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Old January 21, 2005, 10:55 AM   #1
Drakejake
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How to Deal with Headspace Problem in Mauser

I have a Spanish Mauser carbine model 1893. The headspace is slightly too large and the fired shells show that the primer has moved out a slight amount, enough to make the shell rock around when stood on its bottom. I have been told not to worry about this, that the problem is not dangerous. The face of the bolt shows some deterioration. Perhaps this is the cause of the problem. I have another bolt, from a Mauser rifle, same model, that has a perfectly clean, flat bolt face. The alternate bolt (straight lever rather than turned down) generally shows less corrosion than the one that came with the carbine. The other bolt will go into the carbine and seems to function properly. I would like to shoot the carbine. What should I do?

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Old January 21, 2005, 11:10 AM   #2
jtb1967
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I'd have someone with a set of headspace gauges check both bolts. The primer backing out slightly could be do to problems other than headspace.
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Old January 21, 2005, 11:23 AM   #3
Nuts590
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I have a few questions and some advice... How do you know the headspace is too large? Have you actually used a GO, NO-GO, and Field gauge on your rifle? Dependant on the ammunition there could be a whole bunch of reasons your primer might be protruding like that. Most 7mm mauser surplus ammo is corrosive. If you're having primer problems that means some of the corrosive salts from firing that ammo are being deposited on your bolt face. Cheap lesson: clean your bolt face after every shooting session.

Frankly, I wouldn't start swapping bolts from rifle to rifle without having a full set of headspace gauges available at the very least. Just because it "fits and seems to function" doesn't mean it fits or is at all safe. The only way to know that is with the headspace gauges.

You might also want to ask these people, they know a lot more than I do about all things spanish mauser. http://p077.ezboard.com/fparallaxscu...rmsforumsfrm10
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Old January 21, 2005, 11:38 AM   #4
cntryboy1289
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examine the case

I would look at the whole case and not just the primer. If it was a handload, the pocket hole may be worn, hence the primer backs out. Are there any shiny marks on the side of the case, specifically a ring at the bottom? If there is, you may have shot a handload that was too hot. What is the length of the fired case? What is the measurement of the rim? Check these against the unfired measurements of a case from a reloading manual. If you can't find it in a manual, check with mausercentral .com. If the rim has expanded, you most likely have headspace. Your bolt may be worn and need to be replaced or you may need the barrel removed and set back a thread or two and the chamber recut. Hopefully all you need to do is replace the bolt and remeasure for head space to make sure it is in spec.
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:02 PM   #5
Drakejake
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The ammo I have fired is Peters, not reloaded. I suspect that corrosion of the bolt face is the result of the ammo used in the Spanish American War. These rifles were brought back froim Cuba by a relative who fought in that war. The ammo I have on hand is S&B. I know nothing about rifles. Someone I know who is very familiar with firearms, including military rifles, and is a gunsmith, examined the carbine and saw the backed out primer. He told me this was OK. I have never used a headpsace gauge on a rifle and wouldn't know how to do it. I will try the rifle bolt in the carbine on my next outing. It cocks and fires in the carbine and looks good. I know the rifle is sound. We fired 20 rounds through it some time back. The fired cases were in perfect condition except for the very slight protrusion of the primer.

Thanks for the advice.

Drakejake
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:32 PM   #6
Nuts590
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I don't want to be offensive or the least bit brash about this, however... Do NOT swap out a bolt from another weapon into another without having it checked by a knowledgeable gunsmith first (both before and after the bolt swap!!) If you have a buddy that does gunsmith work (real work, not just things in his basement from time to time) he will know what a headspace gauge is, and how to use it.

Headspace gauge 101: Put the gauge (which looks almost like a shell casing, only solid with some writing on it) into the magazine, push the bolt forward to chamber the gauge. If the bolt closes on the go gauge but doesn't close on a no-go gauge, you're in business, go shoot and have some fun. If the bolt closes on either the No-go or field gauge, get it to a gunsmith for further inspection.

"I don't know anything about rifles or how to use a headspace gauge" isn't a real good excuse for risking your life. A primer that is pushed out is a great foreshadowing of events that may happen.

