I’ve used a 270 Winchester since about the age of 14, when my “Grandpa Jack” gave me one. It was a Herter’s U-9 (Parker Hale action I believe) and was a beautifully well maintained rifle. In my immediate family, rifles were tools used to put food on the table. They were kept in good working order but were more often than not, beat to heck. Not my 270! Mine had an almost perfect coat of gloss finish on the sharp looking stock. The bluing was flawless, bolt jeweled, and the action was lubed and slick. I took pride in keeping it nicer than the other rifles in the house. Sub MOA groups out to 200 yards were the norm, opening up to about 1.5 MOA at 400 yards. I’ve taken a couple bear, a few deer, caribou, and occasional coyotes with this rifle. The performance was always more than adequate. My father and other Grandpa (Ed) had also used previous 270’s to bring down many elk, bear, deer, mountain goat, etc. We used 130gr Nosler partitions, and our loads were hot. To say I’m partial to the 270 Winchester would be an understatement.
When I started to involve myself in long range shooting I quickly learned the importance of the bullet’s ballistic coefficient. The selection of high BC bullets for the 270 at that time was dismal (In fact, it’s still not all that great). I quickly realized my old hand-me-down 270 would not be a part of my new hobby. My old trusty rifle began collecting dust… lots of dust. Jack O’Connor wrote a lot about the 270 as a long range cartridge, and potent big-game killer. His name became synonymous with the 270 Winchester and the “smaller bore” school of thought. After doing some research though, he was more than willing to use larger bore magnum type cartridges when needed. He was a realist as far as I can tell, and I believe he was right about the 270 win. Unfortunately though, his definition of “long range” was a far cry from what I was after. I was using cartridges like the 243win, 284, 7wsm, 338 Lapua, 260 rem, and 300 win mag to reach targets out to and well beyond 1000 yards. It’s not that the 270 was incapable, just lacking compared to the smaller .264” bullets or the slightly larger .284” pills.
I found there were positives and negatives with every cartridge. One of my all-time favorites, the 7 wsm, provided fantastic ballistics and accuracy, but barrel life was less than ideal. After burning up my “7” barrel, I decided to play with cartridges that were a better compromise like the 260 rem. I was after decent ballistics, decent barrel life, and mild recoil. Overall this worked out very well. The problem with “compromise” is that you generally wind up missing something. That “something” was mostly wind drift. My WSM was running the 168gr Berger VLD at around 3000fps (this is a mild load compared to what some get out of the 7wsm). I found my 260rem and 300 win were close, but not quite there, at least not when conditions got tough.
Fast forward several years… Chris Reid of Benchmark Barrels tells me about some new .277” bullets that just came out. It does pique my interest but then there’s always something “newer and better“. I’m always skeptical. “Matrix Bullets makes a 277” bullet at 165gr with a BC over .7,” he says, as if I probably already knew… “and they have a 190gr 7mm bullet that’s even higher”. He later tested the 190gr bullets in his 280 AI, with favorable results, and reports that the BC’s aren’t all that far off (I was most skeptical of the BC’s). He also tells me they’re not very jump sensitive and it’s easy to get them to shoot. Benchmark decided to order a new .277” button with a 1:9 twist to stabilize the new longer bullets. The rifling design is canted lands (5R style) which Ron believes to be a little easier on bullets. I was beginning to think the 270 win might become a viable long range cartridge after all. I know Chris was thinking 270 wsm or 270 Weatherby mag… but he’s an Elmer Keith, bigger is always better type (just kidding Chris… but seriously).
Not too much later, Ron Sinnema (co-owner of Benchmark Barrels) tells me he’s got the first 9 twist .277” barrel done. We talked about me testing the barrel on one of my rigs, and we talked about Benchmark getting a “shop gun” test platform to test all the new barrel designs and cartridges. A few days later, Ron sends me a text… he finish lapped the barrel and that it came out dimensionally perfect (it sometimes takes a little experimenting to get the reamer size right for a new button).
I knew the shop gun he planned to use would be a Savage Action. If I were going to use this barrel on one of my rifles (I currently have mostly Remington actions), I would have to catch him before he contoured the barrel to accept a savage shank size. I quickly text Ron back… “have you already contoured it?” Send… A minute goes by, no response; 5 minutes go by, still nothing. He’s probably just busy with a customer. Or maybe he’s setting it up in the CNC to contour it right now! I decide to call and Ron answers. I skip the pleasantries and ask him if he’d already contoured the barrel, he laughs (not sure if he already knew why I was calling, or heard a little urgency in my voice) but it hasn’t been contoured. I may have literally been holding my breath, now a silent sigh of relief. I told him I wanted the barrel, Remington varmint contour, 28” finished, chambered in 270 Winchester. It didn’t quite sound right hearing myself say it. That’s right, straight up 270 win. The same cartridge Jack O‘Connor used, the one my grandpa used, the one I had used. Ron and I worked out all the details, and he talked me into eight ¼” flutes. Thank goodness he did, the fluting shaved 14 ounces from the barrel weight.
I’m not a huge fan of muzzle brakes but this was to be a dual purpose (competition/hunting) rifle and I wanted to have the ability to spot my own shots. The brake design we went with was the “mini” muscle brake. The action is a Remington 700, with a factory tuned trigger that breaks crisply and consistently around two pounds. I went with the AICS chassis system on this rifle. I know… too heavy for hunting right? I can’t disagree, but it is a tough setup and I’ve learned to skimp in other areas or just plain “deal with it”. The scope for this rifle is not fancy but it is one of my favorites, the plain old Leupold Mark IV 4.5-14x50 with M1 turrets and the TMR reticle, held in place by Seekins rings. I find these scopes to be durable, repeatable, reasonably light, and good on glass. Of course I had a 20 MOA base, Angle Cosine Indicator, bubble level etc. The finished rifle with everything including the scope, the bi-pod, and the sling weighs in at 14 and a half pounds.