Using cases as headspace gauges.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Max Heat, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    385
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    I recently heard a shooter say that he uses a "fired" case for a go gauge (and then sticks a piece of tape on the back of it for the no-go guage).

    I am of the opinion that if he is going to use a case for a gauge, it would be a FAR better choice to use a "sized" case (re-sized in a reloading press/die), with reasoning being that the fired case will likely be streched beyond the true "go" size. Am I not correct about that?

    But then I got to thinking, maybe it would be even MORE accurate to use a completely fresh VIRGIN case (unfired & un-resized). Or would that actually be shorter than the true go size??
     
  2. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,365
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009
    While not ideal, if you are going to use a case as a go gauge, a sized case would be the way to go. A sized case is much more likely to be in SAAMI specs.

    Using a fired case is just plain idiotic. If the case has been fired in an out of spec chamber, the error will simply be transferred.

    There is no guarantee that virgin brass will be in spec, either. Sized brass would be a safer bet.

    However, I am going to go on a mini-rant here. Max Heat, please understand that I am not directing this at you.

    Headspace gauges are not expensive. Anyone who is too cheap to buy a correct set of headspace gauges should not be performing tasks where they are needed in the first place. There is no excuse for performing critical gunsmithing tasks without the right tools. Anyone who does it is a moron who deserves to be cleansed from the gene pool. The trouble is moronic decisions applied to things that go bang often hurt someone other than the moron who made them.

    The same jackwagons who won't spend a few bucks on a set of headspace gauges are generally the same people who won't buy a reloading manual either and often view the load development process as an inconvenience, instead prowling the internet asking people for their load data.

    Why on God's Green Earth people who will spend larger sums of money on a rifle, scope, and basic reloading equipment pathologically refuse to acquire the correct tools to safely participate in their hobby is beyond me. Personally, I would be afraid to spend much time in the presence of armed people of such poor judgement.

    End of Rant
     

  3. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    385
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    What you say does sound like the only 100% "sensiblble" way to go about it. But with all of the switch-barreling going on these days, it seems that many are shortcutting on REAL gauges, not wanting to shell out the money for all of the different calibers that they shoot. Believe it or not, the place where I saw the statement about using fired cases as a gauges is actually an older post located on THIS site (different sub-forum, I think). I won't show the link, and put the poster on the hotseat. But maybe SOMEBODY should educate him though, as his method would cause the HS to continually grow, eventually leading to an unsafe situation.

    That being said, the only "bullet proof" method that I would condone, for someone wanting to cheap out on the gauges, would be to properly headspace the firearm using a real gauge, and then running some cases through it until one that EXACTLY mimmics the feel of the gauge is found. Then that case should be clearly marked as a gauge, never-again being, sized, loaded up, or fired.
     
  4. wbm

    wbm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    451
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    What a bunch of calumnious nonsense.!
     
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,595
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    "...I got to thinking, maybe it would be even MORE accurate to use a completely fresh VIRGIN case (unfired & un-resized). Or would that actually be shorter than the true go size??"

    Quit thinking; yes a virgin case is virtually certain to be smaller than ideal in all dimensions.

    You give us no clue what you're trying to "headspace" but actual headspace (the chamber) for a bottle neck cartridge hardly matters to a competent handloader who knows how to make his cases fit his chamber.
     
  6. WYcoyote

    WYcoyote Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    184
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    What I have started doing is setting my headspace with a gage first, then firing one round with my new brass.
    I then take that case and full length size it in my die, and reset my headspace to that resized case. I make a no-go by sticking a .002" piece of SS shim stock to the case head.
    You end up with your headspace custom set to your die to minimize brass flow and possibly extend case life.
    Maybe not the best method to use if you are going to shoot factory cartridges also but I handload only.
     
  7. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,078
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    THANK YOU!!!!!!

    If you're too cheap to buy a $20-30 manual, just go buy factory ammo and sell your reloading equipment. Manuals come in alot more handy than just powder & load data.

    Also, go & no-go gauges are about $25 a piece...If you have a switch-barrel, atleast buy the gauges. And if you plan on doing ANY re-chambering, reaming, or barrel work buy the friggin gauge. It will save you money in the long-run.
     
