Unless you are a third-generation deer hunter, the chances that you are intimately familiar with what the .270 Winchester cartridge can do, are low. Such is the power of gun internet media for mainstream offerings that are militarily skewed. But the .270 Winchester is one of the best legitimately specific hunting cartridges in American history and it was only introduced to the market in 1925.
The best .270 Winchester rifle is one that has classic styling, robust build quality and great accuracy, though the cartridge itself goes a long way to providing the accuracy. The article here will be very specifically looking at classically styled American hunting rifles (with a couple foreign made options in the mix) that fit into the mold that the .270 Winchester cartridge has crafted for itself over the past 90 years or so.
We look forward to introducing you to the storied round that is a must have for any seasoned hunting family, if you’ve never been exposed to the cartridge, and we look forward to talking shop about the .270 Winchester with you if you’re an old pro just reading up on one of your favorite cartridges.
More specifically, we’d like to address the “almost ready to buy” reader of this article: You’ve made the right choice if you are a looking for an all-purpose, “can’t go wrong” choice that has lower recoil and all the power needed to shoot 90%+ of game on the North American continent.
If you are thinking about buying a .270 rifle, we have a list of the very best options and they are very traditional offerings – think no longer, read through the article, get a good vision of what you’re looking for, and pull the trigger on a purchase that will literally be one of your best ever firearm purchases. If you want a legitimate performance rifle for the intermediate and bigger game, get one of the “Best .270 Winchester Rifle” candidates listed below – you won’t regret it.
Best .270 Winchester Rifle Comparison
CZ USA - 557 Sporter
This is a gun that better than its price tag dictates. Sure, it’s an $800 rifle and that’s not a simple purchase for many, but if you want best in class for the money, this is the option you go with. The fit and finish; the attention to detail and the overall brand and rifle experience will be well worth the money you spent on the purchase.
CZ is a Czech based manufacturer that has been doing the precision game for longer than most of the competitor companies have been alive. Their entire lineup of firearms is, on a whole, better than the best of most manufacturers at the price point. The company understands what the consumer wants, and they deliver it well. The calibers, the design features, but most importantly the quality.
This rifle can be your “one gun” for hunting, from large varmint (like predators) to large game (like deer; elk and the like). The thoroughness of the quality control makes this a fine firearm; worth every penny you spend on it.
- One of the best .270 Rifle candidates on the market
- Gorgeous fit and finish.
- Time tested brand and design
- Could be called heavy for the type of game you’ll be stalking with it (though it does reduce perceived recoil a bit more)
This is best for:
Those who are ready to buy a .270 Winchester and want to spend under $1k and want a best in class offering.
Winchester Model 70 Super Grade
Winchester has outdone themselves with this legacy build for the classic deer rifle in the .270 Winchester cartridge platform. The Super grade finish and options makes this a gun you’ll be proud to own, and pass along through the next several generations, long after you are gone. The figure on the wood stock alone is worth coveting. The glossy specialty finish sets the grain and figure apart from all other production models instantly.
The proven action makes it a utilitarian gun, if you can bring yourself to take it out of the glass case, or gun safe to bring it into the field to hunt with. It truly is a showpiece. But the versatility and prowess of the .270 Winchester round it is built around makes it hard to relegate this beauty to a “Safe Queen” role. This gun begs to be shown off and complimented ad nauseum.
Th gun is beautiful, but it is a deadly implement for big game, it doesn’t matter how gorgeous it is, because what kills game is the shot, not the looks of the gun. You buy this one because it gives you the best of both worlds.
- Top tier fit and finish with a truly beautiful piece of furniture on it
- Legendary action design
- Top quality accuracy
This is best for:
The buyer who knows it’s transferring to the next generation at some point in the future, and that they will be keeping it for sentimental reasons, not auctioning it off for half its value.
Weatherby Vanguard Series 2
You can finally get into the Weatherby ecosystem for under $900 now, and it’s a whole lot of gun. The quality of manufacture is as good as ever, and the caliber is a perfect pairing with the robust, but still lightweight build that this gun is touting.
It’s six and three quarters pounds of well built, durable hunting gun that performs on every facet in the field. For the money you’d be hard-pressed to find a better gun. Weatherby agrees: they have attached a sub Minute of angle guarantee to the rifle platform making this accurate out of the box for a price that is hard to beat in general for the caliber.
Synthetic stock and a matte finish make it a gun you don’t mind beating up a bit in the field (and you will have the occasional ding here and there when hunting), not to mention the price point that helps you to be ok with a smudge here and a minor scratch there. This one is built for the hunter.
- Built to a very high standard considering the price point
- There are other competitive guns in the space too, this isn’t the only one with uncommon value
This is best for:
The Weatherby fan that understand why Weatherby used to be the standard by which many rifles were judged from a build quality perspective.
