Part 1 of 2, .35 Remington Factory Load Performance
Research article by John Albert "35remington"
Factory Loads Available to Most Users.
Posted to The MarlinOwners 336 Forum Jan. 2005

Guys, this is long overdue. All I can say is that I am a little slow when it comes to getting pictures on the Internet. I finally got a digital camera, and the pictures came out better this go around. Not as good as some posted here, but then my camera is only a basic model, and I have five thumbs.

In the following paragraphs, I will make an attempt to compare the performances of the .35 Remington factory loads available to most users. The results are not scientific, but they are the best I can do at my level of expertise and funding. All loads were actually fired at the distances mentioned, from near point blank to 200 yards. In some instances I repeated the testing if I got results that I thought were atypical. Iím fairly confident about some of the conclusions Iíve drawn regarding the various loads and the projectiles they contain. If results are based on only a few examples in some instances, Iíll say so and tell you why that happened. This is intended to describe penetration and expansion performance only.

All loads were fired into saturated phone books (Lincoln, NE) stacked as tightly together as I could manage, without voids. In some instances several shots could be placed on the stack without problems, usually at the longer ranges. Depth of penetration was measured and the weights of the bullets recorded. If a bullet crossed another ďwoundĒ track it tumbled, in some instances, so those results were not counted, but this provided some information about the bullet in many cases. More about that later. The bulk of the testing was done in the summer of 2003, but I also conducted additional testing through the summer of 2004, as needed.

Thanks to my friend Dave (7-30 on the Marlin forum) for helping with some of the shooting and rassling with the zillions of phone books this required. I went through more than 200 of them, all told. Also to Jack Monteith of Beartooth Bullets, for his information regarding the testing he and Marshall Stanton had done. Our results were remarkably similar when all factors were taken into account. Their website is a known hotbed of .35 Remington activity.

Finally, I need to mention Iím just shooting wet phone books. These do not compare directly to game, but are useful for comparing one type of bullet to another. Despite that pronouncement, I am going to draw some relationships between what I have observed here and what Iíve seen from my use and the reports of others on .35 Remington bullet perfomance on game animals. Iíll post a table at the end showing the penetration depth, expanded diameter, and retained weight. View the weight figures as having some variance because I was unable to get all the paper out of some of the expanded bullets.

Those of you that have experience with the .35 Remington, please post your hunting results with these bullets here. The possibilities for exchange of information are what make internet sites like this one so valuable.

Hang in here with me on this one. This is a lengthy post, with pictures. The pictures are near the end of the post.

Factory Loads

Remington 150 grain Pointed Soft Point

I may as well start with the most maligned bullet of all, the 150 grain Remington pointed soft point factory load. Quite frankly, I think this bullet does not deserve the reputation it has been saddled with, obtained most likely from those who have repeated what they have heard without giving it a try. The ammunition comes with a firm stab crimp applied, very much like you would accomplish using a Lee Factory Crimp die on your own handloads. This was well assembled, smoothly functioning ammunition. Chronographed velocities were very consistent for such a light bullet.

I was unable to get this bullet to come apart in the phone books, even at the range of six feet. The two boxes of factory loads I fired in the expansion testing averaged 2350 fps at around 15 feet. Penetration at the very least equaled, and in some cases slightly exceeded, most brands of 200 grain RN softpoint ammunition, including those available as handloading components. On one example, I did split the jacket along one rifling groove mark to the base, but the core was nowhere near coming out of the jacket. The reason for the split was that it struck another bullet already lodged in the phone books, so I think I can make an allowance for such an extreme situation. It penetrates almost identically to the Remington 200 Core Lokt, only slightly more in some cases. It also has a more tubular wound channel, I think, which is a plus. I got the impression that, upon impact, it opens a little more slowly than the 200 Core Lokt due to its pointed shape, despite the higher velocity. There is very little shank left on the close range impacts, but the cannelure helps to hold things together. It is located further back on the bullet, that is to say, closer to the base, than any other example I know of, even the Hornady 200. The close range impact expanded the bullets to or slightly past the cannelure, but even though the cannelure had been breached on part of one side of the bullets, the core did not come out.

