February 17th, 2016

Tech Tip: What Is Headspace

Ultimate Reloader Brownells headspacing go gage gauge barrel gunsmithing
This illustration shows headspace measurement for the popular .308 Winchester cartridge, which headspaces on the shoulder. Image copyright 2015 Ultimate Reloader.

In this Brownells Tech Tip, Brownells gun tech Steve Ostrem explains what headspace is and why it’s one of the most critical measurements for nearly all firearms. Even if you’re an experienced rifle shooter, it’s worth watching this video to refresh your understanding of headspace measurements, and the correct use of “GO” and “NO-GO” gauges.

Headspace Definition
In firearms, headspace is the distance measured from the part of the chamber that stops forward motion of the cartridge (the datum reference) to the face of the bolt. Used as a verb, headspace refers to the interference created between this part of the chamber and the feature of the cartridge that achieves the correct positioning. Different cartridges have their datum lines in different positions in relation to the cartridge. For example, 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition headspaces off the shoulder of the cartridge, whereas .303 British headspaces off the forward rim of the cartridge.

If the headspace is too short, ammunition that is in specification may not chamber correctly. If headspace is too large, the ammunition may not fit as intended or designed and the cartridge case may rupture, possibly damaging the firearm and injuring the shooter. (Source: Wikipedia)

Go gauge gage NOGO no-go field gaugesHeadspace Gauges
Headspace is measured with a set of two headspace gauges: a “Go” gauge, and a “No-Go” gauge. Headspace gauges resemble the cartridges for the chambers they are designed to headspace, and are typically made of heat-treated tool steel. Both a “Go” and a “No-Go” gauge are required for a gunsmith to headspace a firearm properly. A third gauge, the “Field” gauge, is used (as the name implies) in the field to indicate the absolute maximum safe headspace. This gauge is used because, over time, the bolt and receiver will wear, the bolt and lugs compress, and the receiver may stretch, all causing the headspace to gradually increase from the “factory specs” measured by the “Go” and “No-Go” gauges. A bolt that closes on “No-Go” but not on “Field” is close to being unsafe to fire, and may malfunction on cartridges that are slightly out of spec. (Source: Wikipedia)

To learn more, read Brownell’s longer article Headspace Gauges and How to Use Them. Among other things, this explains the relative lengths of “Go”, “No-Go”, and “Field” gauges. The “Field” is actually the longest: “The GO gauge corresponds to the SAAMI (Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute) minimum chamber length, while the FIELD gauge usually matches the maximum chamber depth, or slightly less. NO-GO gauges are an intermediate length between minimum and maximum, that, technically, is a voluntary dimension. A firearm that closes on a NO-GO gauge and does not close on a FIELD gauge may not give good accuracy and may have very short cartridge case life from the ammunition re-loader’s standpoint.”

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February 17th, 2016

First Look: The Hornady Lock-N-Load Iron Press

Hornady Lock load l-n-l iron reloading press single stage

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com got his hands on Hornady’s all-new, pyramid-style Lock-N-Load Iron reloading press. This single-stage press features a unique, open-front design that makes it easier to place and remove cases during reloading processes. The compact footprint of this Iron Press also allows for a variety of placement options.

This video shows the new open-front Hornady Iron Press:

Gavin installed the Iron Press on his bench which features horizontal metal channels (for placement flexibility). Gavin reports: “The arrival of this press is great in its timing. I’m just about to move from progressive loading of 6.5 Creedmoor (for the Ruger Precision Rifle) to single-stage precision reloading. This will be the perfect press for that task! Based on the feedback and questions I’ve gotten recently, I’ll compare the consistency between progressive presses and single-stage presses.”

hornady lock load iron press

To raise the Iron Press higher, Gavin used an Ultramount from Inline Fabrication: “I was hoping to make slight modifications to the Ultramount in order to adapt it for use with my Ultimate Reloader bench system, and that worked out just fine! Here’s a picture of the Ultramount bolted down: I can easily slide it side to side to make room for other items on my bench.” NOTE: After taking the pictures shown here, Gavin rotated the Ultramount 180 degrees. This moved the whole press forward (towards the operator), providing more bench clearance for the Iron Press linkage and handle.

READ FULL IRON PRESS ARTICLE on UltimateReloader.com

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