I have used the .270 a fair amount over the years, but have never really given it much thought. I’ve never actually owned one, but have taken deer, elk and coyotes with loaners. Recently one followed me home, so I started doing some load development. From my results, I started asking myself if the pedestrian .270 might just be the perfect everyday hunting rifle? I freely admit that there are a bunch of rounds that work just fine. I also admit that, because the field is so crowded, I am going to have to split a few hairs to make my point. That being said, I ask you to hear me out. Now I’m not talking about specialty rounds like the 6.5 PRC or 28 Nosler because they just aren’t very common, and ammo can be hard to find.
What made me start to wonder was when I started comparing the .270 to the 7mm Remington Magnum that I usually hunt with. As it turns out, I can fling a 140-grain bullet from my .270 just as fast as a 160-grain bullet in my 7 mm. The 7 requires a 2 inch longer barrel, which means more gun weight. It also requires more powder in a bigger case leading to a significant bump in recoil. Are those extra 20 grains worth all that?
Then I started looking at the shiny new toy in town. These days the 6.5 Creedmoor seems to be the man, and I admit, it does pretty well. However, the .270 throws its bullets between 100 and 200 feet per second faster. While bullet weights top out around 140 grains in the 6.5, you can find bullets up to around 160 grains in the .270, which would be a better choice when you are chasing the big stuff. Well, the 6.5 has less recoil, you say? Yep, by about 1.5 foot pounds. You are one sensitive dude if you can notice that difference.
Well then, why not step up to the .30-06 then? After all, you can lob bullets over 200 grains with it. It certainly isn’t a bad choice, but with the heavier bullets, recoil goes up as well and velocity goes down. These days we have a plethora of good bullets to choose from. So while I do believe in heavy-for-caliber bullets, there is no need to overdo it. The .270 deals out bullets that will handle anything we hunt around here. While the good ol’ .30-06 can pretty much keep up with the .270 with comparable bullet weights, the ballistic coefficient of the 30-caliber bullets is pretty poor. That means its trajectory won’t be as good.
As I said, there are lots of calibers out there that will do the job just fine. However, the more I work with the plain old .270, the more I wonder if it might just be the Goldilocks bowl of porridge that is just right.
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