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Custom 35 Whelen

6530 Views 26 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Zachary
I am interested in having a rifle chambered in 35 Whelen. I have always wanted a bolt-action rifle in this cartidge and have been looking around the web, but it seems that virtually none of the major manufacturers make a rifle in this cartirdge. (Ruger makes one, but it's not what I was looking for.)

As such, I am considering having one custom made. This is what I was generally thinking and looking for:

Remington M700 Stainless Action.
Factory trigger with trigger job and 3 lb pull.
24" stainless barrel - #4 contour
H-S Precision or McMillan Stock.

What do you guys think? Would this make a good bolt-action rifle for hunting deer and hogs? Do you know of any good gunsmith that could build this gun? How much do you think it would cost? Could it be done (and done very well) for under $1,000? :?


I have edited this post to inquire as to rate of twist. I plan on using this gun on deer and especially hogs. I don't plan on using bullets heavier than 225 grains, and I think 200 would be perfect. What rate of twist with a 24" barrel and bullets no heavier than 225 grains be best - 1 in 16" or 1 in 14" or 1 in 12" ?[/color]
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Not sure!

It might be a bit heavy. Send it up to Alaska and I will test it for you at no charge and return it to you with a report. :grin:
You're mighty kind Dave! :)

Custom .35 Whelen

I have two built custom .35 Whelens. Both were based upon M98 Mauser actions with 20" barrels (one Douglas, one Shilen) - plenty of barrel length for the Whelen. The shorter barrel length sure comes in handy in the thick stuff and is not a liability out in the open.

It shouldn't be too hard to keep the cost below $1000. A lot depends upon exactly what you want done and how extravagant you get.

If I were to build another .35 Whelen today, I would base it upon either an Winchester Model 70 Classic or an M98 Mauser action.

Pre-threaded, short-chambered barrels are available for the Mauser which would help keep the cost down.

You might also take into consideration an MPI stock - especially their lightweight Kevlar model. I've used several and they are excellent.

Hope this helps.

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.35 Whelen Improved

Nothing wrong with the .35 Whelen Improved - Ackley or Brown-Whelen, or even one of your own design.

Going improved cost more initially - chamber reamer, dies etc., - but after that, there's really no difference other than fireforming cases. Sometimes it takes a bit of tinkering to get the improved cartridges to feed properly depending upon the individual rifle.

I went standard .35 Whelen simply because it was less expensive/hassle. Figured I could always ream it to improved if needed. Don't think it'll ever be needed, though. :wink:

35 Whelen

The moose to the left here was taken with my 7600, 225's and 5? grains of 4064. At nine yards, if that, the result was most impressive. If you look at the willow growth around, you really need something that plants them where they stand. I have had a love afair with the Whelen for about 15 years and will always have one. Yea you could improve upon it a bit, but even in an Eskimo village on the Bering Sea, a town of 310 people, they had Remington 200 grain's on hand. If your going to travel at all I think I would stick with a rifle that takes a factory load just in case you need ammo.

My 225 grains worth of info!
The 35 Whelen is indeed one of the finest rounds ever. I have owned a couple over the years and they will do about anything you ask of them.
My first one was on a Win. Mod. 54 Action w/22" bbl. Seemed a good length at the time. The second one was on a Rem.700 Action w/20" bbl. Don't know why I thought that Barrel was too short. It wasn't. My last one, the one I have now, is on a Howa 1500 Action, 26" Shillen bbl. Three Blade folding Express Sights, Hooded "flip-over" front sight, With Clairo AA Walnut, and I'm pretty much convinced this barrel is way to long. But I love it!
I've gotten into cast bullet shooting pretty much for the past couple of years and the 35 Whelen is a "Jewel" to load and shoot. I have a strong preference for "Heavy for caliber" loads and am trying hard to find a 280gr. .358 Mould for this thing. Got Moulds? If I were to have to spend the rest of my life with only one gun it would be the .35 Whelen! AND, I would never look back. Anyone who chooses the .35 Whelen over the 338-06 has personal reasons for doing it. There just ain't that much difference. However, It is my personal feeling that you can get away with just a little bit less barrel length with the 35 and never miss it. I don't know this to be fact, but I am going to cut my barrel back to 24", maybe 22", I have been having this debate with myself for two years now and the darn thing still isn't cut. So?
Just my thoughts on this "dynamic" caliber.
Respectfully, Russ
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The BIG 35 Whelen!


Zachary, Try this Forum on the 35 Whelem. They just LOVE it there and speak it fluently.

.35 Whelen Improved

Daveinthebush has a very valid point about being able to shoot factory ammo. :agree:
A plus of the .35 Whelen Improved is that it will fire regular factory stuff. Velocity loss is reported to be very slight with no noticable loss of accuracy.
Still, I don't see any real need for going improved other than it would be a fun project and boost performance a tiny bit. 8) I happen to have two .35 Whelens; maybe I should chamber one to improved and do a side-by-side comparasion. :?: It would be a fun excerise, but a bit costly. Maybe some day. Tough to justify doing so being so satisfied with the standard chambering.

