Loose bullets in 270 reloads


December 2, 2012, 01:15 PM
After a hunting trip yesterday I noticed that several rounds that I'd loaded some time ago had bullets that were loose in the cartridge. Some would just twist, a couple would move back and forth a bit, others were just fine. These rounds have bounced around quite a bit over the last year or so as they've been in a case I carry when hunting, but I'm surprised that they'd have loosened up this much (or even at all). Is this normal?

If it's not normal, what could I have done wrong to cause? I use Lee dies and am fairly careful as I load, though have limited experience. I don't know how many times the brass has been reused, but it can't be more than 3 times.

My plan is to pull the bullets from the rounds that have loose bullets and redo. Can I assume the other rounds are OK? I only hunt with them and plink so no need for super accuracy.


If you enjoyed reading about "Loose bullets in 270 reloads" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 2, 2012, 01:28 PM
Rounds don't loosen due to bouncing around in a box.

When you seat the bullets, you should be able to feel the resistance caused by neck tension.

Could be you overcrimped them. What that does is buckle the case wall away from the bullet shank, thereby ruining neck tension.

Could be work hardened brass with too much springback.

Could be an oversized expander button.

Could be a combination of all of the above.

December 2, 2012, 01:31 PM
^^ Not enough neck tension. Another possible cause, though unlikely, is the bullets are too small in diameter. They should be .277".

Some may say go ahead and shoot them, but I'd pull the whole batch and start over.

December 2, 2012, 01:43 PM
Take the expander out of your Lee die and measure it.

It should be .002" - .003" smaller then bullet dia. for proper neck tension.

If it is over .274" - .275"?
Make it so with an electric drill and emery cloth.


December 2, 2012, 02:48 PM
What die do you resize with? For example the lee collet neck resizing die allows for adjustable neck tention. As for the loaded rounds I would at the very lease test all of them with the "push the loaded round moderately hard by hand against a piece of wood and measure if the bullet seated any deeper" test. I would measure all of them as any that seated deeper could cause higher pressures.

Safest thing to do is pull them all and re-make them.

All other ideas I had were mentioned already so I won't bother to repeat.

December 2, 2012, 02:56 PM
What die do you resize with? For example the lee collet neck resizing die allows for adjustable neck tention.

Good point. An improperly adjusted collet neck die might be the culprit.

December 2, 2012, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the prompt replies!

Bullets are indeed .277. Expander die is .276. Per rc, I guess this is slightly too big and if so will reduce slightly. Should target be .274 or .275?

Assuming this is my problem and resizing the expander will solve, how much of an affect will the tighter neck tension have on accuracy? Do I need to re-zero new rounds?

I'm using the standard Lee die that comes with the .270 set, I don't believe this is a collet die (?).


December 2, 2012, 03:37 PM
Try .275" for starters.

It should take around 60-70 pounds of pressure to move a bullet in the case.

Pushing on one with your thumb enough to move it will result in a sore thumb.

I can't say if it will change your zero all that much, but it would be wise to re-check it.


December 2, 2012, 05:16 PM
.001" of neck tension is plenty. The expander is not the culprit. Your bullets being loose in the neck is not due to .001" of neck tension. I load with that much or less for my bolt guns.

December 2, 2012, 05:29 PM
Per RC I polished it down slightly to .275". I ran a couple once-fired casings thru the die and the ID of the neck is now about .272 versus .273-.274 on a few that I had run before.

I took all of the rounds apart and will re-do. I'm using 130 gn Hornady Interlocks and noticed that the exposed lead tips of some of the bullets are somewhat flattened, perhaps from banging around over time in a plastic cartridge box. I don't know if this affects accuracy much, should I stick with new bullets?

Doubt it means much but I'm using 53 grains of H414. They've shot really well in my Tikka T-3, usually on hogs and blacktail.

December 2, 2012, 05:35 PM
Pull the powder & bullet. Resize without expander & make sure bullet will NOT seat without expanding. Make a dummy & feel neck tension. Adjust whatever is needed or send the die back. Flattened tips from nose seater being incorrect for the bullet.

December 2, 2012, 06:00 PM
Most seating dies will crimp if set to low in the press, so check to make sure the case mouth is not making contact with the die. To do this run an already sized case, without a bullet into the die, just as if you were going to seat a bullet. If the case mouth makes contact at full stroke you might be buckling the the case, thus causing your problem. And the reason you might be experiencing it with only some of the rounds would be the result of your brass not all being the same trim too lengths.

It's an easy mistake to make. FYI, it isn't at all necessary to crimp bottle neck cartridge for a bolt action rifle, and rarely necessary for an auto loading action. Tubular magazines are usually the exception, as recoil can bump bullets deeper.


December 2, 2012, 09:04 PM
First, I guess I shouldn't have reduced the diameter of the expander as now my Lee case trimmer won't fit into the neck of the cartridges.

I don't think that was the problem anyway. I think (?) my COL is too short. I had a bunch of brass that I'd prepped before (thus using the original expander size). I tried loading a few, slowly seating the bullet and checking each a few times as they progressively seated. Each one started to seat with what appeared to be the correct amount of force, but then several "slipped" at the last bit of travel. I could feel a slight "bump" as force came off the handle of the press, and these bullets were then loose in the cartridge. The COL I am using is 3.280" per the Lee manual I have, this puts the top of the cartridge just about at the top of the bullet's cannelure. Am I simply over-seating the rounds? If so, should I just back of .010 or so? I'd thought that as long as I was within the cannelure I'd be OK.

December 2, 2012, 09:09 PM
Were the old cases full length sized or partially neck sized? Measure the neck diameter near the shoulder and at the case mouth.

December 2, 2012, 09:32 PM
Cases were full length sized in Lee die.

