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Old March 22, 2013, 07:28 AM   #1
blackhawk8
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Headspace Gauges

Do any of you use Headspace Gauges ? Which brand or kind would be good to get ? Thanks
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Old March 22, 2013, 08:21 AM   #2
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The Hornady set works just fine, and won't break the bank. I use them, along with their Comparator gauges.
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Old March 22, 2013, 08:41 AM   #3
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If you don't need them but for one project, try reamerrentals.com

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Old March 22, 2013, 09:03 AM   #4
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Particularly on surplus military rifles I like to verify that they are within headspace. I think I could have made an excellent Calibration Technician as it bothers me when things are not within tolerance, or I don't know if they are within spec. I might have made a good watch maker too as I don’t like inaccurate timepieces.

But, checking headspace does not hurt even if you don’t wear tin foil beanies as you are verifying that your rifle is in correct mechanical condition.
I think my headspace gages are mostly Clymer.

More importantly, I used cartridge headspace gages to ensure that I am sizing my bottle neck rifle brass to within spec. It is very bad to size the case too much as cases are not meant to stretch more than 0.006” (typical) once, and if it is stretches more case breakage is the usual outcome. It will cause malfunctions if you leave the case too long as there will be an interference fit between case and chamber before and after firing. You want to extract the case, not have case friction stick a case in the chamber.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:35 AM   #5
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I have a couple of Forster go gauges in different calibers that I use to "zero" my Innovative Technologies' headspace measuring device.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:54 AM   #6
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I bought a Forster armorer's set of .308 gages in 0.001" steps years ago. When I got an RCBS Precision mike I learned quickly that the gage labeled 1.638" was 0.001" shorter than the one labeled 1.637". That was the end of my confidence in the more economical gages.

I started buying Clymer then, when Dave Manson still worked for them. When Dave set up his own shop, my business followed him both because of the quality of his work and because of good advice he'd given me over the phone that saved me money and showed he was more interested in the customer having what he actually needs than in making a sale. I have measured the gages with a precision reamed hole through a spacer and a height gauge on a grade A granite surface plate. The height gauge only lets me clearly resolve about half a thousandth resolution (Swiss made Vernier scale type), though I like to think I can make out 1/4 thousandth on it. In either case, I'm not seeing any discernible error on that, so I would say they are at least within half a thousandth, and may be better.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:54 AM   #7
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I have both the Hornady Headspace Set and a couple RCBS Precision Mics. The Hornady set is cheaper, works with your calipers, works with most all calibers, and is as accurate as you are using your calipers. The RCBS Precision Mic is great for using on one caliber and I like the dial readout which is like using a micrometer. But it's expensive and caliber specific. Both are great tools.
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Old March 23, 2013, 11:02 AM   #8
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Are we talking gun side measurement or fired case side?

Since we are in the reloading section, I'll assume case side. I use the Hornady product. it works great!

For average ammo, fired -0.003" is a good place to start. This is because your technique can cause +/- 0.003" variation. Sorting by times fired, brand and precise lube application can greatly improve that. BTW, a whole thread could be made on only lube application! In my precision rifle, I think I size to about fired -0.000" with about +/-0.001" variation. My experience shows in bolt guns that fired +0.002" will chamber with some resistance. Some people who adjust the die until a case chambers are probably +0.003".

You say how? A FL SIZED case which doesn't bump the shoulder at all is about +0.003-0.004" IME.
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Old March 23, 2013, 11:06 AM   #9
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I guess we'd better be sure we are all talking about the same thing. These are chamber headspace gages:




This Precision Mic and Hornady LNL caliper adapter are case headspace gages. The photo is of an improvised one showing the case to be 0.003" larger than the chamber headspace gage the caliper was zeroed on:




The chamber headspace gages are used to check a firearm's headspace. The case headspace gages are used to check whether or not you are setting a shoulder back resizing and if so, how much. It is an indirect measure of chamber headspace, but because cases spring back a little inside the chamber after firing, it can be off a couple of thousandths unless you neck size and fire it repeatedly until it is a little more snug in the chamber fit. That's not as easy to do, as it usually requires a more experienced sense of feel than the solid steel gage does.
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Old March 23, 2013, 11:08 AM   #10
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@blackhawk8: I'm probably overthinking this, but since you posted it in the reloading section, I'm wondering if you mean cartridge case overall length/size/headspace gauges? (Not barrel chambers.) If that's the question, then I use Wilson. There are cheaper aluminum ones, but wilsons are the best. For me, they're almost indispensable to ensure proper functioning of finished ammunition in my autoloading rifles and pistols.
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Old March 23, 2013, 11:51 AM   #11
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Until the OP comes back and clarifies what he's talking about we can't help much...

Unless he's buying milsurps (which I doubt because this is the reloading section) or installing new barrels headspace gauges aren't used in reloading.

Wonder if he's talking about OAL modifed cases? Who knows...
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Old March 23, 2013, 12:23 PM   #12
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Headspace gages are for the chamber. The case gages that loosely - and wrongly - called headspace gages are totally different animals. Without a clue of what the OP is actually wanting there's no way we can rationally suggest anything.
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Old March 23, 2013, 01:51 PM   #13
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Yep, what he said above.

