I've decided I need a new medium bore rifle, primarily for elk, but I'll use it for black bear, hogs and who-knows-what-else. I have a 338wm in a stainless Ruger 77 with laminated stock but I'd prefer something with a little more 'cool factor' and I rarely shoot anything over 250 yds. ( I once shot a bull elk with the 338 at 328 yds but I was sitting with a bipod and had plenty of time to wait for the perfect shot- like shooting from a bench).
I tend to lean towards unusual stuff so I was considering the 9.3x62 but it looks like there are more loads available for the Whelen. I've always wanted a 350 too for some reason.
I know there's not too much difference between any of these, so I thought someone might be able to help out with some insight and real-world experience. Thanks!
As an aside, I do have a 375 H&H so the heavier bullets in the 9.3 aren't really a deciding factor. 250 gr. is probably the heaviest I'd be using.
Since I'm sitting here, recovering from a hip replacement, I'll give my .02. I have owned all 3 calibers. I started in '95 with a Mod 700 Classic in 35 Whelen, had it rechambered to the 35 Whelan Ackley Improved. I fireformed my Ackley brass with a warm load in 35W new brass and the Speer 220fn jammed into the rifling. Made perfect brass. I loaded the 250X and went to South Africa. I was running it close to 2600fps ( 9.3x62 territory) and killed zebra, red hartebeest, kudu, gemsbuck and blue wildebeest with it. Perfection. I cam home, thinking I was going to go back for a cull cape buffalo hunt, so I had that rfile rebarreled/converted to 416 Taylor. Bad choice, rifle too light/brake too loud, off it went. I then had a Mod 70 FWT rebarreld to 9.3x62. Components were hard to find then ('97) but I played with the 286 Nosler. Gave the rifle to a young family man who killed elk with it. I went through a .375 H&H & 375W,340W, 300WM (South Africa/Namibia), then a 338WM, then another copy of my first Mod 700 Classic. I took it to South Africa in 2002 but with the 200X ( it was going 2970fps from the 35 Whelen Ackley Improved) I killed a Black wildebeest at 347yds and another zebra at 250yds, perfection. I played with a Mod 750 in standard 35 Whelen, an excellent shooter and 100% reliable. A like new Browning BLR 358W shot well with 200X, both too pretty to hunt with and the 35 WAI Mod 700 was too jealous to stay at home on hunts. Off they went. I bought my SIL a CZ 550 FS in 9.3x62 as a welcome home from Iraq present. its a good shooter. I tried a Mod 77 African 9.3x62, but it had headspace issues and I was pressed for time/money, so sold it. Took the 35WAI that Fall too. I tried a Mod 700 Classic in 350RM. To "me" it was just a 35 Whelen that kicked hard, about as much as the 35 WAI. I was also limited to the short action. Off it went.
I then had that wonderful Model 700 classic rebarreled/converted to the 358 Norma Magnum. I would have loved using that rifle, but Obammacare taxed Ministers on their benefits and by the time that all got sorted out, with penalities, etc, I had to sell off everything, everything, to pay my ransom! So...while I have gained a few rifle back, none are in 35 nor 9.3 caliber. My hunts are fewer apart and no more Africa for me.
I would suggest two options (neither include the 350RM) (a) The Nostalgic Route = A 9.3x62 in a CZ 550 FS, or a Mod 77 African. More American fix up an old 1903A3 in a standard 35 Whelen. Go with a 14 inch twist. 1x5 scope (Option 2) Set up a good action of your choice ina synthetic stock with a stainless ( maybe add cerakoting) 24 inch in 35 Whelen standard ( with the newer powders we have no need for the Ackley version) or 9.3x62. Put no more than a 2.5x8 or 3x9. With a 200 TTSX in the Whelen you cover the same ground as a 300WM and with a 250 in either 35W or 9.3 you cover the 338WM and the 375. Your choice. figure out how you want to hunt, and where and match the rifle/bullet to that. Excellent rounds, no matter what you choose. (psst, I would still do a 35 Ackley just to be different! ha) Have a ball pard.
Welcome fellow AZ member! I would stay away from the 350 mag, no ammo or brass available. The 9.3x62 has the best quality brass availability and should be devastating. I used to shoot elk with a Whelen, 338-06, 338 Fed, 338 RUM, 7 STW, and 300 mag. After downing a fat cow last fall with a 155 gr Scenar with excellent results, I'll be shooting elk 500 yards and under with a 308 Win. Going to try the 200 gr ELD-X at 2550 fps this year. That bullet was a hammer out of the 300 win mag at 2950 fps.
Thanks for that Jim! Exactly the info I was looking for. And probably will be my approach too! Try’em all and let them sort themselves out- haha. I was hoping for some help to start out though and you sure gave a lot to think about. Same goes for Peeshooter, thanks.
I’ve shot elk with 300 H&H, .338, 30-06, 45-70, and the last one with a 7-08 (don’t think I’ll do that again..no problem but just didn’t feel right). I do want to use the 375 at some point and, of course, the new one.
I’ll probably rule out the 350 and may have to get a Whelen and a 9.3 just because.
No bad choices there, all impressively effective on game. In the event you want to complicate things even further, consider a 358. Seems that many tend to way underestimate just how effective the 358 can be, and it is a little easier on your shoulder. Within typical ranges, you give up nothing. In recent years, I have begun to appreciate many "under estimated" calibers such as the 7x57, 6.5x55, and 300 Savage. It has occurred to me that much of the newer stuff, often created for AR's and marketing foo-foo, do nothing but offer ballistics similar to some of the old dogs. It is difficult to find someone who has actually used any of these, or a 358, who was disappointed in the results.
