Howa .35 Whelen


Well-Known Member
I`ve recently recieved a rebuilt stainless Howa 1500, that started life as a 30-06. And as you all know, there is nothing wrong with the 30- 06. But for large game (moose, wild boar) cast bullet hunting, I`d like a bit «more bullet».

I`ve previously written about my first .35 Whelen, which is part of a customized Rem 700 switch- barrel. This turned out very accurate with cast bullets, but it is a bit too long and heavy to be a practical hunting tool in the forest. Thus, I built a more hunting- oriented rifle.

It has a Boyds laminate stock, that was a bit short for me; elongated with a thick (and lovely) recoil pad, and spacer plates. The screw holes were a bit cheezy, installed pillars and full- action glass bedding. The original sling studs were extremely annoying, as these things tend to be; the front stud was in the way of my left hand while shooting off- hand, and the rear bothered me while shooting of the bench with a rearbag. They were removed, and replaced with Recknagel flush- cups on the left side of the rifle. Removing the sling is super- quick. And when I carry the rifle in the sling, the flattest part of the rifle face my back, a very stable position.

The reciever threads and bolt face was squared, the locking lugs lapped and a Lothar Walter 1-14 ROT stainless blank chambered and turned to 1,8mm thicker profile than the original Howa sporter profile (to retain stiffness despite the bigger hole in the barrel). Barrel length 20 2/3 in, threaded for suppressor.

Standard Leupold bases and rings, and a Leupold European 3-9x40 scope, with German No 4 reticle in the first focal plane (meaning that the girth of the posts increase when you increase magnification).



I tried a variety of loads today, for the first time with this rifle! Bulltes ranged from 155grs PB handgun bullets, rto 310grs GC bullets.
I tried some loads that have worked well in my other rifle. I`m hoping to get it ready for the moose hunt, which starts in 2 weeks.


The MP 360-155 shot pretty well with 13grs Vectan A0. THis was about 1,5MOA at 100m, the first group ever shot with this rifle.
The MP 360- 165 Shot a similar group with 10,5 grs A0.



The CBE 358- 250 (260grs in my alloy) shot quite well with 45grs Vihta N140. This bullet has agood meplat, and should be excellent for hunting. At 2100fps, it packs a punch


The CBE 360-300 (310 grs in my alloy) is the most accurate bullet in my other Whelen. The preparation is rather elaborate, and involves nose- sizing. 47 grs Vihta N150 is the best load in my other Whelen, I tried 46 (2000 fps) and 47 grs (2034 fps)



The 47grs load seems to work very well in this rifle as well, 29mm c-c at 100m is 1,0 MOA.
This rifle is not a feather- weight rifle. Is has a straight, well- designed stock with a good recoil pad. The scope has ample eye- relief. And the suppressor works wonders in reduction of felt recoil. These things make the powerful 310grs load quite shootable, I guesss most adults with good health would tolerate the recoil.

All cartridges, even with the short handgun bullets, fed nicely from the 5- shot magazine. Function was flawless! No work has been done on the feed ramp or magazine. The Howa 1500 30-06 is clearly very suitable for .35 Whelen conversion.

All groups were shot with PPU 30-06 range pick- ups, formed in a Lee .35 Whelen die. I now have properly fire- formed brass for the rifle. With a few more shots through the barrel, I wouldn`t be surprised if accuracy would improve a bit more. But I`m very happy with these results, from the first shooting with a newly built rifle.
Moose, beware!


Well-Known Member
your starting to approach my 358 Winchesters loads with the 250's.
I'm using a smaller meplat so I need the higher speeds, but out to about 125-150yds. it lays the smack down on our local deer.

anyway those green bullets at about 2-K or so should work just fine without blowing the bullet up on the surface.
remember there's a fine line between alloy, meplat diameter, and speed.
if you up the speed you want less meplat size and a little more alloy strength. [and not just more antimony]


Well-Known Member
Good point, @fiver
Since I have yet to shoot a game animal with a cast bullet, I have no practical experience with cast bullet terminal performance. I have shot the heavy bullets in water containers (for lack of a better medium). I placed some plywood between the first and second container, to get an idea of expanded diameter at this stage. These tests were performed with my other Whelen rifle, which produce marginally higher velocity due to the barrel being an inch longer.

