Before getting to the list of the best .270 hunting rifles, let's take a brief look at its formation.
Like the .30-06, the .270 Winchester is based off of the .30-03 Springfield and was introduced in 1925. The .30 Springfield provided an ample case for powder charge and burn, but the addition of the pointed, or “spitzer” bullet provided improved dynamics and was adopted in 1906 as the .30-06. By 1923 Winchester was exploring the possibilities of using the same case for use with a narrower bullet that gained a longer longitudinal axis for better aerodynamic stability and penetration into game. They introduced this new cartridge two years later for their Model 54 bolt action rifle.
While the performance was noteworthy, the caliber did not take off beyond some hard core, dedicated hunters and writers: the 193’s gave most Americans, and people in general, other things to worry about. The round gained greater popularity after World War II, however. This is quite possibly because of the great number of surplus military rifles, especially in the small bore foreign calibers that were available and well suited for rechambering into an American domestic caliber.
From that point forward, the .270 Winchester’s capabilities were more fully explored. It is a caliber that offers great variety of application from long distance silhouette target shooting to being able to take down deer and even elk with the heavier bullets. This versatility has inspired a wealth of new firearms in this caliber.
List of Best .270 Rifles for the money
Winchester Model 70 Featherweight
The .270 was introduced for Winchester’s Model 54 in 1925, it is only fitting to explore the Model 70 first. The 70 is the next generation of that earlier model. The 70 is lightweight for trekking through the forest yet retains an attractive, High-Grade maple wood stock and hammer forged, polished, free floating barrel. It merges classic lines with modern precision characteristics. For those looking for a traditional looking rifle with current technological conveniences, the Model 70 offers both. Since its introduction in 1936 it was not too long before it became a long term and trusted choice for military and police precision shooting teams. In fact, Carlos Hathcock, the famous Vietnam US sniper used a Winchester 70 chambered in .30-06 during his tour of duty. This action is as highly prized and respected as the Remington 700. The current production rifle offers a three-position safety, hinged floor plate for rapid unloading and an attractive jeweled bolt body.
While the older models may fetch a premium for used guns, especially among the pre-64 variety, Winchester’s current model offerings remain popular examples are exceedingly well-made offering a traditionally classy look and beautifully finished rifle with a well established reputation in both the model itself and for this particular round.
Browning BAR Safari
Not to be confused with the military BAR 1918, the Belgian made Browning Automatic Rifle offers new standards in luxurious furniture and aesthetics. The scroll engraved receiver is drilled and tapped for optics options and the Grade III walnut stock offers a rifle that suggests it is better admired than taken into the field. That suggests form over function, however, that impresxion would be a grievous error. The multilug rotary bolt offers the best reliability in lock up and extraction of cartridges when follow up shots are required. Not every state or jurisdiction allows hunting with a self-loading firearm, but there is often a very good reason for those areas that do: the game is particularly dangerous and even aggressive. The Browning BAR offers a dependable rifle in knock down calibers for such occasions.
Browning’s offerings of more exclusive grade models have undeniably removed it from the realm of a running and gunning service rifle. While function and dependability are clear hallmarks of the firearm’s design and history, to many shooters it is may appear something of a sacrilege to take such a fine rifle into the field where it runs the risk of being marred by regular wear and tear.
While on the topic of trophy guns, the Browning Lever Action is another example of a work of art from a fully functional and reliable firearm. The BLR was introduced with a detachable box magazine that made it suitable for use with pointed bullets: not always a safe option with traditional tube mag fed lever actions. The White Gold edition is a light weight by virtue of the nickel finished aircraft grade receiver – drilled and tapped for a scope mount, of course - which is also scroll engraved. Exposed hammer has half cock position as well as offers an easily verifiable indicator of the rifle’s condition as regards to readiness to fire. A simple, yet effective safety feature. High gloss finished walnut stocks round out another beautiful gun that may best be used under controlled circumstances: it is a source of pride to owners and awe to observers.
In addition to the box mag, the BLR was also among the first of the lever guns capable of handling high pressure sporting ammunition. Designed by John Moses Browning himself, the rifle, like the BAR, represents a remarkable step in firearms design as well as a uniquely beautiful gun that shoots every bit as good as it looks.