Imagine your grave on a windy winter night. You've been dead for 70 years. It's been 50 since a visitor last paused at your tombstone..... Now explain why you're in a pissy mood today.
I've always thought a .35 Whelen is a most excellent round but, I've never owned one. Why? Because I started down the .35 road with a .358 Winchester and it has never failed me. Have owned Savage 99, BLR, and now a rebarreled M.70 and have taken deer through elk with my M.70 with just a single shot for each. Now I have this old 1903 sporter that is just begging to become a .35 Whelen but, I have a .358 already....it really has saved me a lot of money.
Yeah, I’ve considered other 358’s also. (356 and 348, et al) I do like the 358 win a lot too. I’m just over the whole Magnum thing. Not necessary for the way I do things any more. I’ll probably get whatever presents itself first and end up with a few more interesting rifles!
And, yes, a buddy and I were just having the conversation the other day about how there really are no new cartridges - everything has been done before in some way under several different names. It’s all marketing.
i got a couple of BLR`s that are to pretty to use too , i kinda wish Browning made a dull finished ugly stock rifle in a BLR SS too ? my choice on those 3 cartridges would be a 35 Whelen just because its a neat name . good luck,Pete53
I can't say I didn't regret selling the BLR 358W, because I did. I had sold it to Cabela's as I was in a hurry to leave for the UP for one of those Eurasian hogs. I took the 35WAI/Woodleigh 310sn which worked great, ha. When I got back I went to buy the BLR back and it was already sold, . I really have no use for one anymore as I just use what I have in my hands, which will be a CA Mesa 300WM this year! Yep, goning to use the barnes 150TTSX on cow elk. Nice/trim/lw yet handy weatherproof rifle.
Hi AZtwins. greetings from Tucson. That's sure a fine ram in your avatar. Are you looking to buy a factory rifle or are you going to build it? Mine is a 35 Whelen AI on a commercial LR 98 Husqvarna action, 23" barrel, old McMillan fiberglass stock, and a 1.5x5 Vari-X III. I wouldn't change a thing. (except I am going to give it an English walnut stock after this hunting season is over that will add a pound to the weight - at 7.6 pounds full up now, it really gives a beating off the bench). I have been doing some work with Power Pro 2000-MR powder lately and it really takes the Whelen up a notch in performance (not that it needs it!) I am kind of blogging the weekly range results in another thread here and on the Shooter's Forum. If you are not planning to shoot >250 grains I'd sure go with the Whelen - regular or AI, as you like. Here are a couple of the 2000-MR loads and results. Best of luck! Rex
That's how my old 35 WAI shot too, with everything. I'm sure a lot of my Ackley loads were way up there in pressure, but I always used new fireformed brass. Never shot a case more than a few times. The newer powders sure are sweet!
Jim, I agree, and I was the same as you when I was first loading for my Whelen AI back when the rifle was new in the early 90's. I mostly used AA2520 and got poor case life, just treading on the edge (or beyond?) of too much. BUT, I am taking very careful case head expansion measurements and carefully tracking the results of this PP 2000-MR work up and I can tell you the two loads above are actually quite mild even though they match or exceed the results I used to get with AA2520 - it's kind of hard to believe. The 225 NAB at 2800+ FPS gave an initial CHE of .0004" in a new case, and then no additional CHE after 4 more firings of the same cases; the primer pockets are still as tight as new. The 250 Partition at 2650 FPS gave a CHE of only .0002" - barely even measurable. (most proponents of this method figure .0005 to .0006 initial CHE is approaching a max load) For any reading this, again note my rifle is a 35 Whelen Ackley Improved, not the standard. But that said, the actual published 2000-MR maximums (by Speer and Sierra) for their 250 and 225 respectively in the STANDARD .35 Whelen are 66.2 (I'm using 65) for the 250 Speer at 2709 FPS and 71.6 (I'm using 69) for the 225 SGK at 2900 FPS. So the loads I showed above are not even at max for the standard Whelen. I do note the 225 NAB is getting more pressure out of a given load than indicated for the 225 SGK (it also generated more pressure than the 225 TSX, with the same charge - so be aware of this). I have found at least in my rifle that the 250 Speer HotCor and the 250 Partition behave almost identically pressure and velocity-wise, so I use the 250 Speer for basic work-up and then switch to the much more expensive 250 partition to fine tune.
Soooo, back to the OP - AZtwins, now that I have invested so much typing in this you have to get a 35 Whelen! P.S. I drew the "Early-Any" rifle elk tag this year in AZ after 8 bonus points. I'll be using this rifle during the rut!
I'm jealous Rex, I get a cow elk tag about every 4 or 5 years it seems.🙄 I've about given up on bull tags. I'll probably start applying for bulls again when my sons start elk hunting - they just turned 11 so it won't be long before they can fill the freezer!
I shot that sheep SE of Alpine a few years back. I must have used up all of my luck in the drawing with that tag, I can't hardly get a deer tag these days!
I have wanted a 35 Whelen for a lot of years so that's probably my first choice. I'm sure they'll all get the job done. I used to reload but just haven't had the time for the last few years, so I end up buying factory ammo. Luckily there are a lot of good choices these days, including heavy loads from Buffalo Bore if I feel the need (not likely). I love big bores and am also keeping an eye out for a 405 Win or even a 450/400 #1 if I run across something reasonable. I have a particular spot that I'm waiting to get an elk tag for where I plan to use a 460 S&W X-frame...every time I've been there I have had multiple elk at less than 50 yards. I have pics of cows within 20 feet! No doubt it will be an entirely different story if I actually have a tag in my pocket...haha.