Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin
Today, I’d like to talk about a 35 Remington cartridge and the possibilities of upgrading the performance level it can produce. Yeah, I know what you’re saying: “Why?” Call it a pet project I want to finish before I die someday. Trust me, when I say there are real possibilities for older cartridges that were limited for one reason or another. Pressure had to be kept at a reasonable rate to save the firearms they were chambered in and in some cases, the shooter too. Firearms made today use much better steel and are shaped to fit better, so why not?
Stock design has come a long way since the turn of the last century and shooters are finding out that heavier recoiling cartridges can be tamed by fitting the stock to them. The 35 Remington isn’t a real heavy recoiling cartridge, but it did feel like it from the firearms it was chambered in. I had a chance to own my choice of a Remington 8 or 81 chambered in this cartridge and at the time, I didn’t have the money for either. If I would have known at the time how either would have gained in value, I could have doubled my money, but they did have a reputation for painful recoil. Later on in life, I purchased a Marlin 336 and loved the way the cartridge performed, but the lever was the Achilles heel for me. Extended shooting sessions turned painful because of it and I gave up the cartridge to work with bolt actions. Ever since then, I’ve been on the prowl for a bolt action chambered in the 35.
Winchester did make a limited number of model 70’s in it, but to find one now is so far out of my price range, I’ll never own one. GunBroker.com had one offered at a $7,000 start price and more than likely it is still there. They also had a Remington 600 offered at a $1,400 start price, but there is a lot of difference in the way these two looked. Despite popular opinion, I think the 600 looks fine even though the stocks forearm is way too long. The barrel rib and front sight fin gives it a unique look for sure, but for that price, I can modify a modern Remington Seven for less. With the shape of a model Seven stock, any recoil from this cartridge will be tame; in fact, let’s look at that with numbers.
Sierra’s 200 grain bullet in a lever action to a SAAMI maximum pressure gave 2,050 fps from a maximum charge of 4320 powder. If the gun weighed 6 pounds, recoil measures 13.12ft/s in free recoil velocity and 16.05 ft-lbs for weight in recoil energy. The same charge in a Remington model Seven will feel different because of the stock shape but the numbers will still be the same. So let’s compare this to a 308 Winchester if it was in the same gun that weighed the same 6 pounds (bear with me for the number’s sake). A maximum charge of the same powder with a 150 gr bullet gave us 2,900 fps so the velocity is 16.07 ft/s and the energy is 24.09 ft-lbs. A lot higher, but let’s look at the 200 gr vamped up to where it could be in a modern bolt action in 35. The same powder exceeding the 35,000 CUP limit pushed it to 2,366fps from at least one test. That translates to 15.6ft/s in velocity and 22.7ft-lbs in energy and that is less than the 308Win load! In fact, this intrudes into the 358 Winchester velocity level and doing it using less powder.
Don’t get me wrong, a light weight rifle chambered in a short range cartridge with a 1-4 power scope isn’t for everyone. A 200 gr Round Nose, even at this higher velocity will still give a trajectory that isn’t very flattering compared to pointed tips from other cartridges at distant targets. Be that as it may, it will take animals way out of proportion to what it was intended especially inside of 200 yards. For my style of hunting, it represents an ideal combination; quick to point, deadly accurate, and very uniquely mine. No one gathered around any of my campfires will have one, but they’ll never know what their missing either. Till next time, be safe and have fun shooting.