35 Whelen vs. 35 Whelen AI vs. 338-06

HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
I know there are quite a few on here that are 35 Whelen aficionados.
I was wondering, because I’m just plain ignorant when it comes to this round, and the AI version, if it’s worth actually doing the 35 Whelen AI?
What are the gains, if there are any enough to chamber a rifle such?
Are there any drawbacks?
Plus, I have been looking at the .338-06, and have wondered if there is any advantage to chambering, and a rebore for this round?
I know the .338 diameter bullets are better in the ballistics arena, but does it outperform the Whelen?
What would be the advantages and drawbacks of going the .338-06 route?
Please enlighten me on this subject.


Hawk


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DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,465
2,246
Bottom Line: they will each kill when used on game. There will be a lot of personal preference at work, without a doubt. I have owned several 35 Whelens, and each did what the cartridge was supposed to do. I would have been just as happy with a 338-06. I never felt that the AI added enough to justify the conversion. However, those that have them appear to be sold, so never having owned one, I would be seen as biased should I speak against the cartridge. Truthfully, for the hand loader especially, any of these cartridges would make a fine addition to an arms inventory.
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,954
346
I currently have all of the middle bores. 338 federal, 358 Winchester, 338/06, 35whelen, and 9.3x62.

For practice purposes there really isn’t a lot of difference in performance. Generally the larger bore and capacity the better performance with heavier per caliber bullets. The 358 will outperform the 338 slightly with the heavier bullets. The same holds true for the 338/06, 35 whelen, and 9.3x62.

One of the big benefits of the AI or going 338/06 over the 35 whelen is the number of different spec reamers and the larger amount of shoulder to head space on. A proper chambering and corresponding die set will work fine with any of them but I have seen some 35 whelens that had headspace issues. I had a ruger m77 that had to be rechambered because my RCBS dies and it’s chambering didn’t get along. It generally worked fine with factory ammo.

Another benefit of the mediums is you don’t really need that extra velocity. The bullets are well designed for the performance window and work well even at the lower end of the velocity spectrum.

I have a bunch of 275gr Hornady RN that I’m planning on using in my whelen when I get it back. I think it will make a dandy moose/bear combo at 2300-2400fps.
 

mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
29
When I was noodling it, I noticed the 338 caliber has a lot of Supermags available, consequently better availability of bullets for high velocity.

I did find bullets that worked at 06 speeds, but it took 0 effort In The 35 cal.. Was like all those bullets are made for 06 and lower velocity.

Bought a 45/70Gov 1895 instead...

Still think about the 35 whelan, 338.06, 338WM and 325WSM...

Might not be done buying rifles yet...


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JD338

Range Officer
Staff member
Nov 4, 2004
22,132
1,823
What the 338/06 offers in BC is offset by the 35 Whelen's larder bore diameter. Percentage wise, it's an advantage. The 338 cal bullets are designed for magnum velocities vs. the 35 cal bullets are better suited for '06 velocities. Having said that, you can get some pretty good speed from the 35 Whelen, 2600 fps with a 250 gr bullet is definitely nipping at the heals of a 338 Win Mag.
The 35 Whelen AI will give you a slight increase but not a significant difference.
They are all good rounds and will definitely hammer game from mice to moose. Pick the one that gives you the most cool factor and don't look back.

JD338
 

truck driver

Ammo Smith
Mar 11, 2013
6,964
329
Gee well I might be bias I don't know for sure since I have owned a 35 Whelen and still own a 35 AI the Whelens bigger brother and a 338 Win.
My 35 Whelen desire has always been a love a fare that proved disappointing due to the short barrel (22") that Remington choose to put on the 700 Classic and the lower then published velocities I was seeing. Though it would shoot very good I just had the idea something was missing. I had picked up a controlled round push feed M70 for a donor rifle or a spare to have around when there was a lot of talk here about J.E.S. reboring and the bug hit me to have the rifle bored and chambered for the 35 Ackely Improved so I contacted Jes and off it went.
Jes didn't cut the throat the way I wanted it the first time so I sent it back for more work and it came back perfect.
They say the 35 Whelen is the little brother to the 375 H&H and with the velocity gains from the AI chamber with the right bullets it is probably close to it's equal though I have never shot a 375 or owned one. The proof is in how it performs on game and that I can say is devastating but not a meat waster like some high velocity rounds even with soft lead core bullets as the saying goes you can eat right up to the bullet hole with little or no blood shot meat.
The other advantage is you can shoot factory ammo thru the chamber with know loss of accuracy and in a pinch use it for hunting with just a slight impact change which if you know your rifle you can accommodate for with knowing your shot placement. It may be just me but I think the Ackely case design effects recoil in that it is lighter with the same weight bullet then the Whelen even though your using more powder with the same bullet weight.
The only disadvantage in the 35 AI is fire forming cases but if your like most of us we all love to shoot our guns and it also helps you see what a factory load or reload will do in the rifle.