Consider this: If it *is* the headspacing that's the problem, when you pull the trigger the firing pin is striking the primer, pushing the entire round forward into the chamber until the shoulder of the round meet the chamber, stopping the forward movement of the round allows the firing pin to strike the primer with enough force to cause detonation; Sir Isaac Newton takes over. The force of the round being fired has to go somewhere... It pushes the bullet out one hole in the case and the primer out another hole in the case. With normal headspacing the bolt face is strong enough to hold that primer in place. With bad headspacing it pushes the primer back out until it reaches the boltface... If that continues to happen sooner or later you're going to have a primer that doesn't stop at the bolt. It will blow out the primer pocket and quite literally the force of that 7mm mauser round will (if you're lucky) only blow the receiver of your rifle apart. If you're not so lucky, you won't have a chance to post about it. We might send flowers to your next of kin...

This is not just some stupid made up stuff to scare you away from shooting what sounds like an interesting piece of history. I'm just trying to keep you in one piece while doing it.
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:39 PM   #7
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I just checked on headspace gauges at Brownells's. Looks like the 7 by 57 gauges would cost $30 each. I am not sure this is a good investment for me in this situation. If I cannot borrow the gauges and use them to pass the weapon, I take it your advice would be not to shoot the rifle, even though it has already been shot safely. Right?

Thanks,

Drakejake
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:41 PM   #8
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An additional point. Remember that the carbine bolt and the rifle bolt were made in the same factory at about the same time for the same model of the same rifle. I believe the two bolts are identical in specifications except for the lever.

Thanks,

Drakejake
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:48 PM   #9
Ozzieman
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Listen to NUTS590 and do not shoot the gun until

I have worked in gun business for many years, I am not a gunsmith by any strech of the name. But if you have even the slightest doubt about head space do not shot the gun, There can be may reasions for head space problems and one of them can cause you to carry the bolt around with you imbedded in your face.
I dont mean to make a joke, I have seen guns that had bolt problems that people are still trying to find pieces of.
There are a lot of reasions that a primer can back out, but you answered most of them by saying that it was new factory rounds.
As NUTS590 said have a competent gun smith look at the gun and head space it. If its a no go on the gage, then you have a nice fireplace deceration and NOTHING more.
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:50 PM   #10
rbernie
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Two thoughts: first, this is a cock-on-close action and the firing pin/bolt shroud should be removed during the headspace check, and secondly I've never met a gunsmith yet who wouldn't conduct a free on-the-spot headspace check.

Just take the rifle to someone professional and ask 'em to do a quick check for you.
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:51 PM   #11
Nuts590
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My advice at this point for you is for you to simply pick up a phone book, call around to some gunsmiths (in the yellow pages under gunsmiths) and ask them if they have headspace gauges for a 7mm mauser and how much it would cost to have the headspace checked. I have a gander mountain 20 minutes up the road from me that will do it for 7 bucks! That's a worthwhile investment. If you really must be cheap about it, buy just a no-go gauge, if it closes on the no-go, take that as what the gauge says "NO GO."

If it was me shooting, I don't care if two bolts were made by twin brothers working side by side at the same time with the same tools in the same plant while wearing the same pants!!!! The problem might not be with the bolt(s).
Way too many possible factors at play here to just take it on "I'll swap the bolt. That should work.. They look close enough." A scarlet kingsnake looks almost just like a coral snake, but I'm not going to let one bite me to find out which one of the two is poisonous. I wouldn't suggest you do the same thing with rifle bolts either...

Again, this isn't just something that because it didn't blow up in your face the first few times means it's safe. If you want my advice, you have it. If you need technical help with something, I'll do what I can.. and if I owned 7mm gauges, not just 8mm gauges, they would be in the mail by now....
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Old January 21, 2005, 12:53 PM   #12
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Drake that is true for some guns but unless you can check the history

O3-A3's between Rockarsonal and Springfield had heat treating problems in the first 100,000 or so riffles, thats why they are called early and late seral number guns.
Some of the parts that rock arsnal made were sent to springfield and were put in later SN's and caused problems.
The thing is unless you check the hardness of a metal you never know what you have, even from the same manufacture. Heat treating guns was in its infinancy at the trun of the century, along with the smokless cartrage which made heat treating so important.
Again bolts should not be exchanged unless a competent gunsmith has ok the change.
We are talking over 30,000 cup here
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Old January 21, 2005, 02:00 PM   #13
Drakejake
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Further Information on Mausers

Neither of the two bolts matches the respective long gun, i.e. they do not have matching numbers. The safety on the carbine bolt works. The safety on the rifle bolt does not, neither in the carbine nor in the rifle.

