I've never owned a 35 Whelen and want one. I read the 35 Whelen is one of the most efficient hunting cartridges and has 400 yard potential on big game with modern loadings. (35 cal 225 NAB- 2000+ ft lbs @ 400). While I prefer to shoot closer, I also prefer to have the ability to shoot 400 if needed and I choose to do so.
I almost purchased a well used Remington 700 Classic in 35 Whelen at close to $800. Most say they love their Classic 35. But with the 700 I would have had to at least free float bbl and glass the action. Then also replace the trigger with a safer version that doesn't randomly go "bang" and replace the shroud/firing pin with a SpeedLock. I would still end up with a blued rifle in a wood stock.
Perhaps I should have bought the 700, but decided instead to bore-out a 30-06 and chose a Tikka T3 Lite for this Whelen project. I got a good deal on a slightly used blue Tikka 30-06 in polymer stock. A stainless version would have cost hundreds more, and I'm OK with the black Tikka. This will be a utilitarian field gun and I do not mind beauty marks acquired during hunts. So stains on my bbl will not bother me at all. Several of my other rifles are stainless and to tell the truth, the blued Tikka is a welcome sight.
So why the Tikka? Well it's a lighter rifle and I prefer lighter guns. Fly-weights are too light to steady off-hand and heavy rifles seem to be always on my mind during a full days hunt. 7 to 7 3/4 lbs. total weight seems about right. Tikkas are known to be accurate and have great triggers, so I won't need to replace the trigger. I also will not have to deal with bedding on the Tikka. The Tikka bolt is smooth and has a short lift for better scope clearance. The Tikka 06 barrel seems a bit thicker than on other rifles- so a bit more meat left after the re-bore. No rifle is perfect and I do not like the Tikka safety because I see how it might get pushed off accidently by brush. I also do not like the magazine clip extending past the bottom of the stock, although the 06 clip fits noticeably flusher than my Tikka 300WSM. Tikkas recoil hard because of the tough stock and poor factory recoil pad. But my Tikka likes outweigh my dis-likes. Very interesting is that my stainless Tikka Lite in 300 WSM only weighs 1/2 ounce more than this blue 06! This with an approximately 2 inch longer barrel!
There will be some changes I'll make to the rifle. I'll replace the action screws for hex-head, the stock aluminum recoil lug with a precision steel version and the plastic factory bolt shroud with one of aluminum. I chose these items from Mountain Tactical, who specialize in everything Tikka. I will also replace the hard factory recoil pad with a Limbsaver Airtech. Limbsaver claims a reduction of up to 70% felt recoil- I hope this will help to tame the lightweight Whelen. I also plan on mounting an older Leupold 3-9X40 VXII scope in lightweight DNZ one piece mount. The Leupold optics are still bright and clear, but I'll first give it a tub and freezer test! The DNZ rings make for perfect scope alignment. Before the bore this Tikka 06 weighs 6lb 3.6oz naked on my electronic postal scale
Soon I'll send the rifle to J.E.S. in Oregon for boring. They recommend 1 in 14 inch 3 groove rifling. They also have a pretty quick turn-around.
I have been hesitating boring-out an 06. Will there be enough barrel left for a 35 cal? All my doubts left when I read online someone else had J.E.S. bore out their stainless Tikka 06 to 35 Whelen and said it is a tack-driver. More than enough for a hunting rifle.
What will I end up with? A lightweight reliable tough medium bore that's easy to pack from bogs to high country. One that can take most big game from deer, pigs, black bear, elk, moose and grizzly near and out to 300, perhaps 400 yards max. It will also serve well in Africa on plains game. Perhaps it's better to ask, what wouldn't I hunt with this gun? Well obviously the dangerous African game by law and perhaps big browns? Although I would think a 250 NP would do the trick? Some mountain game might be out of reach? Either way I'll still end up with a pretty portable and versatile hunting rifle for nearly everything including Bison! I do have Bison in my sights!
Yes my 300 Win will shoot flatter/further and kill things close too. But I feel a mid-bore has the potential to handle bigger game a bit better. I've given this project quite a bit of thought and am ready to proceed.
All comments are welcome before I ruin a perfectly good 06!