270 bullets are one of the most versatile and effective medium-game cartridges. The 270 Winchester ammo is used as a benchmark when talking about calibers. It was released in 1925 in the Model 54 bolt action rifle. The first factory load was a 130-grain bullet at a high muzzle velocity. However, after its release, the 270 cartridge went largely unnoticed due to the popularity of the ex-military Springfield. Also, a major problem with the factory loads was that the 30-06 required a 150-grain bullet at an advertised 3000fps, which had a potentially harder-hitting load than the 270 130-grain bullets.
Fortunately, a U.S. gun writer Jack O’Connor suggested that 30-06 loads were likely to have been chronograph in extremely long factory test barrels but had unrealistic velocities for sporting rifles. Since the hunters had no access to a chronograph, they relied solely on the factory’s word. They gradually began to use and experiment with 270 Winchester ammo, and it really proved its worth due to its excellent exterior and terminal ballistic performance. The previously used 130-grain bullet was designed with a stout jacket in order to withstand high-velocity impact, but the Winchester 270 delivered high stock, gave penetration, and killed fast.
The 270 cartridge was designed as a lighter version of the 30-06. Hence some hunters regarded O’Connor’s opinions as biased due to his enthusiasm for hunting light game. However, he also favored the 130-grain, which he used for most of his game, but he also used 270 cartridges and hunted 36 game species from Mexico, North America, India, and Africa. He also hunted some big game with Winchester 270, like a black bear, zebra, eland, elk, grizzly bear, and moose. He indicated that 270 bullets were suitable for all North American hunting at a comfortable recoil level for most hunters. These bullets slowly gained popularity with U.S. hunters as they began complaining about the 130-grain loading ruining too much meat and tearing large holes in skins. Hence, Winchester released a 150-grain load with a moderate velocity to address this problem, but the sales were very low. So to optimize the profits, the manufacturers reduced the powder charge weight of 130-grain loads, thus lowering the muzzle velocities to below 3000 fps.
After this, the New Zealand government hunters also began to use 270 bullets for the mass culling operations on NZ wild deer. The lower velocity loadings gave incredible results. After a herd of deer was located, the hunter would open fire and could quickly shift their aim from one animal to the next. In the South Island of New Zealand, when the red deer hinds became leaner in the winter, the 270 cartridges could pass through the chest with either little expansion or low energy transfer. Other loads that would slowly kill animals allowed them to escape, mostly when the culler would focus solely on placing one chest shot after another on successive animals. Hence, the 270 soon became the go-to option for faster killing combinations.
Despite the 270 loads causing too much or too little damage to the meat, the factory loads remained unchanged till the mid-1990s, after which premium options became available. Since then, the competition among the manufacturers has resulted in numerous variations of bullet styles and a major increase in performance.
Modern Use of Winchester 270 Cartridge
The 270 Winchester is still strong and is one of the most popular hunting rifles, extensively used in North America, Europe, and Africa for smaller games. The major benefit of this bullet is the extremely flat trajectory that makes it on par with high-BC projectiles, thus making it ideal for longer 300yd+ shots common in American West and Sub-Saharan Africa. Winchester 270 bullet sizes are usually between 100 to 160 grains, 150 being the most popular for factory hunting loads. This is because of their good combination of velocity and impact energy. However, larger projectiles like 180 grains are also available, used primarily for hand loading but with a lower velocity.
Further, if you are handloading and want to run a hotter powder charge, you can get 150 grains factory load velocities with a larger projectile. This can be perfect if you go after a big game like moose. You can also use the newer, higher BC bullets as a hunting caliber to increase the 270’s range, but the newer 270 projectiles are more than capable of doing this. Other shells have an impressive ballistic coefficient that maintains a velocity of 2000 fps to 600 yards. These can even carry deer-slaying energy further with a minimal drop, ideal for a competent hunting round and a long-range target round.
The 270-bullet has been an extremely popular mainstream cartridge and will likely remain for several decades. It has helped hunters with its reliable performance and is popular with hand loaders and factory ammunition users. There would hardly be any ammunition store that does not stock 270-caliber rifles.