bullet adds another example. The propellant filled a Whelen case up to the bottom of the neck, and seating a bullet slightly compressed it. A tight propellant column aids in a uniform burn, shown by a low standard deviation of 8 f.p.s. over nine shots.

Thirty-five cal. 250-grain bullets carry a relatively low ballistic coefficient, however, the listed Whelen load’s trajectory is within 2" of the trajectory of the .30-’06 Sprg. shooting 180-grain bullets at 2,700 f.p.s. out to 350 yards. Way out there, the Whelen bullet also packs nearly 400 ft.-lbs. more energy than the .30-’06 bullet.

This load’s advancement in velocity will make the Whelen all that more effective on game from prairie antelope to black-timber elk.


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