Both of these cartridges come with a loyal following that will argue until their last days as to why their cartridge is the best available. What we will see is that these are two cartridges that are very similar and we have to look at the details to understand under which situations one might have the edge over the other.
In this article, we will take a look at these similar cartridges and discuss under which situations one cartridge might serve you better than the other. You’ll never find a winner in our comparisons. Both can be effective in very similar conditions, and we think your preference and confidence with a cartridge is just as important as the small differences, especially when comparing two that share many similarities as these do.
Before fully jumping in we do want to mention a disclaimer. We are going to be comparing only a limited number of different rounds for each cartridge. While we are selecting a variety of rounds with a good range of bullet weights and designs, it’s only scratching the surface. There is a lot more to a good hunting and competition rounds, but with limited time and space, our selections for comparison will give you an excellent starting point and base of knowledge to dive even deeper into the discussion.
.270 vs .30-06: A Brief History
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of comparing ballistic data and other performance specs of these two cartridges, we think it is important to have an understanding of where these cartridges came from and the reason they were manufactured. We will also look at the dimensions of the casings and bullets.
The .270 Winchester was introduced to the hunting community way back in 1925 where it was one of the first hunting cartridges to break the 3,000fps mark. At the time, the technology was not there to utilize such a fast cartridge in the hunting world. It took a few years and the efforts of legendary writer Jack O’Connor to get the .270 Win on track. Since then, it has become one of the more popular long range hunting cartridges and remains so even today after the introduction of so many magnum rounds.
The .270 is a versatile round, especially given the jump in bullet technology since the 1920’s. It can be used for smaller predators, medium-sized, to even larger game such as elk and it can be effective up to the 500-yard mark with the wide range of bullet types. The majority of factory loads for the .270 Win is going to fall within the 120-160gr
The .270 Win was developed from the .30-03 cartridge, as was the .30-06, and it is very similar to the .30-06 cartridge though the .270 was necked down compared to the .30-06. With similar specs and coming from the same parent case, it will be interesting to dive into how these two rounds compare.
As we mentioned above, the .30-06 was derived from the same parent casing although its development and release came nearly twenty years before the development of the .270. Springfield released the .30-06 in 1906 and the fact that it remains as popular as it is today, over 110 years in use, is a testament to the performance of the cartridge.
The .30-06 gets it name from the caliber of bullet, .308 Winchester, and the year of its development, 1906. The .30-06, while still a staple in the hunting world, saw heavy use in several wars as some of the more renown firearms such as the M1 Garand and BAR were chambered for this cartridge.
The .30-06 still carries the reputation of a hard-hitting, non-magnum round that offers the shooter the velocity and trajectory to take down medium and large game at extended hunting ranges. And while not as popular, given the advent of other cartridges, with the long-range target niche as it once was, there are still people out there who consider it a great option.
Because of the popularity of the cartridge, it is very easy to find, and stores often carry many different offerings.
.30-06 vs .270 Specs
|.270 Winchester||.30-06 Springfield|
|Max Pressure (SAAMI)||65,000psi||60,200psi|
Just from taking a look at the case and bullet specs of these two cartridges we can begin to gain some insights into how these two cartridges will behave. When looking at the 270 versus 30-06 specifications, we see that there are quite a few similarities between the two. They are derived from the same parent case so it is not too much of a surprise. We see that the base diameter, casing length, and overall length of the entire cartridge are very similar. They can both hold the nearly the same amount of powder. The differences between these two cartridges are the caliber of bullet used, the smaller neck diameter of the .270 round, and the differences in max pressure for the casings. With so many similarities between the two different cartridges, we would expect to see quite a lot of similarities between the two.
To compare these two cartridges, we have selected five rounds for both the .270 Win and the .30-06 Springfield. We selected popular and available factory loads for this comparison, but we do realize the limits of such a small sample size. We think that our selection gives you a wide range of bullet sizes and performances across the spectrum, so neither cartridge is going to slant towards one end of the performance spectrum because of our choices. There are a lot of options out there for both of these cartridges, but discussing the data in detail would take much more room than we have here if we were to include more rounds. Not to mention that the graphs would be unreadable to you with so many data points. So to compensate we have gathered an additional 15 factory loads for each cartridge bringing the total up to 20 for each cartridge. We have calculated the averages for each performance category we will examine and at the end, will list the averages in tables.
