Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pet Cartridges

If a "wildcat" is your pet, is it no longer wild?

Most shooters talk about cartridges in terms of three different categories. There are your common SHTF cartridges - .223, 7.62x39, .45, 9mm etc. These are common and virtually every gun manufacturer chambers something for them. Their purposes are for either protection or competition, but very rarely are they used for hunting or precision shooting.

Then there are the wildcat cartridges. Ammo that is created for a specific, defined purpose and narrowly used or distributed can be classififed as a wildcat. .357 SIG started out as a wildcat until it gained wide acceptance and notoriety as a hard hitting fight stopper in LEO circles. 7mmSTW is a round that can still be arguably considered a wildcat since there are very few factory loadings and rifles chambered. Almost all guns and ammo produced for the "Shooting Times Western" are custom. Other popular cartridges today that started out was wildcats include the .22-250 and the 7mm-08. Wildcats emerge everyday in the form of the .400 Corbon or the S&W .460.

Then there are pet cartridges. These rounds can belong to either of the other two groups, or be a freestanding example of the third. Pet cartridges are rounds that generally were widely circulated at some point but fell off in popularity while maintaining a small, loyal following. The .38/44 Heavy Duty is an example. It was replaced by the more technologically advanced .357 Magnum, but the Heavy Duty offered lighter recoil than the new Magnum and maintained a following. The Winchester .351SL would probably be another example. This had a certain appeal for police and guard work, as it offered a hard hitting round within about 100rds with fast, self-loading follow up shots. The ammo is near obsolete now, but there are still rifles out there in the hands of handloaders who faithfully load and shoot the .351.

My personal pet cartridge is the .35 Remington. I'd mentioned before that I picked up a .35 Rem for my folks to use against the critters that inhabit their neck of the woods. I took some heat from some friends of mine offline for not going with a more widely available round, like the .30-30. Their thinking is that, by buying a lever gun in a widely available cartridge, you double up its purpose as a SHTF gun. Well, they didn't need a SHTF gun - they already have one. I made sure of that. So why favor the .35? In terms of performance, a 200gr RN jacketed bullet kicking off at 2100fps is more than adequate for deer, hog, coyotes and big cats or two legged varmints. It offers a heavier bullet than a .30-30 moving a little slower. I come from the bigger/slower school of thought, so that fits me just fine. The fact that it's heavier and slower also means it drops off faster, so the effective range is around 200yards. I like this aspect because you're not always sure what lies just beyond that stand of timber. The effective range is twice what either of my parents will ever have to shoot at their place unless they shoot from the front gate to the back line of the property, which is unlikely.

Last, I liked the .35 Rem for them because it matches one that I have. I have a Marlin 36 manufactured in 1951. It has been restocked and reblued since, both being necessary due to the poor condition, and it is my favorite dense-brush hunting rifle. Since I have one, the likelihood that they'll have plenty of ammo rises exponentially.

Anyway, enough about me. I'm curious to see if anyone out there is an "Ackley Improved" shooter, or if anybody loads for the Capstick elephant round. My pet cartridge is very pedestrian compared to others.


I'm a dumbass. I completely forgot to mention WHY I liked the .35 Remington, besides the fact that I bought one, I own one and I like the ballistics.

So, basically, it goes like this. The .35 is easy to shoot. By that I mean I can hand the gun to a novice shooter and reasonably expect them to put the first round into a pie plate at 50 yards, using just the factory sights. The recoil is relatively mild - not even as sharp as a .30-30 - but the report is nice and load, which may scare some younger or beginner shooters. Thus, I felt perfectly comfortable giving one to my folks.

The ballistics are more to my liking than other cartridges. It may be a bit slower, but its a wider, heavier bullet that makes a satisfying thwack when you strike your target and creates a deep, wide wound channel. It's also a brush buster, not as likely to be deflected by light foliage and cover that you may shoot thru. Again, the heavier bullet rules. Taking shots at potentially dangerous game in thick brush lends one to want something that will make it thru the bush with enough force to knock the animal off its feet. The .35 Rem does that much better than the .30-30.

There, thats better.