From the pictures of the bullet, you would assume that since the bullet shows so little shank it would not penetrate, but that is not the case. Penetration was from 13 to 15 inches into the wet books, with the deeper penetration at the 100 yard range. Penetration was still 13 inches on the point blank range shot. At 200 yards though, the single example I was able to recover from the books had not expanded, penetrating 19 inches and coming to rest partially sideways at the end of the ďwoundĒ track. The reason I was not able to recover any other bullets is that they curved out of the stack after some penetration through the books, especially hits that were not perfectly centered, as most are. This is typical behavior for a pointed, nonexpanding bullet, in that they tend to veer from straight penetration and tumble. I would have liked to test at 150 yards to see if expansion was occurring, but a shortage of ammo did not allow this. I have obtained another box and will try again this spring. Iíll let you know what happens.

I would like to get some of these bullets as handloading components, load them to around 2500 fps, and see how they do, but that is unlikely. Thereís not much demand for this bullet for handloading, and I doubt I could get a box to load for myself. At factory velocities, though, I would guess they would work fine for almost any game the .35 is suited for. Pointed bullets do not seem to expand at the lower impact velocities as well as the roundnose designs, even though the 150 Remington has skiving cuts in the front of the bullet to aid expansion. So, even though the pointed shape might suggest a longer ranged load, the small nose opening of a pointed bullet raises the impact velocity needed for expansion to occur. At all normal ranges it should work fine. I have not used it on game myself, but I hear good reports of its performance from those that have tried it (Leverpuller comes to mind). It equals or exceeds the penetration of any of the 200 grain factory loads, save the much lower velocity Winchester 200 grain roundnose on point blank range shots, and that bullet didnít beat it by much. Remington keeps selling this ammunition for one reason-it is effective, and many people have had very good results using it. If your rifle shoots it well, donít be afraid to use it for hunting.

Federal 200 grain Hi-Shok roundnose soft point

The Federal cartridge is slightly unusual in some respects, but it is very good ammunition, as revealed in my testing. It has some features that would lead the user to believe the QC was lacking when it was assembled, but it functions perfectly and also has features the other brands do not have. As an example, the bullets have cannelures, but they are not rolled very deeply into the jacket on most of the bullets. The roll crimp applied is either very shallow or just plain nonexistent, as at least half the cartridges show no crimp at all in the three different lot numbers I was able to locate. The cannelure is so shallow on many of the bullets that a crimp wouldnít have aided bullet retention anyway. I tried moving the bullets in the case by shoving the bullet nose against the edge of my loading bench as hard as I could, and I also loaded the magazine of my plastic buttplate 80ís 336 and bounced it off a carpeted floor. The bullets stayed put, so it appears Federal is using plenty of neck tension to hold the bullet in the case despite the indifferent crimping. Neck tension is 99% of the reason bullets resist movement anyway.

The primers have a red waterproofing sealing applied, something that does not appear to be used on the other factory loads. The bullets have no visible skiving on the nose to aid low velocity expansion, while the other brands utilize this feature. When viewed from the base, expanded bullets do not have the uniform ďdaisy petalĒ appearance of the Winchester and Remington bullets, as the peeled back jacket is wider in some areas than others. Nevertheless, the bullet does expand at extended ranges, so the jacket must be drawn fairly thin at the nose. This ammunition was the highest velocity brand in the tests, averaging around 2050-2070 fps. Two out of the three boxes tested produced the 2070 fps figure. This was 30 to 95 fps faster than the Remington 200 grain factory, and 100 to 140 fps faster than the Winchester 200 factory load.