Drakejake
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Old January 21, 2005, 02:44 PM   #14
Oldphart
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Mauser headspace

Well, everybody else has jumped into this so I will too. The Model ’93 rifle is a great little gun, but it does have a drawback or two. The one you’re concerned with is the headspace and what it can possibly cause.
Well, it CAN cause some pretty drastic results. If severe enough the cartridge case can split, allowing high-pressure gasses to blow back, around the bolt-face, down the left raceway and into the shooter’s face, resulting in acute embarrassment at best and blindness at worst.
The Spanish ’93 Mauser comes in two flavors, one made in Germany out of really good steel and the other made in Spain at Oviedo arsenal. The latter model sometimes had a problem with the heat-treating process which resulted in softer metal in the receiver. Repeated firing caused the bolt-lugs to actually dent the portions of the receiver that they contacted. In turn, this allowed the bolt to slide back a small amount, exposing a portion of the cartridge case that was too thin to contain the pressure of the burning powder. Víola, the case blows out and the shooter is injured!
On the other hand, older ammo for this and many other cartridges has a corrosive compound in the primer. It was fairly common for shooters to thoroughly clean their rifles after firing them. Many shooters didn’t realize that the corrosion was also working on the bolt-face. It is possible that your bolt-face is so corroded that it is allowing the primer to back out a bit but – and this is only barely possible – but the outer rim of the bolt-face is still holding the cartridge properly in place. If that is the case, and as I said, it’s only barely possible, a new bolt might work just fine. I change bolts in rifles all the time but I also use a no-go headspace gauge.
If I had your problem and wanted an answer that wouldn’t kill either me or my pocketbook, I’d install that new bolt, tie the rifle to a tree, load it and fire it with a string. Then I’d compare the fired case with one that had been fired with the old bolt. If the primer is backed out on both cases the bolt lugs have been set back by repeated firing. If not, then the problem might just be in the bolt face.
Above all, do not listen to anyone who tells you about how the lugs will shear off and allow the bolt to fly back through your head. That is a myth that knows no death. No such catastrophic lug failure has ever been documented. The gas blow-back which I described is a very real danger though.
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Old January 21, 2005, 03:39 PM   #15
Drakejake
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I had already thouight about the remote firing test, but I am not sure that I have access to a setting that will allow this. I am encouraged by your comments on the strength of German-made Mausers because mine was made in Berlin by Loewe (There is a Cross of David on the receiver.)

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Old January 21, 2005, 08:01 PM   #16
Oldphart
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Mauser headspace

I'm glad to hear your Mauser is German made. I don't think you'll have any trouble with lug set-back, though there's always the possibility. Even if that is the problem, it can be fixed, usually by having the barrel removed, cutting one extra thread on it and reaming a new chamber. It might be neccesary to polish the lugs and re-heat-treat the receiver but that's not likely.
Of course, all this costs money and most of us shy away from laying out very much money on a Model '93. My wife has one like yours and we ended up putting a new 7X57 barrel on it. It wasn't the most economical route, but she likes the rifle, so we looked the other way about the expense.
The other replies mentioned getting a good gunsmith to look at it. That's good advice. Over the years I've learned quite a lot about Mausers, but there's still a whole lot I don't know and when it comes to setting a small bomb off six inches in front of my nose I want to know as much as possible about the gun I'm using to contain that explosion.
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Old January 21, 2005, 08:24 PM   #17
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Old part thats not true

There are pictures in this months NRA magazine concering the 03-A3 that everthing from the back of the barrel to most of the receiver is missing. There was nothing there to retain the bolt so it has to go some where and opisit the direction of the bullet only leaves the shooters head.
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Old January 22, 2005, 01:15 AM   #18
Oldphart
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Mauser Headspace