By doing this, we increase our sample size a bit which gives us a little more confidence in our conclusions and should give you, the reader, some more information which is our end goal here.
With twenty factory loads, there is a good chance that we are still missing a round or two that might be your favorite. If it’s not in this article, don’t take that as us saying it is not a good round. There’s a lot of good rounds out there, and some rounds do better with certain rifles and when in experienced hands.
- .270 Hornady SST Superperformance 130gr
- .270 Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 130gr
- .270 Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 150gr
- .270 Remington Core-Lokt PSP 115gr
- .270 Federal Sierra GameKing BTSP 150gr
- .30-06 Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 165gr
- .30-06 Hornady GMX Superformance 150gr
- .30-06 Federal American Eagle Jacketed Hollow Point 150gr
- .30-06 Nosler Custom Hand Loaded AccuBond 200gr
- .30-06 Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking 168gr
All of the rounds that we have selected for our 270 vs 30-06 comparison are factory loads that are readily available. And as we move through these various categories and discuss their properties you might recall other forums or websites where you saw much higher velocities or energy with rounds of the same cartridge type. Hand loaded ammunition often runs hotter than factory loads, but for this comparison, we are going to stick with factory loads as the majority of people rely on pre-loaded cartridges.
We also want to note that we are using data compiled from the manufacturer as well as computer-generated data from ballistic calculators. When it comes to this type of data, there is no concern with comparing cartridges, but you should be aware that these numbers can change when being fired from your rifle. Each rifle tends to have its own small differences in its profile, and this means some small differences in the ballistic output. As far as comparing the two cartridges go, computer-generated data has its advantages in that these small differences are negated.
So, with all of that out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff.
While a lot of hunters might shrug off the recoil of a cartridge, it does have the potential to influence your shot. Heavy recoil can cause enough flinch to throw the shot of even experienced marksmen. Recoil is also going to play a role in how well you can get accurate follow up shots. It’s also an important aspect to look at for cartridge comparison for those who might just be getting into hunting or long-range shooting.
What we are looking at in this category is the actual energy generated by igniting these cartridges. The actual “felt recoil” is going to depend on a lot more than just the cartridge and is not something that we can quantify. Still, the recoil energy will loosely translate to the amount of kick that you might feel.
So, Let’s first take a look at the overall averages of the recoil energy (ft.lb) of the two cartridges. As you can see, the .30-06 packs quite a bit more of a punch than the .270. Interestingly, if you have shot both cartridges and talked to a lot of other hunters/marksmen that have you will notice that the kick feels different between the two and not just by the sheer amount of force. The .270 kick tends to be a bit sharper while the .30-06 feels more spread out through the trigger pull and release. It’s not quantitative by any means, but it’s a trend that is often noticed. Both of these cartridges do produce enough recoil where if you have not had much experience with shooting centerfire rifles you’re going to notice the power.
Let’s take a look at our ten rounds for comparison and see if the trend continues or if there are some outliers.
To generate the data from for this graph we used the muzzle velocities given by the manufacturer, a constant gun weight of seven pounds for both cartridges, bullet weight, and an average of several common powder grains given by Nosler which we kept constant for each round for each cartridge.
It’s pretty clear that the .30-06 generates a pretty noticeable increase in recoil than the .270 though it is not a tremendous amount more. A lot is also going to depend on the individual round. Just looking at all of the .30-06 rounds you can see that the recoil energy can vary from 20 to 27ft.lb but all of them do break the 20ft.lb mark. While the .270 on average has a couple ft.lbs less recoil energy, it’s still enough where you are going to feel a good kick. Are the differences enough to affect anything? That’s something that you’re going to have to determine on your own.
In this section, we are going to take a look at several areas that are considered ballistic characteristics. These include the bullet velocities, the ballistic coefficients, and short/long range trajectory. Whether you hunt or compete on the range, the ballistics of your chosen cartridge and round are incredibly important.
And while we will separate each of these different ballistic characteristics in a vacuum, it is important to remember that all of these components play off of one another and one is affected by the other. There’s nothing wrong with looking at each component separately, but it doesn’t necessarily give you the whole story of the round or cartridge. Just a disclaimer.
