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.270 vs .308

.270 Win vs .308 Win Ballistics Performance Comparison

The .270 Winchester and .308 Winchester are both exceptionally popular cartridges – and for good reason. They are both strong hunting cartridges that have been used for big game, and they have a lot in common. Still, there are a few key differences between these cartridges that can help you decide which one is best for your specific shooting needs.

270 Win vs 308 Win

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .270 Winchester vs the .308 Winchester based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

.270 Win 150 gr vs .308 Win 150 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

.270 Win .308 Win
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 2,840 ft/s 2,940 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 2,642 ft/s 2,715 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,453 ft/s 2,502 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,271 ft/s 2,298 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,097 ft/s 2,103 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 1,931 ft/s 1,919 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 2,686 ft-lb 2,879 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 2,325 ft-lb 2,455 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 2,004 ft-lb 2,804 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 1,718 ft-lb 1,758 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 1,465 ft-lb 1,473 ft-lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 1,242 ft-lb 1,226 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 Large Game
Usage @ 400 yds Medium Game Medium Game
Usage @ 500 yds Medium Game Medium Game
Recoil Energy 17 15.8
Recoil Velocity 11.7 11.7
Recoil Score* 3.09 2.97
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures takend 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

First, let’s compare the velocities of these two cartridges. Each caliber has an advantage at different distances. We can see that the .308 Winchester starts with an advantage right out the gate, with a muzzle velocity of 2,940 ft/s, which is 100 ft/s faster than the .270’s muzzle velocity of 2,840 ft/s.

However, the difference lessens and the advantage even goes to the .270 Winchester over a longer distance. At 400 yards, the .270 is still performing at 1,931 ft/s, which is 12 ft/s faster than the .308’s 1,919 ft/s at the same distance.

Keep in mind that these numbers correspond to firing bullets of the same weight in these calibers. The .270 is a smaller bullet, which means it is generally shooting lighter – and therefore faster – than the .308. It is generally considered to have an advantage in velocity over the .308 in most applications.

Energy

The .270 Winchester has a flatter trajectory and less recoil than the .308. So what does that mean for its energy? Here we have a similar relationship as we did with velocity. Right out of the gate, the .308 has an advantage, with 2,879 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle compared to the .270’s 2,686 ft-lbs.

But again, once we get into longer distances, the .270 starts to outstrip the .308. At 500 yards, the .270 is still going at 1,242 ft-lbs, while the .308 is coming in at 1,226 ft-lbs. If long-distance shooting is a factor in your decision making, more power and speed are preserved up to the 500-yard mark by the .270 than the .308. But, the differences are fairly small, and these cartridges are fairly well matched on energy.

Trajectory

The .270 Winchester shoots slightly flatter than the .308 when analyzed at a constant weight. This becomes even more pronounced when you opt for the .270’s lighter bullets, as less weight helps them to be more aerodynamic. The 130 grain .270 has 8.9-15.8” less bullet drop than a .308 of 150 or 180 grains.

The .270 also has the advantage when it comes to wind drift, which measures how far a bullet moves sideways when faced with a 10 mph crosswind. The difference is negligible at first, with a 150 grain .270 drifting 0.7” at 100 yards and the same size .308 moving 0.8”; but as we get out to 500 yards, the .270 drifts 19.8” while the .308 has gone 24.7”.

Versatility

Both calibers are very versatile. If you’re looking for a wider range of bullets, the .308 runs from 110-240 grains, while the .270 only runs from 90-180 grains. Still, you can hunt everything from coyotes to moose with both of these calibers.

As detailed below, both of these cartridges have lower recoil than some other big game rounds. This means that newer shooters, or shooters whose accuracy is inhibited by intense recoil, will be more likely to hunt big game well with these rounds. In general, the .270 is a more popular choice for small game, as the .308 can be overill.

Size

The .270 is a smaller bullet than the .308, and can generally be shot with lighter bullets for similar applications. Most .308 loads for big game hunting come in the range of 150-180. In contrast, .270 loads are often found in the range of 120-150, with many hunters opting for 130 or 150.

The .270 has a smaller diameter than the .308, and with that comes a higher ballistic coefficient.

The .270 Winchester has a longer case length, at 2.54” compared to the .308’s 2.015”. It is also longer overall, with a full length of 3.34” compared to 2.81”. This means the .270 is used in standard or long action rifles, while you can find the .308 in short action rifles. A short action rifle may be preferable if you want less gun to tote along on backcountry hunting expeditions. Both calibers have a rim diameter of .473”, but because the .308 has a steeper shoulder, the .270 has a larger case capacity and thus a slightly higher pressure.

Rifle Type

There are generally more rifles available and more innovation for the .308 than for the .270. The .308 caliber cartridges get a lot of attention, which translates to new product development. You’ll find a wider variety of new .308 rifles on the market year after year than .270 caliber rifles, and a wider variety of rifles currently on the market.

If you’re looking for semi-automatic, the .308 also has the advantage. While the .270 can be found chambered in semi-automatic or sometimes pump action rifles, the bolt action rifle is by far the most common. The .308 can be found in semi-automatic, pump, lever, and bolt action rifles.

Recoil

The .270 and the .308 have remarkably similar recoil. While the .270 does have a bit stronger recoil in our comparison, felt recoil can be highly subjective, and which caliber packs the biggest punch to the shoulder might vary shooter to shooter. Additionally, heavier bullets will produce more significant recoil. Both of these calibers were specifically developed to have milder recoil than the .30-06 while still taking down big game – and we can see here that the developers succeeded in this goal.

Price & Availability

The .270 and the .308 are both incredibly popular rounds and among the best selling centerfire rifle cartridges on the market. Essentially all ammunition manufacturers will offer these rounds, with a wide variety of factory option to choose from. However, the .308 does have a slight advantage here, as there has been more innovation and development in new .308 rounds. Handloaders can also find components very easily: while it can be more difficult to find .277” bullets, the popularity of the .270 Winchester makes it easier to find quality options. Both of these rounds are very similar in price, and on the cheaper side of big game ammunition.

Which Caliber is Best?

The debate rages on for these two calibers, but hopefully now you have a better sense of each one’s unique strength. If you prefer a lighter bullet that moves faster and flatter, the .270 is a great option. If you prefer a heavier bullet that can be used more reliably for larger game and is available in a wide variety of rifles and rounds, the .308 is a great option. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

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.