February 12th, 2017

Understanding Headspace — What You Need to Know

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)

Forster Headspace diagram belted magnum rimfire

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.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing No Comments »
December 8th, 2014

McRee’s Pre-Fit Barrel Option for Rems and Rem Clones — $412.50

Need a new barrel for your Remington-actioned hunting or tactical rifle? McRee’s Precision has you covered. McRee’s is now offering complete, no-gunsmithing re-barreling kits for Remington and Rem-clone actions. These feature a high-quality, pre-chambered “PRE-FIT” stainless barrel from Criterion, a Savage-style barrel nut, a recoil lug, and a special barrel-nut wrench. With this system you can easily re-barrel your favorite Remington rifle yourself in less than an hour. You don’t need to pay gunsmithing fees, or wait weeks (or months) for a busy smith to do the job.

McRee’s Precision Remington DIY Barrel Kit includes Criterion Pre-Fit Stainless Barrel, Barrel Nut, Recoil Lug, and Barrel Nut Wrench:
Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut
CLICK HERE for Barrel Specifications PDF Sheet

Right now McRee’s Precision is offering Rem-action Pre-Fit barrel packages (complete with barrel nut, recoil lug, and wrench) starting at just $412.50 (On Sale). Choose from four chamberings: .243 Win, .260 Rem, .308 Win, and .300 Win Mag. These Pre-Fit barrel kits are “100% complete and ready-to-install”. All you need to do is remove your current barrel, place the recoil lug, spin on the new tube, follow the instructions for setting head-space, then torque the barrel nut against the lug. NOTE: You may require a barrel vise and action wrench to remove the original barrel. Minor inletting changes may be needed forward of the action.

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut

The folks at McRee’s Precision say their Pre-Fit system offers many advantages: “Remington Pre-Fitted Barrel Kits have become popular over the years. If Savage can do it, why not for our Remingtons? Our [Criterion-supplied] barrels are spec’d to the McRee standard of performance. We require a minimum of 0.5 MOA with good factory ammo and 0.2 MOA with quality handloads. There are several places to get the tools required to remove your factory barrel correctly. Once you have your barrel removed all you have to do is follow the normal Savage procedure to install your new barrel. We recommend that you contact your local gunsmith for the install. Feel free to call us with any questions.”

Product Tip from Ed LongRange. We welcome readers’ submissions.
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