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Thread: My Budget 35 Whelen Project

  1. #1

    Default My Budget 35 Whelen Project

    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!
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  2. #2

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    JES has done several rebores for me so I can vouch for him! He is the right guy for the job. You won't be ruining your 06 just making it a more capable tool.

  3. #3
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    i really like my DNZ mount. The only issue are the scews. They are coated with some kind of product that allows for not using loctite. However, they rust easily. Just mention rain and they turn brown. I use frog lube CLP to keep it in control.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    JES has done several rebores for me so I can vouch for him! He is the right guy for the job. You won't be ruining your 06 just making it a more capable tool.
    I like hearing this! The Tikka Whelen project will be simple and fun. I'm almost ready to ship the rifle. When I get hot on a project rifle, I like to let the embers die a bit. I'm still 95% go on the Whelen, but can't deny the 9.3X62 is still calling. The 9.3 would reduce my range, but suspect is a bit better on larger game than the 35. I know Tikka makes the 9.3 T3... but just try to find one!? I suppose a 35 Whelen would be more unique and better balanced for NA hunting.

    I'm interested in the 9.3X62 because it seems like a good do most things to 250 yard rifle. I read a blurb where one hunter does exactly that and with 1 bullet/round. He shoots that very inexpensive 285gr Privi 9.3X62 loading on everything from deer to moose and says it's very accurate too. Everything goes down pretty quick and there's less meat damage on smaller game than shooting them with a 270 Win/130gr! Somehow I like the idea of using 1 inexpensive factory load for everything. With the Whelen I'm planning on different loads from 200, 225 and 250 grain, which means learning all the different ballistics/re-sighting. I still think the Whelen is more versatile, however can picture a 9.3X62 with a 4X scope, shooting the 285 Privi for much of my hunting! Shoot a deer one hunt, then a Grizz the next... then off to Africa for all plains game within 200 yards. Awfully tempting... and shooting a rather plain bullet!

    I've been trying to turn the Whelen into a longer range gun- to 400 yards. Even though it looks possible on paper, perhaps I'm fooling myself? In that case the 9.3 just might be a better choice?

  5. #5
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    For me the 338-06 would be a better choise. Just as heavy bullets with better BC but thats me.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  6. #6

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    The 338-06 sounds good. Most likely would have to reload and wonder why it's not a standard commercial round? So many seem to like it! I'm on a medium bore kick and for me that starts with 35 cal. I like my 338 WM and might be splitting hairs over the mid-bores. A couple of authors I respect write... for large game there's noticeably better killing power once you reach the 35cal bore size. Also the 35s on up are just as good on smaller game no matter the bullet used- specifically the 35 Whelen and 9.3X62 at lower non-magnum velocities, causing less meat damage. I'm attracted to magnum like performance from a non-magnum cartridge. Since I have zero hunting experience with either, I still find it hard to believe how effective the 35 or 9.3 is on an 06 case!? Yet most I read says devastating on big game! When I look at the 06 case loaded up with bigger bullets, then look at my 338 WM, again wonder how it's possible the 06 size rounds are at the same/near performance level? Heck the 9.3 is used on Cape Buffalo where legal in Africa! So is the 375 H&H and when compared side by side with the 9.3X62, the 2 rounds perform nearly equal. Some in Africa actually prefer the 9.3.

  7. #7

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    It sounds like you don't mind, so I'll play devil's advocate again. I've read those shooters going for maximum accuracy in their 35 whelen's have to limit their loads a bit below max. So if you're running the numbers out to 400 yds, you may want to consider if a moderate load will still have enough at that range. Like Amigo Will, I think the 338-06 would fit a bit better for it's versatility (still resembling the 30-06 with some loads) but just as powerful, numbers wise, as the Whelen and it just gets better at longer range. On target, the better SD of the 338 may matter to you.

    I hope to hear all about your build. Keep us updated!

  8. #8
    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    Since 99% of my hunting ends up shorter than 150 yards, I've never been hung up on the 35 Whelen at long range.

    Mine throws a 310 gr Woodleigh at 2350 (ish). It holds a 2" group at 150 yds. It made no difference to the moose I shot, or the Brown my buddy shot with it how it would do at 400 yards.

    On moose, it DRT's with very little damage and full pass through the offside shoulder blade. On the BB, it DRT from shoulder to butt full pass through..

    I don't know how it will perform at 400, and I don't care.
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    Someday I would like to have a 375 Whelen improved built, with enough twist to stabilize my 350gr cast bullets. I have shot, and have a lot of respect for the 35 Whelen with 300gr bullets.

  10. #10
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    Since 99% of my hunting ends up shorter than 150 yards, I've never been hung up on the 35 Whelen at long range.

    Mine throws a 310 gr Woodleigh at 2350 (ish). It holds a 2" group at 150 yds. It made no difference to the moose I shot, or the Brown my buddy shot with it how it would do at 400 yards.

    On moose, it DRT's with very little damage and full pass through the offside shoulder blade. On the BB, it DRT from shoulder to butt full pass through..

    I don't know how it will perform at 400, and I don't care.
    I like the way you think, and also the way you don't overthink. I too am like you, I don't put too much stock into the 400 yd shot, because it never happens for me in the field. Having set up targets at 400 yds, I can hit a milk jug every time with a 200 grain accubond from the 358 winchester with a 20 in barrel. People have to prove things to themselves though, regardless of what others are already doing, some sort of re-creating the wheel of some sorts. Making hits at 400 yds with a 35 caliber, isn't what sells me on them, and never will.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKMtnRunner View Post
    It sounds like you don't mind, so I'll play devil's advocate again. I've read those shooters going for maximum accuracy in their 35 whelen's have to limit their loads a bit below max. So if you're running the numbers out to 400 yds, you may want to consider if a moderate load will still have enough at that range. Like Amigo Will, I think the 338-06 would fit a bit better for it's versatility (still resembling the 30-06 with some loads) but just as powerful, numbers wise, as the Whelen and it just gets better at longer range. On target, the better SD of the 338 may matter to you.