Quote:
I started buying Clymer then, when Dave Manson still worked for them. When Dave set up his own shop, my business followed him both because of the quality of his work and because of good advice he'd given me over the phone that saved me money and showed he was more interested in the customer having what he actually needs than in making a sale. I have measured the gages with a precision reamed hole through a spacer and a height gauge on a grade A granite surface plate. The height gauge only lets me clearly resolve about half a thousandth resolution (Swiss made Vernier scale type), though I like to think I can make out 1/4 thousandth on it. In either case, I'm not seeing any discernible error on that, so I would say they are at least within half a thousandth, and may be better.
Got a link?
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Old March 23, 2013, 04:39 PM   #14
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It's here: mansonreamers.com. Use his downloadable pdf. catalog to find specific items of interest.
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Old March 23, 2013, 08:29 PM   #15
blackhawk8
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Thanks everyone, sorry about any confusion as I am not very specific at times. Im talking about case gauges like setting shoulder back etc. Im thinking about getting a few Wilson gauges. I already have a few for pistol and really like them. Maybe even get the Hornady gauge.
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Old March 24, 2013, 12:07 PM   #16
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The advantage of the Precision Mic and the caliper gages made by Hornady and Sinclair is you get to use them to detect small differences you can control with your die setup. The Wilson gage is really just pass/fail case length gage that insures the neck is trimmed enough at one end and that the case headspace length is within SAAMI specs so it will fit into any SAAMI compliant chamber. The other gages allow you to take a case fired in your own chamber and set your sizing die so it only moves the shoulder back a thousandth or two, which means it will still fit in your own chamber just fine, though it might not fit in someone else's chamber if their chamber is shorter. But that minimum amount of sizing is all you need for your gun, and it tends to result in longer case life, because you work the brass less, but more importantly tends to give you better precision (smaller groups).

But there's more. A separate thimble, in the case of the Precision Mic, and separate inserts, in the case of the Hornady and Sinclair adapters, let you measure length from the case head to the a point on the bullet ogive that is close to the diameter at which the bullet actually contacts the rifling lands in the rifle. The Precision Mic come with a special gage for finding how far the lands are from the breech in your rifle. Hornady makes a separately available gage for this purpose called the overall length gauge that works with a caliper-specific adapter. Sinclair makes a separate seating depth gage that works independently of the caliper gage.

The main differences between the Hornady and Sinclair gage caliper adapters (Hornady calls its adapter the gage "body") is that the Hornady adapter slot for the caliper jaws is slightly offset from the centerline to make it work with the caliper laid into their overall length gage, while the Sinclair adapter jaw slot is centered on the caliper jaw, making it slightly easier to use independently of a gage. The Hornady gage uses aluminum inserts, one set for case headspace and one set for bullet ogive contact. The Sinclair uses stainless adapters for bullet ogive contact that are cut with a chamber reamer, which lets it sit further down on the ogive and closer to the actual bullet contact position with the throat.

Sinclair makes no case headspace inserts for their adapter, but the inserts are interchangeable in the two adapters, so you can use the Hornady case headspace inserts in the Sinclair adapter, and the Sinclair stainless inserts in the Hornady adapter.

If you own neither, and want to make the measurements they can make and want to go the caliper adapter route rather than the RCBS Precision Mic route, I think the best caliper combination to start with is to get the Hornady case gage kit with body and buy the Sinclair bullet inserts for your calibers and the Hornady Overall Gage (straight for bolt guns only or curved for both closed rear receiver semi-autos and bolt guns) and a case adapter for your chambering. The last two items are for determining bullet seating depths.

Bottom line, you need to know what information you want and what you want it for. Most precision loaders want all the gage information they can get in order to control their loads in more detail. But if you just want to be sure you are producing case lengths that fit all guns, the Wilson does fine.
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Old March 24, 2013, 12:29 PM   #17
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@unclenick: That is impressive and detailed knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

Let me put in an additional plug for wilson gauges. They do more than check case length. They also check the body size.

When I load plated or cast bullets in my auto-loading pistols, I find that I have to bell the case slightly to prevent shaving of the lead or copper plating. Since the bell has to be removed, I use a wilson gauge to adjust my taper crimp die so that that the bell is removed but not so much that it will create head space problems.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:25 PM   #18
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Hammie,

Thanks.

Unfortunately I have not found what you did to work out with rifle cartridges and the Wilson gages. The reason is given on the L. E. Wilson web site FAQ, item number 10. It is that the gages are designed for use with fired cases, which means they have to be at least as big in diameter as a SAAMI maximum chamber. The SAAMI standard diameter tolerance is +0.002", so if I have a tight chamber, a case that fits the Wilson could be up to 0.002" too big in diameter for my gun's chamber. That's why I spoke of them for length determination only.

If you chamber your own rifles or own the chamber reamer your gunsmith uses to chamber them for you, if you call Wilson (509-782-1328), they may be be able to make you a custom gauge using that same reamer. I haven't asked, but it would seem like a reasonable custom service to offer. If not, have your gunsmith cut one out of barrel blank scrap for you that lets you tell if a loaded cartridge drops in or not and has your headspace. That won't reveal trim length, but several fellows on the board do that to have an all-dimensions pass/fail gauge for loaded rounds and for resized brass.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:36 PM   #19
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@unclenick: That is interesting. Thanks again for the additional insight. I'm always amazed by the knowledge of all the contributors at this web site.
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Old March 25, 2013, 07:25 PM   #20
blackhawk8
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Thanks Uncle Nick for all the good info. I learn alot on here. I already have a Hornady overall gauge, the curved one. Good idea, think will get Hornady case headspace kit and get some Sinclair inserts. I like the fact that they are stainless. Again thanks
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