Why the 338 Win when I have the 35 AI ? that's another story and I won it unintentionally off Gun Broker with a $1 over minimum bid since there was know bids on it and to be honest I didn't want it but once I got it I had to see what it would do and compare the Two, I can say there is not that much difference in them except case design and bullet diameter. The same weight bullet
Loaded to the same velocity in the 35 AI and the 338 win will have almost Identical impact when sighted in for the same range.
I know you asked to compare the 338-06 but the 338 Win is a lot closer comparison with the 35 AI and I have nothing to offer for the 338-06 for comparison.

Bottom line is probably personal preference when selecting one of the three and if you could shoot them prior to building or buying one would help with your decision they are all good rounds and will get the job done. The reason I own a 338 Win is because someone said I needed one and I sold the one I got off GB and picked up a M70 Classic in 338Win which I like better then the Ruger Hawkeye I had since it is a lighter weight rifle to carry.

If your going to be shooting at extreme long range the 338 bullet has the ballistic advantage over the 35 but out to 400yds I don't think you would know the difference with the 35AI.

If your wondering which rifle I carried hunting Elk it was both the 35 AI and the 338 Win just on different days.
 

preacher

Handloader
Aug 19, 2012
2,070
43
I used the Mod 700 Classic reamed to the AI for 20yrs. The Ackley design( 40deg/straighter case) "hides" traditional "pressure signs", i.e. flat primers, heavy bolt lift, case life. Three loads I used ( Barnes 200@2970, Barnes 250@2600, and Nosler 250PT@2700, Woodleigh 310@2400) were all easy to extract, case life is infinite (it seems) primer pockets stay tight and YET, Quickloads data infers they are running around 72K for pressure! Being as I had my left Retina's eyesight go south back in 2002, I made the decision (only in 2016) to stop risking my good right eye (hey even lightning strikes sometimes) and stick with either magnums or standardized rounds. However, I never had a case failure or primer pop. When an Improved round is hard to extract, has flattened primers, etc, you are way up and beyond 72K! ha. Just be careful, of course, and enjoy. I love and have used the 338WM, 340Wby, 338 RUM, 338/280, and now just got a 338 RCM ( I'm weird, OK?) I played with a 358Win, standard Whelan's, used 375 H&H & Wby. I felt my 35WAI rifle/loads killed just as well as any of them, at least to 375yds ( my furthest shots) So, for me, I like the Improved version. I just like the "looks of the case", maybe, ha.
 

HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
From what y’all have said, and I was wondering it myself, is if the AI version of the 35 Whelen was that more significant in velocity?
My way of thinking, if it works, why change it, thing about the original 35 Whelen.
Thank you all for clearing up the air about the .338-06.
I, also, believe the more frontal area of the .358 bullet gives it a slight advantage over the .338 bullet, especially when it hits a game animal.
I’m wondering if the 200 gr TTSX would be a good all around bullet, or even the 225 gr AB? Given that it’s possible to reach safely, up to 2900 fps.
What do you all think?


Hawk


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DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,465
2,246
I have used both the 200 g TSX and the 225 g TSX in my Whelen. Both give fine accuracy and will work as expected when the crunch comes. Funnily enough, I have never used the TTSX in any of my rifles. I have no reason to think they wouldn't work, and work very well as intended. I just had a large supply of TSX bullets that precluded purchasing TTSX bullets.
 

preacher

Handloader
Aug 19, 2012
2,070
43
Hey Hawkeye- If you can get a solid 2900 in the standard Whelan with the 200 TTSX, you can use it in place of any 300WM up to 375yds! It will also kill like the 338WM and the 200X (used them both in South Africa) I found the 200X I used on my last trip with my 35 WAI to be just as effective as the 250X was on my first trip! Surprisingly, while I never had any, ever, headspace issues with the standard Whelan shoulder, I "did" with new cases in both the 9.3x62 and .404 Jeffry. My point being "I believe" the 35 Whelan has plenty of shoulder to headspace on. You will be one very fortunate man nowadays IF you can shoot yours enough to wear out the cases in a batch of 100! FWIW I have never played with the 225gr anything , I always stayed on each end, 200- 250/310. Good luck to you Pard.
 

HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
preacher":34ysq3ba said:
Hey Hawkeye- If you can get a solid 2900 in the standard Whelan with the 200 TTSX, you can use it in place of any 300WM up to 375yds! It will also kill like the 338WM and the 200X (used them both in South Africa) I found the 200X I used on my last trip with my 35 WAI to be just as effective as the 250X was on my first trip! Surprisingly, while I never had any, ever, headspace issues with the standard Whelan shoulder, I "did" with new cases in both the 9.3x62 and .404 Jeffry. My point being "I believe" the 35 Whelan has plenty of shoulder to headspace on. You will be one very fortunate man nowadays IF you can shoot yours enough to wear out the cases in a batch of 100! FWIW I have never played with the 225gr anything , I always stayed on each end, 200- 250/310. Good luck to you Pard.
That’s what I was hoping for, to get the hydrostatic shot up past the 300 WM, and reduce recoil at the same time.
I just bought a Mauser 98 in 8mm Mauser, with a 25 inch barrel, and I’m selling my Remington 78 Sportsman in .30-06. I wanted a little longer barrel for my rebore, and am going to rebore/rechamber the Mauser into a 35 Whelen with 3 groove rifling, and a 1 in 10 inch twist. I’m taking Scottie’s advice on that one. I want to see what that twist will do.
I’m thinking it may make the lighter weights not as accurate as the heavier bullets.


Hawk


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truck driver

Ammo Smith
Mar 11, 2013
6,964
329
HAWKEYESATX":nd0siofb said:
From what y’all have said, and I was wondering it myself, is if the AI version of the 35 Whelen was that more significant in velocity?
My way of thinking, if it works, why change it, thing about the original 35 Whelen.
Thank you all for clearing up the air about the .338-06.
I, also, believe the more frontal area of the .358 bullet gives it a slight advantage over the .338 bullet, especially when it hits a game animal.
I’m wondering if the 200 gr TTSX would be a good all around bullet, or even the 225 gr AB? Given that it’s possible to reach safely, up to 2900 fps.
What do you all think?


Hawk


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Here's the thing no one has mentioned that gives the Ackley Improved version of the Whelen an advantage over the factory configuration and that is P.O. ran them at 64kpsi where the standard is 58kpsi.
In the older military surplus guns that were around back when the Whelen was developed with the soft heat treated actions 58kpsi is all they could take and P.O. blew up more then his share developing his improved cartridges.
The parent cartridge 30-06 is still held down to 58K psi but it's off spring 270Win is running at 62kpsi.
I run my 35W AI at 62kpsi and some are 64Kpsi and achieve several hundred feet per second over the standard 35W with no signs of over pressure.
I worked with a very good friend in Ohio who could really work the Quick load app to get the most out of the cartridge safely.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to work with a wild cat cartridge and wring the most out of it.
Would I build another one probably not because my friend hasn't got the time to help me with it since he changed jobs.

Good luck with your build.

I would find a good 338Win and you can have the best of both worlds by loading it up or down for your needs and hunt anything in North America.
 

HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
truck driver":2h39bciw said:
HAWKEYESATX":2h39bciw said:
From what y’all have said, and I was wondering it myself, is if the AI version of the 35 Whelen was that more significant in velocity?
My way of thinking, if it works, why change it, thing about the original 35 Whelen.
Thank you all for clearing up the air about the .338-06.
I, also, believe the more frontal area of the .358 bullet gives it a slight advantage over the .338 bullet, especially when it hits a game animal.
I’m wondering if the 200 gr TTSX would be a good all around bullet, or even the 225 gr AB? Given that it’s possible to reach safely, up to 2900 fps.
What do you all think?


