35 Wesson?

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35 Wesson?

Post by RCE1 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:20 pm

I have inherited a nice original highwall made up as a silhouette rifle chambered in what I understand to be the .35 Wesson. Luckily, it came with ammunition already loaded and a bunch of fired brass. It seems the bullets are kinda large for the bore and the previous owner had to use a seating tool to get the cartridges in the gun. Luckily, the tool is right in the oak ammo box along with some other shooters accessories. He had pretty much stopped shooting black powder silhouette and target rifle as his health was just too bad to take the rigors of these sports. I am somewhat interested in shooting it but can find no real discussion of the .35 cal cartridges or any information about bullet designs and loading techniques. I expect there is a mould somewhere but would be more interested in one that fit the barrel a little more easily. I never liked having to lever the cartridges into the gun while on the clock.

My benefactor was a very close friend and admirer of Dan Theodore, as was I, and I recall the .35 Wesson being a subject in which he had a lot of interest.

Old Soldier
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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by Old Soldier » Tue Jan 01, 2019 4:30 pm

I'm not familiar with a 35 Wesson, so will let others more knowledgeable answer you. If you don't get a reply try ASSRA form. I do know that you should not have to "pry in" fixed ammo. Some use a breach seater to seat the bullet, then follow it with the powder loaded cartridge. This has several advantages in accuracy. PS: We always enjoy pictures. Enjoy your rifle.
"I wish it to be remembered that I was the last of my tribe to surrender my rifle" Geronimo

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by Brent » Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:51 pm

35 Wesson, wow! That's a blast from the past. There are not many around that will even remember it, must less have shot it.

I won't be a whole bunch of help. I've never even seen one. But I can, perhaps, add a few comments that might be helpful.

First, take 3-5 cartridges and put them in a drawer somewhere. You may need them later for reference of such things as the powder quantity and granulation, seating depth, bullet shape (this will not be easy to get a mould for), and so forth.

.35 Wesson, in the silhouette game may be a bit tricky. You have a super fast twist barrel I would guess at least 10" twist, maybe faster. Bullet is very long for caliber to have the weight you need to knock down rams. The lead may also be a very hard alloy.

Your cartridge seater is not really a breech seater. It levers in the loaded case. This tool is not allowed at some ranges (due to unintended detonations without the breech being closed. That can be fatal. But a good seater is pretty safe, though slow, and definitely not optimal for silhouette where time is an issue, so you are right about wanting a skinnier cartridge, but are you sure it is the bullet, and not the case that is causing the problem? Paint the cartridge with a Sharpie pen, seat and then knock it out and inspect for rub marks. Might be somewhere else that is rubbing. IF it is the bullet and you find the mould, you can size the bullet down to fit better before loading it. So, that's an option that may not require a new mould.

I wonder if this has 3fg powder in it? Almost certainly, it will be Swiss powder, but what granulation?

I think this cartridge was referred to as a "gnat mauler". It may be a bit fussy but it should work. Loading it, once you have a mould (and perhaps dies) will be no different than any other BPCR except that it will use less powder and lead.

I would begin by pulling a bullet and weighing the powder, identifying the powder and weighing and measuring the bullet and testing it for hardness. I would guess you have small pistol primers in it. But I'm totally guessing on that.

The odds you find another shooter using this caliber is small. Maybe vanishingly small. The good news is that all the hard work has been done and all you need to do is reproduce the ammunition.

Where do you live (approximately)?
I'm not from here, I just live here.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by RCE1 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:52 pm

I'm in the mountains of Northern California. I got out of the Bay Area a few years back. Dan and I did a lot of traveling together for a while.

Thanks so much for the responses. I remember the trend toward smaller cartridges in black powder shooting and the .35 may well have been the practical limit, although I recall Steve Garbe experimenting with .32/40. I had some fun with a Ballard chambered in .38/50 Remington Hepburn but my greatest successes came with a .40/65 Highwall I built up from a Meacham action.

Any sources for .35 Wesson would be most appreciated. It looks kinda like a necked down .38/50 RH, but I only recently came across the ammunition box when I was going through some stuff in my shop and haven't had time to examine it very closely. I will say all the head stamping was turned off as part of the chambering process. My benefactor liked tight headspacing and frequently turned his rims down on the lathe to match his chambers. Maybe I can take a few pictures and share them with the group.

My mentor was an avid schuetzen competitor and experimantor, in addition to BPCRS. He had been working with a CPA 44 1/5 chambered in .22 Hornet. Included with his stuff was the cutest little hornet breech seater. Imagine breech seating .22 Hornet.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by Ranch 13 » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:55 pm

What is the head stamp on the cases? Dan was playing around with 357 max cases with a 250 gr bullet. Charles Outler had one built for his grandson. Might look at Buffalo Arms moulds and see if they have a 35 caliber mould listed yet.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by RCE1 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:37 am

All the headstamps were turned off the brass. My friend liked to "rectify" his cases by turning the rim thickness of his cases down to a minimum dimension. This matched up with the chambers he would put in his barrels. He was convinced this contributed to better accuracy, but with BPCR, it may not be noticeable. He was coming from a benchrest mindset, which led to some interesting practices and immaculate metalwork.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by kokomokid » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:56 pm

Do the cases appear to have been from 38-55 brass or maybe 30-40 Craig? I know that Dan used both to make 35 cals and perhaps others.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by RCE1 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:16 pm

Might be the Krag brass. The heads with beveled rims resemble my .38/50 RemingtonHepburn more than .38/55.

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by RCE1 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:32 pm

I haven't had a chance to play around with the .35 cal rifle any, but I understand there was an article in the BPCR News, issue 77, that deals with the 35's. I looked through my back issues but that one is missing. Anybody have a copy?

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by Big O » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:47 pm

I do have a couple of 35 cal. Moulds that DT designed for a .35 -40 that we built for my grandson. I would be happy to send you some bullets or give you a copy of the drawings . Charles Outler

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Re: 35 Wesson?

Post by Singleshot S.A. » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:32 am

What happened with this ?
Has there been some advancement. ?