    I hope to hear all about your build. Keep us updated!
    Good points! I may be pushing 400 with the Whelen? 300 yards may be more realistic. I just have to believe the Tikka will make good hits at 400 yards. The mid-bores are known to be accurate because less claimed variation from bullet to bullet than smaller calibers. If true they say the mid-bores cloverleaf. So I believe the 35 Whelen in known for accuracy potential. With the Tikka it has a quality barrel, a great trigger break and fits tight in the stock. I've also changed the stock aluminum recoil lug to a more precise one of steel and replaced the plastic factory bolt shroud with an aftermarket aluminum, which is supposed to further enhance accuracy because of better tolerances. The Limbsaver should make shooting easy and I believe the 1 piece DNZ scope mount aids in more accuracy potential, because the scope rings are perfectly aligned- so there's no stress on the scope. Plus with the Tikka the DNZ mount places a 40mm scope low to the bore- which I hear is a good thing for accuracy. I also have replaced the slotted action screws with hex screws that will make torqueing easier and I'll be able to experiment with various action screw torque settings.

    In general Tikkas are said to be accurate. In my head when I add all this up, I sort of expect this Whelen to be accurate enough to 400 yards. At least that's what I'm hoping for. The gun will be fairly light and if accurate, why not use it up in the mountains? With all my points I'm expecting to get drawn for Mt Goat and Sheep soon- I hope... and think of the fun shooting the Whelen... my sheep gun!

    Now for the 338-06. Seems to be another great round, only I have a 338 WM. And I understand the 338 mag works well with a shorter barrel. If I ever were to build a 338, it would be a lightweight Mag with 22 inch barrel. I think the 338 WM makes for a great all-rounder. When I chose the Whelen it was between the 9.3X62 and 338-06. Besides having a 338 WM, the 35 Whelen is closer to a mid-bore. One very experienced modern day hunter states, when you reach 35 caliber there's a more noticeable reaction to hits on bigger game than with smaller calibers, including the 338 bore. He also feels the 338 is not that much different than a 30... but that the 35 is. This may or may not be so yet is a reason I selected the 35. The 9.3 looks great, but with that caliber I might as well go with a 375 Ruger.

    My attraction to the Whelen is it's a legit mid-bore. A non-magnum with real world punch. My budget Tikka should be reliable and light enough to carry all day in the field- anywhere. I'm thinking a 225 NP should work great on deer to moose and African Plains game.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBman View Post
    Someday I would like to have a 375 Whelen improved built, with enough twist to stabilize my 350gr cast bullets. I have shot, and have a lot of respect for the 35 Whelen with 300gr bullets.
    Yes, very valid points and perhaps the Whelen was never intended for long range. If I ever found myself up in the mountains with my lightweight Whelen and a once in a lifetime Big Horn tag... I'm saying what if... and a huge Ram was 375 yards away on the last day of the hunt... If I can regularly hit milk jugs at 400 yards... I'm taking the shot!

    My view is that a great cartridge- the 35 Whelen has been modernized a bit. If a particular 35 Whelen rifle is accurate to 400 yards, that expands the utility and versatility of the Whelen, a good thing. Not that one would be regularly shooting to 400, but one has the option to.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    Since 99% of my hunting ends up shorter than 150 yards, I've never been hung up on the 35 Whelen at long range.

    Mine throws a 310 gr Woodleigh at 2350 (ish). It holds a 2" group at 150 yds. It made no difference to the moose I shot, or the Brown my buddy shot with it how it would do at 400 yards.

    On moose, it DRT's with very little damage and full pass through the offside shoulder blade. On the BB, it DRT from shoulder to butt full pass through..

    I don't know how it will perform at 400, and I don't care.
    Wow, I'm glad to hear how well the Whelen performs for you on big animals-great! Variety is wonderful, only for me when I go to Colorado for a drop elk hunt... I do care how my Whelen performs at 400. The all-around use capability is what attracts me. So if capable why not use it at longer ranges? It's not like one is shooting a Blunderbuss!

  14. #14

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    I'm sending my Tikka T3 off to JES for a re-bore to 35 Whelen today. This budget project and thread brings to light how much I enjoy hunting rifle cartridges and shooting. Hunting too. Just talking and thinking cartridges here makes me want additional guns. Now I'm thinking about a lightweight 338 WM and also very interested in the 375 Ruger!

  15. #15
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabochris View Post
    I'm sending my Tikka T3 off to JES for a re-bore to 35 Whelen today. This budget project and thread brings to light how much I enjoy hunting rifle cartridges and shooting. Hunting too. Just talking and thinking cartridges here makes me want additional guns. Now I'm thinking about a lightweight 338 WM and also very interested in the 375 Ruger!
    bad choice, consider red squirrels

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    bad choice, consider red squirrels
    Are you saying you don't like JES? I think I made a good choice. Explain yourself.

  17. #17

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    Boy, that one flew so low over your head it parted your hair!!!!!

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Boy, that one flew so low over your head it parted your hair!!!!!
    Whatever- Why the child like responses here? This is a forum about shooting- right? Do some here think they're above certain topics? Then why even respond?

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    Can anyone recommend a guide for red squirrels that's not already booked up this year? It's the last trophy I need to complete my collection of tree rats.

  20. #20

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    Cabochris, any update on your 35 whelen tikka? I hope it's a dandy!

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