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head space

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Unread 08-09-2008, 06:11 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: christchurch, nz
Posts: 416
head space

can someone explain to me how to measure head space and how to mimimise it.cheers
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Unread 08-09-2008, 06:23 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,042

If you are a handloader, you have at least one good reloading manual. Headspace is usually explained, in detail, in the introduction to handloading section. I strongly advise everyone, considering handloading ammo, to read this section twice before loading any ammo.
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Unread 08-09-2008, 07:43 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: MN
Posts: 1,219
Headspace is the space that is between the front tapered shoulders of your case and the tapererd shoulders of your chamber. you can get a stoney point / hornady Lockn load heaspace measuring kit to stick on your caliper. If you want to measure the max headspace on your cartidge, measure one of the neck sized cases that causes the bolt to be a little sticky. You can measure one that has been full length resized to see the difference. Also you may want to invest in a Redding comp shell holder for your size shell holder (comes in incriments of .02 space to adjust your headspace for partial full length resizing). Other wise you can simply thread out the fl sizing die until you are at the optimal headspace. I like the shell holder however.
I used to re-load but now I "hand-load".
-- Well, at least I try --
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Unread 08-09-2008, 08:03 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 753
Call up Pacific Tool and Gauge and buy a go gauge for your particular chambering.

Then go on MSC Industrials website and order a spool of Starret shim stock in .001". It'll look like silver ribbon for wrapping gifts.

Pull your bolt and strip the fire control out.

then remove any plunger style ejectors and the extractor

the bolt needs to go into the action with no type of spring loading. Just the bolt alone.

Drop your gauge into a clean chamber. cut up some shim stock into tiny little squares that fit on the face of your bolt. use a dab of grease to hold them there. Keep adding them until the bolt just "sticks" as it attempts to close. Do not force it.

David's gauges (David Kiff, owner of PTG) are set to SAAMI minimum standards unless ordered otherwise. So, the way to read this is say your chamber is a go gauge plus three pieces of .001" shim stock. Then your headspace is "GO + .003"

Well within safe limits.

Typically, .006" is the most you want to go before you are technically out of H/S. The gun will more than likely function just fine, but you will experience some elongation of your brass in the web area.

I set all my chambers to a dimension of "GO + .001" That way I can be sure I am moving the brass the least amount while still allowing the gun to function.

It's important to ensure that all your brass cycles properly after you size it. Especially if the gun is on the tight side.

If your gun is long, just be conservative with your dies when you reload. Don't shove the shoulders back. Just do enough to promote smooth feeding/chambering/extraction.

All there is to it. the gauges cost 29 bucks a set. They are precision instruments so don't be clumsy and drop them on a hard floor. Nicks and dings will give you false readings.

Hope this helped. It's worked great for me and I've been lucky enough to build guns for folks that have won in world 1000 yard events so I gotta be doing something right.

Good shooting.

Chad Dixon
LongRifles, Inc. (coming soon!)
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