Guys, I was under the impression that I could just purchase a Remington M700 action. I recently found out that wasn't the case. :oops:

There is an action called the Montana Rifleman 1999. They have a website and I read about it in a magazine some years ago. Apparently it is a M70 action of sorts with some features from the Mauser. The stainless action is about $550 and the stainless barreled action is about $800. I guess that it would be better (easier and less expensive) to have a barreled action from the manufacturer than to get the two separately and pay a gunsmith to put them together and to get them right. Then I could get a synthetic stock for about $200, thus bringing me up to $1,000.00. I guess that the gunsmith would glass bed the action and make any minor modifications for about $100 - thus bringing the total to $1,100.

How does this sound? Has anyone heard of the 1999 action?

Also, what rate of twist would you recommend?
What barrel length?

I don't plan on using bullets heavier than 225 grains. I'm thinking about a 24" barrel with a 1 in 16 or 1 in 14 rate of twist.

What do you guys think?

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Zachary, If you don't already have the action, buy a "donor" action from
anywhere, in any caliber, as as long as it has the same size cartridge head as the 30/06.
You don't have to spend a fortune on a 35 Whelen as long as you have a pretty nice action to start with. You can get a "Not so nice" Rem 700 from the Pawn Shop for two hundred / two hundred & fifty bucks, a lot of times much less, and start from there. Just because the stock is scratched or the barrel has lost it's blue doesn't mean a thing to a guy looking for a "donor" action.
Have it re-barreled by a gunsmith. Get youself a stock blank and re-do the stock your self. None of this is above the average guy. You can do a stock if you just take your time, don't get in a big hurry, ask a lot of questions. read a lot on the subject and you can have this project done before you know it.
If you don't want to mess with the wood, or simply don't have time. Get yourself a synthetic "drop-in" and you are all set to go.
There is nothing easier for a Gunsmith than replacing a barrel and setting the headspace. You won't pay a fortune for this either. However, If the Gunsmith provides the barrel you can expect to pay a bit more than if you were to get it yourself, and that is to be expected. The gunsmith has to make a living and he can't pass on parts to you at cost. If you provide the barrel he most likely, and he should, charge you more for the labor and that's how it should be.
Respectfully, Russ
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Why don't you go to the Gun Auction sites and look for a Mark X or a FN Mauser 98 action? Maybe 350, 400 or cheaper for the gun, sell the barrel and anything else you can. They would already be sporterized. Then you could go to PacNor, get a barrel made in the Mark X contour, which would drop right into a Bell Carlson stock. Or call HS Precision and call them and ask them which barrel contour they use for their stocks. Thats the only thing I don't like about some of the drop in stocks, to much space along the barrel channel. I'd want it to look like a factory finish, rather than an 1/8" gap along the barrel.

I'm not familiar with the Mark X action. I know that Weatherby has a Mark V action, but this must be different from the Mark X, right?

The Mark X action is one of the many variants of the Mauser 98. It was made by Zastava in Yugoslovia. It's a quality action , some say made with the same tooling as the famous commercial FN 98. It would be a natural for the 35 Whelen. My next project is a 35 Whelen on a FN 98 that I have in a JC Higgins model 50. Just need to collect some "cash" ! The Mark X also is controlled round feeding, that kind of goes right along with the mystique of the 35 Whelen. If you looked hard, and shopped around, you could find one in 30-06 for maybe 350.00? You would have the stock, and maybe the scope. Then you could get the barrel, made in the same contour. Next you could purchase the synthetic stock, by the maker of your choice etc.....then the new 1.5 x 5 Leupold..... :wink:
Here's some examples, I know you can find some that already have Bell and Carlson stocks....
J Babcock,
Speaking of mauser actions, does anyone know if there's been a change with the Charles Daly actions? Are they still locked up in Yugoslavia?

It's a shame, as they are beautiful actions.


I just noticed that the Mark X is not stainless. I have this thing for Stainless rifles. :grin:

Zachary :D
I had ordered a Charles Daly but found another JC Higgins so canceled my order. Last I heard you can find some around but they are the "matte finnish" rilfes. I know there is still "new in box" Mark X's around too, but they are getting expensive.

I've had 2 stainless rifles, the one to the left of us was a Weatherby Ultra Light in 300 Weatherby. Nice rifle but man did it kick, I sold it and then bought a Winchester Classic, stainless steel, 338 Win mag. I don't think the 338 kicks as hard as the 300. Anyway, I don't really like the plastic stocks and the stainless steel. In fact I'm having a wood stock made for my 338 by Mel Smart. The 5 piece laminated ones, out of AA Bastonge. But that's just my preference. Blued steel, nice walnut, and Hoppes#9 :wink: . Can't beat it in my book. :)
Rate Of Twist


I highly recommend you go with a 1 in 12 twist. It'll make no difference with the lighter bullets and it'll stabilize the 250+ grainers if you ever decide to use them.

I have one .35 Whelen with a 1 in 12 twist and one with a 1 in 14 twist. The 1 in 12 shoots the lighter bullets every bit as accurately as the 1 in 14, but it's definitely more accurate with the heavier bullets. Both rifles shoot less than MOA with tailored loads. They're not finicky either.

That Montana action from the Montana Rifleman looks like a winner. Has a claw extractor too. He makes accurate barrels. Order a stainless barreled action from him and you're all set. :wink:


What have you heard about his (Montana Rifleman's) barrels? Anything specific?

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