Savage Arms - Axis
The bargain winner for those who actually need an accurate, reliable gun, but can’t see themselves purchasing a $750 rifle. Savage is really making inroads as the industry leader in price point and yet, their value remains significant with a great trigger, very good accuracy, and durable builds.
This is a slightly reduced length of pull and can be used by adults and some bigger youth as well. It’s ready for optics and utilizes a decent magazine, even if the build at times can be a bit rough around the edges.
- Very good price point for value
- Significantly more accurate than most other rifles at the price point
- Quality stock and high durability
- Can be a bit rough around the edges on certain finishes
This is best for:
The bargain shopper, who still needs a crisp, clean trigger pull and a wants good value for their dollar but hunts legitimate targets.
Browning BLR Lightweight
A truly special rifle for those who don’t just want the standard bolt action hunting rifle. Classic looks, classic feel and classic performance from the BLR line. This is a perfect match for those shooters who know what a Browning can actually do.
The small amount of accuracy you lose by going to the lockup of a lever gun, is more than made up for by the fact that this is still a 1MOA rifle, and can give you fast follow up shots and amazing ergonomics.
It’s still a relatively lightweight rifle than offers incredible build quality, amazing looks and Browning creature comforts.
- Fast follow up shots
- Very good handling in the field
- Top tier finishes
- Browning proven performance
- Suffers a bit on accuracy relative to dedicated bolt guns (though it is still a 1MOA gun)
This is best for:
Lever gun fans, or those that already have a lot of bolt guns and want something different. The Browning BLR is a magical platform for hunting in the right conditions.
Beretta USA - Tikka T3 Hunter
Made by Beretta USA under the Tikka name and with the legacy Tikka dies and tooling; this is a gorgeous option at a very good price point given the features and build quality you are getting for under $700 USD.
The accuracy is fantastic, the clean aesthetics and the superior manufacturing processes makes this a very good value. The rifle features a cold hammer forged barrel and great mating work between the stock and action. The adjustable trigger is superb. It’s among the best on the market at any price point but feel luxurious at the under $700 price.
Significant accuracy, this is a rifle capable of ¾ MOA easily and will give some of the best production rifles a run for their money.
- Amazing trigger that is adjustable from about 2 to 4 lbs. of pull weight
- Very nice quality build
- Smooth action that offers incredible accuracy for the money
- May be a bit barebones for some despite the excellent trigger
This is best for:
The all-purpose shooter that has never owned a Tikka product, which, by most accounts is a worthy purchase for the sweet spot of the .270 Winchester: hunting big game.
What is a .270 Winchester Rifle best suited for?
The .270 Winchester is a study in ballistic harmony. It is one of the best-balanced cartridges in history, without question.
The benefit of the .270 Winchester is that it’s almost always enough. With no baggage whatsoever. You get a higher sectional density (penetration), better ballistic coefficient (wind shedding), optimal velocity and energy (basic terminal ballistics); you get all of this without the recoil, and the only cartridges that can compete with it at a larger diameter have to be stepped up into the Belted Magnum cartridges.
But the point is: you don’t have to. The added expense, the added recoil, the added headache doesn’t do anything more than what the .270 Winchester does from a “taking game down” perspective.
It’s best suited for literally every animal between 175 pounds and 750 pounds. You can take all types of deer, elk, moose, caribou, pronghorn, mountain sheep and ram. You can upload it, to get more effectiveness. You can download it to knock off coyote or other varmint at longer distances.
The excellent ballistics that come from the parent case (the .30-03 which is basically the .30-06) with the necked down casing to take the smaller diameter bullet has been the de facto standard for hunting in North America. This is because of a few special reasons:
- Fast, hard hitting and flat shooting
- Recoil is mild
- Pressure is lower
- Costs are lower
- Range is excellent
- Accuracy is under 1MOA out of almost any gun on the market
- Its’ enough gun for any hunter in North America for more than 90% of all game
If you need a single hunting tool, the .270 Winchester makes a legitimate case to be that one gun.
Why is it not more popular?
Actually, the .270 Winchester is among the most popular rifle cartridges that is purely in the civilian shooter marketplace, of all time. From a hunting perspective it is the quintessential intermediate sized game animal cartridge. It is also very applicable to the big game animals within reason. Certainly Deer, elk and moose are excellent targets for a majority of .270 Winchester loads. It lacks some of the diversity of loads that comes with a military favored cartridge like the .30-06 Springfield or the .308 Winchester, but there is no shortage of fans for the caliber.
