270 Win. vs .30-06
Ballistics Performance Comparison of 270 Win. vs .30-06 Springfield Cartridges
The .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield are both versatile, tried and true cartridges for hunting medium to large game. Many hunters prefer the .270 for its lighter recoil and performance over long ranges, while others opt for the larger, heavier bullets offered by the .30-06 Springfield. The best cartridge for you will depend on your specific hunting goals and style.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 270 Win. vs .30-06 Springfield based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
270 Win. 130 gr vs .30-06 Springfield 165 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.(Note: Bullet grain selected based on most popular hunting usage.)
|270 Winchester||30-06 Springfield|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||3050 ft/s||2,940 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,842 ft/s||2,731 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||2,643 ft/s||2,532 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||2,453 ft/s||2,341 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||2,270 ft/s||2,158 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||2,096 ft/s||1,984 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||2,685 ft⋅lb||3,167 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||2,331ft⋅lb||2,732 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||2,016 ft⋅lb||2,348 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||1,737 ft⋅lb||2,007 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||1,488 ft⋅lb||1,706 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||1,268 ft⋅lb||1,442 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Toughest Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Large Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 400 yds||Large Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 500 yds||Medium Game||Medium Game|
|Recoil Energy||17.1 (140 gr)||20.1|
|*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.|
Velocity is an important metric in determining a bullet’s power, and here we see the two calibers fairly evenly matched. A slight advantage goes to the .270 Winchester in our table, but keep in mind that we are comparing a 130 grain Winchester to a 165 grain Springfield, and a lighter bullet will fly faster. We can see that these specific bullets remain neck and neck across distances: we start out of the muzzle with the .270 flying 110 ft/s faster than the .30-06, and by 500 yards that difference has pretty much maintained, at 112 ft/s.
When we look at energy, now the slightly heavier .30-06 has a stronger advantage. Out of the muzzle, the .30-06 Springfield has an extra 482 ft-lbs of energy. This difference lessens as the long-range capabilities of the .270 help it maintain more of its energy longer. At 300 yards, the .30-06 has an extra 270 ft-lbs of energy, and by the time we get to 500 yards, its lead has narrowed to 174 ft-lbs.
Trajectory is another major component in how accurately your shot will hit its target, especially if you are still developing your ability to account for wind and gravity. Let’s compare a 150 grain .30-06 against a 130 grain .270 – keep in mind that the extra weight will drag the .30-06 down more quickly, so this is not quite an apples to apples comparison. Still, we see that for bullets zeroed at 200 yards, the .270 is dropping 6.4” compared to the .30-06’s 7.0”; and by 500 yards, the .270 is dropping 37.8” compared to the .30-06’s 42.2”. This flatter trajectory is another advantage of the .270 over long distances.
While the two calibers don’t see a huge difference in recoil, the .270 Winchester does have a lighter kick than the .30-06 Springfield. This can impact the accuracy of your shots, especially if you are still learning how to manage recoil. In addition, recoil can be more intense in a lighter rifle. If you know that you want a lighter rifle for treks through the backcountry, you may want to opt for the lighter recoil of the .270 Winchester.
Both of these calibers are highly versatile, and have been used to take whitetail deer as well as larger North American game. However, their specific strengths make them better choices for different species. The long-range capabilities of the .270 Winchester make it a better pick for fast-moving or difficult-to-approach game such as mule deer or pronghorn. The larger bullets of the .30-06 make it a strong choice for larger game such as elk and moose, or even African game when used with heavier bullets. Still, both calibers have been used to take all of the game mentioned in this section, and more.
The true differences in terms of versatility is the optional loadings for each. The .270 Winchester offers fewer bullet options and more specialized loadings. The .30-06 loadings have an extremely large spectrum of bullet weights that allow you to tailor your load for any task or game you can think of.
Price & Availability
As two of the most popular hunting cartridges, the .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield have plenty of ammunition options from basically every manufacturer. You’ll be able to find a good selection at your local ammunition store, and that will likely remain true no matter where you’re hunting (though it never hurts to double check). Both calibers are about the same price, so there isn’t a significant advantage to be found here.
The. 270 Winchester uses bullets with a diameter of .277” – an odd choice instead of the .284” typically used by 7mm bullets, perhaps to create a fully American cartridge rather than relying on the European popular measurements of 6mm and 7mm. Regardless, this makes it a fair bit smaller than the .30-06, which has a bullet diameter of .308”.
The .270 is slightly longer at 2.54” compared to 2.494”, and both have the same maximum case length of 3.34”. This length causes them both to be used in long-action rifles. Thanks to the similarity of their cases, they have the same case capacity.
Both calibers are chambered only in long action rifles. Because of their vast popularity, there are plenty of rifles chambered in each caliber to choose from. You’re likely to have your pick of all the best rifle manufacturers currently putting out products. If you can find a rifle chambered in one of these calibers, you can likely find a very similar version in the other caliber, since they are so similar in size.
Which Caliber is Best?
There’s a lot of overlap in what these highly successful and popular hunting cartridges can accomplish. What projectile weight you choose will also impact how you use each round. The 130 to 150 grain projectiles of the .270 offer longer ranges with a balance of speed and energy. While .30-06’s 150 to 180 grain projectiles travel slightly slower but with significantly more energy at similar ranges. Taking deer, hogs, black bear, and other medium or slower-moving large game within 400 yards will be easy with either caliber. If you’re going to make long-distance shots, the .270 Winchester might have just a bit of advantage – and if you’re going to be taking larger game at shorter distances, the .30-06 Springfield might bring the larger bullets to help you down your prey.
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