View Full Version : 35 remington use for whitetail and expansion question

November 18, 2001, 01:43 AM
I found solitar's thread from last year about the 35 remington but it didn't address my question. Basically the question is, given the choice between the 35 rem and the 308 which is the most humane to use for southern whitetails considering the following factors?

1) Shooting condition is heavy brush, cutover timber land with incredibly thick undergorwth or small clearings up to 80 yards.

2) Minimum size of deer harvested in our area usually weigh 90 + pounds. A 90 pounder is a yearling and the larger bucks are generally tougher to kill. I don't have a clear idea of exactly how big the bigger ones are as they are rarer, but over 140 pounds.

3) Rifle shooting skill level is marginal. I can shoot 3/4 inch groups at 100 yards from a bench rest, but offhand sitting they are more like 4 inches.

4) A real sissy when it comes to rifle recoil tolerence. :o If I could use a pistol life would be a lot easier.

OK, this is the story. After a lifetime of never quite having it all together to take a shot I shot my first buck today, a +/-90 pound spike, quartering front shot with the .35 Rem 200 grain Remington core lokt. The bullet passed just in front of the left shoulder blade and just in back of the right one, passed through both lungs and severed a lot of blood vessels just under the backbone. At 60 yards it hit about 1.5 inches higher than my aim point, which was acceptable considering gun was sighted in for 100 yards. The deer tumbled over and passed nearly immediately. But the bullet didn't expand and the worry is that if shot placement had been worse he would have run off and not died immediately.

Does the 35 have the knockdown power needed or should I switch to the 308 if I expect to harvest anything bigger?

Art Eatman
November 18, 2001, 03:34 AM
The .35 Remington has its 200-grain bullet going out at about 2,000 ft/sec. The .308 has the typical small-whitetail 150-grain bullet exiting at about 2,900 ft/sec.

The .308 is going to be a lot more effective than the .35 Remington as far as wound cavity and destruction of tissue. The .35 works best as a bone-breaker or via larger, through-and-through bleed-out.

Two ways of reducing recoil: One is a good butt pad; the other is to use a fairly heavy rifle. If you're not walking for more than five miles or so in a day's hunt, nine or ten pounds won't hurt you.

While the Pachmyr has been the standard for many decades, there is a new material out--a bit more expensive--which is supposed to decrease felt recoil some 25% or more than the Pachmyr.

As far as hitting, your 4" groups aren't all that bad, really. Another advantage to a .308 is the relatively cheap "plinking" ammo available so you can do more practicing for a given amount of money.

Just some ideas,


November 18, 2001, 11:19 AM
I have an old J.C. Higgins .35 Remington and I love the thing. We use it to hunt hogs because of the ability to launch a good heavy bullet that can punch through those hogs.

If you are recoil sensitive you can also try switching to a 30/30. The recoil is relatively light and it will reach out accurately to any of the ranges that you say you hunt in. As for effectiveness?...ask the thousands of hunters throughout the years that have harvested deer with this caliber.

The .35 Remington is also just fine for what you want.

The deer tumbled over and passed nearly immediately.

Isn't that what counts?

I had read somewhere about a hunter who came into a sporting goods store with several bullets taken from deer he had killed complaining about the lack of expansion and bullet performance. hmmmm..did It kill them? Yes.. Will they be any more dead with a larger caliber ? No.

Shoot what is most comfortable to you and as long as it is delivering dead deer to your doorstep....don't worry about it!

Good Shooting

November 18, 2001, 03:26 PM
Why not choose a lighter bullet for the .35? More expansion and lower recoil. 200 grains is pretty heavy for small whitetails.

November 18, 2001, 04:57 PM
The 35 remington is a first rate deer killer. The 308 will give you more range but under 100 yds you will be hard pressed to better the 35 on deer. The 200 grain round nose is the way to go. I like the winchester power points. You won't notice a lot of mushrooming effect with the 200 grain roundnose, but since it is already .35 caliber, you really don't need it. I have never recovered a 35 cal bullet from a deer and I have never had a deer run more than a few yards when shot with the .35. I have killed deer with a lot of guns, but if the shots are inside 100 yds, it hard to beat the performance of the .35. Good shooting, Weagle

November 20, 2001, 08:58 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I think the first thing I'll do is put in some more time at the range polishing the marksmanship skills then decide before the Christmas hunt.

November 24, 2001, 07:35 PM
This was a joke, right? It was a joke?

November 25, 2001, 02:00 AM
No, it wasn't a joke. It was inexperiance and a real question.

I never would have posted it if I had not stuck my fingers in the .35 Remington wound channel on that deer and felt that the exit wound was only about 5/8 inch diameter. There was nearly zero blood on the ground so if the deer had run off I would never have found it.

What I was expecting was a 3 inch exit wound and a bucket of blood the way the deer fell.

On all the TV hunting shows and in the magazines you see pictures of big, expanded bullets, massive channels in gelatin blocks et cetera. But (since I'm a meek and mild suburbanite with much more swivel chair time than field time) this is my first practical experiance with deer.

This is the same sort of debate they have all the time over at the pistol forums, which is better bigger and slower or smaller and faster. Considering that one's theoretical best patterns are not likely to occur in the field, the recoil sensitivity, brush et cetera.

Al Thompson
November 25, 2001, 03:32 AM
Meek - I "sort" of agree with Mannlicher. You have some truely great marksmanship skills. :)

The .308 will deliver more velocity on impact - all things being equal (bullets), this will kill quicker.

You probably need to shoot a .308 in the same rifle to figure out if it kicks too much. A good friend got a Browning ABolt and found the recoil a bit much.


November 25, 2001, 01:16 PM
Meek - I "sort" of agree with Mannlicher. You have some truely great marksmanship skills.

Sure, but 4 inches sitting is under ideal conditions with a varmit rifle. When I was in the service I met people who could do the same with iron sights and no sling. Pattern 100 yards with the lever action is more like 8 inches. In the woods, who knows? Conditions are never ideal in the woods.

December 2, 2001, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the help, folks.

Some followup: The question was finally decided by the landowner. He told me there was a big buck which comes out to graze just before dark and he didn't think the scope on the .35 was right to shoot it. Nor does he think the 35 is powerful enough for bigger deer and he says he really wants me to get this big one.

So I will take the .308 and hope for the best. I will also take the .35 in case he changes his mind, thinking the 200 grain bullet is probably better for a knockdown. Big hunting trip next week, so either I will come back and brag...or not.

December 3, 2001, 11:18 PM
I have used the .35 rem on some of our big Wisconsin deer and it did a great job. I shot a 19 1/2 inch spread, 170lbs dressed weight, 10 pt buck this season and it did all i could hope for. Normal entrance, broke shoulder, angled up and took out spine and exited, approx .50 inch exit. Deer dropped and there was plenty of blood. All deer I have used it on (6) have been 1 shot kills. I have also used a 30-06 and 300 savage, at short range 100yrds or less I see no difference.

December 5, 2001, 12:34 AM
The best advice you've gotten is to shoot 'em both and take the one you're most comfortable with. That will lead to confidence, which will lead to success. Unless the big buck is over 200 yards away (over 100 you should try to use SOME sort of rest anyway) either one of those rifles will put him down. Placing the bullet where it belongs is what counts.

By the way, since you didn't recover the bullet from your first deer, how do you know it didn't expand? If you estimated correctly that the exit hole was ~5/8", then I'd say it DID expand since .625" (5/8") is larger than .35". Not much blood because it dropped before it had time to bleed much!

Either way, good luck!