  8. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,365
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2009

    Nice wordsmithing! Remind me never to play you at SCRABBLE. At least, not if money is involved...:D
     
  9. Gene

    Gene Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,326
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Adjusting headspace on anything except a Savage is not for the gunsmith-wannabe; dismiss it from your mind. Doing this on a Savage is easy - it can be done with a fired case, but a $25 go guage is an absolute must have. You can attach a small sticky dot across the bottom of your go guage, and it becomes a no-go guage. That's about as cheap as it gets.
     
  10. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,072
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2010
    I know guys that use a case to set their headspace with all the time. Sometimes with a wildcat it's the only way. Now most of these guys are putting a small piece of Scotch Tape on the case head which to me is defeating the idea. In something like a Savage, the barrel is actually pulled forward .003" to .006" when you tighten the nut anyway. I use a Forster gauge most of the time, but not always . (sometimes you simply can't get a gauge). Other times I have made my own (not rocket science). I used to know a couple guys that made their own adjustable ones that were pretty slick.

    With my 6/250AI, I use a sized case that headspaces about .0025" to .003" short (on purpose). Tighten the barrel to get a good lockup on the shoulder with the bolt closed of course. Then tighten the nut for about .0045" of forward movement. Never had an issue.
    gary
     
  11. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    385
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    I will be coverting my rem 7RUM to barrel-nut configuration (aka - remage) when my new barrel arrives (about 2 months). Since I will be shooting it quite frequently, and I am now a real stickler, when it comes to maintaining nice and tight HS, I would prefer to use a real gauge. I'm thinking of going with Pacific Tool brand, but they are on backorder for about 3 more weeks. I'm wondering how they stack up against the other brands, but I am assuming they are all pretty much equal.

    I did have my sav 7RM HS'd a few months ago (before I owned a barrel nut wrench) by a smith for $60 (could have bought the wrench AND a gauge for that), because my primers were really getting flattened, and one even "mushroomed" out of the back of the case. I haven't shot it yet since then, but the fired cases will not even begin to allow bolt closure. I haven't re-sized any of them yet, but I'm assuming they will work when they do get re-sized. Anyways, being that it will not be used very often, I don't think it worth while to invest in a 7RM gauge. But I'd still like to have a means to gauge it occasionally. So I'll be looking for a "cage" (case-based gauge) that has just the right feel, when I finally do get around to re-sizing/loading some cases. And I'm going to hold off on shooting it until that is done. The accuracy of a home-made gauge would be purely dependent on how well it is "calibrated" to the actual gauge, just like a scribed-up bar of steel used for linear measurement will be exactly as accurate as the how accurately the scribe marks were copied over from a machinist's scale.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
  12. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,264
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2003
    My head space measurements are w/respect to MY chambers(not SAAMI, or FL sized cases).
    Many chambers hold their own personalities. Their body & shoulders are at slightly unique angles and diameters(affecting datums). Actions certainly have there own personalities as well.
    SAAMI,, springback from FL sized,, these are unlikely to present numbers to my chamber & fitting standards.

    My go/no-go gauges are used by my barrel finishers, and if I were changing barrels on a Savage I would use them. But normally I use a fully fireformed to fit case(master) for die setting, and once the numbers are logged, from my gizzys, it's very rare that I pull it out again for the same barrel.
    Pretty much never for simple bumping(it's in the log).

    When I do go to bumping, I pull from a single box for each specific chamber -the body die, a matched shellholder, any special gizzy.
    I spin the die down snug(by hand), insert matched shellholder, size a case, measure result with gizzy, and tighten die with a wrench ever so slightly to creep into perfect match per log.
    My stuff is set so close that it usually only takes a single tweak to be right on the money, and I don't even need to chamber check it. It's right.
     
  13. Clay Target Guy

    Clay Target Guy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    196
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    I tried the tape on the back of a go gage one time and the bolt smears/tears it up. After that one time I swore I would never do it again.
    The way I figure it, gages are cheap and if you can't afford the gages you most likely need to think about a cheaper hobby.
    This is just my $.02
     
  14. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,480
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    You're not supposed to force the bolt down with your fist....you use finger pressure. Bolt operates on a go gauge....and then wont shut on a go gauge +2 layers of scotch tape ( FINGER pressure)