Hawk


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Here's the thing no one has mentioned that gives the Ackley Improved version of the Whelen an advantage over the factory configuration and that is P.O. ran them at 64kpsi where the standard is 58kpsi.
In the older military surplus guns that were around back when the Whelen was developed with the soft heat treated actions 58kpsi is all they could take and P.O. blew up more then his share developing his improved cartridges.
The parent cartridge 30-06 is still held down to 58K psi but it's off spring 270Win is running at 62kpsi.
I run my 35W AI at 62kpsi and some are 64Kpsi and achieve several hundred feet per second over the standard 35W with no signs of over pressure.
I worked with a very good friend in Ohio who could really work the Quick load app to get the most out of the cartridge safely.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to work with a wild cat cartridge and wring the most out of it.
Would I build another one probably not because my friend hasn't got the time to help me with it since he changed jobs.

Good luck with your build.

I would find a good 338Win and you can have the best of both worlds by loading it up or down for your needs and hunt anything in North America.
I don’t mind the working on loads. That’s part of the fun.
I’ve wanted a 35 Whelen for years, and now have decided to send it off to JES, and finally get something that has been an itch for years.
I used to have a .338 Win Mag, and wasn’t that impressed with it, hence the 35 Whelen.
Plus, I stayed with my 300 Win Mag, and it didn’t let me down.
I’m not quite sure the Mausers are that soft.
The proof loads that they endured were quite heavy, because of Mauser safety standards.
But there’s nothing wrong with 58k psi, and holding around that area.


Hawk


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HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
truck driver":14hqjvuh said:
HAWKEYESATX":14hqjvuh said:
From what y’all have said, and I was wondering it myself, is if the AI version of the 35 Whelen was that more significant in velocity?
My way of thinking, if it works, why change it, thing about the original 35 Whelen.
Thank you all for clearing up the air about the .338-06.
I, also, believe the more frontal area of the .358 bullet gives it a slight advantage over the .338 bullet, especially when it hits a game animal.
I’m wondering if the 200 gr TTSX would be a good all around bullet, or even the 225 gr AB? Given that it’s possible to reach safely, up to 2900 fps.
What do you all think?


Hawk


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Here's the thing no one has mentioned that gives the Ackley Improved version of the Whelen an advantage over the factory configuration and that is P.O. ran them at 64kpsi where the standard is 58kpsi.
In the older military surplus guns that were around back when the Whelen was developed with the soft heat treated actions 58kpsi is all they could take and P.O. blew up more then his share developing his improved cartridges.
The parent cartridge 30-06 is still held down to 58K psi but it's off spring 270Win is running at 62kpsi.
I run my 35W AI at 62kpsi and some are 64Kpsi and achieve several hundred feet per second over the standard 35W with no signs of over pressure.
I worked with a very good friend in Ohio who could really work the Quick load app to get the most out of the cartridge safely.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to work with a wild cat cartridge and wring the most out of it.
Would I build another one probably not because my friend hasn't got the time to help me with it since he changed jobs.

Good luck with your build.

I would find a good 338Win and you can have the best of both worlds by loading it up or down for your needs and hunt anything in North America.
I am wondering about something.

Since the 35 Whelen’s bullet is a bigger diameter, shouldn’t that create less pressure because of the bigger bore?
I’m kinda curious, because if you run water through, let’s say a 1/2 inch pipe, there’s quite a bit of pressure built up to move it, correct? But if you go with a 1 inch pipe to move the water, it lessens the pressure, right?
Does that same logic hold true to larger caliber rifles and loads?
Also, has anyone worked with CFE223 in their 35 Whelen?
I hear it does wonders for the light to intermediate bullets velocities.


Hawk


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KinleyWater

Handloader
Jun 15, 2019
542
525
Hawk -

I have a Whelen (700 Classic), and I'm on the prowl for a 338-06, because I want one. From what I have read, you are correct in your understanding about pressures, and my understanding is that you can achieve a given velocity with a certain bullet weight, at lower pressure in a larger bore than a smaller one. What the difference would be between 338 and 358, I cannot say.

