Is The .270 Win. The Top American Caliber?

There are a lot of .30-06 fans out there ... lots and lots of them. But there's a better option when it comes to a topnotch deer caliber.

After 88 years, it still throws a 130-grain bullet 3,100 fps from a 24-inch barrel. At 300 yards, that slug is still hauling 1,700 foot-pounds of punch. Zero it at 200 yards and it will drop a mere 6 inches at 300 yards. This is why the .270 Winchester remains one of the best, mild-recoiling, flat-shooting, all-round, open-country, medium-game rifles.

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I consider it ideal for mule deer, whitetails, pronghorn, sheep, caribou and black bears. It's not excessive for coyotes and, with the right bullet, it's more than sufficient for elk and even moose. I might not make it my first choice for grizzlies, but I wouldn't turn it down, either, especially with a controlled-expansion 150-grain slug traveling at 2,900 fps.

Last season, I used a Mossberg 4×4 in the old .270 Win. chambering with Winchester's 130-grain Power Max Bonded bullets to take two mature 5×5 whitetail bucks and one 6×6 at 180, 220 and 320 yards respectively. The work required four shots. I gave the 6×6 an anchoring punch to eliminate any chances for a last-gasp flop across a fence where hunting wasn't allowed.

This is standard operating procedure for the 270 Win., the first offspring of our military .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Back in the day, wildcatters looking to increase bullet speed hit upon the idea of necking the 30-06 case down to grip a .277-inch bullet. When gun writer Jack O'Connor tried the new .270 Win., he became its champion, taking nearly all North American big game—including grizzlies—with it. Thousands of other hunters have followed his lead.


The .270 Winchester (left) was made in 1925 by reducing the neck diameter of the .30-06 Springfield cartridge case.

Most factory ammo comes with 130-, 140- and 150-grain bullets, but handloaders can find bullet weights from 90 grains to 160 grains. These make the .270 Win. even more versatile. The light bullets shoot the flattest, the heavy ones hit the hardest, penetrate the farthest and resist wind deflection the most.

If you're confused by today's array of long and short magnums—or perhaps worried about potential recoil—get a .270 Winchester. It just plain works.


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