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25-35 Winchester


Announced in 1895, for chambering in the 1894 Winchester lever-action rifle, along with the 30-30, the 25-35 WCF was one of the first sporting cartridges introduced as a smokeless-powder load.  It uses a necked-down, 25-caliber, version of the 32-40 Winchester Center Fire case.  Winchester seems to have felt the need to offer hunters a less-powerful round that generated far less recoil than the 30 WCF did.

The original load launched a 117-grain bullet faster than the original 30-30 load launched the 165-grain bullet.  This gave the 25-35 a slightly flatter trajectory but it seems unlikely this could have mattered enough to anyone to have anything to do with the decision to buy a 25-35 instead of a 30-30.

With proper shot placement and the right bullet, the 25-35 is capable for deer hunting.  Folks have used it to hunt larger species but such use requires ever more skillful shot placement at even more limited ranges.

Interestingly, shortly after WW-II when Colorado (and perhaps other States), adopted chambering limitations for cartridges used for big-game hunting, overnight, the 25-35 was no longer legal for big-game hunting in Colorado.  Factory-advertised ballistics fell just short of 1000 foot-pounds of energy delivered at 100 yards, the minimum legal limit.

For a time, Remington solved that problem by offering an otherwise identical factory load with a boattail bullet rated to deliver exactly 1000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards!  Imagine that?

Of course, in that era, ballistics of factory-loads were routinely and significantly exaggerated.  If I had it, I would bet a small fortune the Remington 117-grain round-nose-boattail 25-35 load fell far short of delivering 1000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards (at sea-level).  In Colorado, where the lowest elevation in the State is just a few feet short of 4000, factory ammo might have met the standard on a hot day but I doubt it!

A generation later, Remington played the same game with its factory 44 Magnum, jacketed-bullet rifle ammunition.  Compared to the 240-grain cast-bullet load, magically, the energy rating at 100 yards was 1000 foot-pounds, despite the fact the velocity rating at 100 yards was identical to the 240-grain cast bullet load, which was listed as delivering 984 foot-pounds of energy.  Same bullet weight, same velocity; different energy.  Pure magic!

This might have been the result of someone at Remington thumbing his nose at legislators who pass gun laws without knowing which end of the gun the bullet comes out of, or anything else that matters.  There is nothing new under the sun.

As with all cartridges used in guns with a tubular magazine, a properly applied crimp can smooth and ease chambering and a crimp is critical to lock the case mouth into the cannelure and thereby prevent recoil and chambering forces from driving the bullet into the case.  In some instances, a roll crimp might be the best option But the Lee Factory Crimp Die usually does a better job and the crimp it applies will not damage a cast bullet as chamber pressure drives that from the case.

Heritage of this case dates to 1879 with the introduction of the 38-50 Ballard case.

The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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