Since being introduced in 1925, the .270 Winchester has steadily become one of the world's most popular centerfire rifle cartridges – thanks to writer Jack O'Connor's tireless promotion. Over the course of 40 years, Jack sang the praises of this round in the pages of Outdoor Life.
The dimensions of the .270 are similar to the .30-06, except that it fires a 0.277" caliber bullet versus the .30-06 diameter of 0.308." It has a reputation for mild recoil and effectiveness as a hunting round in North America, where it is perhaps the most storied and celebrated big game round – thanks to the tireless work of Jack O’Connor. Depending on the bullet weight, you can use this round for dropping varmints or for shooting elk and moose.
However, this isn’t just a hunting round by any means. After the Second World War, the round became popular among hunters, but also metallic silhouette shooters. This is why it’s one of the most popular and manufactured rounds in the world today – versatility – which makes it pretty easy to find cheap .270 ammo. You can purchase firearms chambered for the 270 Winchester in single shot, lever action, autoloaders, pump action, bolt action, and even double rifles for the big game hunters out there.
One of the things making this round so versatile is that it can carry a wide array of different loads. Here’s a quick guide to the different loads you can get in 270, or can even handload yourself:
- Under 110 Grains: This is the right load for most varmints. Basically anything smaller than a coyote is going to be a match for this load.
- 130 Grains: This is the right weight for medium-sized game like mule deer or antelope.
- 140 Grains or Above: This is the right load for bigger game. Moose, elk and deer can all be felled with 270 Winchester when thusly loaded.
The .270 Winchester propels a soft point bullet weighing 130 grains down range at 3,060 feet per second, maintaining a comparatively flat trajectory for longer distances. Bullets weighing between 90 and 160 grains are available with bullet types including SST and Nosler Partition, making the .270 a remarkably versatile cartridge with comparable performance to the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser.
When the cartridge debuted in 1925, it was not an instant sensation. In fact, a lot of people complained that the high-powered round unnecessarily damaged meat. At this time in history, scopes were not very often used and so the flattened trajectory didn’t mean that much to the ammunition consumer of 1925.
Jack O’Connor: Champion of the 270 Winchester
Part of why this round, now one of the most popular in the world, was able to catch on was through the tireless work of one Jack O’Connor. He was an early adopter of the 270 Winchester and was happy to sing its praises to anyone who might listen. No one is sure what phase of his life Jack O’Connor was in when he purchased his first firearm chambered for the 270 Winchester. He might have been in Arkansas getting his undergraduate degree, working as a cub reporter in Chicago, or doing post-graduate work in Missouri.
What we do know, however, is that he had not returned to his native Arizona as of yet. And that he wasn’t a sheep hunter as of yet (his first sheep hunt took place during a sweltering August in 1934). It’s often said that he hunted exclusively with a 270 Win, though this was not actually the case. O’Connor was just as comfortable with a 30-06 as any other man of his time and place. What’s more, he generally opted for heavier duty rounds when hunting big game, such as .416 Rigby or 375 H&H Mag rounds. He was also known to use the wildcat round .450 Watts. Finally, as a man writing about guns, he was to some degree obligated to use a variety of different weapons.
With all this said, the 270 was arguably his preferred rifle. He even took it with him as his light rifle when big game hunting in Africa. It was almost always by his side when sheep hunting in Western Canada, where it dropped several caribou, goats, moose and even grizzlies. He also took the rifle with him when hunting in the mountains of Iran. When he relocated from Arizona to Idaho, he took his rifles with him and used them in his declining years on many of his final hunts.
It’s quite possible – probable even, given how versatile and effective the round is – that it would have eventually taken off even without the blessing of O’Connor. However, the pair’s fortunes rose together and their fates are now inextricably linked.
The History of the 270 Winchester
In the early 1920s, the premier round for hunters was the .30-06. Winchester sought a way to leverage what worked about this round, but also to improve upon it. It’s likely that they saw the 7mm round, popular in Germany, as an inspiration. Combining the two would result in making the 30-06 a lighter round, which means a flatter trajectory and less recoil.
There was just one problem with making the 30-06 into a 7mm round: After the First World War, the metric system was deeply unpopular in the United States, associated with the Imperial German Army. It wasn’t just the Germans – the Spanish were also on the metric system at this point, and they were America’s previous big enemy. Winchester got around this by creating an entirely new cartridge of basically the same size as the 7mm, and they wanted it to be their big flagship round.
The first .270 Winchester rolled off the line in 1925, and was chambered in the Winchester Model 54 – a rifle that was originally far more popular than the ammunition, and the Model 70 soon followed. It featured 130 grain bullets and came pretty close to its advertised speed of 3,160 feet per second. Winchester wanted to make a big and immediate splash, but it wasn’t in the cards. Many found the rifle as a new standard in American gunsmithing, but the .270 sold so poorly that Winchester considered pulling the plug for awhile. Americans were too in love with their .30-06 rounds, which, it is fair to say, had a lot more power than the original .270s. What’s more, for American veterans of World War I, the .30-06 was the round.
