.270 Winchester: Cartridge Profile

The .270 Winchester is a popular .277 caliber (6.8mm) rifle cartridge which has been one of the most popular hunting cartridges in the world for many decades.  It is well-regarded for its mild recoil, and a bullet size fitting between popular .284 and .264 caliber competitors.

Basic Stats & Specs

Date Originated: 1923
Designed By: Winchester
Bullet Diameter: 0.277″ (7.03mm)
Cartridge Overall Length: 3.34″
Parent Case: .30-03 Springfield
Maximum Pressure: 65,000 psi


Backfire’s Hunting Power Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks rifles on a scale of 0 - 100 to analyze its killing power. Included in the formula is frontal area of the bullet, speed at several common hunting distances, bullet weight, and sectional density.


Backfire’s Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

2,880 FPS

Avg. Muzzle Velocity

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

.270 Winchester Ballistic Trajectory 

Distance Drop Velocity
Muzzle +1.5″ 2,880 fps
100 Yards 0″ 2,752 fps
200 Yards -3.3″ 2,477 fps
300 Yards -12.1″ 2,288 fps
400 Yards -27.4″ 2,106 fps
500 Yards -50.2″ 1,933 fps
600 Yards -82.5″ 1,769 fps
700 Yards -125.6″ 1,614 fps
800 Yards -181.9″ 1,471 fps
900 Yards -254.9″ 1,342 fps
1,000 Yards -347.5″ 1,228 fps

.270 Winchester Energy and Flight Time

Distance Energy (FPE) Flight Time (Seconds)
Muzzle 2,533 0″
100 Yards 2,184 0.11″
200 Yards 1,875 0.23″
300 Yards 1,599 0.36″
400 Yards 1,355 0.51″
500 Yards 1,141 0.66″
600 Yards 956 0.83″
700 Yards 796 1.02″
800 Yards 661 1.22″
900 Yards 550 1.44″
1,000 Yards 461 1.69″

The data in the above tables averages several different common loads for the cartridge.  It is an average to give shooters an idea of what performance is normal from the cartridge, but faster and slower speeds can be accomplished depending on the particular load.  This data is for cartridge comparisons, and not for creating a dope chart for your rifle.

1,549 Shots of Barrel Life

The .270 Winchester has an average barrel life of 1,549 shots, which is short for shooters who practice at volume. However, some shooters have reported shooting over 2,000 rounds without a loss in accuracy with well-made barrels which were well-maintained.

$1.35 Per Cartridge on Average

Across different brands and loads from various online and physical stores, the average current cost per shot for .270 Winchester ammunition is $1.35 in the United States.  The average price per box of ammunition is $26.99.


#6 in Bolt-Action Popularity

5.68% of all bolt-action rifles today are made in .270 Winchester.  It is the 6th most popular bolt-action rifle caliber on the market.  It has been popular for decades around the world.

$1.67 Real Cost Per Shot

While the cost of each cartridge is just $1.35, if you factor into the cost of a shot the barrel life and how expensive it is to replace a barrel, the average cost per shot becomes $1.67, which is low for centerfire rifle.

Taylor's Knockout Factor

What is this?

This early 1900s formula accounts for bullet weight, caliber, and velocity to estimate killing power. It fails to account for frontal area and long-range ballistics. A .243 scores 9.9 on this scale, and a .300 win mag scores 24.07

Backfire's Ballistic Efficiency Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks cartridges ability to shoot a heavy projectile quickly while using the least amount of powder. The scale is 0 (not efficient) to 100 (perfectly efficient).

Muzzle Mathematic Stress (N/m2)

What is this?

Mathematic stress gives an idea of how much force is placed on each square millimeter of area that the bullet will contact when it initially hits an animal. It is a helpful indicator of penetration.

Bullet Frontal Area (mm2)

What is this?

Bullet frontal area is the surface area of the projectile when placed facing toward the measurer. It shows how much area will be impacted when a bullet hits.

Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer

The .270 Winchester is an excellent deer hunting round, and has proven itself as one of the most popular deer rounds for several decades.  It retains over 1,000 foot/pounds of energy out to 570 yards, which makes it perfectly suited to hunting deer in almost all realistic hunting situations.


The .270 Win is an adequate elk cartridge, but is considered by many elk hunters to be somewhat under-powered.  Many regard 1,500 foot/pounds of energy necessary to cleanly kill elk, and this cartridge retains that power, on average, to 320 yards. The .270 is an especially good choice for elk hunting for shooters who are recoil sensitive.