One other thing occurs to me about the 338, though, which someone may have already touched on. The preponderance of 338 bores are magnums and super-duper extra whizbang magnums. The advantage being that there is a wide variety of bullets for the 338, but I assume that it also means that the majority of those bullets are constructed for use in those magnums. I can only assume that in some applications, or within certain performance envelopes, that expansion or terminal performance may be sub-optimal due to the 338-06 developing inadequate velocity (compared to the magnums).
 

preacher

Handloader
Aug 19, 2012
2,070
43
You will lose a "tad" of available velocity with the 180/200gr in a 10" twist, "I think". Not much, but a tad. Slow twists need speed for heavier bullets to stabilize. That's why my Mod 700 Ackley (16") did well with the 310 Woodleigh,( I could easily get 2400fps) and why I think I got faster speeds with the 200 (2970). It also had that long Remington throat so I could really seat them out, gaining more powder capacity. Few 16" twisted standard Whelans can get to 2400 with the 310, especially if they have a shorter throat, "if" that's an issue. Most think a better compromise is a 14" twist. However, bullets spun by fast twists, I think, kill very well,(at least in the hot .22 centerfires I played with) so speed is not so necessary "except for trajectory". I could zero my 22" Ackley with 200TTSX ( I got 2950 with it and the accuracy I wanted) +3"@100 and it was -3"@300. Flat as my 168TTSX/30-06 load in a 24"barrel. I normally used it +1" with the 250 and +2 with the 200. Good luck to you Pard.
 

HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
KinleyWater":o37kqw6b said:
Hawk -

I have a Whelen (700 Classic), and I'm on the prowl for a 338-06, because I want one. From what I have read, you are correct in your understanding about pressures, and my understanding is that you can achieve a given velocity with a certain bullet weight, at lower pressure in a larger bore than a smaller one. What the difference would be between 338 and 358, I cannot say.

One other thing occurs to me about the 338, though, which someone may have already touched on. The preponderance of 338 bores are magnums and super-duper extra whizbang magnums. The advantage being that there is a wide variety of bullets for the 338, but I assume that it also means that the majority of those bullets are constructed for use in those magnums. I can only assume that in some applications, or within certain performance envelopes, that expansion or terminal performance may be sub-optimal due to the 338-06 developing inadequate velocity (compared to the magnums).
I have this gnawing feeling you're right about the bullets having thicker jackets due to them being mainly used for magnum cartridges.

Hawk

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HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
preacher":2zorw8f3 said:
You will lose a "tad" of available velocity with the 180/200gr in a 10" twist, "I think". Not much, but a tad. Slow twists need speed for heavier bullets to stabilize. That's why my Mod 700 Ackley (16") did well with the 310 Woodleigh,( I could easily get 2400fps) and why I think I got faster speeds with the 200 (2970). It also had that long Remington throat so I could really seat them out, gaining more powder capacity. Few 16" twisted standard Whelans can get to 2400 with the 310, especially if they have a shorter throat, "if" that's an issue. Most think a better compromise is a 14" twist. However, bullets spun by fast twists, I think, kill very well,(at least in the hot .22 centerfires I played with) so speed is not so necessary "except for trajectory". I could zero my 22" Ackley with 200TTSX ( I got 2950 with it and the accuracy I wanted) +3"@100 and it was -3"@300. Flat as my 168TTSX/30-06 load in a 24"barrel. I normally used it +1" with the 250 and +2 with the 200. Good luck to you Pard.
That's good stuff to know.

Do you think a 1 in 12 twist would be a better compromise?

Seems like a lot of people are going to a 1 in 14 twist, and doing well with up to 250gr and a tad heavier.


Hawk

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Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,954
346
I like the 1-12 twist, seems to work well across the board. I wouldn’t worry too much about 338 bullets being too hard. There are several cup/core style bullets available that are reasonably soft and the lighter weight 338 cal bullets are all designed to expand at extended ranges. This is an instance where bullets like the Partition shine. That soft front section expands quite easily.


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HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
Thebear_78":lnrfyr57 said:
I like the 1-12 twist, seems to work well across the board. I wouldn’t worry too much about 338 bullets being too hard. There are several cup/core style bullets available that are reasonably soft and the lighter weight 338 cal bullets are all designed to expand at extended ranges. This is an instance where bullets like the Partition shine. That soft front section expands quite easily.


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Yup, I believe that's what I'll be going with as well, the good ol' 1 in 12 inch twist as well.


Hawk

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