Hunters agree that the 243 Winchester and 270 Winchester make great cartridges for different hunting scenarios. The 243 and 270 cartridges overlap in their capabilities. Still, you should be aware of some significant differences between them.
Two centerfire rifle cartridges are both popular and effective. However, there are important details about them that are often overlooked. Many people need clarification about the strengths and weaknesses of the 243 Winchester and 270 Winchester, especially when discussing which cartridge would be best for hunting a particular animal under specific conditions.
I will examine the 243 vs. 270 debate in detail and see which cartridge is better for different hunting situations. That way, you can decide which one to use based on your needs.
History Of The 270 Winchester and 243 Winchester
The .270 Winchester and the 243 Winchester were developed in the United States, and both cartridges are based on the .30-06 Springfield.
When the Army saw how deadly the new Mauser rifle and 7mm Mauser cartridge were in the hands of Spanish forces in Cuba, it decided it needed a new infantry service rifle and ammunition.
They eventually chose the bolt action 1903 Springfield rifle chambered in the new.30-06 Springfield cartridge.
The new 30-06 Springfield was very similar to the 7x57mm Mauser, and it is likely that the designers of the 30-06 based their cartridge design on the 7mm Mauser cartridge.
Many believe that the 7mm Mauser is the original ancestor of the 30-03 Springfield and the well-known 30-06 Springfield.
On the whole, the .30-06 Springfield had a much better performance than other American cartridges popular at the time, like the .45-70
Government, thanks to smokeless powder being used to fire an 1150-grain spitzer bullet at 2,700 feet per second (2,428 ft-lbs of energy).
The .30-06 Springfield became popular with civilians soon after its introduction.
As is often the case, wildcatters also quickly started modifying the .30-06 Springfield to accomplish various tasks.
Some gun designers created bigger cartridges by making the .30-06 longer, such as the 338-06 and the .35 Whelen.
Some people used smaller diameter bullets by making the .30-06 case smaller. Two examples are the .25-06 Remington and 280 Remington. When Winchester wanted to use .277″ bullets instead of .308″, they modified the case to fit that size. The manager at Winchester wanted a new, more powerful cartridge to compete with the .30-06 Springfield, so they developed the .270 Winchester. It was released in 1925 with the Model 54 rifle.
This original .270 Winchester load shot an 1130-grain bullet at 3,140 feet per second, resulting in 2,846 ft-lbs of energy. The .270 Winchester cartridge was incredibly high velocity for the 1920s. It was a tremendous speed improvement over the .30-06 Springfield, considered a very high-velocity cartridge at the time.
One of the.243’s greatest benefits is that it’s the perfect size for medium-sized game because to its size. At the same time, its noise and recoil levels are low enough that any hunter can shoot it accurately and calmly. For those who are lightly built or have shoulder injuries, the .243 is sometimes the only power they can tolerate. For hunters who want a smaller, lighter cartridge, the 6.5×55 and 7mm08 cartridges are too much, and the only commercial choice is the .243. Although the .243 is not as versatile or powerful as the 6.5 and 7mm08 cartridges, it still has advantages. This is why it’s crucial for anyone who uses a .243 to do their research and learn as much as they can about it. To be a successful hunter, it is vital to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your prey and have a thorough understanding of how to kill them humanely. The .243 can be an excellent cartridge for hunters, or it can be terrible, depending on the hunter’s skills.
The .243 is loaded with expanding conventional bullets that can penetrate the shoulder bones of medium-sized deer. Still, they may not exit if the deer is hit broadside. This means that traditional projectiles will not be effective at penetrating objects more than 12 to 14 inches away, making them less effective on shots taken at an angle.
Barnes TSX projectiles can penetrate vitals even if the shot is not direct.
The .243 is a good choice for games that weigh between 90 and 130 pounds, but it can also be used for game up to 180 pounds. The weight limit for the .243 caliber rifle is suggested to be 100 pounds because rear lung shots on larger game, even though the wounds may be free bleeding, can be slow enough that the animals can run a considerable distance, and the hunter can lose them entirely. On heavy-boned deer, careful shot placement is the key. The .243 (320kg / 700lb) has been successfully used to harvest countless elk without problems. For every success story, there is an equal number of failures. Animal welfare should always take precedence over hunters’ preferences. Some experienced hunters argue that the .243 caliber is too weak, but this should not matter if the animal’s well-being is the primary concern.
There are better caliber choices for hunted animals that fall into the medium game category than the .243.
Bullets will not often penetrate the shoulder shield of a mature boar. A neck shot is not always ideal for hunting a mature boar because their neck skin can be very thick. Although most .243 projectiles will penetrate the skin and into the flesh, sometimes the wound is so minimal that the animal can escape over a long distance. For the best results when hunting, shooting .243 caliber bullets into the chest from the throat or behind the shoulder is advisable, depending on the angle. If you want to shoot a boar or sizeable black bear in the neck, aim as close to the head/neck junction as possible, near the ear.
