View Full Version : reaming a rifle chamber
May 14, 2001, 06:22 AM
Realistically, how difficult is it to use a chamber reamer? Is this an operation that should only be done by a competent professional or can a reasonably handy hobbyist do it?
I have been told that the tight chambers in my two M-44 carbines would benefit by being reamed. Some steel cased surplus ammo will not chamber at all and some brass cased commercial ammo will just barely chamber.
I was quoted $90.00 (the price of the reamer) by a gunsmith and he would do the job and then keep the reamer. Is this common practice or should I look out for his integrity? Hell, $90.00 is almost what I paid for the two rifles. I did take a couple of fireformed cases to work and got the dimensions off an optical comparitor so I can compare my chambers to the standard.
Thank you in advance for any response.
May 14, 2001, 07:49 AM
viejo, that sounds pretty fair. If someone wants a caliber that I don't have I normally make them a deal where they pay for half the reamer and I keep the reamer after the job is done. Basically you are paying $45 dollars ea to have the chambers finished reamed. I think that's dirt cheap. George
May 14, 2001, 08:39 PM
You may first want to ask: Is the $150 you are about to spend worth it in the end? How much did the guns in question cost? Have you tried a few different types of ammo to make sure, there are many makes of import and domestic avail. at this time-Plus if the barrels are hard chrome lined (very popular on com. bloc weapons), a regular High Speed Steel reamer should will not work on chrome and may get dulled before the first chamber gets scratched. Also does he have headspace gages to go off of or will you have to purchase those also?
May 15, 2001, 06:35 AM
I posted a thank you note to George, but somehow it's not showing up here. I priced the reamer and it's $105.00 plus S&H. I only paid a bit over a hundred for both carbines so I'm going to try a few more options before I spend any money.
The drawing I have of a 7.62x54R chamber shows the headspace dimension measured 1.622" from the rear of the cartridge rim and a diameter at that point to be .417" on a 16 deg. angle.
I put fireformed cases on an optical comparitor and at 1.622" my cases measure .420" diameter on a 17 to 18 deg. angle. Now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I haven't gotten the chamber clean of all powder residue and gunk. I'm going to try another good cleaning with a s/s bore brush and see what, if anything comes out.
I will keep you guys updated if you're curious.
May 15, 2001, 02:09 PM
George (and others),
I'm glad I didn't send the rifles out for the reamer work. I stripped both carbines this morning and gave the chambers a thorough cleaning with a dental pick and a series of brushes and took out a lot of greenish/black hardened crap. The cartridges both fit perfectly into the chambers now but the bolt still will not go home. I'm glad I got the crud out of the chambers for obvious reasons, but now can anyone tell me what the problem might be? I am new to bolt action rifles and these two are both 1953 Hungarians. Could the bolt itself be oversize? The bolts in both rifles have dissimilar serial nos. to the receiver numbers.
The bolt misses locking over the lug by about 1/8 inch. I got a bizarre little "manual" with both rifles and the bolts appear to be assembled correctly according to the diagram.
I don't mean to be a pest over here, but I'm thinking I may be overlooking something obvious to an experienced bolt action shooter. I plan to keep these rifles and would like to know as much about maintaining them as possible.It would be nice to be able to shoot them without pounding the bolt home (with the muzzle safely downrange, of course) to chamber a round.
Thanks for your time and advice.
May 15, 2001, 10:38 PM
Headspace is not really involved here, since the 7.62 x 54R headspaces on the rim. The crud from the chamber is probably varnish from the steel cases and needs to be kept cleaned out. But if the bolt stops 1/8 inch from closing, there is something wrong. Have you tried swapping bolts? Also comparing them?
May 16, 2001, 06:29 AM
Did I try swapping bolts? DID I TRY SWAPPING BOLTS???
No, sir ......... not until you suggested it. Bingo!
Problem solved. Both weapons chamber and extract perfectly by just swapping. Man, just because somebody has a decent education,does not not make them the sharpest knife in the drawer. I can't thank you enough, Jim. This thing has been bugging me for weeks. My efforts weren't totally wasted though, I learned something about better chamber cleaning and that my gunsmith is charging me fair prices. Besides, now if somebody walks up to me at my club and asks what my chamber dimension is 1.622" from the breech face, I can rock back on my heels, smile and say "I know that one".
Gracias again, fellas.
