Introduced in the Model 94 Winchester in 1895 together with the .30-30 and discontinued in 1952, Winchester's mild-mannered .25-35 is back in the Model 94 line. It's about time, for it's a pleasant little cartridge, easy to shoot, easy on the shoulder, easy to reload and, on the average, the most accurate cartridge ever chambered in a Model 64 or Model 94 Winchester.
I saw my first .25-35 in the window of a Dallas, Texas, pawnshop. To working parents with kids on summer vacation, the endless parade of guns on pawnshop row took care of our mornings while an afternoon double feature movie was sufficient for the rest of the day's supervision. That pawnshop .25-35 was a Model 94 with an octagonal barrel and virtually new. I can still see it. In the eyes of a 12-year-old, it was the Holy Grail. With a $40 price tag, it just as well might have been.
Actually, the first .25-35 I got my hands on was a Savage Model 99 that was the big-game gun of a man I worked for in my teens. You saw quite a few' .25-35s on the ranches years ago. The caliber was considered perfectly adequate for antelope, deer, bear and smaller species wearing fur or feathers of any kind.
What's doubly interesting about the Savage chambering is Charles Newton took the .25-35 case, necked it down, and cooked up the Savage .22 Hi-Power cartridge. Winchester then necked it down a few thousandths more and gave us the .219 Zipper. There was also a bit of competition given the .25-35 years ago in the form of the Marlin .25-36 and the .25 Remington.
The Europeans liked the .25-35, giving it the 6.5x52R metric designation and chambering it in a variety of combination guns.
The .25-35 even proved popular in the woodchuck meadows of New England. Paul Estey, in his 1936 book, The Woodchuck Hunter tells of chuck hunting with Colonel Whelen, who used his Winchester Hi-Wall in .25-35 with telling effect, while Estey carried a custom Sedgley Springfield in the same chambering. Henry Stebbins in his classic Small Game & Varmint Cartridges labeled the .25-35 as the ideal "woods loafer's" cartridge in the Model 94.
Maybe that grand old man of the outdoor press, Horace Kephart, summed it up best when he wrote, "The .25-35 is an excellent little cartridge for all-round use in a country where turkeys and geese and small mammals are commonest game, yet where deer and black bear are met now and then."
For 2005, Winchester is bringing this grand little cartridge back to life in two distinctly different...