The .243 produces the quickest kills when the target is 200 yards away, or the impact velocity exceeds 2650 fps. At this distance, gunshots to vital organs can be very damaging, causing organs to be punctured up to 3 inches wide. Animals may show little sign of being hit beyond 200 yards and can cover considerable distances regardless of wounding. Hunters should aim for the significant shoulder bones to minimize such effects, as long as the bullet penetrates deep enough. This rule is just as crucial for deer with larger bones. For those who choose to use the .243 on a game the size of Red or Mule deer, it is essential to resist the temptation to aim for a soft spot to ensure the deepest penetration possible.
The .243 caliber rifle is still effective at inflicting severe damage to an animal’s internal organs between 300 and 400 yards, with the wound typically being around an inch in diameter. However, wind drift can make it challenging to place shots accurately, resulting in long, drawn-out kills. It can take several minutes for an animal shot in the rear lung to die.
The 270 vs. 30-06 Debate Is Finally Resolved
The second time you load the cartridge, the velocity of the 130gr bullets falls to about 3,060fps. Which is still fast-loading, even today.
Although the .270 Winchester didn’t see much success when it was first released, American hunters later came to appreciate its flat shooting and effectiveness on the thin-skinned game. As the cartridge became more popular, Jack O’Connor helped to increase its popularity even more by writing about it favorably in Outdoor Life.
This doesn’t mean the cartridge’s only claim to fame is O’Connor. O’Connor didn’t just use the .270 Winchester on hunts. He loved it and used it a lot. Even if Jack O’Connor hadn’t promoted the .270 Winchester cartridge, it would have likely been successful due to its good performance and ability to fill a large market niche.
The .270 Winchester has an odd bullet diameter. The .270 Winchester uses .277″ bullets, unlike other popular 7mm cartridges like the 7mm Mauser, 7 mm-08, 7mm Remington Magnum, and .280 Remington, which all use .284″ bullets.
After some research, it is still unclear why the Winchester designers decided to use .277″ bullets with the .270 Winchester instead of .284″ bullets. The theory is that the Chinese made their Mauser rifles in 6.8x57mm cartridges, the size of the bullet they had on hand. It’s also possible that they wanted to create a bullet size that was distinctly American and avoid the 6.5mm and 7mm bullets that were popular in Europe. By building a new bullet diameter that was 10% smaller than the one used in the .30-06.
The design team at Winchester decided to use a .277″ bullet diameter, which became the standard. 270 Winchester turned out to be very successful for the company, but .277″ bullets were not popular.
The 250-grain bullet is not a common weight for mass-produced cartridges, except the 270 Winchester Short Magnum (270 WSM), the .270 Weatherby Magnum, the 6.8 Remington SPC, the 27 Nosler, and the 6.8 Western.
The 270 Winchester is a popular and effective cartridge for hunting big game.
ATSX85Grain A dual load can also be developed with the 85-grain TSX and 95-grain SST by downloading the TSX to 3100fps. This ammunition works well on the game at close range and is better than the 95-grain XLC, which is only good for bigger deer.
The Barnes bullets work well on the game that weighs 150kg or more, but the wound channels they create are often not wide enough to kill the animal quickly. In many instances, animals have been lost due to long gaps between their last known location and where they were ultimately found. While the 6mm Barnes bullets are very effective, hunters should not become overconfident in their abilities.
For heavily built deer, it is better to use 6mm Barnes bullets that weigh between 60 and 80kg. The maximum weight that the bullets can be used is 100kg.
I decided not to allow the use of the .243 caliber on our wild pig hunting block because I saw too many wounded animals. Hunters should always prioritize animal welfare and should only shoot more powerful cartridges if they are comfortable doing so. Although the .243 has uses, I have had to make exceptions when hunting. One female client is quite petite, and the .243 caliber combined with the rifle’s weight is about as much recoil as she can handle. This woman can make the most of her .243 rifle by paying attention to where she aims it and knowing its capabilities. At close to moderate ranges, the rifle is fed the 85-grain Barnes at 3100fps, and for everything else, the 95-grain SST at 3050fps. The Partition eliminates the need for dual loading, but the two loads have proven versatile.
The best points of aim on the medium game for a light caliber like the .243 should be the “soft spots,” such as the neck or rear lungs. The .243 is not accurate at long range, causing slow kills beyond 200 yards. It is also occasionally inaccurate at close range. Choose the correct projectile and aim for the shoulder using a .243 for the medium game to avoid wasting meat. When hunting heavy animals, it is not as easy to determine where to shoot them, and it is beneficial to research ahead of time and develop guidelines. This cartridge can produce either outstanding or abysmal results depending on rifle accuracy, the skill of the hunter, and a sensible approach to game suitability.