May 17, 2001, 08:21 PM
That is wild! So wild that I wonder if you could have mistakenly swapped those bolts in the first place. Bolts are rarely fully interchangeable and those rifles were made under very hig pressure wartime conditions.
May 18, 2001, 05:27 AM
I think I must just be incredibly lucky. The nicer of the two carbines has all the old serial nos. X'ed out and a new "import" serial no. stamped into bolt, receiver, barrel and stock. I think it is just blind, dumb luck that they made a perfect switch. The older, more battered of the two has a little bit of pitting in the bore but the rifling is nice and sharp (for a shallow groove) and has a delightful trigger. The other one appears practically unissued except the stock was stained an odd color and coated with a real uneven lacquer type finish. I stripped it and stained it lightly and gave it four coats of satin urethane on the outside. I'm giving them both a workout sunday.
Thanks again, I appreciate your help AND I saved enough for a lot of Sellier and Bellot.
May 18, 2001, 12:05 PM
Now that you've swapped the bolts, you have to check headspace again.
May 18, 2001, 12:32 PM
Exactly what do I have to do?
Thanks in advance,
May 18, 2001, 11:17 PM
I have done a small amount of chambering and had a small amount done.
I have learned by talking to people and reading books.
The gunsmith list guys were nice enough to post pictures of thier spiders they made for their lathes. My partners and I used those pictures to make one.
Others use the steady rest.
May 19, 2001, 12:46 AM
Along the lines of Viejo's last question ... is there a field expedient way to check the headspace with a factory loaded cartridge? Can you place layers of 0.003" material (PostIt paper comes to mind) over the back of the cartridge and tell if it has too much clearance? Just curious ... I don't have go/no-go gauges yet.
May 19, 2001, 07:55 AM
Sands, you can do that IF you have a cartridge that measures perfectly. It would be considered a rough check at best and you should only use metal. Anything like paper or tape that could be compressed won't give you a true reading. I'd recommend coughing up the $13 for a go gage and then using shims with it. I use a shim and a go gage when rechambering or rebarreling a rifle. I always chamber to a depth of the calculated go gage plus .001" to allow for differences in brass manufacture. I stick a .002" shim on the back of a go gage as my no-go for that purpose. George
May 19, 2001, 10:40 AM
I figured that this was not accurate but was afraid that it wasn't meaningless ... a friend has an Ishapore .308 that hasn't been shot yet and we were looking at it. I dropped a milsurp .308 into it and added postits until it gave some resistance. Then I took my Browning BLR and did the same ... the BLR seemed to close easily on one post-it and had to be forced onto two ... the Ishipore closed fine on 3, MAYBE had a detectable contact with 4 and finally felt solid resistance on 5 layers, 0.018" of paper. While, as you pointed out, it doesn't map directly to 0.018" of free space, it does sound like it has a problem since I used the same method and cartrige and sheet of Post-It material for a "known good" BLR and the Ishipore. Bummer for him ... what can be done for the rifle? Is it worth it?
ps I will order the Go gauge ... there should only be 0.002" past the Go gauge? I didn't realize that they were so close ;)
May 19, 2001, 11:34 AM
Saands, no. Generally the difference in length between a go and no-go is .004". I use a .002" shim to insure that the headspace I'm after is actually what I'm getting. The Enfields have different bolt head sizes numbered 0 thru 3. It may be stamped on the bolt head or you may just need to measure it. Jack First http://www.1stingunparts.com carries them and Numrich http://www.e-gunparts.com list the #3 but only for the Model 4 & 5 rifles. I don't know right off hand if they will interchange with the 2A or not. You can also have the headspace corrected but that may be more than the owner is willing to put into the rifle. If he reloads, I have read where folks simply fireform their cases to the existing chamber and then neck size only. George
May 19, 2001, 07:05 PM
If memory serves me correctly Ishapore rifles are chambered in 7.62 Nato not .308 Win (there are a few dimesional tolerance differences between the two but for the most part the headspace gages are interchangeable). Ishapores are usu. very near the no-go gages limits in civilian gages. A while back there were about 4 (+1 I used to own) in a gunshop I used to work in and w/civilian gages they dropped on the no-gos' but when I put in my military gages they did not go on the no-go but one. But that one did not drop on the field gauge though. I'll have to check the SAAMI specs to be sure though.
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