Ozzieman, The 03 has a stock, a barrel and a few other things that a Mauser has, but it doesn't have the strength. I asked awhile back, on several forums (fora?) for any cases where Mauser lugs have sheared off, allowing the bolt to fly back. None were brought to my attention. In fact, one shooter mentioned that one lug had cracked without him noticing it. He continued to shoot the rifle until the lug actually fell on the ground. He had been shooting with only one lug holding the bolt in place!
I have the good fortune to be a friend of Larry Peters, a gunsmith well known as an authority regarding Mausers. He was head of engineering for Kimber of Oregon when that company was making fine rifles. Recently, he has been building and engraving custom rifles and shotguns in a small shop behind his house. If you're interested, there is a very good article about him and his work in the January/february issue of "Shooting Sportsman" magazine.
Anywho, I asked Larry about the strength of the Mauser '93 action. He pointed out, quite rightly, that the much vaunted "third lug" of the M-98 has no real function other than to salve the feelings of those who worry too much. He related stories about '93 actions that had indeed been blown up by overloading them with ultra-fast powders or by loading them with the wrong ammo. He pointed out that the usual result was a massive gas release that blew the magazine out and warped or even shattered the receiver. The lugs always held though.
Of greater concern in recent months has been the number of Sako/Tikka stainless barrels that have split, sometimes with the added result of shattering the receiver too. So far, no one has been injured badly, but I don't think I want to take a chance on one of those new-fangled things. I'll stick with my old Mausers.
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Old January 22, 2005, 09:52 AM   #19
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Quote:
but I don't think I want to take a chance on one of those new-fangled things. I'll stick with my old Mausers.
HooAhh!

Anyone who wants to get rid of their old, sub-standard small-ring Mausers - drop me a PM and we'll work a deal.
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Old January 22, 2005, 06:56 PM   #20
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Mauser Headspace

"Anyone who wants to get rid of their old, sub-standard small-ring Mausers - drop me a PM and we'll work a deal. "

Me first!! Me first!! After all, it was my argument...
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Old January 23, 2005, 01:08 PM   #21
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Let's not forget...

A slightly backed-out primer is also an indicator of a too-light load. As a handloader, I've noticed that phenomenon on several of my calibers, as I started at the low end of the published reloading data. Only when I got pressures closer to the real deal did the primers stay in their pockets, be they .30-30, .32 Remington, or 8x57 Mauser.

We all know that U.S. commercial 8x57 ammo is severely underloaded compared to it's original European specifications. Perhaps modern factory 7x57 is also a bit light?
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Old January 23, 2005, 01:35 PM   #22
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Ozzieman. The Springfield rifle in the American rifleman is a 1903, NOT an 1903A3. The 1903A3 was made during WW-2 by Remington and others, and are strong well made actions. I built one into a .458 Win. Mag., and the fellow I sold it to still shoots it and it's still going on strong.

Gewehr98. You're absolutely right.7x57 ammo loaded in the U.S. is deliberately underloaded due to those old 93 and 95 Mausers and Remington Rolling block rifles. The only exceptions to that are the Federal High Energy and Hornady Light Magnum ammo, something I'm not sure I'd choose to shoot in one of those older rifles. That slight primer setback just could be caused by light factory loads.

Still, it won't cost an arm and a leg to have a gunsmith check the headspacing and eliminate or prove that headspacing is or is not the problem.

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Old January 23, 2005, 08:34 PM   #23
Drakejake
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But my 7 by 57 ammo is Sellier & Bellot, made in the Czech Republic. Should I not fire this in a model 1893 Mauser?

Thanks,

Drakejake
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Old January 23, 2005, 09:00 PM   #24
rbernie
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It should conform to the SAAMI pressure specs for the chambering. I've shot a LOT of the S&B 174gr fodder from my '95 Mauser, with no apparent ill effects.
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Old January 24, 2005, 01:37 AM   #25
Oldphart
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Mauser Headspace

Drakejake, you've got a pretty good rifle there. That's not saying there couldn't be something wrong with it. Hell, it's over 110 years old, it has a right to have some sort of a problem. You've been shooting it with no disasterous effects so far, so it's probably in good shape. Still, take it to a good gunsmith and pay him $10 or $15 to check it out.
When I first bought a '93 I heard all the horror stories and was afraid to shoot it. The gunsmith I took it to just told me to be careful about overloads if I reloaded for it. He charged me $10 for that advice and the peace of mind was worth a whole lot more than that.
On a slightly different note... On page 4 of the latest Shooters edition of the Sportsman's Guide catalog they offer 1893 Turkish Mausers for the incredible price of only $300. To make it even more valuable, they include a genuine Certificate of Authenticity. Isn't that special? Doesn't that make you want to mortgage the homestead so you can get several? Of course, the real selling point is the fact that they can be sent directly to you with no paperwork. Still, the last one I got only cost $50...
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