I recently read "The Emperor's Gift" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, and I have to say it was a pretty good read. Probably going to be doing a book review soon on it and several other books I have read recently. But it lead me to an interesting question: How large is the Space Wolves chapter. It seems to vary at times between authors, and I think too often it is taken for granted that they are about 1000 strong just because they are a Space Marine chapter.
This is much less of a straight forward question than it seems. Before you go rushing off and claiming "They are a Space Marine Chapter, which means they have 1000 Marines", let me offer a counter point that the Flesh Tearers are only about 400 strong. Yes, a lot of this has to do with battle losses, but for the sake of argument, let us agree if you can have one chapter be a little small, another can be a little large.
Now why talk about the Wolf Brothers. Well my point is that since they are a separate genetic founding and not just a restructuring and that there are no other known descendants of the Space Wolves, then the Wolves must have remained legion sized, unlike the Ultramarines and all other Codex chapters. Diminished by battle loss at the end of the Heresy possibly, but larger than a chapter none the less, as they were able to send the significant resources of the 13th company into the eye. Plus they still had great recruiting stock on Fenris, which was able to maintain their numbers during the Great Crusade, so likely able to replenish their numbers over time afterwards. And for some time they had Leman Russ, who likely remained fiercely independent from Roboute and Dorn, though I can't find how long after the heresy he remained.
So it boils down to this: If the SW are only ~1000 strong, where did the rest go? And if they aren't, how large are they? And if they are still legion sized, why are they referred to as a Chapter? It is a mystery I am sure will never be answered, but feel free to voice your thoughts here and remember to hit the poll on the right!
10000 or more 2 (12%)
5000-9999 2 (12%)
2500-4999 5 (31%)
1500-2499 6 (37%)
1000-1499 1 (6%)
Less than 1000 0 (0%)
SO It looks like we can all agree that they are at least a REALLY BIG Chapter.