Cartridge of the Week, the .270 Winchester

By CTD Allen published on in Ammunition, Firearms, News

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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Comments (13)

  • Charlie


    I used to own and hunt with a Herters .264 Win Magnum. While it was an impressive looking and sounding rifle, with enormous recoil. I never could hit a dang thing with it, no matter what. I got to hate that rife. While on the range with a friend, he showed me an old Savage 110 in .270 Win caliber. Watching him shoot it was impressive as he hit the mark every time and with very tight groups. He let me shoot it, and I knew I just had to have one after that. It was the most accurate, flat shooting rifle I had ever encountered up to that time. Still is!


  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas


    All great comments, and I understand the ballistic info rings true. I never had a .270 or a .308, but did fire my best friend’s Remington 700 in .270 at the range years ago, and loved it. The gun was accurate and comfortable, but the recoil was about non-existant compared to my 740 in 30.06 which I could never hit anything with. After doing a trigger job which didn’t help, I finally determined the bedding was off. The tension on the double threaded sleeve in the fore end needed adjusting. Finally, I had it shooting, then traded it for a 788 in 6mm Rem. Killed lots of Deer, and Fox, and even a huge female Coyote with it. Still have it. Then, after a couple of years, I bought a nice used Savage 111 Chieftain in 30.06. I loved that gun, you guys talkin’ about 110s in .270 make me think of it. Mine got stolen after several years and many more Deer. Now I have a 742 ADL in 30.06 that I’ve never shot. I inherited it from my deceased father-in-law. I really don’t hunt anymore, but now I’d love to have a nice accurate bolt action in .308, and a SOCOM 16 Springfield. Hopefully, I can fulfill that wish in the not too distant future. Damn, Kicknbak I know exactly how you feel. This is a short post for me, and more than 2 or 3 times I’ve done the same thing with one three times as long as this one. Somehow, all those hours of patience freezin’ my ass off sittin on a limb with a branch pokin’ my back seems to help when it’s time to say Sh9%T a couple of times, and start re-typing.


  • larry


    The caliber the late Jack O’Conner wrote about alot.


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