When discussing velocity, we need to keep in mind that it has implications with just about every other performance category that we will look at in this article.
On its own, the velocity of the bullet is going to help it get to target quicker, meaning there is less time for environmental factors to influence the bullet’s flight path. Once a bullet falls below a certain velocity, it becomes much easier for outside factors to push or pull off its original line of movement. Of course, other factors play a role in a bullet’s ability to remain in stable flight.
And it’s not just ballistic properties that the velocity influences, it is also an important part of the bullet’s terminal performance, especially expansion.
So, velocity is an important factor to think about when picking between different cartridges or different round within the same cartridge type. And we don’t think hotter always means better. A hot load with improper barrel twist can cause an unstable flight. Too hot a load can also be dangerous depending on chamber pressure. All of that falls into dealing with hand loading rounds, but we think it’s an important concept to bring up.
So regardless of why you use a rifle, it’s important to look at the velocity, along with other cartridge properties to be able to draw meaningful conclusions. So, looking at our ten rounds, we can draw some conclusion with regard to velocity, measured in ft/s of the .30-06 vs .270 Winchester. All of this data was gathered from the manufacturers.
What we can see from this graph is that there is not a whole lot of difference in velocity between these two cartridges. The .270 SST 130gr rounds show the highest velocity throughout the 500-yard range, but it is not that much greater than the heavier .30-06 rounds. It’s pretty impressive that the much heavier bullets of the .30-06 can compete with the lighter .270 when both have fairly similar load capacities. The .270 average velocities are between 100-1200 more ft.s than the .30-06 rounds from the muzzle out to 500 yards, but we don’t see any of the rounds for each cartridge grouping together. This lets us know that there are rounds available for both cartridges that provide hotter rounds if that is what you are wanting. All of the rounds are still traveling at well over 1,500ft/s and closer to 2,000 ft/s at 500 yards which is a great sign for long range accuracy.
Ballistic Coefficient (BC)
When looking at the .270 vs .30-06 comparison, both of which can be used for long-range shooting, the ballistic coefficient has quite a bit of relevance. The ballistic coefficient (BC) essentially tells you how well streamlined a bullet is. The higher the BC, the better the round should resist environmental factors such as wind drift and drag. In theory, the better a bullet can resist these factors, the less you will have to factor in adjusting your shot making accuracy easier to achieve.
There is a little more to the ballistic coefficient, but for this article, we think it’s about all we need to know for our comparison. Still, the BC is an interesting topic and something you might be interested in looking into since you are reading this article.
And look, while the BC is something to take into account when comparing two cartridges, you can often find rounds of any cartridge with a decent BC. And when dealing with two cartridges, such as the .270 and .30-06, where both are designed for long-range use, you can count on both having rounds that perform well at long range and have high BCs.
We compiled the ballistic coefficients for all ten rounds have provided them here.
Overall, both cartridges have rounds with very high BCs. Both have a longer and thinner tapering than other bullets which helps cut down on wind drag. The heavier grains of the .30-06 bullets also improve the BC because the increased mass makes it more difficult for crosswinds and other environmental factors to affect the flight path which we see with the 200grain .30-06 round. Of course, as you can tell from the bar graph, just being heavier alone does not mean you will have the highest BC as material, shape, and density of the bullet also play a role.
As far as comparing the two cartridges, there is no trend towards one or the other. If you want a high BC for a round you want to take 600+ yard shots, either of these cartridges are going to have several options.
With our selection of ammunition, you can see how the design of the bullet plays a role in its ability to handle wind resistance and limit drag. Most of our rounds have decent BC’s, but even within the same cartridge, you get BCs for some rounds a tenth or more decrease. It all has to do with its ballistic properties and bullet design.
As you can imagine, the trajectory of a bullet is one of the biggest concerns you are going to have. If you know the rounds flightpath, it makes adjusting for shots easier and the flatter the trajectory is the fewer adjustments you will need to make. When we say flat, we mean that there is less drop in altitude as the bullet moves downrange.
In this section, we will look at both the short (sighted at 100 yards) and long (sighted at 200 yards) range of the ten rounds. This data was taken from the manufacturer, and when not present, the data was generated from a ballistics calculator using the bullets velocity, ballistic coefficient, and bullet weight.
