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.25-35 Handloads I Use

I view the .25-35 mostly as a small game and varmint rifle, not as a deer rifle. I find it more versatile than the .25-20 because it has potential for higher velocity and flatter trajectory. Lever action rifles with iron sights are accurate enough for field shooting to about 150 yards on targets the size of a woodchuck.

I form cases from .30-30 brass, using a .38 Spl. to .357 spacer to back off my Lee full length sizer for the first-step of reforming .30-30 brass. Cases are tumble cleaned to remove range dirt, lubed with Imperial Sizing Die Wax, then run into the backed off die to bring down the neck and stop the die at the original .30-30 shoulder. Cases are then annealed in a gas flame, dropped in water and some time later when dry, full length sized the rest of the way. W-W cases form best. It is essential to ensure that the bleed hole in the die body is clear and to use only the minimum lube for final forming to prevent putting oil dents in the shoulder.

After forming the cases will be too long, and they must be trimmed. I got a length gage from Lee for $15, as it is a non-standard trimmer. I use the Lee case trimmer in a drill press, and it goes quickly when you have .020-.040 to trim off.

For turkey and varmint loads I use mostly the Remington bulk 85-gr. softpoint .25-20 bullets from Graf & Sons. A charge of 10 grs. of #2400 gives about 1500 f.p.s. from a 24" barrel and is a good nondestructive turkey load. You can safely load up to 14 grs. of #2400 for 1900 f.p.s., but the .25-20 bullets expand violently at this velocity and you will have little of a turkey left to eat.

I have also has good results with the RCBS 25-85FN plain based Cowboy bullet for the .25-20, cast of wheelweights, tumbled in Lee Liquid Alox and sized .259" in a custom Lee sizer die. A charge of 3.8 grs. of Bullseye, 4.5 grs. of SR-7625 or 5 grs. of PB or Unique provides a quiet, subsonic small game load of about 1050-1080 f.p.s.

DO NOT attempt to use this light load with a jacketed bullet, as you will stick one in the bore! If you want a light load for the 85-gr. jacketed softpoint which approximates the .25-20, you can use 14 grs. of IMR or H4198, which bulks up well in the case and has very uniform ignition, for about 1320 f.p.s. You can also use 10 grs. of 4227 for similar results, but this load should not be further reduced with a jacketed bullet.

In my experience the Hornady 117-gr. RN bullet has a very stiff jacket enabling its use for deer in cartridges such as the .25-06. At lower striking velocities around 2000 f.p.s. or less, it perforates deer without expanding much unless large bones are hit. If you confine your deer hunting with the .25-35 to the Winchester Power Point factory load or old Remington Core Lokt cartridges, it will do as well for you as it did for your Grandfather and destroy alot less meat than a .243 Winchester.
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