Ammo Brief: .270 Winchester

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Useful for bagging everything from big game down to varmints, .270 Winchester is America’s longstanding welterweight champ.

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This is an excerpt from Cartridge's Of The World, 16th Edition, available now at GunDigestStore.com.

Designed by Winchester in 1925 for its Model 54 bolt-action rifle, .270 Winchester caused quite a stir in shooting circles. At the time of introduction, it offered better long-range performance than any big-game cartridge available on the American market. The cartridge is based on the .30-06 case necked down to .277 inch. The case neck is .050-inch longer but, except for the neck and headstamp, the .270 Winchester is otherwise identical to the .30-06.

General Comments

Along with the .30-06, this is one of the most accurate and effective all-round American big-game cartridges. Its reputation and popularity have increased steadily since its introduction. Although not intended as a varmint cartridge, the .270 will serve very well in that capacity when loaded with bullets of 90 to 110 grains.

The 130-grain bullet at 3,100-fps muzzle velocity is considered adequate by many experienced hunters for any North American big game.

270-Winchester-Chart

The present 150-grain bullet at 2,860 fps is intended for maximum penetration on heavier animals such as elk, moose or bear. Some disagree, but current evidence reinforces the conclusion that the .270 is adequate for any North American big game, and some African plains game as well.

Assuming the hunter uses the proper bullet for the job at hand, the .270 will deliver reliable performance. In any comparison of the .270 with the .30-06, much depends on intended use and hunting conditions. For some reason, many individuals shoot better with the .270 than the .30-06. The .270 is flatter shooting than the .30-06 and, thus, makes a better varmint/big-game rifle where this is a consideration. The .30-06, with its 180-, 200- and 220-grain bullets, must be conceded as a better heavy-game cartridge.

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In accuracy and general performance, there isn’t a great deal to argue about. Anyone trying to make a big case for one against the other is beating a pretty dead horse. The .270 Winchester is commercially loaded by all large domestic and most foreign ammunition manufacturers.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt of Cartridge's Of The World, 16th Edition.

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1 COMMENT

  1. A cursory examination of the chart above shows the 270W firing a 135 grain bullet @ 3000 fps, along with a 140 grain bullet @ 2979 fps, all day, every day with much less PSI pressure than the Army’s new mistake steel/brass case at 80,000 PSI.
    The Army’s new .277 Fury 141 grain cartridge barely bests the 270W @ less pressure, less cost, less testing costs, & if Sig can fashion a suitable rifle for the Fury, a semi-auto rifle can be made or adapted for the 270W. Astonishing!

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