The .35 Whelen and .45-70 are powerful hunting cartridges for different game sizes and ranges. The .35 Whelen excels with medium-sized game, while the .45-70 is ideal for larger animals. Both offer bullet weight and velocity options for customization, and the choice depends on personal preference and the type of hunting.

In this article, we find out the differences and similarities between these cartridges. And clear every quarry about these contrasts, so Let’s get started.

.35 Whelen

The .35 Whelen is a powerful and versatile rifle cartridge developed by James Howe in the early 1920s.

It’s a necked-up version of the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. It has a larger caliber bullet (0.358 inches) while retaining the exact case dimensions. Known for its excellent accuracy, flat trajectory, and manageable recoil, the .35 Whelen is a favorite among hunters for medium to large game such as deer, elk, and bear.

This cartridge is available in various bullet weights, making it adaptable to different hunting scenarios and distances.

.45-70 Government

The .45-70, also known as the .45-70 Government, is an iconic cartridge with a rich history dating back to the late 1800s. It was initially developed for Springfield Trapdoor rifles and later became popular in lever-action rifles like the Winchester Model 1886.

It refers to the caliber (0.458 inches), while “70” signifies the black powder charge used in the original military load. 45-70 is known for its substantial stopping power and ability to take down large and dangerous game. It’s a favorite choice for hunters pursuing thick-skinned animals or those in bear country.

It’s available in various loads, including modern smokeless powder versions, making it suitable for traditional and contemporary firearms.

35 Whelen Vs 45 70 – Key Differences

35 Whelen vs .45-70


35 Whelen: The caliber of the .35 Whelen is approximately 0.358 inches (or 9.09mm). This cartridge is often described as a “.35 caliber” round, and it’s known for its effectiveness in hunting medium to large game.

45-70 Government: The caliber of the .45-70 cartridge is approximately 0.458 inches (or 11.63mm). It’s often referred to as a “.45 caliber” round. This cartridge is known for its significant stopping power and is commonly used for hunting large and dangerous game.

In conclusion, the 35 Whelen and the 45-70 are excellent cartridges for hunting large game animals. The 35 Whelen is the better choice for accuracy and long-range shooting. The 45-70 is the better choice for power and penetration.

Cartridge Design

.35 Whelen: The .35 Whelen is a bottlenecked rifle cartridge with a tapered case with a narrower neck. It is based on the .30-06 Springfield case, which is necked to accept .358 (or 35 caliber) bullets. The case body narrows towards the neck, allowing for efficient powder combustion and velocity.

The .35 Whelen can accommodate a variety of bullet weights and styles within the .358 caliber range, making it versatile for different hunting and shooting applications. The case length of the .35 Whelen is typically 2.494 inches.

.45-70 Government: The .45-70 Government is a straight-walled rifle cartridge, meaning its case has a consistent diameter from base to neck. Initially designed for the Springfield Model 1873 “Trapdoor” rifle, it had a larger bore diameter of .458 inches.

The name “45-70” comes from the original load’s specifications: a .45 caliber bullet and 70 grains of black powder. It is known for its ability to handle heavy, large-caliber shots, making it suitable for big-game hunting and close to medium-range shooting.

The case length of the .45-70 is typically 2.105 inches for the standard “Government” length or 2.550 inches for the longer “Marlin” length used in some lever-action rifles.


When it comes to accuracy, the 35 Whelen is the clear winner. It can produce groups of 1-2 inches at 100 yards, while 45-70 can only create groups of 2-3 inches at the same distance. The 35 Whelen can also shoot at longer ranges than the 45-70, making it a better choice for long-range hunting.

The 35 Whelen is popular among hunters, offering a flatter trajectory and better accuracy than the 45-70. Also, It has the advantage of using lighter bullets, which can help reduce recoil and improve accuracy. The 45-70, on the other hand, is a powerful cartridge capable of taking down big game animals.

It also has the advantage of using heavier bullets, which can help increase accuracy. Ultimately, the choice between the 35 Whelen and the 45-70 comes down to the individual shooter and their preferences.


The 35 Whelen is a rimless, bottlenecked cartridge, while the 45-70 is a rimmed, straight-walled cartridge. It can have higher velocities than the 45-70, but the 45-70 has a heavier bullet, giving it more energy and greater stopping power.

The 35 Whelen has a steeper trajectory, making it more suitable for longer-range shooting, while the 45-70 is better suited for close-range shooting. Regarding recoil, the 35 Whelen is more manageable than the 45-70, but it still has a significant kick.


.35 Whelen: Firearms chambered in .35 Whelen are typically designed to handle the pressures and stresses associated with this cartridge. They are often built with solid actions and quality materials to withstand the forces generated during firing.

The durability of a .35 Whelen firearm can also be influenced by the manufacturer’s craftsmanship and the specific model of the rifle or shotgun. Higher-end guns tend to be more durable due to better materials and construction.

Accurate maintenance and supervision are essential for ensuring the longevity and durability of any firearm, including those chambered in .35 Whelen.

.45-70 Government: Firearms chambered in .45-70 are historically known for their ruggedness and durability. The .45-70 cartridge was initially developed for military rifles in the late 1800s, and the rifles designed for it were built to withstand the rigors of combat.

Modern firearms chambered in .45-70 continue to exhibit this durability, with many options for heavy use and adverse conditions.

Like the .35 Whelen, the specific durability of a .45-70 firearm can vary depending on the manufacturer, model, and materials used in its construction. High-quality rifles are more likely to be exceptionally durable. Regular maintenance is crucial for preserving the reliability and durability of a .45-70 firearm.

35 Whelen Vs 45 70 Government – Similarities

There are some similarities between the .35 Whelen and the .45-70 cartridges. Both are popular hunting rounds and have a long history of use in North America.

Both cartridges can take down large games and are available in various bullet weights and styles.

However, there are also some differences between the two cartridges.

The .35 Whelen is a more modern cartridge, developed in the early 20th century, while the .45-70 has been around since the late 19th century.

The .35 Whelen is also more powerful than the .45-70, with a higher muzzle velocity and incredible energy. Finally, the .35 Whelen is a rimless cartridge, while the .45-70 is a rimmed cartridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which cartridge is more versatile for different hunting scenarios?

The .35 Whelen is often considered more versatile for various hunting scenarios due to its flat trajectory and the availability of different bullet weights.

What Type Of Rifle Is Best Suited For Each Cartridge?

35 Whelen: The 35 Whelen is best suited for a bolt-action rifle. This cartridge is powerful enough to take down a large game but is still manageable in a bolt-action rifle. It can also produce excellent accuracy and is well-suited for long-range shooting.

45-70 Government: The 45-70 is best suited for a lever-action rifle. This cartridge is powerful enough to take down a large game but is still manageable in a lever-action rifle. It can also produce excellent accuracy and is well-suited for short-range shooting.

Are there specific firearm models designed for each cartridge?

Yes, there are firearms designed specifically for each cartridge. Many rifle models are chambered in either .35 Whelen or .45-70 to optimize performance for the respective caliber.

Closing Thoughts

The .35 Whelen is a modern cartridge with excellent accuracy and velocity. At the same time, the .45-70 is a classic cartridge with a long history of use in the field.

Both cartridges offer good stopping power and can be used for hunting and defensive applications. Ultimately, the choice between the two cartridges comes from personal preference and the shooter’s specific needs.

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