While whiz-bang magnums, small caliber high velocity cartridges, and long range target cartridges seem to have been the flavor of the month off and on over the past couple of decades, sometimes tried and true cartridges remain the way to go. For hunters, particularly those in the East and who hunt in thick brush, nothing can compare to a large caliber brush-busting rifle cartridge. One such cartridge that epitomizes old school principles and the conservatism of the hunting fraternity is the .35 Remington.
Introduced in 1906 and first chambered in the Remington Model 8 rifle, the .35 Remington dates back to the era when semiautomatic rifles were just trying to gain a foothold among hunters. The lever-action Winchester 1894 had quickly gained popularity, while the Mauser 98 rifle had only been introduced less than a decade before. It was a battle not only between semiautomatics and bolt-action rifles to see which would gain market share among hunters, it was also a fight between Remington and Winchester to see whose cartridges would gain the upper hand.
While Winchester ultimately won the lever-action game with the .30-30 Winchester, Remington’s semiautomatic cartridges ultimately prevailed. The .32 SL (Self-Loading), .35 SL, .351 WSL (Winchester Self-Loading), and .401 WSL cartridges long ago faded into obscurity. Remington’s cartridges didn’t fare much better, as of the original lineup of the .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington, only the .35 lived a long life, and is more often chambered in lever-action rifles today. But it remains a popular cartridge among hunters of deer, black bear, and even elk.
Operating at relatively low pressures under 35,000 CUP, the cartridge, only slightly smaller than the .308 Winchester family, can push a 180-grain bullet to 2,300 feet per second, and a 220-grain bullet to 2,000 feet per second. With around 2,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, that’s nothing to sneeze at. The major drawback has been that the cartridge has long featured round-nosed or flat-nosed bullets, in deference to the lever-action rifles in which it normally is chambered. That limits it to shorter ranges. But with the new Leverevolution line from Hornady featuring Flex Tip bullets, the .35 Remington has now been turned into a viable 200-300-yard hunting cartridge.
Shooters aren’t limited just to lever-action rifles either, as the .35 Remington’s .480” rim makes it a good fit for Mauser rifle bolts. Numerous .35 Remington barrels for small-ring Mauser rifles have been sold, allowing shooters with older Mausers or shot-out barrels to continue using them in an efficient and effective hunting cartridge.
As with many older and less widely adopted cartridges, the knock on the .35 Remington is ammunition cost. At over $1 a round, ammo cost isn’t an obstacle to hunters who may only fire a dozen rounds a year. But if you’re relying on a .35 Remington rifle for home defense, handloading is probably worth the time and effort. You probably also aren’t going to find much .35 Remington on the shelves of your local Wally World or sporting goods store, so you’ll need to stock up if you rely on factory ammo. While you may end up deciding to pick a different caliber for that reason, if you already have a .35 Remington rifle there’s no reason not to keep it as part of your survival armory.