Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter, and Outdoorsman.
When hunting for big game, like elk, it’s vital to bring along the right weapon. You need to have something powerful enough to kill one of these animals. So, is the .270 a good choice?
A .270 will do plenty of damage to a big animal, like an elk. It has a high velocity, allowing for deep penetration. Plus, it has little recoil and tends to fly fairly flat. This makes it very accurate and because of this, it is one of the most widely used bullets in the hunting community.
The type of caliber you should be using is the subject of frequent debate in the hunting community. Keep reading to learn more about the .270 to decide whether it will be a good choice for you.
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What are the Pros and Cons of Using A .270 When Hunting For Elk?
The .270 will be able to achieve a high velocity and can penetrate deeply. This will do a lot of damage, making it suitable for large animals like elk. It also has limited recoil and will be fairly accurate. However, it might be a little more expensive than other types of ammunition and will have an effective range of around 400 yards.
The .270 has become an iconic caliber used by plenty of big game hunters. But that doesn’t mean that it is perfect. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons you need to consider if you plan to use this type of ammunition.
The first area that we need to consider is the ballistics of the bullet. How it will travel will depend on the type of grain you are using. Often, the .270 will have grain somewhere between 130 and 150. As a result, they will be able to achieve a high velocity. It’s not unusual for this ammunition to reach 3,100 feet per second. Depending on the bullet, it might even be able to go as fast as 3,300 feet per second.
Today, other calibers might be able to achieve a higher velocity. But this is still an impressive speed. It will be more than enough for you to take out a large animal, like an elk.
With such a high velocity, the bullet will be able to penetrate deeply into the target. From there, you’ll be able to do a lot of damage. Some bullets, like the Nosler AccuBond, will feature an expanding tip. This creates the iconic mushroom shape. This does a huge amount of damage to the target. One good shot will be enough to take down more large animals.
Another huge benefit is that the .270 cartridge tends to be associated with limited recoil, especially considering the power you can unlock. This is key to a good hunt. With less recoil, it will be a lot easier to use the gun. This will let you increase your accuracy, so you can be confident about hitting the target area.
Another key area that you need to consider is how accurate the bullet will be. Typically, a cartridge from the .270 will fly fairly straight and flat. Many of the manufacturers will shape their ammunition to highlight this aspect. For example, they might include a boat tail to reduce drag and limit wind resistance.
However, the .270 isn’t perfect. Before you try this caliber, there are a few downsides to consider. These are:
- The cost. The bullets for a .270 tend to be a little more expensive than they would for other calibers. For example, it’s not uncommon to end up paying $1 for a .270 but only $0.7 for a .308. While this might not seem like a lot, it will add up over time.
- Versatility. The .270 is one of the most popular types of ammunition. People love working with this type of bullet for hunting. However, manufacturers are starting to shift their attention to other calibers, like the .308.
- It might have problems for long-range hunters. The effective range of most .270 bullets will be around 400 yards. After this, you might not be able to do enough damage to kill the animal.
It should be noted that none of these downsides is a dealbreaker. How important they are will depend on the type of hunt you prefer. In my view, though, the positives of the .270 outweigh the negatives. If you are looking for something capable of taking on large animals, like elk, this can be a great choice.
What is a .270 Used For?
The .270 is an excellent all-purpose caliber. This will allow you to target a range of species. It can even provide enough power to kill elk, antelope, caribou bulls. Most hunters, though, will use it to target deer.
One of the reasons why the .270 is so popular is because of its versatility. The characteristics of this caliber mean that it is capable of hunting all types of animals. The most popular species to target are deer. Most hunters will revel in the challenge of tracking down these animals. The .270 will provide more than enough power to land a lethal shot.
However, this caliber offers a lot of power. This makes it suitable for taking on larger game as well. For example, it can be used successfully when hunting for antelope or caribou bulls. It can even take out elk. As we’ll discuss later, the success of this type of hunt will often rely on accurate shot placement.
This caliber will be enough to handle almost any species of animal in North America. The only possible exception to this might be something like a bear. These have very thick skin. However, they might be felled by the .270. You need to have the correct shot placement and be prepared to fire off multiple bullets.
Who Makes the Best .270 Bullet?
If you are interested in the benefits of a .270 caliber bullet, you can turn to lots of manufacturers. Some of the highlights include:
- Nosler AccuBond. This type of ammunition is known for its explosive power. It will be more than enough to stop any animal that stands in its way.
- Nosler Partition. This has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful bullets in the hunting world. It is known for flying flat for more accurate shooting. When one of these hits an animal, it will do a lot of damage.
- .270 Winchester. This is the original hunting bullet, pioneering the caliber. Today it still provides excellent performance, being a lethal force.
