It’s hard to imagine today with our magnums and short magnums, but the 270 used to be the king of high speed. It’s is still a very potent deer and elk rifle today and my personal favorite of the most common calibers. Not only does it offer enough power to take a deer in the 300-600 yard range, where I’m apt to take deer way out in the field, it’s cheap, easy to reload, and light enough on recoil that I wouldn’t hesitate handing it over to my wife or my son when he gets old enough. Thanks in part to its age, we have reams of great reloading data to compare with and use for different load ideas.
270 Bullets for Fast Deer Kills (CXP2)
When it comes to CXP2 class game (deer), it’s important to remember that they’re not invincible. Provide good shot placement and any common hunting bullet will drop a deer just fine. However, fast moving, traditional cup & core bullets have been proven in studies to kill faster and reduce distances that deer run after being shot. If you like your deer DRT (Dead Right There), and don’t mind lead fragments and a lot of devestation in the body cavity, the clear choice in 270 Winchester is to use a traditional 130 grain bullet. While any of them will work, if you’re reloading them anyways, you might as well go with a ballistic tip style bullet. They handle loading without any tip deformation, have slightly better BC, and just look better. 2 of my favorites are the Hornady SST 130 grain .277 ($29.50/100) and the Nosler Ballistic Tip 130 grain .277 ($19.50/50). Some accuracy hounds prefer Berger bullets or Sierra GameKings. Try a few different bullets in your rifle to see what it likes. You may want to try Hornady’s Superformance ammo with the 130 grain SST bullets because they are loaded to a higher speed than you can get right now by reloading by using newly developed powders.
270 Bullets for Deer and Elk or Moose (CXP2 & CXP3)
When CXP2 and CXP3 animals are both on the menu, a 130 grain traditional cup & core isn’t necessarily the best bullet to roll with. It’ll do the job, but a close hit on a thick bone like the front shoulders may not result in very good penetration. A traditionalist would move up to the 150 grain bullet weight and stick with the cup and core bullets. There’s nothing wrong with that choice, but one alternative would be to move to a newer style bonded bullet. Bonded bullets are bullets where the lead core is bonded with the jacket to greatly reduce the possibility of core/jacket separation. A 140 grain Nosler Accubond, 150 grain Hornady Interbond, or 130 grain Swift Scirocco won’t break the bank, and will expand slightly more readily than a monometal (copper) bullet will. You may also want to try Federal’s P270TT4 factory loaded rounds. They’re loaded with a bonded bullet, and come out pretty fast.
270 Bullets for Elk and Moose (CXP3)
With deer off the menu, we can focus on more high penetration bullets, and this is when I’d definitely look at using a monometal bullet. If you dislike large amounts of carnage in your shot game, or don’t want bits of lead all over the meat, you’ve probably already moved to a monometal bullet. Since these all penetrate very well, we can stick to the light side of the 270’s range and go with the 130 grain Barnes TSX or 130 grain Hornady GMX. Unfortunately, there is less reloading data available for both of these bullets than with traditional bullets. You may want to try factory loaded Hornady Superformance ammo with the 130 grain GMX bullets. They’re higher performance than you can reload because they’re using a new powder, so see if they work in your rifle.
Reloading powder for 270 Winchester
Traditionally, H4831, IMR4831, as well as H4350 and IMR 7828 are very popular choices for 270 Winchester. They give great speed, fill the case consistently, and are readily available. Some like the slow burning H1000, and there’s also the new Hybrid 100V which gives excellent metering. If you want to step away from Hodgdon powders, Alliant’s Reloder 22 can give great speeds. Personally, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Alliant powders for over a year now, due to the ongoing ammo/powder shortage. I’m currently using and loving both H4831SC and Hybrid 100V.
When it comes to brass, I have no preference. I’ve found Winchester brass to be in the best supply locally and of good enough quality for hunting, even at long range. I’ve had a lot of loose primer pockets with Federal, so I reload them far fewer times than with other brass manufacturers. On brass prep, I probably go overboard considering I’m “just” hunting and not target shooting. Currently I trim to length, chamfer mouth, uniform primer pocket, and weigh cases out. Since I neck size, brass prep is a lot easier after the first prep. Soon, I’ll be neck turning as well, just to get very uniform neck thickness. In any case, probably more than is necessary for just hunting rounds. Why all the prep for the lowly 270? I hunt out West, and my average kill distance has been ~300 yards, with a max out to 650 yards (with an excellent rest and known distances). That’s on deer or coyote. I like to feel confident in my rifle, and part of that equation is using the best ammunition possible.
When it comes to dies, I run all new cases through a standard LEE full length sizer, mostly to knock out any case mouth dings the cases may have acquired from shipping. To reload, I use a LEE neck collet sizer and the dead length bullet seater. I did have to chuck the neck sizing mandrel in a drill and polish it down a small fraction of an inch to get my neck tightness where I wanted it, and now it’s perfectly tuned to gently size down just the neck. I do have the LEE FCD, but am on the fence about crimping at this point. For the rest of my reloading, I’m using an RCBS Chargemaster combo, a LEE classic cast turret press, and Winchester or CCI primers.
Changed your mind and don’t feel like reloading? Check out my “Most accurate factory 130 grain 270” article.
When Hodgdon releases their superformance powder for 270, I think we’re going to see a big resurgence in interest in the cartridge because with that powder, the regular old 270 gets very close to 270 WSM speeds. So you could be shooting a fast, accurate, reloaded cartridge for way cheaper than its modern equivalent and hold more rounds in your magazine to boot! It gets hard to justify the expensive factory rounds or brass for the 270 WSM when regular 270 is much cheaper, more available, and superformance powder gets it much higher in performance.
Aside from the performance question, you could take the 270 for what it is: accurate enough, and carrying enough power to take game up to 400-600, flat shooting, and relatively low recoil. Of the common rifle cartridges, 7mm rem mag mirrors and bests many of the 270’s best aspects, but at generally slightly greater cost, lower magazine capacity, requiring a longer barrel, and not as available in inexpensive actions. That is to say, the 270 is a very practical cartridge if you need to make long shots.