The Federal softpoint tended to expand to a wide frontal diameter on the pointblank range shots, but still had considerable shank remaining. I was certain the shallow cannelure on the Federal bullet would be its undoing on the close range testing. The cannelure sometimes serves to hold the core in place as long as expansion does not breach its grip on the bullet. The Federal didnít even have that somewhat iffy means of retaining core and jacket. As it turned out, I neednít have worried about it. Even at six feet, the expansion of the bullet did not go past the cannelure. Whatever means Federal is using to hold jacket and core together appears to be effective. My guess is the jacket is thicker/stiffer starting at about the midpoint of the bullet, but I did not section the bullets to find out. Also could be that .35 velocities are low enough that even uncomplicated bullets work well, and that thickening the jacket is not necessary.

Penetration was slightly less than the 150 or 200 Remington Core-Lokt bullets, and around 1Ē less than the Winchester Power Point, but overall the differences were not great between the commonly available brands. Close range hits went to around 12 inches, increasing to about 14 inches at the 200 yard mark. Expanded diameter was the same or slightly larger than the 150 Remington, and quite a bit larger than the 200 Core Lokt or the 200 Winchester. The larger diameter expansion was noticed for the 50 and 100 yard results as well. I have not used the Federal factory for hunting, but results are so similar to the other 200ís that I would expect penetration to be fully adequate for whatever game it is used for. These bullets surprised me in that expansion was good at the 200 yard range, with an important note. The bullets I recovered (3) had tumbled in the phone books, and I had used up most of my supply in the closer shooting. The reason for the tumbling is that they happened to strike the cavity in the books left by a previous shot. There was no question, however, that the bullets were opening at that range, expanding as well as the best of the 200ís. Federalís thinly drawn jacket works. All was not perfect, though, so Iíll draw some finer distinctions. The peel back of the jacket was uneven.

After doing some of the testing I started to develop a bias toward the notched jackets of the Remington and Winchester 200 grain softnose bullets. The reason for this is something I will fully explain when discussing these bullets, but I think the notches are a definite aid to expansion and bullet performance when velocities get low at the longer ranges, and as the density of the phone books changes if the bullet happens to go through the ďwound channelĒ of a previously fired bullet.

Winchester 200 grain Power Point

This was the first factory load I ever fired through my 336 Marlin, and Iíve always been fond of it. The notched jacket just looks effective, and the factory does a good job of assembling ammunition and applying a stab crimp. Theyíve always functioned smoothly through my guns. Therefore, it pains me to have to say something negative about it, but Iíll get to that in a minute.

Iíve fired a fair amount of the Winchester brand, and it has always averaged a bit slower in velocity than the Remington 200 grain, around 50-80 fps, which really isnít much difference. My most common chronographed velocity is 1930-1940 fps. Winchester does acknowledge this in their ballistic tables, which show a little slower velocity for their ammo. For some reason it agrees well with my guns and shows smaller groups than Iíve ever been able to attain with any other 200 grain bullet, either factory loaded or handloaded. Locally, it runs around one dollar per box more than the Remington or Federal ammunition. I dunno why.

I started my testing in reverse, at the 200 yard distance, and found it easy to keep the shots on the books at that range. From the results at 100 and 200 yards, it looked like the 200 Remington Core-Lokt had some very stiff competition. It penetrated about 1Ē deeper at those ranges, due, I think, to the somewhat smaller expanded diameter. The edges of the expanded jacket are square and very sharp, which I think would add to the wounding effect of the bullet, cutting tissue rather than merely pushing it aside. At 200 yards the expansion was very good, the equal of the Core-Lokt in every respect. I happened to recover a bullet that skimmed the very top of the phone books, and which took almost two and a half times the normal distance to stop. Despite the more gradual deceleration, the bullet still expanded very well, with credit due to the skiving cuts in the nose of the bullet. It also penetrated straight and did not curve out of the books, which happens a lot with most bullets on edge shots. At fifty yards, though, the wheels fell off.