OD of necks is about .304 and is consistent from neck to mouth.

One note, the bullets are loose only for the width of the cannelure. By this I mean that they will travel and rotate when the mouth is anywhere in the cannelure, but they then "stick" if I either try to pull them out or push them back in. Odd.

December 2, 2012, 09:47 PM
It's gotta be case neck buckling due to overcrimping.

December 2, 2012, 09:58 PM
I'm not crimping, and I'm sure that the seating die isn't hitting the top of the case as I turned it in till it hit, then backed it off a half turn.

T Bran
December 2, 2012, 10:09 PM
Looking at the SAMMI drawings in my Hornandy manual the neck appears to have two different dimensions.
The mouth of the case in the drawing is narrower than the base of the neck.
Just wondering if this taper is part of your problem.
It may be that your cases need to be annealed.
Just a thought.

December 2, 2012, 10:37 PM
Is it possible you loaded these cases, then pulled the bullets, then reseated the bullets without resizing the neck?

December 2, 2012, 11:25 PM
Shouldn't be that the cases need annealing as none of mine have more than a few reloads and most are once-fired.

918v - No way. Absolutely 100% that they've been FL resized, trimmed, and primed.

Certainly what's weird is that the neck tension appears to be fine until the last maybe 0.010-.020 of seating depth. With my COL at 3.280 and max 3.340 can I just seat at 3.30-ish? This assumes it will feed in my rifle, haven't checked that out but I assume it will be OK.

December 3, 2012, 01:30 AM
Sounds like your bullet is only being held by neck tention at the very mouth and once the mouth "falls" into the cannelure grove there's no longer anything positively retaining the bullet. It may not be ideal, but could you apply a slight crimp into the cannelure to analyse and identify this as the issue? With crimp holding better than without crimp. I doubt its a solution to the problem but it may help to find one.

Could the more experienced reloaders weigh in on these questions: if the bullet has sufficient neck tention when the mouth is outside the cannelure (its therefore unlikely that the bullet would move any further in either direction than the length of the cannelure) 1) is this safe / ok? 2) would a bullet seated at one end of the cannelure have a noticeably different POI as one seated at the opposite end of the cannelure? And 3 does this whole ordeal sound like a faulty sizing die that is not sizing the 'body' of the neck enough compared to the neck?

Even though I'm just starting out I prefer to learn through other's experiences and hope that my thoughts and questions help.

41 Mag
December 3, 2012, 05:38 AM
I had a batch of Remington or Federal factory once fired cases that the bullets had been crimped on. They did the exact thing you are referring to with any other bullet that had a cannalure. Since I was short on cases in that caliber at the time I simply trimmed them back past the factory crimp dents and went on with my business.

If this is the case, what is happening is that when the small dents from the factory crimp come across the expander they spread out the mouth just enough to allow that looseness. Look the mouth of the cases over real well and see if you note any little indentations that might look they might have staked them in 3 or 4 places, this could also be the culprit.

I know you said you trimmed them back, but so did I and the issue was still there until I got back past the indented marks. I don't remember how much shorter then ended up, but it didn't effect the accuracy any. Just something that popped in my head as I read through the post.

Also those pilots are pretty easily made up depending on the trimmer type you have. IF they are like most and have the small pin on the one end and the case neck diameter portion on the other, I have made up dozens of them using standard bolts. I chuck them up in my drill, or drill press and use a rough file to file it down to where it needs to be. Start with the small tip on the end and then move up to the case neck size before cutting it off with a hacksaw. It sounds a lot harder than it really is, just try and find a bolt as close to the diameter you need to start with. Of course they aren't that expensive either if you wanted to buy one and file it down to fit your new sized plug.

December 3, 2012, 09:47 AM
Another theory:

When you resize a case a few times, a ring forms at the base of the inner neck (called a doughnut). The resistance you are feeling and then the release toward the end of the seating stroke could be due to the base of the bullet squeezing through that ring. Being you had minimum tension to begin with, the bullet having to squeeze through that doughnut would have pulled the case neck walls further away from the bullet shank thereby eliminating neck tension.

December 3, 2012, 02:26 PM
Is the neck sized ALL the way? My 308 die leaves 1/10" unsized. Is the groove in the right place - check specs, you don't have to seat to the groove. Mike the bullets all the way from base to groove. Several here have griped about dogtown's that have a funny profile causing the same problem you have. Do Lee dies leave a donut? I thought they all had a rod instead of a knob expander. Most factory ammo is FCD'd, it has never cause me a problem. I haven't trimmed anything but new brass - it just doesn't 'grow'.

December 3, 2012, 08:07 PM
Guys -

Thanks for all the help. I figured out my problem and am sorry to say it was a simple mistake on my part that I figured out while I was playing around with my setup this afternoon. While the Lee recommended COL is 3.28", I'd somehow written down 3.18" when I'd loaded these rounds and was using this when I was experimenting over the weekend.

So indeed I was setting the bullets too deep. Backing off to 3.28" and everything is fine, with the bullets nice and tight and the case rim well below the bottom of the cannelure.

A good lesson for me... check, check, and check again!

Only one more question. I took the rounds that were too deep and whacked them a couple times in my bullet puller to move them out a bit, then reset them to the correct depth. They were in nice and tight, is this close enough to how they'd fit if I completely disassembled, resized, etc?

Thanks again for the good ideas, I certainly learned a lot thru this process!

December 4, 2012, 05:11 PM
Are you sure? .375-.100=.275 that should have been enough in the neck to not make a difference. That is supposed to be a straight walled bullet. Did you trim the cases 0.1 short? I've loaded bullets only half the neck length deep and not had neck tension problems. Still doesn't sound right. Your fixed ones should be OK.

If you enjoyed reading about "Loose bullets in 270 reloads" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!