Behind the Bullet: 27 Nosler

by
posted on May 13, 2022
BTB 27 Nosler Lead

We had set up in what I considered to be a less-than-advantageous position, a bit too skylined for my liking, and with very little cover. The onshore winds had begun to swirl a bit, and I was thoroughly convinced that the hunt was essentially over for that evening. But, much to my chagrin, my guide was right and I was wrong. The axis doe was at the head of herd, and DonDon—who despite his initial impressions made an excellent guide—simply nudged with his bristled chin and said “Two-fifty. Shoot her.”

I did as instructed, leveling the crosshair of the Leupold VX-3HD on the onside shoulder, and breaking the trigger of the Nosler Model 21 rifle, sending a 150-grain Nosler AccuBond on its way to make meat. The doe fell out of the scope, and I had filled the last of the four tags issued to me on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. For the fourth consecutive time in as many days, the 27 Nosler had done exactly what I had asked of it.

27 Nosler Ammunition on Axis Deer Hide

The .277-inch bore has been defined—for nearly a century—by the .270 Winchester, and while that cartridge is an undeniable classic, its twist rate limits the bullet weight to 150 grains maximum, with some of the round nosed 160s stabilizing properly in certain circumstances. Comparing this with the 160- and 175-grain bullets of the 7mm bore diameter, and it isn’t hard to see that advantage of the slightly larger bore diameter. There have been other .270s, like the .270 Weatherby Magnum, and Winchester’s own .270 WSM, but they have maintained the same 1:10-inch twist rate of the .270 Winchester, and use the same projectile weights.

Nosler, with the introduction of its fifth big-game centerfire cartridge, has changed the potential of the .277-inch bore diameter by tightening the twist rate to 1:8.5, and offering the 165-grain AccuBond Long Range as an option for those who appreciate the higher sectional density and ballistic coefficient. The 27 Nosler follows on the heels of the success of its siblings—the 26, 28, 30 and 33 Noslers—being based on the classic .404 Jeffery case, shortened to fit in a standard long-action and with much of the body taper removed to enhance case capacity.

27 Nosler Headstamp

The rimless case uses a 35-degree shoulder for headspacing, and maintains a 2.590-inch case length and 3.340-inch cartridge overall length. The 27 Nosler has a neck length of 0.328, so neck tension isn’t an issue at all; generally speaking, the cartridges neck should be at least one caliber in length, and most are, with the glaring exception of the .300 Winchester Magnum. To prevent the risk of a 28 Nosler cartridge being chambered in a 27 Nosler chamber, the shoulder of the 27 Nosler has been moved slightly rearward, lengthening the neck slightly. If you like velocity, the 27 Nosler will fit the bill, as it drives the 150-grain bullets to a muzzle velocity of 3300 fps, and the 165-grain bullets to 3150 fps.

That 165-grain ABLR has a G1 BC of 0.620, offering great performance in even the windiest of conditions, as well as retaining energy and delivering a flat trajectory. Even at the 500-yard mark, the 27 Nosler will deliver over 2,100 ft.-lbs. of energy, making it a suitable choice for an all-around North American cartridge. That bullet offers the best of all worlds, as it will reliably expand at longer ranges when it has slowed down a bit, yet will hold together at woods distances when velocities remain high; it is also respected as a very accurate bullet. Though Nosler offers just two loads, the handloader can take full advantage of the full gamut of component bullets available for the .270 Winchester and others, giving the handloader a bullet range of 130 to 165 grains. With the Jeffery-based case, you’ll want to look to powder choices on the slow end of the spectrum. IMR 7828, IMR 7977 and IMR 8133; Reloder 26 and Reloder 33; Hodgdon’s H1000 and H50BMG; all make good choices for the big case. And you’ll definitely want to spark those heavy powder charges with a large rifle magnum primer.

Nosler Trophy Grade 165-grain 27 Nosler Ammunition

I tested the new cartridge at the bench in both the Nosler Model 21 and Nosler Model 48 rifles, and was pleased with the results; the 165-grain load averaged just under ⅔-MOA, and the 150-grain load just under one-MOA. On that axis deer hunt on Molokai, I had shots ranging from 100 to 250 yards, and while a fast .270 may seem a bit much for even the largest axis deer that ever walked, the bullet handled the windy conditions very well. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the 27 Nosler on any elk or moose hunt, and I’d also feel comfortable using it on the full gamut of African plains game, as well as leopard.

Will the 27 Nosler shove the .270 Winchester out of the limelight? Well, as the majority of us are primarily deer hunters, and the .270 Winchester handles deer and similar sized game so well, I don’t think that will come to pass. Yet, for those who enjoy hunting across the continent or the globe, the 27 Nosler makes a very flexible package that can handle deer and black in the forests, yet reach out across a canyon to handle a bull elk, or across the vastness of the tundra when in pursuit of caribou. Some folks will take any attempt to improve the .270 Winchester as a direct insult, yet I disagree: like the .22-250 Remington and .35 Whelen, an improved twist rate can really change the game altogether, and this is exactly what the 27 Nosler has done.

Looking for previous installments of our "Behind the Bullet" series? We've got you covered.
.257 Roberts
7mm Weatherby Magnum
 .300 PRC
.350 Rigby Magnum
.450 Nitro Express
.17 Hornet
7mm STW
6.8 Western
.375 Ruger
.223 Remington
• 6.5x55 Swedish
.416 Remington Magnum
.300 Winchester Short Magnum
28 Nosler
6.5 PRC
.22 WMR
.458 Winchester Magnum
.204 Ruger
.22 Hornet
.280 Ackley Improved
.240 Weatherby Magnum
.458 Lott
• .264 Winchester Magnum
• .348 Winchester
• .33 Nosler
• .260 Remington
• .30-30 Winchester
• .416 Rigby
 .358 Norma Magnum
• .22 LR
• 7mm-08 Remington
• 8mm Remington Magnum
• .338 Federal
• .224 Valkyrie
• .338-06 A-Square
• 9.3x62mm Mauser
• .257 Weatherby Magnum
• .45-70 Government
• .300 H&H Magnum
• .25-06 Remington 
• .30-06 Springfield
• 6.5 Creedmoor
• .300 Remington Ultra Magnum
• 7mm Remington Magnum
• .470 Nitro Express
• .280 Remington
• .300 Winchester Magnum
• .270 Winchester
• .222 Remington
• .45 ACP
• .404 Jeffery
• .44 Remington Magnum 
• .41 Remington Magnum
• .243 Winchester
• .338 Winchester Magnum
• .357 S&W Magnum
• 6.5-284 Norma
• 8x57 Mauser
• .38 Smith & Wesson Special
• 7x57mm Mauser
• 9mm Luger
• .35 Whelen
• .454 Casull
• .375 H&H Magnum
• .45 Colt
• .22-250 Remington
• 10mm Auto
• .308 Winchester

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