The .270 Savage / .270-300 Savage / .270 Savage Ackley Improved

By Chuck Hawks

This elderly wildcat arose from the desire of Savage Model 99 rifle owners for a cartridge with ballistics approaching those of the .270 Winchester with 130 grain (or lighter) bullets. It was created by simply necking down the .300 Savage case to accept standard .277" diameter bullets. The result was a good, short action, hunting cartridge. There was also an Ackley Improved version of the .270 Savage, although there isn't a lot of "improving" possible with the .300 Savage case, since Savage designed it with a short neck and minimal body taper in the first place.

At one time, the .300 Savage was a very popular cartridge and the .270 Savage thus enjoyed a minor run of popularity, as wildcats go. The usual ballistics call for a 130 grain bullet at a MV of 2700-2750 fps, or about 100 fps faster than the standard .300 Savage drives a 150 grain bullet. Thus, it shoots a little flatter, kicks a little less and still kills CXP2 game with authority. Bullets heavier than 130 grains intrude deeply into the available powder space and thus are not recommended for use in the .270 Savage.

Nominal .270 Savage dimensions include a neck diameter of .308", .413" shoulder diameter, .470" head diameter, .470" rim diameter, 1.88" case length and an overall cartridge length of 2.62". As mentioned above, the correct bullet diameter is .277". Naturally, these figures are only approximate, as individual wildcats vary.

There is no doubt that the .270 Savage is a good hunting cartridge. For CXP2 game, bullets of 120-130 grains should be used. While the bullet weight range is rather restricted, thanks to the popularity of the .270 Winchester, there are plenty of bullets in that weight range from all major manufacturers from which to choose.

Hornady shows the following trajectory for their standard 130 grain Spire Point bullet at a MV of 2700 fps: -1.5" at muzzle, -0.9" at 50 yards, +2.1" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, -8.8" at 300 yards. At 200 yards, the bullet is carrying 1496 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy, so the killing power should be good.

The .270 Savage was a useful wildcat cartridge, but the demise of the Model 99 Savage rifle doomed it to obscurity. The .270 Marlin Express, proposed in another Guns and Shooting Online article (see the Wildcat Cartridges page), would constitute a modern replacement with similar capabilities when fired from a Marlin Model 336 XLR rifle.

Note: Another article about the .270 Savage can be found on the Wildcat Cartridges page

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Copyright 2009, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.