.400 whelen

The Addendum to Vol I of HWS has an entry on page 281, thus:

[i]Apparently during the early 1920s Frankford Arsenal loaded some Cal. 40 soft point bullets into necked-up Cal. 30 service cases. This round was to become known commercially as the Cal .400 Whelen. Cartridges with cases headstamped FA 21 and FA 22-R have been examined from what is believed to be an Arsenal 20-round carton marked:

JULY 23, 1923[/i]

I have in my collection what is a very similar cartridge. It is headstamped FA 22-R. The bullet appears to be either one of the old Western T&C Works bullets or a WCC bullet, but I’m not positive. It has the same appearance as other WT&CW and WCC bullets of that era.

Does anyone have one of these, or something similar, in their collection? I have my own theory of why FA would have loaded these - does anyone have a theory of their own?


As far as I know Whelen worked at the Frankford arsenal and the 400 whelen was developed there.Am I right?

Great information & pic Ray. Whelen of course ran Frankford Arsenal so had plenty of opportunity to work on his own pet projects.
When I was researching my IAA article on the .400 Belted Whelen (IAA #461), I was surprised at the lack of in-depth information on much US sporting ammo, esp the G&H’s & Whelen’s.
Keith’s ‘Big Game Rifles and Cartridges’ has quite a bit on the .400 Whelen and mentions cases were made from .30-06 case blanks - what are the case dimensions of your .400 Whelen?
The date of 1923 on the FA box of .400 Whelen I think has significance. By 1924, Whelen was ordering cases from Kynoch. Had Whelen retired by then?

Pivi & JohnP-C

You guys are on the ball. That is my theory also. I also have a couple of unheadstamped 35 Whelen cases that I believe came from Frankford and were most likely made at Whelen’s request.

I am writing an article for the JOURNAL on the 243 Winchester and in it you will find a reference to Whelen and how his influence at Frankford had not diminished, even in the 1950s. Join IAA and you can read about it.

I believe that the only error in the HWS entry was saying that the 400 Whelen cases were necked-up Cal 30 Service cases. They were more likely unfinished cases that were necked down. Here are dimensions from mine that tend to support that:

Neck diameter = .434
Bullet diameter = .410
Shoulder diameter = .457
Base diameter = .467
Base to shoulder = 2.000
CL = 2.475


Damitall!! I hate it when these topics get started, and it always seems to be Ray that is the cause of the trouble. Many times in the past I have dropped funky wildcatish looking FA headstamped cartridges in the reject bucket, along with the obvious reloads, empty cases, and loose bullets. Now I’m off to dig through the junk (again) to see if its possible that something decent remains that has not been buried, dumped, or given away.


Don’t blame it all on me. I cannot count the number of times I have gone thru box after box of my “junk” looking for a headstamp or odd cartridge that you and other Forum members have posted.

The only time I refuse to look is when the subject is a 455 revolver cartridge. Or is it 450? Same thing.


Do you think there is anyone who has so little going on in his life that he’d actually resort to collecting .450 revolver cartridges. I think even the .30-40 Krag would be more interesting.

Pete deCoux has some of those Whelen cases and cartridges also. Since he can’t figure out how to post a photo I’ll do it for him.

I did forget to mention the uncrimped primers.

I think maybe Col Whelen had Frankford load more than a box of 20.

Here’s what Pete said in an e-mail to me:

[i]Hi Ray

1st- liked your piece on the 30-80.

2nd- as to the .400 W’s photo attached of mine. The left is headstamped FA
21 & is loaded, and has an uncrimped. 204"/ 5.18mm brass primer. The one on
the right is FA 22-R and doesn’t have a primer in the, 1 vent hole, Boxer
.204" / 5.18mm dia. pocket. I believe both GM jacketed bullets are Western,
but may well be wrong. The empty case is unheadstamped, and the primer
pocket is the same size as the others, although the brass “looks” Western &
not FA.

FYI I also have two, .35 Whelen’s in my military collection both FA 22
headstamps, same uncrimped .204" brass primer, one is a GM soft nose the
other a solid.

I haven’t again figured out how to post on the forum, so if you want, feel
free to post this photo.

AZ kid [/i]