Enter Jack O’Connor and his love affair with the round, getting the attention of many American sportsmen. That was all the nudging that it needed. More than anything, O’Connor introduced the round to the West – as it is far less practical in the Eastern half of the U.S. than it is in the Western half, thanks to the heavy forest and cover that the eastern states are known for. In the West, known for its empty, open country, hunters needed something accurate for hundreds of yards.
There were other reasons for the round taking off. For one, the increasing popularity of bolt action rifles helped to make the .270 more palatable. So did a wider array of loads, as well as a reduction in the charge and thus the velocity. And, in some ways, the round was a little ahead of its time. While the market at the time simply wasn’t ready, tastes eventually changed and the market caught up. The .270 would become one of the most popular rounds in the world.
The .270 has since been chambered in nearly every manufacturer's version of a long action bolt rifle made since the mid 1900s. Examples include the Remington 700, the Winchester Model 70, CZ 550, Blaser R8, and TC Venture. The .270 has also been chambered in single-shot rifles like the H&R Handi-Rifle, as well as the Remington 7600 pump action, Browning BLR lever action, and semi-automatic rifles including Remington's Model 7400 and the Browning BAR.
Finding cheap 270 ammo and bulk 270 ammo is rarely difficult, and will have you ready for just about any situation. Whether you need to put food on the table, defend yourself, or win your next competition – the .270 cartridge is versatile enough to do all of the above.
What does 270 Win mean?
The .270 Winchester is an American hunting cartridge developed by Winchester Repeating Arms Company and released in 1925 with the Winchester Model 54. Its parent case is the .30-03 Government, which is also the parent for other rounds such as the .280 and .30-06. It’s popular today for North America’s medium game and some large game, including whitetail deer. It’s seen more use in the West, where the range of the .270 Win can be fully utilized.
What is the history of 270 Winchester ammunition?
The .270 Winchester was developed by Winchester Repeating Arms in 1923 and released to the public as a new hunting cartridge in 1925. Although highly effective at great distances of 500 or more yards, the .270 Win was not highly esteemed after its release; other than its range, which wasn’t needed by hunters East of the Mississippi, the cartridge did little to improve on the .30-06 which was America’s favorite hunting cartridge. But after much promotion and praise given by Jack O’Connor and other gun writers of the era, the .270 Win started to gain some traction and finally found its place as an effective long-distance ammo for medium game and even some large game like whitetail deer and elk.
What can you hunt with 270 Winchester ammo?
You can hunt most of North America’s medium-sized game with the .270 Win and even some of its large game. It’s highly effective on varmints, as well as sheep, boar, and deer, especially in the West, where long-distance is necessary. In some situations, the .270 Win can even handle larger game such as elk and moose.
What is the best 270 ammo for hunting deer?
For deer hunting, most hunters agree that 130 to 150 grain is the best weight for .270 Win ammo. These bullets give you a high velocity with enough energy to penetrate deep into the animal and still make the bullet expand. Opt for a commercial ammo brands such as Hornady, Federal, Remington, or Winchester.
What is the effective range of 270 Winchester ammo?
The .270 Winchester is considered a long-distance cartridge and with good reason. When shooting deer-sized animals, most agree that with a 130 to 140 grain bullet, you can still have 1,200 pounds of energy for a kill shot at 450 yards. For those who are comfortable with only 1,000 pounds of energy, the effective range can be as long as 500 yards. If opting for a lighter bullet, expect the range to be limited, as the flat trajectory common of the .270 Win wobbles at extreme distances with the lighter bullet.
Is 308 ammunition more powerful than 270 Winchester ammo?
When comparing .308 and .270 Win ammunition, the .270 has more power. Although the .308 has a larger projectile, the .270 Win is loaded to a higher pressure (65,000 psi compared to 62,000 psi). The combination of the lighter bullet and higher pressure leads to the .270 having a higher velocity (3,000-3,603 feet per second compared to 2,510-3,100 psi) and greater energy (2,595-2,998 foot pound force compared to 2,588-2,700).
Which is more expensive, .270 ammo or .30-06 ammo?
When comparing the .270 Win to the .30-06, .270 ammunition is more expensive. This is due to the popularity of the .30-06, which is considered one of America’s favorite hunting cartridges. On average, commercial ammo loads of the .270 Win start at about $0.90 a round, while .30-06 cartridges start at about $0.57 a round.
What is the best .270 Winchester ammo to use with a Mossberg Patriot Rifle?
The Mossberg Patriot Rifle chambered in .270 Winchester should be able to shoot any commercial ammunition well. For hunting large game, such as mule deer or elk, consider .270 Win rounds in Hornady SST or Federal Fusion.
270 Ballistics: Chart of Average 270 Ballistics
Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.
|270 Bullet WEIGHT
||Muzzle VELOCITY (fps)
||Muzzle ENERGY (ft. lbs.)
|130 Grain Supreme
|130 Grain Superformance
|155 Grain Supreme