I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota and am currently between significant employments, so now is not really the time to start a new rifle build, especially for a rifle that I don’t really have a need for. Nevertheless one has been started.
For a little while I have been contemplating building a rifle for hunting in a more powerful caliber than .308 (which my current hunting rifle is chambered in) and that is suitable for game larger than whitetail deer (that I am not now, nor expect to be hunting any time soon).
I have also been getting interested in some .35 caliber cartridges since I read about the .35 Remington in a shooting magazine. .35s are not particularly popular right now as the trend is for faster and flatter shooting catridges, but I am intrigued by the possibilities of them. When I first started to think about hunting I was considering a .270 Winchester, but Charles Young said to me that big and slow is better than small and fast when it comes to taking deer. My experience with my .308 has borne this out, and the .35 calibers are all about big and slow.
I discussed my thoughts on a new rifle build with George and he told me about the Savage 110 action and how easy and relatively cheap it was to change barrels on them. When I got home I did an internet search and found a barrel on Midway for a Savage 110 action in an interesting .35 caliber, the .35 Whelen. That night I was having trouble sleeping, and in the early hours of the morning I looked again at the listing for that barrel. I observed (in my compromised state of mind) that it was on sale and there were fewer remaining to buy than there were the last time I looked, so I made the decision to buy it.
The .35 Whelen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.35_Whelen) is a wildcat developed from the 30-06 springfield cartridge. There aren’t many factory loads available, but it is an interesting option for a reloader as the cases can be formed by running 30-06 brass through a .35 Whelen sizing die to expand the neck. 30-06 brass is cheap and plentiful in this part of the world. The same powders and primers I use for .308 will also work for the Whelen.
I will now need a Savage 110 donor rifle chambered for any of the .30-06 family, and possibly a new stock since the barrel I have bought is a magnum contour and so probably won’t fit in the donor rifle’s stock without modification. I think the best time for buying the donor rifle will be in late November through the early months of next year, after the deer hunting season when people need cash more than a rifle. It will probably take me that long to save the money anyway.
It was probably an unwise decision to buy the barrel in my current situation, but I am excited to build a new rifle and explore a new caliber. So I’m sorry, but also not sorry.