We also want to mention that this is strictly looking at the loss in altitude (bullet drop in inches) and does not take into account any other environmental factors.
Before we look at the short and long-range trajectory, we wanted to take a step back and only look at two rounds that are very similar in design, ballistic coefficient, and bullet weight. If we look at the trajectory of two similar rounds, .270 Federal Nosler Partition 150gr and .30-06 Federal Nosler Partition 165gr, we can see that both have a nice flat trajectory with minimal bullet drop out to 250 yards.
All the way out to the 500-yard mark, we see very little difference in the amount of bullet drop between these two rounds. The 270 round does have slightly less bullet drop, but even at 500 yards we are still only looking at 3-4 inches difference between the two.
Let’s bring in the ten rounds we have been looking at so far and see if this trend holds up when we introduce some more variety.
Short Range Trajectory
Both of these rounds are often viewed as long range cartridges, and we will take a closer look at this in just a moment. They are both also popular hunting cartridges, and a lot of shots taken in the field are not at 500+ yards. Because of that, we want to take a look at the short range trajectory as well.
So, we have graphed the ten rounds we selected, and we will look at the bullet drop (inches) for all the rounds out to the 300-yard mark.
At the 200 yard mark, all of the rounds are tightly grouped, and the rounds for the various cartridges seem to be dispersed among each other rather than grouping together. The top-performing rounds at this point, and at the 300-yard mark, are .270 rounds, the difference between the averages at this point is less than one inch, and all rounds fall within 3 inches of each other.
At the 300 yard mark, we do see more separation between the two cartridges, and it does appear that more of the .270 rounds show less bullet drop than the .30-06 rounds. There are flatter .30-06 rounds such as the Hornady GMX round. Still, the difference between the averages of the two cartridges (.270=11.6) (.30-06=13.8) is less than three inches.
Long Range Trajectory
Let’s go ahead and look at the long-range trajectory of our ten rounds for comparison. Here, we are still looking at the bullet drop of these rounds, but we have carried out the range to 700 yards.
The trends for the long-range trajectory for the 270 vs 30-06 are very similar to what we saw with the short range. At the 300 and 400 yard mark all of these rounds group tightly with really no major differences between the two cartridges. The .270 has the flattest shooting options, but there are flat .30-06 rounds as well and less than 2 inches difference between the averages of both cartridges.
The same trend continues as the rounds move down range, but we do see the gaps widening. Again, there are flatter and steeper dropping rounds for both cartridges, but we see the majority of the .270 rounds show a flatter trajectory. In fact, if we look at the averages for these rounds at the 700-yard mark, the .270 rounds have an average of 102 inches of bullet drop while the .30-06 rounds show an average of 120 inches of bullet drop.
There is a lot that goes into the stopping power of a round. In this section, we are going to look at a couple of factors that influence a bullet’s ability to drop game quickly. If you are only interested in one of these cartridges for target shooting applications, then this section might not be as appealing to you versus the ballistics. And you can always skip ahead in the article, but understanding everything you can about your cartridge of choice is never a bad thing.
In this section, we will look at several components that go into stopping power including the kinetic energy associated with the rounds, the sectional density of the rounds, and the momentum of the bullets. Often, you will find arguments, some heated, about which category best interprets how well a round will bring down game. All of the above factors influence stopping power, but we don’t believe one single factor should be considered above all others. Instead, you need to examine all of these factors to have the best understanding of how well your round will bring down game. And of course, you still have to take into account what you are hunting as well as the expansion profile of your bullet. And perhaps more important than all of these different factors is shot placement. You can have a round with great numbers, but if you don’t put it in the bread basket, they don’t do you much good.
So keep all of that in mind as we look at this .270 vs .30-06 stopping power comparison. There is no end-all number that tells you which is going to have the better stopping power. And even so, it’s all subjective when it comes to actually handing a round in the field and when the real deal is standing broadside in your crosshairs.
Everytime you fire a round, the mass of the bullet as well as the velocity generates kinetic energy that is carried downrange by the bullet. This energy doesn’t do much while in flight, but on impact with the target it transfers to the animal and causes damage to the surrounding tissue and organs. It is not always a 100% transfer and the expansion properties of the round have a large effect on this transfer. If a bullet does not expand well and passes through the animal cleanly, there is not going to be much energy transfer. On the other hand, if a bullet expands on impact, more energy can transfer from the bullet to the surrounding tissue.