Black Bear

The .270 Win is an excellent choice for black bear hunting.  It is capable of producing the type of energy required for a thick-furred game with powerful shoulders such as a black bear.  Choose a controlled-expansion bullet if hunting bear at distance with a .270.

Grizzly Bear

The .270 is not a good choice for hunting grizzly bear.  While it is certainly possible to kill any-sized game with a .270, the risk of wounding a grizzly bear would be high with a .270’s lighter weight bullet and skinnier caliber than most typical grizzly calibers. Hunting grizzly with a .270 is dangerous.


The .270 Winchester is unquestionably capable of taking big-bodied moose, but most hunters recommend selecting a heavier caliber such as the .30-06 Springfield.  However, the .270 does produce over 1,500 foot/pounds of energy out to 320 yards, so if the traditional rule of thumb is followed, it meets the standard.


The .270 Winchester is an adequate round for hunting hogs.  Some hunters even take hogs with much lighter bullets by selecting well-placed headshots.  For shoulder shots on tough hogs, some hunters prefer larger cartridges in the .30 caliber range.  Hogs are tougher than many first-time hunters give them credit for.


The .270 Winchester is an excellent choice for hunting caribou.  Not known for being especially hardy, caribou can cleanly be taken with approximately 1,000 foot/pounds of energy and proper shot placement and bullet construction.  The .270 maintains 1,000 foot/pounds of energy out to 570 yards with an average load.


The .270 Winchester can, in theory, kill a velociraptor.  The only problem is that it was invented 65 million years after velociraptors were killed off the planet.  We’ll assume, however, that it was possible.  Would I pick a .270?  Heck no.  I think I’d go with a .416 Ruger, or maybe one of those futuristic guns from Jurrassic Park.  

Theoretical Free Recoil (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Theoretical Recoil Velocity (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Free Recoil as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Recoil Velocity as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Backfire's Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

Ballistic efficiency is a cartridge's ability to move a heavy bullet quickly while using the least amount of powder. Backfire's efficiency rating is a scale from 0 to 100 with lower scores being less efficient than higher scores. We consider a score above 45 to be an efficient cartridge.

A Look at Recoil

The .270 Winchester is a mild-recoiling cartridge.  It produces 14.8 foot/pounds of free recoil energy, and 10.29 foot/pounds of recoil velocity, assuming a 9 pound gun and an average load.  The .270 Win is an excellent choice for hunting elk and moose for shooters who are recoil sensitive.

A Look at Efficiency

The .270 Win is a very efficient cartridge for the weight of the bullet, caliber, and muzzle velocity.  It is in the 63rd percentile for cartridge efficiency.


If you have questions about the .270 Winchester cartridge, we’d be happy to help! Whether you call it the .270, the .270 Win, or the .270 W.C.F, we’re passionate about this cartridge.  Here are a few answers to the most common questions.

Is the .270 Winchester long action?

The .270 Winchester is a long-action cartridge.  The overall length of the cartridge is 3.34″, and a short action cartridge is generally 2.8″ in length.  

What is the effective range of the .270?

The .270 is capable of shooting targets out to 1,000 yards with -347.5″ of drop on average, but it is not regarded as a particularly flat shooting cartridge.  In hunting situations, the .270 retains 1,000 ft/lbs of energy out to 580 yards, and 1,000 foot/pounds of energy to 320 yards on average.

Why is the .270 Winchester so popular?

The .270 Winchester was popularized by Jack O’Connor and remains popular because it is an excellent trade-off for many shooters.  It is powerful enough to take large game like moose and elk while having little recoil.  It is also a good compromise between larger .284 caliber bullets and smaller .264 caliber bullets.

Is a .308 more powerful than a .270?

The .308 Winchester is slightly more powerful than a .270 Winchester, but that answer depends on the measurement.  The .308 produces, on average, 2,490 ft/lbs of muzzle energy, while the .270 produces 2,533 ft/lbs.  However, the .308’s larger frontal area generates more damage to the target.

What animals can a .270 kill?

The .270 has been used to take animals of every imaginable size, including elephant in times past.  However, it is commonly used to ethically hunting game up to moose, elk, and bear.  Most hunters consider it slightly under-powered for large game at 400 yards.

What is the next caliber up from the .270?

While the .270 is a powerful cartridge, some shooters may want to move up to the next level of energy and velocity.  The 7mm-08, 6.5 PRC, and 280 Ackley Improved are all good choices for cartridges slightly more powerful.