View Full Version : .338-06 A-Square versus .35 Whelen

July 17, 2007, 10:09 PM
Which is the better 30-06 based North American big game cartridge, the .338-06 A-Square or the .35 Whelen? Or another of the dozen or so 30-06 based calibers? Why?

(I voted for the .35 Whelen.)

July 18, 2007, 06:37 AM
Supposedly the 35 Whelen is the most efficient rifle cartridge available.

"To keep you from holding your breath any longer, the winner is the .35 Whelen. This venerable cartridge (a long time wildcat designed way back in 1930 in honor of Col. Townsend Whelen and finally legitimized in 1995 [note - error of fact - should read 1988] by Remington) delivers more kinetic energy and a higher L [Wooter's lethality index] factor per grain of powder burned than any other cartridge." -March/April 2005 Rifleshooter Magazine

I have just recently began reloading for a 350 Rem Mag my wife bought me and I must say I am very impressed with the .35 caliber bullets. The punch they pack is outstanding and they can easily be used on anything on the North American continent. The 35 Whelen gets my vote for best 30-06 wildcat for the efficency at which it accomplishes handling all the game in North America and not being a shoulder busting magnum. It can even be handloaded down with 180gr pistol bullets for shooting small game and plinking.

July 18, 2007, 08:28 AM
Well I own both the .338-06 and .35 Whelen and several other 06 based cartridges as well as the good old 06. My favorite rifle based off the 06 parent case is my .270 Win, with moderate recoil and proven performance on game animals up to elk for me it is really all the rifle I'll ever need in the lower 48. I used the .30-06 to take a black bear in Alaska this spring, and the only reason I chose that rifle is it is the only synthetic stocked rifle I own and could take the punishment of elements better than one of my other rifles.

I had a .280 Rem but it now resides with my brother-in-law as the rifle didn't do anything my .270 wouldn't do and I just couldn't give up my .270. I presently have a .25-06 being built as a coyote and plains game rifle, I hope I get it in time for pronghorn season. I have an 8mm-06 as well, it is a VZ-24 that had been reamed out before I bought it. I haven't decided if it will stay a 8mm-06 or not, I really haven't had any time to work up any loads for it but we will see how it does at the range on Friday.

As far as the .338-06 goes it is a better performer as far as numbers go on paper. With better bullet bullet choices out there 165 grain to 300 grain you have better choices for the hand loader. I personally feel that the .338-06 is best with 165-225 grain bullets once you start getting up to 250 it starts losing out to the .338 Win Mag. With a .250 grain according to the Speer Reloading Manual the the .338-06 will out perform the .35 Whelen, I've never loaded any bullets that heavy to try yet.

.35 Whelen is a proven game getter that is for sure. I haven't tried anything but 200 grain Remington Core-Lokt and they haven't grouped better than 2" for me. I just bought the ammo for brass and it was on close out at Dick's for $9.99 a box. I can't wait to get the ammo shot up to hand load to see what I can get the rifle to do. Best part about the Whelen is factory loaded ammunition, you can sure find it a lot easier than the .338-06 A-Square. Last box of A-Square I found was $60 for Weatherby ammunition and all I have ever seen is 210 grain where in the .35 Whelen you generally find 200 and 250 grain loadings for around half of the A-Square. If I wasn't a hand loader the .35 Whelen would be my hands down choice.

That said I haven't killed any animals with the .338-06 or .35 Whelen yet. I took both elk hunting last year, I took the .338-06 out the first day and didn't see an elk I could shoot. I didn't get a chance to use the Whelen because we had an injury in our hunting party and I had to come down out of the mountains after the first day. If my .25-06 isn't finished by pronghorn season I might try one of these rifles out, although it wouldn't be a true test of either rifle.