Most whitetail hunters like to see at least 1,000ft.lb of energy when the round reaches the target. This is not a hard rule, and many a deer has been taken with less when the shot is well placed. As the size of the game increases, you want to see the energy of the round increase as well. For elk, you will often see the desired energy come up a few hundred ft.lb and another couple hundred for big bull elk and dangerous game. Again, it’s arbitrary, and you will see a lot of rounds that carry the energy you want within 300 yards but fall a little behind at 400 and 500 yards. It’s really going to come down to the game, shot distance, and your skill with a rifle.
So, let’s compare the energy (ft.lb) of our ten rounds. We have graphed the ten rounds energy (ft.lbs) from the muzzle out to 500 yards. We didn’t carry the graph out any further just because shots at this range in the field are incredibly rare and the majority of hunters would not attempt such a shot.
There is quite a bit of information that we can take from this graph. First, just scanning it, we don’t see huge differences in stopping power between the two cartridges. The majority of the .30-06 rounds have much more initial energy leaving the muzzle on average, and this continues at every yardage mark out to 500 yards though they are within 100ft.lb of each other. As you can also see, there are .270 rounds that match up well with .30-06 rounds from the muzzle out to 500 yards. The two rounds with the lowest energy are a .30-06 and a .270 round so regardless of which cartridge you want to lean towards there are rounds on both ends of the spectrum.
Both the .270 and the .30-06 rounds all carry enough energy throughout their range to get the proper terminal ballistics, but you will want to check and be sure when you have a box in your hand. All of these rounds still carry 1,000ft.lb of energy at the 500-yard mark which is thought of as enough for any medium size game.
The second factor for stopping power that we are going to take a look at is penetration. To compare these two cartridges with computer-generated data, we are going to look at the sectional densities of the rounds for each cartridge type. The sectional density is not going to provide us with a definitive depth that the rounds will penetrate. Instead, it gives us an indication of the potential each round has to penetrate. The higher the sectional density, the greater potential the round has for deep penetration. Now, that is completely ignoring other factors that go into penetration such as velocity, expansion, and the game that you are hunting. Unfortunately, for computer-generated data, this is the best and most consistent type of data we can use for measuring penetration.
The sectional density (SD), is derived from the bullet’s mass and the bullets diameter. To get a better understanding of how the two variables in sectional density influence penetration, let’s use a couple of examples.
In the first example, we have two rounds and let’s assume everything about the two is identical except for the mass of the bullets. Bullet A has a diameter of .150 inches and a bullet weight of 200grs. Bullet B has the same diameter at .150 inches but has a bullet weight of 175 grs. When we calculate the sectional density, we would see that bullet A has a greater SD than bullet B and theoretically, should have better penetration. This is because the higher mass of bullet A and the force that will be behind it can drive the bullet deeper.
If we look at two more rounds, this time with bullet A having a diameter of .200 inches with a weight of 150 grs and bullet B having the same weight, 200grs, but with a diameter of .175 inches, we see different results. In this case, bullet B is going to have a higher sectional density than bullet A. This result is because of the smaller diameter of bullet B while having the same weight as bullet A. The force that is generated from the velocity and weight of the bullet is localized to a smaller surface area (the diameter of the bullet). There will be less resistance that the bullet has to encounter so with the same force, bullet B should drive deeper.
So while the SD does not give as much information as we would all like, it will give you an idea of which rounds have the better potential for deep penetration. And because of the variables involved, it is a legitimate way to compare two cartridges as there are intrinsic differences between the two when it comes to bullet diameter and bullet weights.
And finally, it’s important to keep in mind that deeper penetration might not always be what you are looking for. It all depends on what you are shooting at, and in some cases, the SD and penetration of a round might not be as relevant to your application.
Let’s take a closer look at the sectional densities of the ten selected rounds we have been comparing in this article.
We do not see huge differences between the two cartridges, but you can see how bullet weight influences the sectional density and the bullet’s ability to penetrate more deeply.
If you need deep penetration, a heavier (200+) .30-06 round is going to be the better choice. Both of these cartridges carry a tremendous amount of energy which will generate more penetration as well, so they are still around the same mark.
