Check out this article about the history and recommended uses of the .35 Remington.
When it was introduced by the Remington Arms Company in 1906, the .35 Remington had no true peer among the cartridges of the day. Hunters seeking a good “brush bullet” found the .35 Remington a satisfactory choice and many deer, bear, elk, and even moose fell to the .35 Remington over the years. However, the intervening decades have not been kind to the cartridge and the .35 Remington has fallen out of favor with most mainstream hunters. Though it is still a quite powerful cartridge under the right circumstances, the .35 Remington is now one of the most under-rated “woods cartridges” in the United States.
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Remington introduced the Remington Auto-Loading Rifle (later known as the Remington Model 8) in 1906. Along with the rifle, they introduced four new cartridges: the .25 Remington, the .30 Remington, the .32 Remington, and the .35 Remington. Since it had no competitor at the time, and since it filled an important “medium bore” niche, the .35 Remington quickly caught on with hunters in the United States. The original load of the cartridge propelled a 200 grain, .35 caliber, bullet at just under 2,100 feet per second. This load generated over 1,900 foot pounds of energy and quickly became a favorite among American hunters.
Remington marketed the cartridge as a superior alternative to the venerable .30-30 Winchester, which was (and still is) one of the most popular deer hunting cartridges of the day. Though producing only slightly more muzzle energy in a typical load (1,905 vs 1,873 foot pounds of energy), the .35 Remington sported a bullet that was 18% heavier (200gr vs 170gr), and with over 35% more frontal surface area (.1007 vs .0745 square inches). These seemingly small differences added up to a significant difference in power and effectiveness on game between the two cartridges.
Remington made great efforts to promote the power of the .35 Remington by featuring the cartridge, along with their revolutionary new rifle, in many advertisements during the first half of the 20th century. These advertisements typically featured hunters fearlessly facing down wolves and grizzly bears with their trusty Remington Auto-Loading Rifle chambered in the potent .35 Remington cartridge. Other Remington posters publicized the ability of the cartridge to penetrate a 5/16″ of steel plate, a feat the .30-30 Winchester could not match.
Of the four cartridges introduced with the Remington Model 8, the .35 Remington was by far the most popular and is the only one still in production. In addition to the Remington Model 8 and 81, Remington also produced the Model 14 pump-action rifle chambered in the cartridge. Thompson Center also manufactures their break action Contender pistol in .35 Remington. However, the most popular rifle chambered in .35 Remington is the Marlin Model 336 lever-action rifle.
.35 Remington Loads
Remington, Winchester, Federal, Hornady, and Buffalo Bore, among others, currently offer a handful of different loads for the .35 Remington. The most common load is a 200gr soft point traveling between 2,000 and 2,100 feet per second. However, other bullet weights are available, though less common. For instance, Remington also sells 150gr load that produces velocities around 2,300 feet per second.
For those that are interested in wringing out all of the power available in the .35 Remington, there are a couple of other options besides the standard 200gr soft point loads listed above. Hornady produces the “LEVERevolution” line of ammunition, which has a pointed, flexible, polymer tip that improves the ballistic coefficient of the normally flat tipped bullet. LEVERevolution bullets, unlike most bullets with pointed tips, are also safe to use in rifles that have tubular magazines (like the Marlin 336). The 200gr bullet has an advertised muzzle velocity of 2,225 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 2,198 foot pounds. Buffalo Bore produces 220gr loads that they claim reach a velocity of 2,200 feet per second (2,364 foot pounds), which is a very stout load for the .35 Remington. Both of these offer slight improvements over typical factory loads. However, they are high pressure loads and should only be used in modern firearms, such as the Marlin 336, that are in good condition.
Particularly when used in a high quality rifle, the .35 Remington is capable of pretty darn good accuracy and I’ve shot many nice groups with an off the shelf Remington Model 81. However, the biggest shortcoming in the cartridge is its limited effective range. Even when using loads on the upper end of the performance envelope for the cartridge, the .35 Remington still has a relatively slow velocity and low ballistic coefficient. As a result, the cartridge does not have a very flat trajectory. Realistically, the maximum effective range for the .35 Remington for most shooters is 200 yards. Depending on the load, 150 yards may be a better estimate.
Hunting With the .35 Remington
Even when using the standard factory loads, the .35 Remington is an outstanding round for use on medium sized game such as deer, feral hogs, and black bear at short ranges. At ranges less than 100 yards, like when hunting whitetail deer in thick cover or on an Alberta black bear hunt, the cartridge excels and is absolutely deadly on big game. The heavy, slow moving bullets deliver bone crushing power and do not produce large amounts of ruined, blood shot meat that high velocity cartridges do. Additionally, the .35 Remington will perform adequately on larger game such as elk, grizzly bear, brown bear and moose (though it’s on the light side for moose and really big bear). This is even truer when using some of the hotter loads available on the market.
For a more detailed discussion on .35 Remington hunting ammunition, read this article:
Especially when used in handy, quick pointing rifles such as the Marlin 336, the .35 Remington really comes into its own when used in thick cover. For this reason, the .35 Remington is most popular in the northeast and southeast regions of the United States where shooting ranges are short. When hunters there really need to make a rapid shot and anchor their game quickly, they can rely on a Marlin 336 chambered in .35 Remington. Because of its power and versatility, many generations of hunters from states as varied as Maine, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia have successfully hunted deer, moose, bear, and hogs (like the one in the photo below) with the .35 Remington.Another interesting tidbit about the .35 Remington is the alleged use of a Remington Model 8 chambered in the cartridge by legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer in the final ambush that killed Bonnie & Clyde in 1934. However, historians are conflicted on the subject and there are several different stories about what rifle Hamer actually used. We’ll probably never really know for sure, but it is certainly possible that he used a Remington Model 8 in the famous shootout, though it very likely did not have an extended magazine (as alleged by some sources).
Even though it does not sport the sexy pointed bullets and high velocities of some of the more popular cartridges on the market today, the .35 Remington still maintains a healthy following among American hunters. It is true that the cartridge has its limitations, but used under the right circumstances, it is an outstanding choice. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the majority of American hunters, especially in the south and northeast, will take only a handful of shots at big game at ranges past 100 yards in their lifetime. For those close range shots, the trusty old .35 Remington has few equals.
If you’d like to read a more detailed discussion on a cartridge that’s often compared to the .35 Remington in the .358 Winchester, read this article:
America’s “Other Levergun” by Glen E. Fryxell, The Great Model 8 & 81 by Richard Jones, Bullet Frontal Area List, by Chuck Hawks, and the Lyman 50th Edition (p309-310) and Hornady 10th Edition (p682-683) reloading manuals were used as references for this article.