I am finally getting around to projects I have been anticipating for several years. One of these was putting together a credible all-around hunting and recreational rifle—something with more stretch than the .308 Winchester and perhaps a bit of finesse. I chose the Mossberg All Terrain Rifle (ATR) in .270 Winchester. I have enjoyed such good luck for so long with the ATR in .308 Winchester, I did not wish to rock the boat and so stayed with a proven product. The short-action ATR in .308 is a good rifle—the balance of accuracy and price is outstanding, while the .270 long-action chambering is a real bargain.
The .270 Winchester—The Rifleman’s Cartridge
The .270 Winchester cartridge is among the most versatile and effective cartridges in America. The .270 was introduced in 1925 and has proven popular ever since.
The .270 is simply a .30-06 Springfield necked down to .277 caliber. The .270 is intended for long-range work and killing power at moderate range. The cartridge is accurate and effective, but doesn’t kick as hard as some rifle cartridges. The .270 has taken every species of North American game. While perhaps light for the largest bears, the cartridge stands alone for versatility. As an example, the 90-grain bullet may be loaded to a full 3,600 fps. This makes the .270 an effective varmint cartridge. Sure, we will probably use a .223, but for the man with one rifle the .270 is a varmint buster.
A 100-grain bullet at 3,500 fps is another option. The enthusiastic handloader can really make the .270 talk! The standard 130-grain bullet at 3,100 fps is a good all-around deer load for long range. There is also a 150-grain bullet for heavier game.
The .270 is efficient with a variety of loads and bullet weights. The accuracy of the cartridge is demonstrated off the benchrest, while ballistic media demonstrates the power of the cartridge. The balance of penetration and controlled expansion of these loads is excellent. I particularly like the .270’s neck design. There is plenty of tension in the neck with all bullet weights, even with the lightest bullets.
While lighter and faster bullets may be used, the standard 130-grain load shoots flat over long distances. While some may master magnum cartridges, I do not own a magnum rifle. I prefer the .308, .270 and .30-06 cartridges. They do the business with accuracy, efficiency, and less bruising and raising of eddies in the skin.
The cartridge responds well to a careful handloader. Effect on game is reliable. My experiments with the Mossberg ATR/.270 rifle combination have been good. What really counts, and the reason I was led to this combination, are the glowing reports of the .270’s effect in the field. This is why the .270 has been called the rifleman’s rifle. Nothing I have observed can contradict this statement.
I fitted a Vanguard Endeavor RS 41240 BDC riflescope to my personal rifle in an effort to give myself an edge in the field. The scope features good adjustment, clear optics and good zero retention. Adjustment was rapid. It was with a minimum expenditure of ammunition that the rifle was sighted in. When choosing rifle ammo for the .270, the field is broad.
Hornady offers at least nine loads from 100 to 150 grains. The Sierra 90-grain Varmint bullet is a handloading proposition, and the Hornady bullets are available as components. As I often do, I searched for an economical loading to get the hang of the rifle and to sight it in.
During the initial evaluation, I used the Fiocchi 130-grain JSP, and later fired the Fiocchi 150-grain loads. Results were excellent. Accuracy was good and the powder burn was clean. While testing, I learned two things. The .270 kicks more than the .308, but then it is a larger cartridge. It also burns more powder and churns up a bit more horsepower.
In addition, the .270 and the Mossberg ATR were not quite as accurate as the .308 ATR. Not surprising either as the .308 is a match-grade cartridge. The difference? An average of one-inch or less at 100 yards for the .308 and 0.8-1.25 inch for the .270. However, I haven’t experimented very much. Considering that it takes an excellent rifleman to stand on his legs and fire a three-shot 5-inch group at 100 yards, I think the .270 offers all of the accuracy I need.
The rifle is sighted to strike two inches high at 100 yards, which gives me a dead-on hold to 200 yards. If you cannot shoot, of course, you may as well throw rocks. However, that is the accuracy this rifle and cartridge are capable of delivering. One thing is for certain—if I get a shot and do not connect with the game, it isn’t the fault of the gun or the ammo. It is mine alone. This rifle is a credible choice for anyone on any budget.
What is your go-to hunting caliber or the one you simply can’t live without? Share your answer in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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