Cartridge of the Week, the .270 Winchester

By CTD Allen published on in Ammunition, Cartridge of the Week, Firearms, History, Rifles

Who was your favorite Beatle? Paul, John, Ringo or that other guy? To me that other guy was the quiet talent behind all the others, George Harrison. That theory is true with our next cartridge. Other cartridges are better known: the .308 Winchester, the 30-06 Springfield and the .223 Remington. However, the the .270 Winchester  may be the best of all.

The .270 Winchester

This cartridge is not a new player to the game. It was designed in 1925 for the Winchester Model 54 bolt-action rifle. At the time its range was even outdoing the venerable .30-06. To be fully honest it is just a necked down .30-06, but with the lighter bullet it becomes a much more flat-shooting round and the distance is increased.

Winchester Model 54 Bolt Action Rifle in .270 Winchester

As a military cartridge, it never made a showing. I am very surprised by this fact. I have shot the Springfield .30-06, .308 Winchester and the .270 Winchester and find the ballistics of the .270 to be as good, if not better, than its two more well-known cousins. There are few military applications that this cartridge cannot meet the need. In fact, the up and coming mid-length tactical cartridge and I believe a possible replacement to the 5.56×45, the Remington 6.8 Special Purpose (6.8 SPC) is but a .270 caliber bullet in a shorter case. Nevertheless, the .270 Winchester never made a showing on the formal battlefields.

The George Harrison of Cartridges

However, this very velocity has been the source of gun enthusiast’s arguments for almost a century. We in the gun world will always find something to fight about, the .45 ACP versus the 9mm or AR-15 versus AK-47 to cite a few of classic ones I read daily on blogs and social media. The argument in favor of the .270 Winchester is lighter, faster bullet and thus a flat shooting trajectory; does one gain anything over the parent cartridge the .30-06?

I will not engage that one. To be very honest and as simplistic as possible, guns are tools. Like all tools, the best one for the job and the one you can shoot well and put the biscuit in the basket is the best one ever made. What do I own? All at one time or another. As far as hunting goes, I prefer the .308 and .270 Winchester calibers. This is not a performance issue. I do not care for the recoil of the .30-06 in that I have a smaller frame and my follow-up shot with the other two is better. I have hunted with all three as well as with numerous other cartridges. Selecting the proper gun and caliber for the intended application is the key to success in all shooting engagements.

Pronghorn Antelope

In the right .270 rifle, this cartridge is more then enough for most big game and varmints in North America. It is also used in Africa for many game applications. However, its true attractiveness is a long shot requiring a flat trajectory. For my purposes, it has been a great caliber for coyotes and antelope. I believe that mountain goats or sheep would be another although I have yet to experience that opportunity.

I have always enjoyed quiet, simple and unassuming perfection. Much like the quiet Beatle this cartridge does not seek the limelight. Nevertheless, those who have used it, and understand its simple perfection, will never give up on this humble performer.

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