The .35 Whelen in Africa
What are the suitable applications for the .35 Whelen in Africa? Especially with 275-and 310-grain Woodleighs?
Your question is well timed because I am currently with Monty Kalogeras at his Safari Shooting School in Mason County, Texas. There is a very nice .35 Whelen here I have just shot. It is Monty's elk rifle of choice, with 250-grainers. This is fortunate because this is not a popular cartridge in Africa and I like to have personally shot all the cartridges I'm asked to write about.
I have long been a fan of the 9.3 x 62mm, which is very close to the .35 Whelen. My Nine Three, as we call it, now has in excess of 650 buffalo to its credit. This is because this caliber (.366) is the legal minimum for the thick-skinned heavyweights in Zimbabwe --the country where I hunted professionally for two decades. I liked 300-grainers for buffalo, and with 286-grainers this rifle was also my favorite Zambezi Valley antelope rifle.
Unfortunately .358 (the .35 Whelen) is not a legal thick-skinned dangerous-game caliber in Africa, and this limits its application out there. But having said that, the .35 Whelen would be a fine choice for all the antelope species all the way up to eland up to about 200 paces. Almost 90 percent of all shots at antelope in Africa are within this distance so you would be well covered with this cartridge. In fact, I think it is a good choice and I have already said so a number of times in my book, The Perfect Shot.
With this in mind, good 250-grainers at about 2,500 fps would be my bullet weight of choice (instead of 275s or 310s) for all the antelope species, and good enough for shots out to that distance, maybe even a bit more if need be.
When sighted in dead-on at 200 with 250-grainers at 2,500 fps, Monty's .35 Whelen is 3 inches high at 100, 6 low at 250, 12 low at 300, 18 low at 350, and 34 low at 400. This is his elk sight setting and it would also work a treat for African areas where the shots are longer.
This cartridge would also work well for the cats, especially leopard and even lion over a bait with the right type of bullets. While I have no doubt that with good 310-grainers it would also work OK on buffalo, I cannot recommend this due to the legality factor.