The CBE 358-250 at 2100 fps produced spectacular expansion, almost perfect retained weight, but less penetration than I would like for a moose bullet


The CBE 360-300 in the same alloy, at 2050fps, produced reasonable expansion, limited fragmentation and ample penetration


Expansion will be range-dependant, of course. But moose hunting in the forest can involve pretty «close combat», and I’m more worried for over-expansion/bullet failure than lack of expansion. I believe a flat-nosed .358- bullet will generate a sufficient permanent wound channel even with quite modest expansion. But it needs to reach the vitals.

The 310 grs bullet at 2030fps or so, seems to offer a good compromise between expansion, penetration and power. At least, that is how I see it.

If I wanted to increase alloy strength without increasing brittleness, would copper be a good additive?


Well-Known Member
copper adds a boundary layer between the antimony and the rest of the alloy.
it doesn't add hardness as much as it 'controls' [contains/slightly slows] the breakdown of the antimony crystals.
it's kinda like putting marbles in a sock would be one way to think about it.

tin will bind to the antimony and make long SbSn chains which in turn binds with the Pb itself.
if you have excess Tin your making your alloy try to be something it isn't and becomes unproductive in the long run. [the free tin breaks away from the chain and doesn't have time to re-bond with the lead again before it all solidifies]

excess antimony doesn't have that problem, it will find a spot [like on the surface of a water dropped bullet, and not even form a full crystal but still affect all the lead around it]

that's why you hear stuff like use 2% tin 'that's all you need', in a way that's true because tin tries to act like a wetting agent allowing the alloy to flow out in the corners of the mold better.

however if you balance the tin and antimony [say at 2 to 4-5%] you then have a balanced alloy with the long strands which helps support the bullet internally.

a good part of the reason is because of the shape of the 2 different additives.
if you think of antimony having a shape like this [ * ]
and tin having a shape like this [ I ]
you can see why antimony breaks down easily under stress, and why it's able to make the alloy harder and harder,,
but why you hear tin [or pewter] creak and crackle as you bend it.
you have to break the tin nodules and can do it in only one direction.
the antimony will break those little arms down and allow the lead to actually slide across it, and itself, easier.
and also explains why it is totally possible to actually break a bullet or ingot with a high antimony content.

anyway it all boils down to if you want to use copper you need an alloy with excess antimony because of their relationship and how they interact.
you get a more malleable alloy but it has a bit more strength so copper alloys gain the reputation for being tougher rather than stronger because they are allowed to flex and flow but in a constrained way.

whereas a balanced tin antimony type alloy will resist that flex and flow.

now... chuckle, if you use just a tin and lead alloy you end up with a completely different set of rules.
the tin only has the one direction it can hold the alloy together and all those 'beams' ain't facing the same direction.


Notorious member
^^^^^ That's as good as I've ever seen it explained.

I was still puzzling a little over the copper/antimony thing but I get the mechanism now after that explanation.

Only thing I can add is heat treatment is NOT the answer least with Pb/Sb/Sn alloys...because high-speed deformation tends to crush the frozen dendrite structure and the alloy reverts to its air-cooled state almost instantly. Heat treatment is a good trick for making a bullet be stonger in the rifle (for higher velocity) and weaker upon impact so it will expand in the target.


Well-Known Member
with a quench cooled alloy your tricking the alloy into thinking it has more antimony in the mix than it does.
the crystals are still stuck here and there all throughout the bullet and froze in place.
so instead of a long antimony chain you have your formed same length SbSn chain with free antimony here and there affecting more parts of the bullet.

unfortunately that also gives you the ability to have the above described scenario where they do break down under stress just like they will when a chunk of lead pipe or window came [3+/-%] is extruded or a target wad cutter bullet [Hornady or Speer 3 to 5% antimony] is swaged.