Back about the turn of the 19th Century, Winchester introduced a cartridge known as the .25-35. It was significantly more powerful than their .25-20 WCF and was intended for Winchester’s 1894 lever-action rifle, and as you might imagine, it was based on the cartridge case used by the .30-30 Winchester. For the most part, the .25-35 has been extinct for about 50 years, but that does not mean there are not a lot of .25-35 rifles out there.
Incidentally, my son took his first deer with a .25-35. The bolt-action rifle he used was a customized Remington Model 788, once chambered for the .30-30 Winchester. The rifle was light and so was the recoil. He shot a spike buck through the heart with it at about 60 yards. I’m not sure another gun or cartridge could have worked any better.
However, the problem with the .25-35 is the same problem that has plagued tube-fed lever-action rifles since they were introduced: They must use round-nose bullets to avoid the potential of igniting the primer of the cartridge ahead of them in the magazine tube. Hornady addressed this problem with the .30-30 Winchester about a dozen years ago with the introduction of their FTX bullets. These bullets have a pointy tip made of a rubberized material. Their sleekness helps them fly flatter, and their expansion characteristics help them damage more tissue.
For 2017, Hornady designed an FTX .257 caliber bullet just for the .25-35 Winchester. They are even loading it in their LEVERevolution line of ammunition. Now grandpa can find quality ammo for his .25-35, and if you want to hunt with grandpa’s old lever-gun, you can use premium ammunition.
But that’s not all. You can also purchase these 110-grain, .257 caliber, FTX bullets as reloading components. They are ideal for the .25-45 Sharps, a cartridge intended to be 50-state legal in the AR-15. Designed to perform best with a muzzle velocity of about 2,400 fps, this bullet can also be used to download cartridges such as the .25-06 or .257 Roberts for folks who are recoil shy.
I tested the 110-grain FTX bullet in 10% ordnance gelatin and found it would deliver a good wound cavity to about 8 inches, while penetrating about 18. At moderate ranges, I’d shoot a deer with this bullet any day of the week. I suspect it would work just as well on wild hogs, or for black bears over bait or up a tree.
In any case, Hornady gets a thumbs-up for reviving a great classic cartridge, and for producing a bullet that adds versatility to some that are more popular.
Images by Richard Mann