I am using my Magnetospeed Chronograph more and more each day. There has always been a need for using a chronograph when developing loads, however I often passed up its usage because I was too lazy to set up the equipment. Now that Magnetospeed has come out with their unit, I can put it into my shooting bag, and have it in operation in less time than it takes to put the rest of my equipment onto the shooting bench. This has made it a part of almost all my shooting sessions.

I decided to run some lead loads through their paces in my old standby .270 Winchester pre-64 Model 70., which was made in the 1950’s. The barrel is shiny like a plate of mercury. However, you can drop a bullet ¾ of an inch up the throat before it touches the rifling. This means the seating length is limited to the maximum length of the magazine, and there is considerable bullet jump before the bullet engages the rifling. I was thinking of replacing the original factory barrel until I found out this rifle still shoots sub-inch groups with my hunting loads.

I mounted a Leupold VariX 11 3x9x40 scope with objective lens parallax adjustment, using the Leupold quick detachable one-piece base with matching one-inch diameter rings. The reticule is the Leupold dot on tapered crosshairs. These optics, and the barreled action, are mounted into an early black finish McMillian fiberglass stock. This gun has been with me for a long time, and has shared a number of great hunting trips. It was my choice many years ago for a light rifle on my first hunting trip to Africa.

The gun is so reliable that I mostly use it as a back up rifle, while playing with newer pieces of equipment. Remembering how good it was, I decided to go back and see how it shot lead bullets with its worn barrel.

The cast lead bullets selected were from an old Cramer mold, listed as throwing a 140-grain bullet. My lead mix is a mixture of scrap wheel weights with 2% tin added, run in 500 pound batches in an old high school print shop propane melting furnace. Bullets are dropped directly into room temperature water immediately after the sprue has hardened. Sizing is done in an original Saeco lubricator sizer, and finish out with a .278 inch diameter. The lube is NRA 50/50 Alox and bees wax. This bullet is a gas check design and I used Hornady gas checks. The finished bullets ranged in weight from 140.1 grains to a maximum of 141.0.

Cases for this venture were an assortment of several manufactures I wanted to use for this run. I sized the necks only to the depth to cover the gas check and the lowest lubrication groove. I seated the bullet with the addition of a soft gas check which was added by using the mouth of the case like a cookie cutter.

Powder selection was limited, due to the fact I still have a quantity of Unique on hand and want to use it up while I am still able to do some shooting. The charge selected was 9 grains and all charges were thrown from a Saeco adjustable powder measure directly into the case. Maximum range from lightest to heaviest charge was 0.1 grains.

I had a quantity of old Remington round cup copper primers which had been sitting around for over 50 years, and I felt this was a good time to see if they would still function.

All shooting was done indoors at 25 yards. I set the scope at the 3-power setting, to shoot at a 1.125" green dot. Parallax adjustment was turned all the way down for the closest range setting possible and the target was very clear. 38 rounds were fired into a group within the marker, forming a large hole with a lot of green around the outside of the group. This grouping was shot with a time spacing of about a half-minute between shots, and the barrel was pretty hot by the time all 28 rounds had gotten to the target. I then shot 10 rounds over the chronograph and these were the results. Point of impact at 25 yards was one inch lower then the setting at 100 yards for my regular 140 grain hunting loads.

Maximum velocity


Minimum velocity


Average velocity


Standard Deviation


I feel that is pretty good shooting for a gun in the 60 year old bracket. This old timer appears to still have a lot of life in itself. Probably more then I have, but now it can still bring pleasure to the next generation of shooters and a lot of fun shooting in the mean time for myself.

This gun was manufactured sometime in the late 1950s and can still shoot sub MOA groups with my hand loads. I have no idea of how many rounds of jacketed ammunition I have fired through this original factory barrel, but I now seat the bullets out to the maximum length of the factory magazine. This is my favorite gun for loaning to first time hunters whom I have meet in Africa. Most of the time, they are so far over gunned when they arrive, they are afraid of their own rifle and it is necessary for me to loan them this gun to bring back their confidence. The 140-grain Winchester Fail safe bullet has smashed clear through the shoulder of a mature Eland. This bullet has now been discontinued and I save my dwindling supply for hunting large game in Africa. The 90-grain Sierra have accounted for a large number of monkeys and baboons. It is hard to believe what this bullet will do on these animals until you see the results for yourself.

California and many other states here in the United States now require non-lead bullets, and for these areas I use the Barnes 130-grain TTSX. This new bullet is a great addition to the .270 line up and does a grand job on harvesting game in California. I have never recovered one of these bullets, even after passing through the shoulder blade or spine of an animal. Though we did not find the bullets, the bullet channels were very impressive.

The .270 Winchester cartridge is now over 80 years old, but it is still a favorite throughout the world. All the big bullet companies have this caliber in their lineup. Hornady game bullets have been with us for over 50 years, and it was with the Hornady .270 Core Lock bullet, I harvested a 225-pound leopard in Zimbabwe during the 2005 hunting season. This bullet smashed the front shoulder and dropped the leopard out of a tree at about 40 yards distance. A 130-grain Barnes TTSX also made a one shot kill on a 225-pound boar hog in the mountains of Central California. The pig was running like a streak of lighting at about 130 yards. The single bullet took out the spine just above the shoulder, and rolled the animal like hitting it with an 18-wheel truck. No meat loss and I was able to see the bullet impact through my Leopold scope set at 3 power.

Leo Grizzaffi is a lifelong hunter and veteran of many African safaris. Author and reloading expert, his specialty is the care and feeding of big bore double rifles, however he also dabbles with the little calibers. Leo resides in California, where being a lawyer and judge in the City of Los Angeles sometimes interferes with his busy hunting and reloading schedule.

Cast lead loads have given a new life to this caliber. A selection of cases, a pound or so of powder, combined with either large rifle or large pistol primers, along with a good cast bullet with gas check, and you can have a field shooting and practice rifle you can fire almost a thousand times for the cost of three boxes of factory ammunition at today’s prices. After a days shooting with cast lead, the barrel cleans up to where it looks better then new. Coyotes and prairie dogs are looking for a short life span if they pop up any were within 150 yards of this combination. These loads bring a lot of fun back into the .270 Winchester.