Ruger’s American line encompasses a great many calibers from .17 HMR on up to .30-06. The company’s pride in offering a 100% American made firearm is readily apparent in its branding and its appointments. The light, yet typically Ruger robust composite stock offers a rubber but pad and the Power Bedding Integral Block System: mounting the furniture to the receiver and allowing the barrel to be free floating and suffer no interference from the fore arm. Ruger’s devotion and success with flush mounted rotary mags continues as well, leaving the shooter confident of problem free feeding. Ruger also offers standard their Marksman adjustable trigger which has variable settings between three and five pounds with the safety tab common to most stock target triggers today. Non-glare finish means it is not shiny (figuratively and literally), because glares can alter a sight picture as well as give away the shooter’s position.
As is becoming more popular, sporting rifles are becoming available with an optics package, this one for example is accompanied by Vortex’s Crossfire II: a 3-9 power by 40 mm scope readily mounted upon the rifle’s drilled and tapped receiver. Together, the package is a ready to shoot, out of the box, affordable set up that is dependable and capable of taking on the abuse the wilds can dish out.
Savage has built a reputation on sporting rifles going back to the 1890’s. While not as readily recognized as Remington or Winchester the company, for a time made more rifles than either. While it is well known for its models 10/110 and 11/111 for precision teams, the “entry-level” Axis model has developed quite a following as well. A carbon steel barrel, a detachable magazine and Savage’s own AccuTrigger that is installed on more expensive rifles the Axis may cut corners to reduce the price when it comes to high gloss finishes but it comes through where performance is concerned, because performance is essential. The Axis II has even inspired a bunch of aftermarket mods that are usually reserved for more high-end models.
Not to be outdone by the competition, Savage offers the Axis II XP with a factory installed and bore sighted Weaver Kaspa 3-9x40 scope. Installed by the manufacturers, it is ready to shoot out of the box. As it is, the Axis II is offering another service grade with custom level features package. With the growing market of add on features including tactical style light chassis, it has fast become an introductory custom rifle builder’s delight.
Remington 700 ADL
Like Winchester, Remington is a firearms making name that harkens back to the 1800’s. In Remington’s case the early 1800’s (1816) and has represented quality and dependability in all that time. The Model 700 rifle series particularly remains a hallmark of precision rifle shooting for sport and law enforcement. While there are many variants of the 700, the ADL is among the service grade, designed for work before play. This model is offered with an over molded synthetic stock with rubber inserts on the forearm and grip. Further, in what is becoming more of a common occurrence, this ADL is offered with what may be referred to as the ubiquitous factory installed 3-9x40 power scope.
What makes the 700 standout is the overwhelming availability and assortment of after market mods: while the stock trigger is light and crisp, alternatives are available. As are barrels and stocks and optics mounting platforms. The 700 remains the mainstay of law enforcement and military precision shooting teams. That and its longevity ensure that the rifle has after purchase support not only from Remington but seemingly half of Brownell’s catalog.
Savage 11/111 Trophy
Returning to Savage, here is presented the company’s flagship rifle that saw it through its financial difficulties of the 1980s. While many people are familiar with Remington and Winchester, Savage has developed a loyal following and expanding market with their own precision rifles. Coming stock supplied with an adjustable AccuTrigger and matte black carbon steel barrel, the 11/111 Trophy is ready for work on long range targets for either sport or defense. Long known for their accuracy, Savage’s limited after-market mods were once a detriment, but that has changed as more shooters have migrated to the company’s reliable performance. The 11/111 is available in heavy bench rifle variants, but the Trophy is made to be light weight for wilderness tracking of game.
Continuing along the vein of package offerings, the Trophy comes with a factory installed Nikon’s BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) 3-9x40 scope. Savage puts long range shooting features where your money is and does not ask a lot for it either. One other point, Savage is one of a very few companies that offers its models for left handed shooters.
Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Ruger’s foray into the bolt action sporting rifle remains dominated by the M77 series. Initially designed as an improvement upon the Mauser 98 rifle incorporated several unique features. Through several redesigns since its introduction in 1968, the one that remains is an angled stock screw that draws the barreled action to the rear of the stock rather than straight up and down, creating a firmer lock into the bedding of the stock. The Hawkeye variant of the M77 utilizes the company’s LC6 trigger system: a safer model against bumps and drops while maintaining a performance level, crisp break.
Ruger’s M77 is available in several variants and stock options but remains a sporting rifle open to any number of scope options. Unlike the American, while ready for rough usage, it is a rifle that possesses a style and quality that begs to not be pushed through the brush. On the plus side, every Ruger that has survived a trip into the woods has gone on to be trusted if not adored by its owner: not many of these rifles end up being sold used.