You might also notice that some of the lighter .270 rounds have similar sectional densities as heavier .30-06 rounds. The reason for this is the smaller diameters of the .270 bullets. More force is localized to a smaller area which allows the bullet to be driven deeper.
In the end, both the .270 and .30-06 are going to give you roughly the same penetration as well as kinetic energy needed to kill medium and even larger game efficiently with a well-placed shot.
If you have looked at any of our previous cartridge comparisons, you will know that we think accuracy is a tough category to quantify simply based on data. Accuracy has a lot of variables besides the type of cartridge being used. The firearm itself, environmental conditions, and most of all the person pulling the trigger all have significant impacts on accuracy.
These are designed to give the hunter/marksman much greater range. Sighted in at 100 yards, both of these cartridges have a flat enough trajectory that you can hit targets from 50-350 yards with no issue, and we don’t think either of these cartridges has a distinct advantage. For longer range shots, the .270 might have a slightly flatter trajectory than the .30-06, but it’s pretty minimal and still not enough to say one cartridge is more accurate. The bullet weight will also play a big role. A 150gr .30-06 and 150gr .270 are going to be very similar compared to a 200gr .30-06 and 130gr .270.
The two cartridges resistance to wind and their velocity are also pretty similar, so we don’t think outside influences are going to affect either one of them any differently. The heavier weight bullets of the .30-06 might be a little more resistant to crosswinds, but again, we don’t think it’s enough to say the .30-06 is going to be a more accurate cartridge.
As far as recoil goes, the .30-06 has slightly more recoil energy than the .270, but it varies quite a bit depending on the round that you have. For some shooters, it might make a significant difference that can cause a little flinch and throw off the shot. From experience and the data, we don’t think there is any noticeable difference between the .270 vs the .30-06 from 50-500yards.
When it comes to accuracy between these two cartridges, the one that has the better accuracy is likely to be because they are being used by the better shooter.
Price and Availability
In the table below, we have listed the eight types of ammunition we have used in our comparison and also listed the price that is associated with these cartridges from the manufacturer when available. As you can see, the .30-06 is a more expensive round than the .270. While there will be some fluctuation in price from round to round, depending on the make of the cartridge, overall the .30-06 is a bit more expensive.
|270 Winchester SST Superformance 130gr||$41.21 (20 Rounds)|
|270 Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 150gr||$20.49 (20 Rounds)|
|270 Winchester Ballistic Silvertip 130gr||$31.99 (20 Rounds)|
|270 Remington Core-Lokt PSP 115gr.||$23.49 (20 Rounds)|
|270 Federal Sierra GameKing BTSP 150gr||$30.99 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal Vital-Shock Nosler Partition 165gr||$39.99 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Hornady 150gr GMX Superformance||$54.07 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal American Eagle Jacketed Hollow Point 150gr||$25.79 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Nosler Custom Hand Loaded AccuBond 200gr||$65.90 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking 168gr||$37.99 (20 Rounds)|
When we look at the 270 Win vs 30-06 Springfield in regards to availability, we don’t think there is a clear-cut winner. Both of these cartridges are very popular and widely available through major retailers and online. Both have a tremendous amount of options for bullet weights and designs for a wide range of hunting applications. There might be a few more options for the .30-06, but it’s nothing significantly more than the .270.
We think that right out of the gate we can all agree that both of these cartridges make excellent hunting companions. Both cartridges, when the proper bullet weight is used, can take both whitetail and mule deer, mountain sheep, hogs, and even elk. The heavier weight .30-06 rounds can also be used to take moose and moose sized game with proper shot placement and even some .270 rounds if the correct bullet is used and is within range.
We recommend the .30-06 for moose and other large game. The .30-06 is available in grain weight bullets that can deliver killing wounds and transfer a much larger amount of energy and potential penetration than the .270. On the flip side, the availability of lighter grain bullets for the .270 makes it much better for hunting small game where you might not need the stopping power or recoil of .30-06 rounds.
Both of these cartridges are great for long-range shots over 350 yards. As we have shown in out comparisons, there is a lot of similarity in velocity, trajectory, and BC. We think it comes down the size of game you routinely hunt to make your decision.
