.35 Whelan in .35 Whelan Improved

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by circa1885, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. circa1885

    circa1885 New Member

    Mar 24, 2010
    Gulf Coast Alabama
    A few years ago I had a custom rifle made in .35 Whelan Improved, one of several Improved versions. Within a few years a factory version of rifle and and ammo were available. I wonder if anyone knows whether I can use .35 Whelan ammo in a .35 W Imp chamber. Like everyone else I fireformed 30-06 brass to create my original .35 Whelan ammo so I thought it should be safe. Any thoughts?
  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I pulled this off another forum. Seemed quicker than typing it myself;)

    The usual "improved" cartridges require the chamber to be reamed out resulting in a sharper shoulder and straighter body to the case. Normally, improving a cartridge will increase the case capacity and resultant velocity in the neighborhood of 4% to 8%, depending on the amount of capacity expansion. Some cartridges lend themselves quite well to the improving process while others really don't benefit all that much as far as increased velocity. The less body taper will result in less bolt face thrust and the sharper shoulder will allow better headspacing and case stretching with each firing, which means more reloads before having to discard the brass.

    No, there are no commercial loadings for improved cartridges - it is a handloading proposition only. Not really all that hard to fireform cases for the improved configuration. Simply shoot the loaded factory or handloaded standard cartridges in the improved chamber and the cases will form to the new form. After that, neck sizing only or partial full length resizing will be required.

    Most reloading manuals will not list loadings for improved cartridges - those that do will only have a few of the more popular improved cartridges listed. Nosler is one that comes to mind. No big trick to establish though. Just use the standard cartridge loadings and work your way up in small increments of half to full grain loads until you reach a comfortable power level. A chronograph is a very useful tool in this work. Watch for all the normal high pressure signs and if encountered, back off the loads a couple of grains.

  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    Working up loads and looking for pressure signs is a tough job because those signs don't necessarily jump right out at you. All the "proven" techniques are fallible.

    Years ago when pressure sensors for cartridges were not all that available Hornady documented in their reloading manual an approach they claimed to use that required a chronograph. While I do not recommend using any load that is not in a published manual here is the concept of the the Hornady method:

    As the pressures increases the gain in velocity for equal increments of increases in powder result, when plotted on graph paper, in a near linear progression (a straight line increase). When the pressures become excessive the increase is no longer linear and the line falls to nearly flat. Hornady would take a cartridge to the point the progression was no longer linear, back the load level down a bit and publish that as the max load for that cartridge, if a pressure measuring device was not available for the cartridge of interest.

    I do not recommend this method, but if you see the the curve flatten out during your load development then you may be in a dangerous area.

  4. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA

    The big trick to fireforming an Improved version of a cartridge is knowing for sure how the chamber was cut.
    As JLA's posts states, an Improved version is usually a sharper shoulder and less tapered version of the parent.
    MOST improved cartridges (like the Ackleys), if the chamber was cut properly, will support the parent case just fine for fireforming.
    If the "improved" chamber was cut to deep, you'll have excessive headspace and will fight with splitting cases and possible high pressures when fireforming (even with mild fireforming loads).
    Unless you know the actual version of the improved cartridge (and even if you do), the safest route is to do a chamber cast of your rifle and do some measuring with a micrometer or caliper to determine if it will support the parent case properly for fireforming.

    Once you've got the brass formed, then it's time to work on the load development. LD's short description of the old velocity curve method is a pretty good method if you've got no pressure equipment to use. In addition to this process, watch the usual high pressure indicators like flattened primers, excessive head expansion, etc...
    For starting loads, start with loads for the parent case and proceed from there.
    Ackley's primary purpose/theory behind his improved cartridges wasn't to get more fps from a cartridge but rather to improve case life (and accuracy) with a straighter, sharper-shouldered case.

    So, after all that...long story short...
    Yes, you can use your already formed .35 Whelen brass for your new improved brass.
  5. Freebore

    Freebore Member

    Apr 18, 2009
    Land of the Free
    I currently fireform for the Ackley (40 Deg) 257 Roberts Improved using factory 257 Roberts brass, I found using the standard 257 factory load resulted in a high percentage of case loss due to head separation. I now pull the factory rounds and reload with a stiffer load, this reduced case loss considerably.....this may not be the solution for your chamber.
  6. GBertolet

    GBertolet Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    I have a 35 Whelen Imp on a 1917 Enfield action. I could not find any comprehensive loading data for it. The gunsmith who chambered it, said to start at the max loads for the regular 35 Whelen and work up, watching for pressure signs along the way. At 7 gr over max, I just started seeing pressure signs on the primer. I stopped there. At 2715 fps with a 250 gr bullet, performance is impressive. Over 4000 ft lbs of energy. Extraction is easy, as well as resizing is effortless with my Redding dies. Maybe just the way my chamber is cut and throated permits this, but pressures got to be way up there. I am going to reevaluate this load as I am sure better powders are now available since 2001 when I developed this load for my moose hunt. I have a Douglas barrel with 1-12 twist and a muzzle brake on it. As for brass, I get Rem 35 Whelen cases and load them up with cast bullets and shoot them, and presto, I have improved cases. Another way I had used, was to prime the cases, charge with 10 gr of bullseye, then fill the remainder of the case up to the neck with cornmeal, and top it off with a small wad of tissue to keep everything in place and fire in my basement into a stack of newspapers. Perfectly formed cases also. You can do this with 30-06 cases also to make 35 Whelen Imp cases. My gunsmith prefers this method.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  7. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    awesome... Hi velocity cornbread... Im hungry;)
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum .35 Whelan vs .35 Whelan Improved Mar 11, 2014