I know John as MuleDeer over on 24hourcampfire. Yes, I try to read everything that man writes, and he's very accessible. If you ever get over there, tell him the shaman sent you.
The 35 REM? Follow me here. First off, I'm not a huge fan of 30/30. I'd been a 30-06 snob in my early years and a 30-30 was my first trip away from home. It's a long story, but 30-30 did not impress me. The Marlin 336? Wonderful rifle. I really like everything about it, but the 30-30 seemed a bit anemic to me-- long story.
I've since made my peace with 30-30 WIN. It took a while, but I finally found a load that worked. In the meanwhile, I found a Savage 99 in 308 WIN that that I deliberately downloaded to 300 Savage levels. That's been the perfect rifle/round for me so far. The only thing I like in the Marlin 336 over the Savage 99 is the exposed hammer that comes to half-cock. I really love deer hunting, in fact hunting in general, with an exposed hammer.
Then I start looking at the 35 REM. It's very very close to a 30-30 in a lot of ways, except it has more recoil and not all that more range. So it comes down to this: If I don't have warm fuzzies about 30-30, why do I want a 35 REM? My explorations will probably take me in a different direction.
I actually do want a Marlin 336 in 35 REM one of these days. I want to have it re-chambered for 356 WIN and have a 358 WIN equivalent on a Marlin 336 action-- what a sweet rifle that would be. The 30-30 can get a similar treatment and become a 307 WIN-- a 300 Savage kind or round on the Marlin 336 action. If these things don't come to pass, I might very well end up with a Browning BLR in 358 WIN, 308 WIN or some such thing-- you just never know. I also know a bunch of guys who've bought Marlin 336 donor guns in 35 REM and then gotten so attached to them they never send them off for the re-chambering.
Moral: if you're going to do a custom gun project, never take the donor gun out to the range. It may end up never being mailed to the gunsmith.
One other thing. I'm not going to speak out against Marlin's attempt to make bring out their new rounds in partnership with Hornady. It's kind of the wave of the future-- people want a rifle and they're locked into buying the special ammo to go with it. I'm fine with that, and so far the response to these offerings is good. Personally, I like the idea of building on what's already there. The Marlin offering in 308 is a LOT like 307 WIN and 338 Marlin Express is a LOT like 356 WIN. I'm also a reloader, so I have biases that other guys don't.
This is all just IMHO. I'm telling you my basic biases, and I don't mean to tell someone their 35 REM is ugly or their 30-30 is too underpowered to take deer. This is just an old coot who has finally learned to listen to the voices inside his head-- otherwise they make me do bad things. The voices are telling me to go down to the shamanic loading cave and polish some brass. I must obey.
Bullet choices: I'm always a big fan of Hornady Interlock SP 165's . My second is the Rem Corelokt 165 PSPCL. 3rd and 4th place go to the 150 grain versions of each. It's really all just a toss-up-- whatever shoots the best in that BAR is what counts. If I HAD to chose a premium bullet I'd think about the Nosler Partition or Accubond. Frankly, there is not a deer bullet out there that would really scare me. Speer, Sierra, Barnes. . . You're not pushing any envelopes with your rig. The trick here is finding something that groups with minute-of-deer accuracy and doesn't bust your wallet or your shoulder.
Remember that you're willing to sacrifice a little velocity for accuracy. Somewhere as the load approaches MAX velocity, the rifle starts losing accuracy and MAX is really different for each individual rifle.
I frequent the campfire quite a bit and always look for John's posts. I enjoy them quite a bit and he, as you said, is very accessible. I picked up the 35 Rem about 2 years ago for my father due to we were hunting an area where you might get a 50 yard shot. He uses that, I use my 358. He wanted either that or a 30/30 levergun. Had the 356 Win still been produced, I probably would've went that route, but we got a great deal on it and I have no issues with it at this point and it's been great in the cedar swamps. I have to agree with your thoughts on the new rounds with the special ammo .at least as a handloader. What happens if that round becomes obsolete? I saw savage is now offering their classic bolt action in both the 250 and 300 Savage. Too bad they didn't do a run of 99's
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