The one box I had managed to locate in time for the testing had three cartridges that had much smaller skiving cuts in the nose of the bullet. Normally, the six skiving cuts in the jacket look like beveled notches, but these were very fine cuts in the jacket that were completely closed. I set these aside to use for checking the rifleís zero and did not use them for expansion testing. The cartridges I used to test performance all looked normal, but one of the bullets came completely unraveled. It separated at the bottom of the cannelure, as you can see in the photo of the bullet. Apparently, the cannelure was rolled a little too deeply into the jacket and weakened it to the point where it broke away from the rest of the bullet. The nose of the jacket unwound from the bottom, and it went to pieces after that, penetrating around 7 inches rather than the 14 that is normal for this range. This flop in performance was not what I was expecting. However, no ammunition manufacturer is perfect, and I located another box and gave Winchester another chance, with particular emphasis on close range testing.

The next two boxes passed with flying colors at powder burn range. No bullet came close to coming apart. Like the Federal ammunition, I wondered what would occur if expansion breached the cannelure, and again it did not happen. The Winchester bullet had more shank remaining than any other factory bullet, and expansion simply was not close enough to the cannelure to affect its grip on the core. The bullets expanded to the smallest frontal diameter of any of the factory loads, but had good mushrooming effect (see pictures). No bullet failed, and I fired a dozen from both boxes at close range. Penetration was greater than any other factory bullet, but only a little bit ahead of the Remington 150 and a little more ahead of the Remington 200, using my measurements. Considering the error inherent in pawing through phone books, itís probably a tie. I would say the average penetration would be in the 13 to 15.5 inch range, depending upon distance, with the deeper penetration on the longer shots.

This experience was a good lesson for me-donít trust ammunition that has some defects visible under close inspection! Something else may be amiss. I must also mention that Iíve never had any problem with Winchester ammunition before, and I donít expect it to happen again. Iíve heard some complaints about every manufacturerís product, but this is the first problem Iíve ever had with 35 Remington factory loads. I will still continue to buy this ammunition, and I will have every confidence that it will perform correctly. Unless, of course, I find some odd looking cartridges inside the box. Inspect them before you take them hunting.

I believe that in its factory loaded form the Winchester ammunition is a very good hunting load, very possibly as effective as the Remington 200 Core-Lokt, or maybe the tiniest bit more so, despite the slightly lower velocity. It is well engineered for its velocity level. I would love to obtain some component bullets and see if this Winchester design would hold up at higher speeds, but I donít think Winchester offers them for sale to handloaders. Testing of this sort was reserved for the last 200 grain bullet in my review, the most thoroughly tested bullet of the bunch. It did not disappoint.

Remington 200 grain Core-Lokt

The Remington factory loads I have purchased have always shown careful manufacture. Ammunition I have that dates to the 80ís and earlier has a roll crimp, but now their loads have a stab crimp, well centered in the cannelure, that looks very much like the one applied by the Lee Factory Crimp die. The ammunition used to come in Styrofoam cartridge holders, but now is packaged in black plastic containers in the usual green and yellow box that says, ďHigh Velocity.Ē Iíve always had good results in accuracy and functioning using Remington 200ís, and I like to believe itís because their name is showcased on the head of the cartridge. It is good ammunition. When the local Kmart was going out of business they discounted some of their sporting goods, and the (RARE) sight of .35 Remington factory ammunition in a Lincoln, Nebraska chain store prompted me to buy their entire supply. The price of ten dollars per box was a steal. Lately, friend Dave has decided that factory loads are perfect for our favorite deer hunting spot. The deer he has shot with the factory loads the last two years have not traveled further than 20 yards after being hit. Heís trying to buy out my supply, but I tell him he needs to load his own more often and try some other things. The factory loads are so good he does not feel the need to try anything else.

Most of the time this ammunition does between 1975 and 2020 fps out of my guns. I say mostly because I fired one round out of the Kmart boxes that went 2160 fps. Certain that this was a chronograph glitch, I fired another round that went 2170, easily the fastest factory .35 ammunition in 200 grains Iíve ever shot. After my surprise wore off, I put the rest of the ammunition back in storage. That stuff is going hunting, for sure! Only two other boxes have this same lot number, and the remainder is in another lot that runs at a more common 2000 fps or so. No matter. The Remington works fine at either speed. The factory loads I used for testing in this part of the review averaged 1985 fps. Incidentally, the 2170 fps load hits much higher than the 1985 fps ammunition and interchanging the two while hunting is not possible.