If you are looking for a cartridge to head to the range with, there are some arguments that can be made for both of these cartridges. The BC’s did not differ with these two cartridges though the heavier .30-06 rounds might be a little more resistant to environmental conditions. The .270, on the other hand, did have a flatter trajectory than the .30-06 when they got out to the 500+ yard range.
You will no doubt run across arguments for one over the other and often they have a specific round of the particular cartridge in mind. Just from our comparisons, you can see the variability. In our experience and looking at our comparison, both cartridges perform very similar in a lot of aspects with only slight differences depending on the round.
Do these slight differences matter when you have worked all season to put yourself in a position to harvest a Boone and Crocket buck? It might, but for two cartridges with so many similarities, you need to experience both on the range and go with what you have the most confidence shooting.
As we close out the article, we like to look back at the ten rounds we have been using for comparison and pick a couple rounds that we think matches up well with certain applications. Our choices don’t mean we think any of the other rounds we have been looking at are inferior. There are a lot of rounds out there that can provide the performance you need. When it comes to choosing a round, it’s pretty subjective in our eyes and what you end up chambering depends on your own experience with it and your rifle.
Top Hunting Round
For the .270 Win, we are big fans of the Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 150gr. This round stays supersonic well past 500 yards which is going to provide the right expansion properties for long-range shots. It also has good trajectory out to 400 yards. It might not be as impressive as some of the other rounds, but the percentage of shots that are taken over 450 yards is pretty low, and the other performance categories for this round when it comes to hunting makes up for it. You get plenty of energy with over 1,500ft.lb of force at 400 yards and the Nosler partition, and weight of the bullet can punch through tougher game. This is easily one of our favorite big game rounds if you are bringing a .270 to the field. We love it for elk and muleys but it is also versatile enough to be your whitetail round as well.
Given our fondness for the above round, it makes sense that we like the same bullet design for the .30-06. The Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 165gr .30-06 round is one of our favorite hunting rounds for a lot of the same reasons given above. This round was not top of the list for any of the performance categories compared to the other .30-06 rounds, but it was up near the top in all of them which gives it a lot of versatility. These rounds are easy to come by, and they are affordable compared to a lot of rounds out there that give similar performance specs. Again, the Nosler Partition bullet provides excellent expansion and energy transfer. It’s kinetic energy, velocity, and trajectory all make this a round that can be used for larger game at ranges up 500 yards though, with 40 inches of bullet drop at 500 yards, most hunters would prefer to bring that range in for a confident shot.
Top Range Round
If you are looking for a .270 round to carry out to the range for some target shooting, we like the 130 gr Winchester SST Superperformance round. One of the main reasons, outside of ballistics, is the low recoil. If you’re planning on throwing a lot of lead downrange, and want to remain accurate, that light recoil will reduce the amount of fatigue you feel those last few rounds. This is an extremely fast round with velocities well over 2,000fps at 500 yards, and it’s going to remain supersonic for several hundred yards past that. You’re also looking at a bullet drop of only 33 inches at 500 yards which we think is pretty exceptional for a factory load with a 130gr bullet that is not too hard to get your hands on.
For the .30-06 rounds, we like the 168gr Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking to take to the range for a casual day of long-range shooting. This is a pretty common round that shouldn’t be out of stock everywhere you check, which is a huge consideration for those using factory loads. As far as it’s trajectory, it has slightly under 50 inches of bullet drop at 500 yards. It also has a BC of .463 which helps out when adjusting for shots out past the 500-yard mark. It also doesn’t have as much recoil as some of the other .30-06 rounds we have looked at which is useful when firing a lot of rounds at the range. It’s most likely not the round you would take to a competition, but not many factory loads are.
Conclusion – .30-06 Springfield vs .270 Win
Comparing the .270 vs the .30-06 shows us a lot of similarities between these two cartridges. While there are some differences between the two, they both can excel in a lot of the same hunting scenarios.
When you get down to picking between two cartridges that are similar and can be used in a lot of the same situations, it starts to be a decision based on feel and on how confident you are with a specific cartridge. If you have the opportunity, shoot with both and take them out into the field. Find what’s right for you.
We hope that this article has presented data and provided conversation for what this data means concerning the 270 vs 30-06 and allows you to make a much better-informed decision when the time comes. Either way, you go, you have a good cartridge.