Saturday, August 11, 2018

35 Whelen Re-do


1988 Remington 35 Whelen bedded in a Bell and Carlson stock with an AC Douglas Brake

6 years ago I bought a 35 Whelen in Remington 700 Classic. The rifle was from Remington's 1988 offering.  Apparently the Whelen's that year flew off the shelves ... it was the first large commercial product run of the caliber.

My Whelen looked somewhat worse for wear, but the price was right and given that I wasn't sure I would like the cartridge, the old Rem Classic did just fine.  I promptly set about rejuvenating the old-timer.

First I gave the bore a good cleaning and made sure that the rest of the rifle was clean ... the previous owner had been kind to it, so not much cleaning was needed. Then, I went to work restoring the bluing ... it looked sad.

I ran a small test strip using Blue Magic metal polish and was delighted with the result.  The polish came off completely rusty, but left the metal looking much healthier.  My concern was that it would take off too much bluing, but the Remington bluing held fine. I gave the barrel and all visible parts a blue magic rub.  After that i applied a few layers of carnauba car wax and the barrel looked amazingly good; it once again had that 1988 Remington shine. 

My next project was to bed my Remington Classic stock. It was my first ever bedding job, so I proceeded with extreme caution; perhaps a bit too much caution because I was too sparing with the epoxy and ended up with several small hollows. The bedding did it's job though, and the rifle's performance improved markedly. Up until now it had had trouble holding zero for even a few months.

A scope upgrade to a 2.5 - 10 x 50 Nikon Prostaff 5 completed the package.  Experimenting with a variety of ammunition (reloads and factory) and dropping 3 moose and a couple of elk over the next few years had me falling in love with the rifle and the cartridge. It became my go-to rifle.




Reloading for the Whelen got me trying a number of bullets. My initial attempt was the 225 grain Barnes TSX copper bullet. I think I chose this because my experience with Barnes bullets in the 300 Win Mag was nothing short of amazing. The trouble was that no matter what I tried, the Barnes didn't like my Whelen, and I could never get decent groups.  I ended up using Nosler 225 grain Accubonds for hunting ... despite the price tag. I did find though, that the Accubonds didn't penetrate moose well at close range... even when attempting lung shots.

Then, I came across Speer Hot-Cor 250 grain pointed soft point bullets. They were cheap, they shot accurately, and they were absolute magic in my rifle when loaded on top of RL15 powder. I worked up a load that gave me 2770 fps without any pressure signs. I eventually settled on a combination for hunting that pushed the Hot-Cors at 2700 fps. There was only one problem ... my new favorite round kicked like a mule, even compared to the Nosler 225 grain Accubonds which were loaded pretty hot. That old classic stock just wasn't up to it. I finally got sick of having my glasses nudged by the scope each time I shot ... it was time for an upgrade.

That upgrade took the shape of a custom made muzzle brake, designed by AC Douglas of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and a new Bell and Carlson stock. AC designs his brakes so that they disperse the blast slightly forward, not backward.  The result is that his brakes aren't as loud as one would expect, yet they do a remarkable job of reducing recoil. I bedded the action and free floated the barrel.

The final result is my own personal favorite all-time rifle. The old Rem 700 looks fantastic, feels fantastic, is friendly to shoot, and hits like a freight train out to 300 yards.

Elk season starts in just over 4 weeks ... can't wait.

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