Browning X Bolt Stainless Stalker
Browning does not just offer pretty rifles that are a shame to abuse if not even just use. The X-Bolt is the company’s pledge to continue providing rifles that are to be used and relied upon in the field by even the most trying of circumstances. The Stainless Stalker is especially well suited for use in the elements. The composite stock is immune to whatever the elements may can throw at it and mounts a stainless steel barreled receiver that is drilled and tapped. All of which is given a weatherproof Dura-Touch Armor coating to seal in the materials and keep out the weather. This rifle is ready to sit up in the tree stands or behind the blinds or trek anywhere the quarry can be found no matter what the season. The X-Bolt also comes with an adjustable Feather Trigger with a 3-5 pound setting allowing a custom setting to the individual shooter.While Browning offers top line rifles with custom style finishes, the X-Bolt is made for service with the same attention to details and quality of the safe queen rifles.
Tikka T3X Lite Bolt
The Finns have a long tradition of deep woods hunting and understandably favor a light, easy handling rifle that is not a burden going into the woods and is even less cumbersome coming out with their quarry. Made and distributed in cooperation with Beretta, the Finnish Tikka company offers a modern take on a traditional activity. The T3X Lite is designed for trekking prey yet still capable of delivering less than 1” groups at 100 yards. It comes with a factory installed single stage trigger that can be adjusted to between 2 and 4 pounds. The weatherproof stock and stainless steel make the rifle ideal for moving through the woods without a concern if the weather turns. Of course, the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope options.
Another fine point about the Tikka series of rifles is the action: they have managed to duplicate the frictionless movement of an old Krag or Enfield with zero deviation out of the line of the receiver. Operating the bolt of these rifles is a stated pleasure by experienced sportsmen offering some of the quickest follow up shots of any of the rifles offered. The rifle’s action is as sleek as the design lines.
What is the best .270 Rifle for YOU?
As the .270 has become more popular and more applicable to different shooting sports rifle makers have answered the call with their own models. While the rifle-scope packages have become a standard offering, the scopes themselves are of a similar level in quality and performance: there is not a great amount of differences on the scopes themselves to push one better than another beyond reticle and brand: both are more personal choices than anything else.
Of the big-name rifles: Ruger, Winchester, Savage (specifically the 11/111) and Remington, the latter two offer scope packages. All offer remarkable triggers and exceptional accuracy, but the Savage beats them all when it comes to value for price. The Ruger and Winchester, on the other hand are top quality rifles with top quality pricing but are worth every penny as they will maintain their value better than the other two. This is important if the consumer is considering resale. Finally, the Remington has the most service history as the 700 has been chosen for military and police tactical shooting teams as well as a long sporting history that is beat only by the Winchester: but the latter was never adopted in such numbers as the 700.
Both the Browning BLR and BAR rifles continue to be offered in premium grades that results in the given impression of the rifles being trophies in and of themselves instead of tools for wear and tear to put meat on the table and holes in paper. This does not discount them as options, but many may feel it is a shame to acquire one only to get it scratched up in the field. Both are status symbols while being non bolt action samples of rifle technology.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Ruger American: it offers value, affordability, completion with an optics package in a platform that simply begs to be [ab]used. If it gets scratched up in a sticker bush, it is not a major loss as the rifle is meant for service, not being mounted in a cabinet. This along with the Savage Axis are two rifles that offer very good value for the dollar and are designed for use and abuse. These may be the “entry” level rifles of the group but they are not “beginner” or merely introductory rifles. They are perfect examples of truck guns that will offer years of service and, unlike the Browning BAR and BLR, ease of mind if leant to a friend on a hunting trip: what’s the worst that could happen?
Browning bridges the gap with the X-Bolt: a service grade rifle with top quality appointments, it can be on par with the M77 or Winchester 70 as far as a hunting rifle that represents a financial investment, but that investment usually only pans out if the rifle remains pristine. While the Stainless Stalker is a rifle variant that is designed to be taken out and used.
Both Savage models are offered by the company in left handed models offering southpaws equal value and quality without demanding custom rifle pricing. The only other rifle that is offered in LH actions is the Tikka, but only on selected models. While lefties are regularly forced to live in a right hander’s world, it is refreshing that a growing number of companies have adopted the point of view that they are people in their own right too and deserve the same product comfort as anyone else.
Many of these rifles offer the common application: putting the .270 Winchester bullet down range for hunting game. The differences are meant to appeal to the personal inclinations of the individual shooter. Variables for that include brand name and long term goal: service and use versus investment in the future. Regardless of the use, there is something available to meet those desires and/or needs.