The Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter chambered in 6.8 Western features a 1:7.5 barrel twist that is necessary for proper bullet stabilization at all ranges.
For many decades, the .270 Winchester was a top-selling sporting rifle cartridge that boasted of high velocity, flat trajectory, modest recoil, accuracy, respectable barrel life and good performance on deer-sized game. However, due to new cartridge and bullet developments that have been engineered to extend the definition of long-range, it’s popularity has begun to wane. Winchester has responded with a new cartridge known as the 6.8 Western that shares the same .277-inch diameter bullets as the .270; however, it is designed specifically to accommodate modern long-range shooting. It is truly impressive, as it can launch heavy-for-caliber bullets with especially high ballistic coefficients (BC) and low drag at the targeted velocities of just under 3,000 feet per second (fps). It is just as modern as the original .270 Winchester was 96 years ago, and demand is already high.
Before discussing performance details of the 6.8 Western, it seems prudent to discuss the history of cartridges that utilized .277-inch bullets, and why this caliber is now being renewed. Winchester Repeating Arms Company developed the .270 Winchester (.270 W.C.F.) in 1923 but waited until 1925 to formally introduce it in its Model 54 rifle. It was based on the .30-03 case (.046 inch longer than the .30-06) necked down to accept .277-inch bullets. Technically speaking, it is a 7mm, as .277-inch bullets are 7.04mm; however, the bore diameter is 6.86mm. Period loads were listed with a 130-grain bullet at 3,160 feet per second (fps), which was indeed optimistic, while additional loads soon appeared with a 150-grain bullet at 2,770 fps, which has now been increased in velocity. As an interesting side note, most of the early .270 rifles, including the Winchester Model 54 and Model 70, were outfitted with open, iron sights and were not drilled and tapped for scope mounting. At least until the 1960s, it was unusual to see rifles outfitted with a scope sight, but I digress.
The Browning 6.8 Western proved accurate with Winchester’s 165-grain Big Game Long Range load containing the Nosler AccuBond Long Range bullet, producing groups just over a half-inch.
Factory loads were checked for velocity and accuracy.
Period outdoor writers, including the notable Townsend Whelen and Elmer Keith, praised the .270 for its flat trajectory, modest recoil and reliable performance on deer-sized game. For example, in his 1936 book Big Game Rifles, Keith stated “The .270 Winchester…is a very good cartridge for all our lighter big game.” He continued: “When it is restricted to game that really comes under its power, it is a fine cartridge indeed. Many hunters swear by it for elk and moose shooting, but I have noticed that they are nearly all very experienced old hunters, who possess the skill and patience to properly place their shot or else not shoot.” The .270 was most praised and popularized by Outdoor Life writer Jack O’Connor, who hunted the world with his customized Winchester Model 70 Featherweight rifle (and other rifles) and accounted for considerable game.
During World War II, Roy Weatherby developed the .270 Weatherby Magnum, which utilized .277-inch bullets and was based on a shortened and blown out .300 H&H Magnum case for a notable powder capacity increase over the .270 Winchester. It was capable of pushing a 130-grain bullet between 3,300 fps to 3,400 fps (depending on bullet design) or a 150 grain around 3,250 fps. Due to its high velocities, it offered an especially flat trajectory at any normal hunting distance and became one of Weatherby’s best-selling cartridges.
With the introduction of the .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) in 2001 and its quick acceptance among hunters wanting a short action (.308 Winchester length) rifle with magnum performance, Winchester introduced the .270 WSM in 2002. I was present when the discussion and decision was made to offer the .270 WSM. I encouraged Winchester to increase the barrel twist rate (along with other technical case and chamber design features), but my ideas fell on deaf ears. Nonetheless, the .270 WSM is a great hunting cartridge that typically pushes 130-grain bullets at 3,275 fps, or 150-grain bullets at 3,120 fps, which is more than a 200-fps velocity advantage over the .270 Winchester when loaded with identical bullets. While it has become popular, it has not dethroned the original .270 Winchester’s popularity.
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After using a 6.5 Grendel to cull a goodly number of Texas feral hogs, I’ve developed a great deal of respect for the cartridge. This has mostly involved nighttime forays shooting with thermal imaging optics. The 2.26-inch confines inherent to AR-15 magazines, and the Grendel’s limited case capacity, make 123- to 130-grain bullets the practical upper limit for such activities. These projectiles chug along at around 2,350/2,450 feet per second (fps), but deliver well out of proportion to its diminutive size.
.240 WEATHERBY MAGNUM
The .240 Weatherby Magnum gets little respect. Knowledgeable varmint hunters will spend a lot of dough to build up a custom 6mm-284 or one of the variations of the 6mm-06 wildcat rounds to get the ballistic features already available in a .240 Weatherby Magnum factory rifle: flat trajectory, good performance in wind and the ability to anchor larger game more reliably if called upon to do so.
The 6mm Creedmoor was designed for long-range target shooting with long and skinny, heavy-for-caliber bullets that slip through the air with the greatest of ease. Wind affects these bullets little; they just fly right through it, almost unaffected.
The idea was simple enough: Friend Cole Bender from PROOF Research offered to rebarrel my Winchester Model 770 .243 Winchester, a rifle I hadn’t shot in years. When returned, I would have a heavy-barreled .243 Winchester to replace my beloved Remington 700 BDL Varminter that was sold to pay some emergency debt long ago forgotten. I can say this rebarreled 770 will never replace that old Remington, but it has the potential to do some very useful things in the field.
Nosler, Inc. has been busy with its ever-expanding line of bullets, the company’s homegrown rifles and a proprietary line of cartridges.
RESTORING OIL FINISHED STOCKS
The Reinvented .45-70 Government
MOSTLY LONG GUNS
German Sniper Rifles
In the run-up to World War II, military planners in Germany expected a fast-moving mechanized war. They considered that a sniper firing one well-aimed round at a time was a holdover from trench warfare. On December 6, 1934, the German Army’s High Command ordered all “Telescope Sight Rifles” to be turned in by the 15th of that month. There was no plan for their replacement (from Sniper Variations of the German K98k Rifle by Richard D. Law).
Winchester's New 6.8 Western
Not Your Father’s “.270”
GROUPS AND MARKMANSHIP
7MM SHOOTING TIMES EASTERNER
THE SAME OLD – OVER AND OVER
CRIMPING THE .45 COLT
BULLETS & BRASS
NIEDNER .22 WCF IMPROVED
Special Target or Special Sporting Rifle
THE .410 3-INCH
.40-65 Winchester Center Fire
Loads for a Shiloh 1874 Sharps
.300 Winchester Magnum
57 Years and Still Going Strong
Thoughts On Set Triggers
Most of us in the single-shot world have rifles that utilize set triggers. However, I feel there are many misconceptions concerning set triggers even among those riflemen who have used them most of their life. Used in the correct fashion, set triggers can definitely help your shooting. Used incorrectly, they can promote bad habits and really create life-long mental shooting problems.
Learn To Reload Load Development
Are three, five, seven or 10 shots enough to determine a load’s accuracy? These five-shot groups were fired from a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight 7mm-08 Remington loaded with Nosler 140-grain Ballistic Tips and 47.0 grains of Big Game.