July 18, 2007, 10:40 AM
I think the reason the Whelen is doing so well is because it is a cartridge that is bought off the shelf. Brings me to my all time question: Why in the hell doesnt Rem. or Savage bring this round out as a factory production gun with factory ammo. I think if others got a chance to shoot and hunt with this round, it would be a closer race! I have a 338/06 and it just keeps amazing me everytime i take it out. Yes, i hand load with it and like Talorce1 between 165-225gr. is where it shines. 338 Win. Mag.,why: 338/06 turns things to dust with less recoil, less powder. I still call this round a wildcat because no one in the market has picked up on it, other than the high priced boys.
Know to discredit myself a little, i have never shot the Whelen, therefore i really have no say. A long time out of state friend swears by it, and im sure its another great round. (ARN'T THEY ALL! :) ) Owning one is in the plans, i just have not found one yet, or maybe its because im sold on the 338/06. and not so much the price of the A-Square! ARE YOU LISTENING REMINGTON!!!

July 18, 2007, 11:30 AM
The 338-06. Does everything the 35 Whelen can do and has higher BC bullets available for longer range work. If I were going to get one, I would get the 338-06 before I got a 35 Whelen.

July 18, 2007, 12:16 PM
Both good; one's broken through past wildcat, one hasn't. Hope the .338-06 A-square does break through also. I've never shot a critter with any of above, but by all accounts they are big-game thumpers. I have a gun in the Euro-wannabe .35 whelen - the 9.3x62mm. :)

July 18, 2007, 01:47 PM
I see bore diameters above .30 as primarily big game/short range propisitions. This may or may not be correct. I voted for the Whelen. Essex

July 18, 2007, 02:47 PM
I voted other, because the 35 Whelen and the 338-06 are great on bigger game like elk or bears, but a 25-06, 270 or 280 will kill deer and antelope just fine without the extra recoil, and can handle elk and black bear as well if needed. I guess the answer to this depends on your definition of big game.

July 18, 2007, 07:29 PM

Remington has made Model 700 CDL, 750 Woodmaster and 7600 in .35 Whelen but I'd suppose them to be special order at most stores. (Unfortunately in 338 they seem to be in love with magdums. :rolleyes:) Link (http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/centerfire_rifles/model_700/model_700_CDL_specs.asp) Link (http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/centerfire_rifles/model_750_woodsmaster_specs.asp) Link (http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/special_runs/past_special_runs/model_7600_-_.35_calbers.asp)

Savage seems to have the magdum obsession as well and doesn't have either of these two calibers as far as I know. Midway sells Savage conversion barrels in both calibers, barrel wrenches and chamber gauges, total cost of a barrel, gauges and tool runs about $200 at the time of this posting.

July 18, 2007, 08:33 PM
I have a 35 Whelen built on Ruger Model 77 tang safety with a douglas barrel. I love this gun it has plenty of punch for black bear and hogs and shoots like a dream It' one of my favorite rifle and I own about 75 bolt actions.

July 18, 2007, 09:05 PM
I don't actually have a 35 Whelen, I have a 35-284 that duplicates the 35Whelen and in some cases surpasses it. I generally get 2700 fps with 225 gr Sierra or Nosler bullets. My rifle fits me perfectly and recoil, although, more than a 270, is quite bearable and really not bad at all. I figure that if I am hunting, recoil is really not the factor it is off of a bench. I have shot 4 Elk with this gun and have had some less than desireable shots. The bullets still went completely through the entire Elk from stem to stern. I have yet to recover a spent bullet.
I did my initial testing at a range without a crony, but the guy next to me had one and asked me if I would like to use it. I told him I would love to but would "prefer" he do the shooting over his chrono. It turns out that the "guy" was Gary Sitton ( Author and just a great guy, just ask Bart Skelton) and we became good friends after that til his untimely death last year. Strangely enough, Gary was testing a 35 Whelen Improved for an article he planned on.
I have no understanding of people fearing the Whelen, it is not a "target" rifle, but just one of the best hunting rounds conceived. I generally get 3/4" groups at 100 yards and I have a few at 1 3/8" at 200 yards.

