Tell me about headspace and why it matters?
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Old 04-14-2014, 02:33 AM   #1
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Default Tell me about headspace and why it matters?

I have heard people talk a lot about headspace but I don't know much about it. Can someone tell me what it is, why too much is bad and everything else I need to know?
Thanks.


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Old 04-14-2014, 02:45 AM   #2
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Headspace is between the bolt face and the cartridge head. A headspace too large makes room for cartridge expansion and possible rupture. Too tight means the cartridge may not chamber correctly and/or the bolt won't lock properly.


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Old 04-14-2014, 02:46 AM   #3
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Headspace is the distance from the bolt face to the shoulder or end of the chamber. In bottlenecks its a shoulder in straightwall the chamber is cut to fit the case mouth. In belted cartridges it can space off the belt if its straightwall. Some belted cartridges have shoulders and will space off that instead of the belt.

Too much chamber headspace and the case will.stretch and rupture on firing causing the gun to kaboom.

Too little can cause fail to feed issues or if it closes on the cartridge can cause over pressure and kaboom.

In terms of handloading same things apply when sizing and trimming cases.

Headspace has to be correct between the bolt face or slide face and chamber and the ammunition has to be sized correctly to use safely.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:39 AM   #4
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In brass cartridge construction the brass case is mostly hollow. At the base of the case is a portion that is solid brass. That portion from the cartridge rim to the point where the case becomes hollow and forms a web can withstand more of the expanding gas pressure than the thin walls around the powder charge. IF the case does not seat deep enough into the chamber the weaker walls of the cartridge are left unsupported and those thin walls will fail to contain the expanding gases during ignition. This will rupture the case and those gasses escape and can blow up a firearm. In the case of a high powered rifle, it is a lot of energy and it tends to be close to your face, eyes, brain housing unit, etc.
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Old 04-14-2014, 04:03 AM   #5
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Ok thanks everyone! Now I know .


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Old 04-14-2014, 04:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beastmode986 View Post
Ok thanks everyone! Now I know .


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the easiest way to check headspace is to use a set of headspace gauges. they are Go and No Go gauges. not cheap, but very effective in determining proper headspace.

headspace is very critical in the proper and safe operation of a firearm. if unsure about the headspace of a gun in question, let a compentent gunsmith check to make sure it's within spec for safe use.

improper headsapce can cause firearm failures and damage and are potetentially dangerous to the person pulling the trigger.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axxe55 View Post
the easiest way to check headspace is to use a set of headspace gauges. they are Go and No Go gauges. not cheap, but very effective in determining proper headspace.



headspace is very critical in the proper and safe operation of a firearm. if unsure about the headspace of a gun in question, let a compentent gunsmith check to make sure it's within spec for safe use.



improper headsapce can cause firearm failures and damage and are potetentially dangerous to the person pulling the trigger.

Cool, I heard of like some dummy round things that check headspace when you chamber them? Do those work?


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Old 04-14-2014, 01:18 PM   #8
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headspace gauges kinda look like dummy rounds. bad head space is not very common.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axxe55 View Post
the easiest way to check headspace is to use a set of headspace gauges. they are Go and No Go gauges. not cheap, but very effective in determining proper headspace.

headspace is very critical in the proper and safe operation of a firearm. if unsure about the headspace of a gun in question, let a compentent gunsmith check to make sure it's within spec for safe use.

improper headsapce can cause firearm failures and damage and are potetentially dangerous to the person pulling the trigger.
you want GO and FIELD gages if your doing this at home. GO is the minimum safe. NOGO is an arbitrary measurement somewhere between GO and FIELD. FIELD is the maximum safe measurement. NOGO gages tend to be the same unless a special need is desired. some benchrest shooters will request special nogo gages and frequently take readings as their rifle is used. it can vary depending on what an individual armorer or gunsmith wants to set as a maximum headspace. the NOGO gage is typically used only when barreling a new rifle.

when using any of these three gages the extractor and ejector must be removed from the bolt. if the ejector is a fixed ejector like as is found on the springfield 1903 and the 1911 and M9 pistols they can remain in the gun, extractors must still be removed to get a proper reading.

if you get into mounting your own barrels you will also need a NOGO gage.

if a firearm closes on a NOGO gage it can still be safe to fire if it does NOT close on a FIELD gage. if a firearm closes on a FIELD gage it is NOT safe to fire.

from CMP

Quote:
The “GO” gauge - is most commonly used when installing a new barrel and reaming the chamber to size. The bolt should fully close on the “GO” gauge, if it fully closes you can be sure you have enough room in the chamber to prevent the cartridge from being crushed during chambering. The “GO” gauge can also be thought of as a minimum safe headspace gauge and the rifle's bolt must be able to fully close with it in the chamber.


The “NO GO” gauge - is used to make sure a firearm does not have excessive headspace. The bolt should NOT fully close on the “NO GO” gauge, if the bolt cannot be closed on the “NO GO” gauge then you know your rifle does not have headspace that is excessive. The “NO GO” gauge can be thought of as a maximum headspace gauge and should not be able to fit in the rifle's chamber with the bolt fully closed. If the bolt DOES close on the “NO GO” gauge, it does not necessarily mean that the rifle is unsafe; it does however show that a further check with the “FIELD” gauge would be necessary to determine if it is safe to shoot.

The “FIELD” gauge - is used to check absolute maximum headspace. If the bolt closes fully on the “FIELD” gauge the rifle IS NOT to be fired and should be considered unsafe to shoot. CMP does not use this gauge because rifles that pass the “FIELD” check but fail the “NO GO” are approaching the point where they will be unsafe to shoot. Our standard for maximum headspace is the “NO GO” gauge to ensure our customers will be able to shoot safely for many years.
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Last edited by JonM; 04-14-2014 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 04-14-2014, 02:30 PM   #10
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Simply put the cartage must 'fit' snugly into the chamber to give it proper support. If it fits to loose, as stated above, it can rupture and it may cause other problems. If the headspace is very excessive the firing pin will not be able to strike the primer properly (which in that case would be a good thing)
Head space is achieved by four methods.
1. By the rim of the cartridge, like in the 30-30 rifle or a 38/357 Magnum pistol.
2. By the case mouth, like the 9mm and 45 ACP.
3. By the shoulder, like the 30-06 and similar non belted rounds.
4. By the 'belt' on the many 'belted magnums' which are descendants of the H&H magnum rifle rounds. The most common is probably the 7mm Remington Mag and the 300 Winchester Mag.
Hope this helped.
Jim


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