Skip to content

270 Win. vs 270 WSM

Ballistics Performance Comparison of 270 Win. vs 270 WSM Cartridges

The .270 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) offers a bit of extra velocity and energy over the standard .270 Winchester, thanks to its larger powder capacity. However, some hunters still prefer the .270 Winchester, as it can be easier to shoot and may offer a preferable rifle for some. While the choice between these cartridges will come down to a shooter’s personal preference, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding which one will meet your unique needs.

270 Win vs 270 WSM

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 270 Winchester vs 270 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) based on bullet weight and performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

270 Win. 145 gr vs 270 WSM 145 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

270 Winchester 270 Winchester Short Magnum
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 2,970 ft/s 3,100 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 2,796 ft/s 2,918 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,627 ft/s 2,744 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,465 ft/s 2,576 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,308 ft/s 2,414 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 2,157 ft/s 2,258 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 2,840 ft⋅lb 3,094 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 2,516 ft⋅lb 2,741 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 2,222 ft⋅lb 2,423 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 1,955 ft⋅lb 2,136 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 1,714 ft⋅lb 1,876 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 1,497 ft⋅lb 1,641 ft⋅lb
Usage @ 0 yds Largest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 100 yds Largest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 200 yds Largest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 300 yds Largest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 400 yds Largest Game Large Game
Usage @ 500 yds Largest Game Large Game
Recoil Energy 17 (150gr) 18.9 (150gr)
Recoil Velocity 11.7 12
Recoil Score* 3.09 3.30
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures taken from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.


When comparing calibers, velocity plays an important role. The .270 WSM takes a slight advantage over the .270 Winchester here. Out of the muzzle, the .270 WSM is flying 130 ft/s faster than the .270 Winchester. At 300 yards, the .270 WSM maintains its advantage with an extra 111 ft/s over the .270 Winchester. At 500 yards, the .270 WSM is traveling 101 ft/s faster.


The .270 WSM also packs a stronger punch in terms of energy, which means that it can take down a wider range of game than the .270 Winchester. At the muzzle, the .270 WSM has 254 ft-lbs more energy than the .270 Winchester. At 300 yards, the .270 WSM maintains an advantage of 181 ft-lbs over the .270 Winchester. At 500 yards, it’s still packing an extra 144 ft-lbs of energy.


A bullet’s trajectory greatly impacts your ability to hit your target accurately, which is crucial to ensuring a clean, ethical kill. There is a small difference between these two cartridges. Zeroed at 200 yards, the .270 Winchester will drop less than 2” more than the .270 WSM at 400 yards. At 500 yards, the .270 Winchester drops 3.5” more. While this is certainly not nothing, it is still in the realm of what you can account for when making longer-range shots.


Given the extra energy of the .270 WSM, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it packs more of a punch to the shoulder. The difference in recoil is not huge, but it will likely be noticeable for many shooters. Remember, recoil is not just about your comfort: it also impacts your ability to shoot the gun accurately. In addition, the .270 WSM will have a louder discharge. While no gun is silent obviously, a louder noise could alert game over a larger radius to your presence.


Both the .270 Winchester and the .270 WSM are considered strong large game calibers. They are both typically used with bullets in the 130-150 grain range. However, the extra energy offered by the .270 WSM does make it a better choice for largest game like bear and elk. It can also shoot with greater energy at longer ranges than the .270 Winchester, though this requires a longer barrel.

Price & Availability

The .270 Winchester is more widely available and less expensive than the .270 WSM. This is because it is an older, more popular cartridge. If you want to be able to choose from a variety of manufacturers for both your ammunition and rifle selection, then this might be an important factor. However, if you are able to find a .270 WSM rifle you love and can consistently access ammunition or plan to handload your own, then you might not run into any issue. Factory ammunition for the .270 WSM is likely to be a bit more expensive, but you usually won’t find a huge difference.

Size Comparison

The .270 WSM and the .270 Winchester share the same .277” bullet diameter, but as the name suggests, the .270 WSM is a shorter round that can be chambered in short-action rifles. The .270 Winchester has a case length of 2.54” and an overall length of 3.34”, while the .270 WSM’s case length is 2.10” and its overall length is 2.86”. This means the .270 Winchester is considerably longer than the .270 WSM. The longer .270 Winchester also makes it easier for most shooters to feed into the rifle than the .270 WSM.

Rife Type

The .270 Winchester is a long action cartridge. The primary benefit of the .270 WSM is its ability to be chambered in a short action rifle, if desired. However, the extra power of the .270 WSM means that it is typically used in a rifle with at least a 24” barrel, while the .270 Winchester shoots will in a 22” barrel. In addition, the WSM will wear out the barrel more quickly – but if you are using this rifle primarily for hunting, it will still take you many years to wear out the barrel with either cartridge.

Which Caliber is Best?

The .270 WSM has a higher velocity and higher energy, but that does not automatically mean it is the cartridge for you. If you’ll be shooting outside of 250 yards and/or you want to target larger game, then these factors will likely decide the .270 WSM in your favor. However, if you’ll be targeting deer or other medium to large game inside of 250 yards, then the easier accessibility, wider options, and easier shooting experience of the .270 Winchester might be more important. Additionally, the .270 Win feeds more easily into standard rifles than the .270 WSM. Both calibers have devoted followings and have taken a wide variety of game; it’s up to you to determine which is best for your hunting goals and needs.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.