Which type of .270 cartridge you choose will depend on what you are looking for. Some people prefer the power that Nosler provides. Others like the reliability of a long-established brand like Winchester.
It’s worth noting that the prices will be different. However, the cost shouldn’t be the main deciding factor. Compared with the costs involved in buying a rifle and hunting gear, the cost of a bullet will be minimal. The best option is to try a few types of ammunition when hunting. This will let you see which one best suits your hunting style.
Best .270 Rifles For Elk
Once you’ve found the best .270 cartridge, it’s time to consider what rifle you will use. Again, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Some of the best include:
- CZ USA-577 Sporter. This is a very light gun, weighing just 7.39 pounds. It’s also known as an excellent all-around gun. This will be able to take down smaller varmints. But it will also be suitable for taking out some bigger game, like elk. Plus, it comes with an affordable price tag. It will cost just $800.
- Weatherby Vanguard Series 2. This is one of the lightest hunting rifles on the market, weighing only 6.75 pounds. This makes it an excellent choice for hiking into position. This is highly durable and able to cope with a few dints. It also comes at an affordable price tag, costing around $900.
- Remington Model 700. This is known for being a highly accurate gun, which can pack a punch. It’s been built to last for a long time. You’ll be able to keep using it for a lifetime.
There are dozens of other excellent rifles that you can explore. You must be finding the right one for you. As you are doing this, you’ll need to make sure that it has a good fit. This will make the gun easier to control, boosting your accuracy.
Tips For Hunting For Elk With a 270
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Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how the .270 caliber weapons work. But there are a few things that you might need to bear in mind if you want to use this bullet to its full effect. Here are the most important tips.
Shot Placement Matters
While the .270 can pack quite a punch, to have the best chance of taking out your target, you’ll need to get the right shot placement. This is especially when you are going up against a big animal, like an elk. They have a lot of thick bone around sensitive areas. When you are aiming, you’ll need to target these parts of the body:
- Heart and lungs. This is the best target area to focus on. Hit the elk in one of these areas, and they are sure to go down. This is also the most humane way to kill the animal, as they will die quickly.
- Head. If you can put a .270 caliber bullet into the head of the elk, they won’t be getting up again. However, this is a riskier shot. You’ll need to have a clean shot before you even consider making a headshot.
- Neck. Hitting the neck will do a lot of damage. Often, this will be enough to take down the animal. But this is another risky shot. Because of this, you should only make it when presented with the right set of circumstances.
Type of Bullet
As we mentioned, .270 caliber opens a wide range of ammunition options to explore. You’ll have everyone from Winchester to Nosler making hunting bullets of this variety. Each of these will be slightly different, offering something unique to the hunter. You might need to try out a few of these bullets before you find the right one for your hunting style.
Distance From the Target
When you are hunting, you’ll need to consider how far away you are from the target. In most cases, the .270 will have an effective range of 400 yards. You might need to rethink making the shot further away, especially when you target big animals like the elk.
If you like to hunt from long distances, you’ll need to be more selective about the type of bullet you are using. You might need to look for something like the Nosler AccuBond Long-Range. These have been specially designed to have a lower minimum impact speed.
Finally, regardless of which bullet you choose, you’ll need to put in some time on the range. Learn the way that it shoots from your gun. Get used to the type of recoil it produces. By doing this, you’ll be able to aim with confidence on your hike. The more shots you take at elk, the better the chances of landing one.
History of the 270 Winchester
Winchester initially developed the .270 caliber cartridge. It was first released in 1925, but it has origins are far older. It was based on the .30-06 Springfield. The effectiveness of this type of ammunition had just been demonstrated during the first world war. Because of this, it started to take off amongst private citizens.
As the .30-06 started to grow in popularity, many gun manufacturers were looking to modify it to suit their needs better. Most gun manufacturers were looking to make the cartridge bigger. But Winchester was taking the opposite approach. They were trying to neck the ammunition down.
Initially, the .270 was a flop. Sales were slow as most hunters preferred to use the .30-06 Springfield bullets. However, it wouldn’t stay this way for long. There are a few reasons why the .270 started to come to the fore. First, the .30-06 was beginning to increase in price, forcing many hunters to try and find a more economical option. Secondly, respected hunters like Jack O’Conner were writing about the benefits of the cartridge.
Once people started to give it a go, they quickly discovered some of the benefits that it could provide. As a result, it became one of the most popular hunting calibers of a generation. Today, the .270 is regarded as one of the best that you can buy. It is lethal and able to stop any large animal in its tracks.
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If you plan on hunting, you’ll want to think about the caliber of weapon you are using. The .270 is a very popular caliber used by hunters around the world. It offers intense penetration and can do a lot of damage. It will be more than enough power to take out most species in North America, including elk. So, give the .270 a try the next time you go hunting and experience its power for yourself.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since he was a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of outdoor experience. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.