The bullet deserves special comment, I think. It has the best construction of any of the bullets tried, in that it has a thickened jacket midsection near the cannelure that serves to positively lock the core to the jacket, thus ďCore LoktĒ. If you look closely at the wavy scallops in the front of the jacket, you will see a tiny slit at their base that serves to weaken the jacket. These slits, in combination with the thickened midsection, make this the most sophisticated .35 Remington bullet of the bunch. I believe these slits promote more uniform expansion of the bullet and straighter penetration as well, because the bullet NEVER tumbled in the phone books (the Winchester as well) even though it certainly passed through voids in the books left by the passing of other shots. Non skived bullets were subject to tumbling when encountering these voids; the skived bullets did not. It may be that I was lucky, but when the tests were completed I felt pretty good about that conclusion. This bullet did not fail to expand at any range, and expansion was very good at 200 yards at the factory load velocity. Phone books arenít the same as animal tissue, but I wouldnít give a deer long to live if one of these bullets centered the ribs at 200 yards. The velocity of 1985 fps limits range to 150-160 yards due to trajectory, though.

The thickened midsection limits expansion on the close range shots, stopping jacket rollback short of the cannelure. This bullet is available as a handloading component, and Iíll let the cat out of the bag before I post Part II by saying I could not hurt this bullet, even at 2220 fps impact velocity at a range of six feet. The bullet jacket rolled back a little further than at 1985 fps, and the frontal diameter was a little larger, but the bullet held together perfectly. This bullet will stand up to any .35 Remington speed, and you could make a case that Remington had this cartridge in mind when they designed this bullet.

This bullet is available in bulk at Midway, and it is cheaper than any other component bullet available for the .35 Remington. When you consider its performance, I do not believe you can purchase a factory load more suitable for .35 Remington applications than the 200 Core-Lokt. (I would reserve the 220 Buffalo Bore for close cover use on bear and elk; more about that in Part II). It performs very well over a wide range of velocities, either factory loaded or handloaded, and at short range as well as long range.

Approximate Penetration and Expansion with Retained weight
Expansion is the widest part of the recovered bullets

Point Blank Range (6 feet)

Remington 200 Core Lokt Expansion 0.63" Penetration 12" Weight 168 grains

Remington 150 Core Lokt Expansion 0.76" Penetration 13" Weight 136 grains

Federal 200 grain Hi-Shok Expansion 0.80" Penetration 11.5" Weight 175 grains

Winchester 200 Power Point Expansion 0.57" Penetration 13.5" Weight 168 grains

Fifty Yard Performance

Remington 200 Core Lokt Expansion 0.63" Penetration 12-13" Weight 175 grains

Remington 150 Core Lokt Expansion 0.66" Penetration 13" Weight 137 grains

Federal 200 Hi-Shok Expansion 0.76" Penetration 12" Weight 169 grains

Winchester 200 Power Point Expansion 0.55-0.57" Penetration 13-14" Weight 172 grains

100 Yard Performance

Remington 200 Core Lokt Expansion 0.55-0.60" Penetration 14" Weight 188 grains

Remington 150 Core Lokt Expansion 0.60-0.62" Penetration 14-15" Weight 144 grains

Federal 200 Hi-Shok Expansion 0.65-0.68" Penetration 13-14" Weight 183 grains

Winchester 200 Power Point Expansion 0.52-0.54" Penetration 14-15" Weight 180 grains

200 Yard Performance

Remington 200 Core Lokt Expansion 0.50-0.52" Penetration ~14.5" Weight 198 grains

Remington 150 Core Lokt Expansion-none Penetration 19" Weight 150 grains

Federal 200 Hi-Shok Expansion 0.62-0.68" Penetration 14" Weight 191 grains. Some tumbling in the books occurred due to cavities in books left by previous shots. Expansion performance still very good at this range.

Winchester 200 Power Point Expansion 0.49-0.51" Penetration 14.5-15.5" Weight 191 grains.

To Part 2

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