July 18, 2007, 10:39 PM
If it weren't for the tendencies of the modern shooter to always want something different there would be no reason for any other caliber than the 30-06. However, that being said, I have a safe full of rifles in many calibers.;)

IMHO the best variant on the 30-06 for anything that walks in North America would be the .270 Win.:D

This is a completely subjective opinion though, so argue away.:)

July 19, 2007, 07:20 PM
The .338-06 and the .35 Whelen are exactly the same at the muzzle with identical bullet weights. Although the Whelen produces less pressure than the .338-06.

Once you start stretching the range a little bit, the .338-06 holds it's velocity and impact energy a little better.

July 19, 2007, 11:28 PM
For practical increments in killing power and
trajectory I think these about cover it. Anything
else is splitting hairs. Especially if you are a
handloader. In my scheme of things the 338-06
is a split hair, albeit a very fine round.

.223 Remington
.243 Remington
35 Whelen
375 H&H
458 Lott

July 19, 2007, 11:52 PM
i must be a wuss. the first time i pulled the trigger on a lightweight 35 whelen it went south. too much recoil. it was worse than a 300 mag in a heavy gun. the only other gun i ditched that fast was a 600 mohawk, same reason. bobn

July 20, 2007, 08:52 AM
i must be a wuss. the first time i pulled the trigger on a lightweight 35 whelen it went south.
I don't think you are a wuss, they both have quite a bit more recoil than a .30-06 heavier bullets at larger diameters tend to do that. I think a rifle of either caliber should be no less than 9 pounds. I think my Whelen weighs in at 9.5 with scope and it defiantly needs a better recoil pad.

July 21, 2007, 12:43 PM

Some of us are recoil sensitive. I knew a guy once who put a pound and a half of birdshot in the butt of his competition Garand for the same reason.

I was that way for over 2 years after an enthusiastic nurse missed the target with a shot of flu vaccine. Before my shoulder rehab and before I learned about PAST recoil pads I never would have thought about shooting another 30-06 much less building a .35 Whelen. But you'd be surprised how much a few pounds of muscle and a good shoulder pad tone down recoil. These 30-06 based rifles have a distinct advantage over magnums in that their recoil is not sharp and is very predictable based on bullet weight. I'd suppose a .35 Whelen loaded with a 150 grain bullet would have about the same recoil as a .270.

You might try 45-70 and factory loads? It should bring down a moose or elk pretty easily if one limits the distance.

July 21, 2007, 04:43 PM
Voted for the Whelen as I am very partial to this cartridge. I like its performance as well as its history and pedigree. It's funny that America really took to the .33 caliber stuff while the .35's kind of languished.

Johnny Guest
July 22, 2007, 06:31 PM
Of the choices listed, I voted for the .35 Whelen. As the question in phrased, I really think the .338 Federal might be a good choice. After all, the .308 Winchester/7.62x51 mm was originally directly based on the .30'06. :D

Really, if I want to use an all around rifle in something larger than .30'06, I'm well sold on the .35W. Elder Son rebarreled his old Springfield sporter to .35W several years ago and I was amazed at the capabilities of the cartridge. I immediately began looking for my own. About the time I was set to rebarrel my Ruger 77, a friend swapped me his Remington 700 .35W. It wears a Leupold Vari-X III 2.5-7 and I'm tickled to death with the combo. It was very little trouble to work up good loads for it with both 225 and 250 gr. Bullets. AND, if ever I'm separated from my home brew ammo, the rifle shoots the Remington factory 250 gr. very well. It's not on the shelf at EVERY crossroads beer/bait/ammo store, but it can be found fairly readily.

It was long thought that James Howe designed the .35W and names it in honor of Townsend Whelen. Later, more in-depth research indicates that Whelen himself designed the cartridge and ordered the first reamers and loading dies for it. I have no personal stake in this minor controversy, but it's fun to ponder.

I've read and talked with some very knowledgeable shooting authorities who say that, had Whelen designed the cartridge only a few years later, he'd probably have made it a .338-bore. Who knows?

Isn't it nice that we have such a fine range of choices? ;)