The only reason that the .270 Winchester doesn’t SEEM as popular, is that it’s not as sexy as some of the more “innovative” products on the market. Consistency is not particularly sexy. If anything, the .270 Winchester is consistent. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a cartridge or a set of rifles that can consistently perform in the field for hunting purposes better than the .270 Winchester.
There is perhaps no other cartridge that is specifically a civilian, hunting cartridge that has consistently sold as well as the .270 Winchester, year after year since its inception. When you walk into a store, pretty much anywhere, you are going to see multiple loadouts for the .270 Winchester. This is a good indicator of how popular the cartridge is.
Every major manufacturer of hunting ammunition produces at least one variant of .270 Winchester. Generally, it is about in the middle, price wise, compared to other popular hunting rounds. The volume of shooters is growing as more people realize that to get the same value they get for the .270 while in the field, they have to bruise their shoulders, spend more per shot and damage meat they wouldn’t ordinarily be damaging with the .270.
Why pick the .270 Winchester over other cartridges?
Part of the reason you would want to pick the .270 Winchester over something like a .30-06 Springfield or other (by the way the casing for the .270 is a necked down .30-03 which is the same as the .30-06’s parent case), is the amount of meat destruction that comes with a higher powered cartridge with a bigger projectile, when you don’t actually need it for 95% of what you are actually trying to hunt with an intermediate cartridge anyways.
You don’t hunt ground squirrel with a .308 for obvious reasons. You don’t want to hunt a 200 lb. deer with a .30-06 for the same types of reasons. Not that the .30-06 will obliterate the deer like the .308 would the squirrel, but that the cartridge is too much for it. Even the smallest, lightest projectile for the .30-06 Springfield still doesn’t make sense for that animal.
When you are shooting for the chest trying to destroy the lungs, to dispatch a game animal, you don’t also need to destroy 40 lbs. of meat behind it. It’s overkill, plain and simple, and defeats a lot of the reasons you choose a caliber in the first place. Yes, you CAN kill a deer with a light loaded .45-70 or a light loaded .30-06 but you don’t need it either. You pick the .270 Winchester because it’s enough gun, and it keeps the integrity of the meat in place.
It’s got a smaller amount of recoil than the other cartridges that can do its job. Why punish yourself unnecessarily? If you don’t need a magnum cartridge don’t use one. The .270 Winchester is a mildly recoiling round that has more than enough power for most of the sweet spot in the moderately sized and big game sized animals. Recoil doesn’t have to be a problem if you bring the right cartridge and the right gun.
It’s cheaper than other cartridges that do the same thing. The smaller projectile, the readily available brass, the high commercial volume, all these things drive the price down further than competitive cartridges (most of which are larger and have a higher intrinsic price because of material costs.
Some of the smaller cartridges than can do SOME of what the .270Winchester can do, still cost more anyways because they aren’t as widely available or they are still baking the price of heavy front loaded marketing costs into the cartridge. This cartridge does it all for a big portion of the hunting spectrum, and it does it for less money usually.
One of the biggest reasons you choose the .270 Winchester over other competitive cartridges is that it’s here to stay. It’s not a one-off, cool-guy cartridge that only sells in a single region, or only works for enthusiasts. This is a time-tested round adopted by millions of shooters and hunters everywhere.
Did we mention the cartridge is ridiculously accurate? Half minute of angle accurate, in most guns made around the caliber. You cannot find that easily at the price point or without the hiccups of other competitive rounds. “Competitive rounds” is actually a bit of a misnomer too: there are very few rounds that are actually competitive with the .270 Winchester in the field against legitimate game on a hunt.
Our final thoughts
Buying the best .270 Winchester rifle is more about deciding that you need a .270 Winchester than it is about picking a specific rifle. That takes nothing away from the rifle manufacturers or the guns in general, but the real power in the .270 Winchester is that it is a traditionalist’s cartridge. It has a long history of being the best and the rifles that shoot it are spectacular, in general.
All of these guns are accurate, capable hunting guns that will help you to up your game in the field when stalking that elusive buck. When you need your rifle to perform and you are up against legitimately large game in the field, the .270 Winchester is almost always “enough gun”.
The fact that these options on this list of the best .270 Winchester rifles are all redeeming choices in their specific areas of specialty means that no matter your budget or your inclination towards rifles, you will be able to easily find a capable, high end performance machine to hunt with.
We feel good about our almost blanket endorsement of traditionalist designs and hunting options, as the classically designed guns seem to play out perfectly for the classic performance and timeless ballistics of the .270 Winchester cartridge. We feel confident that if you are in the market for a .270, or if you are just starting your research on the rifles in this chambering, that our content can help you to make the best decision.
At the end of this article, we think you can easily decide which is the best .270 Winchester rifle for you. Of that assertion, we are proud.