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Old January 20, 2014, 07:54 PM   #12
James K
Senior Member
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,384
Assuming the headspace was set correctly at the factory, it will increase due to normal wear on the bolt and to battering from firing of the bolt lugs locking surfaces. This cannot be stopped but in normal civilian use the headspace will not become a problem in several lifetimes. Things are different in military weapons, especially machineguns, and in rifles used by target shooters.

In spite of a lot of talk about headspace (and a lot of nonsense), excess headspace is almost never a problem in modern sporting rifles (they simply are not fired enough) or even in surplus military rifles that have the original bolts and were in the service of a country that had a disciplined army.

One cause of excess headspace in rifles is an attempt to "smooth" the action by buffing, stoning or grinding on the locking lugs.

So, can careful handloading "cure" excess headspace? Yes, at least temporarily as described by others. But if the problem persists, as with a bolt that has not been properly hardened, the headspace will gradually increase to the point where the case head is unsupported, then the case will burst and high pressure gas will demolish the gun and possibly injure the shooter.

Jim K
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