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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just ordered a NOS 1903/A3 bolt for my 1903 Springfield rifle, but before I shoot it I was told to take the rifle and bolt to a gunsmith and have him check the head space. What if the head space is'nt right? What will the gunsmith have to do to correct the problem? Hopefully there won't be any problem but Im always thinking what if!!!
Thanks,
Paul :biglaugh:
 

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I just ordered a NOS 1903/A3 bolt for my 1903 Springfield rifle, but before I shoot it I was told to take the rifle and bolt to a gunsmith and have him check the head space. What if the head space is'nt right? What will the gunsmith have to do to correct the problem? Hopefully there won't be any problem but Im always thinking what if!!!
Thanks,
Paul :biglaugh:
He should test the headspace using two, possibly three headspace gauges. The first one is the Go Gauge; the bolt should close with a Go Gauge in the chamber. That tells him that you have at least the minimum headspace. The second is the No-Go Gauge; the bolt should NOT close on the No-Go Gauge. If it does, your rifle has excessive headspace. He may have a Field Service Gauge. For rifles that are checked at regular intervals, i.e., the Marine Corp or Army, the Field Service gauge decides whether the rifle is safe to fire until the next check up.

If the headspace is below minimum, the chamber will have to be reamed. If it's excessive, the barrel would be set back and the chamber reamed. Or, the end of the bolt may be replaced with either a longer or shorter one.
 

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You really don't need to bother.

If the rifle will chamber a round it's a GO and any thousandths or hundredths over spec ain't gonna hurt.

General Hatcher kept successively reaming a M1903 chamber to something like 1/8" excessive head space and the rifle fired safely. That's from recollection, but there's a whole chapter in his Notebook about this and headspace is really much ado about nothing on this rifle.

Read Chapter 10 in Hatcher's Notebook before starting the flames.:)

-- Chuck
 

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You really don't need to bother.

If the rifle will chamber a round it's a GO and any thousandths or hundredths over spec ain't gonna hurt.

General Hatcher kept successively reaming a M1903 chamber to something like 1/8" excessive head space and the rifle fired safely. That's from recollection, but there's a whole chapter in his Notebook about this and headspace is really much ado about nothing on this rifle.

Read Chapter 10 in Hatcher's Notebook before starting the flames.:)

-- Chuck
Wow. That's all, just Wow.

A rifle that fires without blowing up is not necessarily a safe or desirable rifle. I don't think the OP's question was worded to imply that he was interested in a finding that borderline tolerance between a rifle that would spew hot gas, brass fragments and pieces of bolt and receiver into his eye and face, or one that might not.

Headspace is important. Have your bolt checked.
 

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Holy crap! Have your headspaced checked! It is important! When I worked as an aide to gunsmith, lot's of rifles with stuck cases in the chamber were brought in. They all had headspaces problems.
 

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Yes, have it checked. I have a few Mausers. One of them had a headspace problem. I was clued in after I noticed the brass. Rifles typically stretch brass, but this was ridiculous. I also noted that ejection was very difficult. It closed on a field gauge. Since then, I've always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS checked headspace in all of my rifles.


Nate
 

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So you didn't read Hatcher Chapter 10. :)

Headspace is important for accuracy. But it's not a safety factor in the M1903. Cram a 7.92mm Mauser round in there, though, and there will be problems.

Headspace is a constant Gun Store Commando discussion. There are usually The Sky Is Falling predictions based on 1/1000ths of inches.

Ya want to check it, fine, but there remain such few problems or accidents attributable to "headspace" as to reduce the risk of putting a new bolt in a M1903 to nil.

-- Chuck
 

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People can be hurt by bad advice, and yours is reckless. I am familiar with Hatcher's work. I have read chapter 10 of his notebook. I have also been building rifles for a brief 25 years, and no credible, proficient gunsmith I have ever met would ever recommend such an irresponsible disregard for the headspace of a rifle. Perhaps the OP isn't only interested in whether or not his rifle will not blow up. He may have a desire to shoot accurately, maybe even fire reloaded brass. You made no effort to ascertain any facts before posting.

There is a statement in that chapter about how headspace can indeed cause a failure in a Springfield 03 rifle with a brittle or overly hard receiver. I notice that when giving your irresponsible advice you did not seek to determine whether the OP's rifle might fall within this range.

Oh, and I'm not a gunstore commando, either. When evaluating the credibility of statements on the internet, I place them in the same category of those who read books and quote them as empirical knowledge without regard to context or specificity.
 

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The military uses the 'field' gauge as an expedient.

When new ammunition is used every time, and no reloading is ever attempted it is at best an expedient.

You can work around the brass by treating the gun as a 'wildcat' and carefully sizing to avoid setting the out of spec shoulder back at each reloading if there are no other issues with the rifle.

To dismiss excessive headspace without an examination to try and determine the cause (most of the ones I have seen had locking lug setback on the bolt) is dangerous and foolhardy.

Setback of locking lugs can all to easily weaken the action.
 

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Yo, Ted,

You are a well regarded gunsmith, so I will ask:

How many military surplus or used sporting rifles have you checked the headspace on based on the Internet Safety Committee Recommendation?

How many were seriously out of spec?

How many owners paid hourly shop rates to have headspace corrected on a rifle bought because largely because it was cheap?

Ted, anybody,

How many surplus or used guns do you know of to have blown up with arsenal or factory ammunition due to a known or suspected condition of excess headspace?

I ask because most of the Internet Illustrations of demolished guns that I have seen were firearms of recent manufacture that were wrecked with gross overloads or obstructed barrels. There was even one major name brand of new rifle that had recent adverse reports of split barrels due to what was known as "seamed steel" circa World War I.
I don't recall seeing pictures of anybody's old Mauser or Mosin Nagant gone to pieces because the headspace was not right for the surplus ammo being shot. But maybe I am just not on the right boards. Show me.
 

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Did you catch my above post? I can't imagine that rifle was safe as it was stretching the brass paper thin. I turned in the barrel and rechambered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I want to thank all you guys for the good advice, the 03 Springfield was my fathers, as far as I know he never shot it, but I know the bolt that came with the gun was a low numbered one but the reciever is above 800,000, the rifle is in great shape, the bore is very shinny with lots of rifling, but as soon as the new bolt arrives at my home Im going to take the bolt and rifle to the gunsmith and have the head space checked . I want to shoot the rifle, but I also want to see how well the rifle can shoot, so I want everything to be right with the rifle.
Thanks Again for everything,
Paul :)
 

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I want to thank all you guys for the good advice, the 03 Springfield was my fathers, as far as I know he never shot it, but I know the bolt that came with the gun was a low numbered one but the reciever is above 800,000, the rifle is in great shape, the bore is very shinny with lots of rifling, but as soon as the new bolt arrives at my home Im going to take the bolt and rifle to the gunsmith and have the head space checked . I want to shoot the rifle, but I also want to see how well the rifle can shoot, so I want everything to be right with the rifle.
Thanks Again for everything,
Paul :)
I think you'll be surprised at how well it will shoot. Some of my milsurps are almost minute of angle rifles even with dark pitted bores.
 
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