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Old November 23, 2012, 12:23 PM   #1
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Head space gauge?

After reading another thread about some problems a fellow re-loader is having, I think it is time that I look into a head space gauge. I have had really good luck with Hornady stuff so I am thinking I will stick with them on this one.

Has any one here used the Hornady kit and what all comes with it and what else do I need? I want to do 223,308,and 300 win?
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Old November 23, 2012, 02:03 PM   #2
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While not "precisely"** headspace gauges, the Headspace comparators kit with the multiple inserts is a Godsend when it comes to setting up partial/repeatable sizing die specs -- and checking that the case that comes out of the die is on that spec.

+1 on the Hornady kit

** (but pretty darn close)
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Old November 23, 2012, 04:30 PM   #3
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Headspace gauges are indispensable when setting up your dies. I have used the Hornady, RCBS Precision Mic as well as the Innovative Technologies gauge. They all work well and the RCBS works best for setting up dies on gas guns. You will need a set of calipers for the Hornady gauge if you don't have a set already. While you are at it, you may want to invest in a set of Wilson case gauges. For my bolt rifles, I prefer the IT gauge since it very accurate when paired with a quality digital indicator.
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:26 PM   #4
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When you say "Hornady kit", is this what you are talking about? If so, you might be able to save a few $ by just buying the individual comparators you need. You can also add the bullet comparators and measure you OAL based on the ogive rather than the tip for more accurate bullet seating.

That is what I use. I have found it very helpful to keep a once fired unsized round, and a sized round for each rifle I load for. I write on them with a Sharpie what the datum measurement is, rifle it came from, and they save time in setting up. If you aren't lubing your cases uniformly it will show up.
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Old November 27, 2012, 04:55 PM   #5
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The Hornady kit covers just about every caliber you'll run into.
The bushings are not caliber specific, they cover a WIDE range of calibers:

While they're called "headspace gauges" (and they are), they're just a means of establishing a comparison between the datum on your fireformed cases vs. your resized cases. Can't FL size accurately without that information.

By keeping shoulder bump to a minimum, you maximize your brass life and-far as I'm concerned- eliminate any "advantages" to neck sizing.
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Old November 27, 2012, 07:02 PM   #6
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Yes Jepp2 that is the kit I am looking at. Can you post a link to the bullet comparators?
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Old November 27, 2012, 08:02 PM   #7
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Such gauges were custom made back in the 1960's; I got one of 'em made using a standard chamber reamer and it's near identical to the RCBS one. Just a single mark on a tight sleeve you zero on the measuring thimble as it's tighened on a standard headspace gauge or fired case. But they work and are responsible for folks improving their handloads to shoot more accurate, win matches and set records.

But please, fellas, they were first called bottleneck case headspace gauges as they measured the case head to shoulder reference and established that as the zero point to work from. That's so they won't get confused with chamber headspace gauges. But the "bottleneck" prefix seems to have been tossed out with the garbage over time. So case headspace gauge is just fine for a general name and clearly separates this gauge from the one used to measure chamber headspace in a rifle barrel just right and exact. Some companies call their version a comparitor for marketing purposes, but it's still the same thing.

The RCBS version is built with its measuring thimble loose on its sleeve, then a GO chamber headspace gauge (or one of the same type for belted cases with a shoulder) is put in, the sleeve tightened on it to a gentle but snug fit, then epoxy put on the sleeve and the sleeve's turned so the "0" mark on it aligns with the reference mark on the gauge body. It's set aside for the epoxy to cure.

An RCBS rep told me years ago I could put the Mic in the freezer overnight, break the thimble loose from its sleeve, take it apart to clean it good, then recalibrate it with my own chamber GO headspace gauge. That way, all my .308 Win. stuff would be based on the same thing.

One can check the accuracy of theirs with a chamber headspace gauge. But don't get excited if yours is 1 thousandth or so off; so are even the very best chamber headspace gauges.

Thanks for understanding. Now get back to doing the rest of your good things.

Last edited by Bart B.; November 27, 2012 at 08:07 PM.
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Old November 28, 2012, 01:07 PM   #8
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And none of that was necessary, even then when the bolt closed the chamber became a dark place, before that, in the 40s, a smith used one gage to check the length of the chamber from the bolt face to the shoulder (datum) in thousandths, smiths working with him bad mouth his techniques and methods, vanity would not allow them to ask "Mr Keith, how do you do that?".

Then there was L. E. Wilson, they made case gages called case gages, they did not call their case gage a head space gages. Hornady/Sinclair and L. Willis call their gages head space gages, both tools are comparators, if a reloader understood the Wilson case gage they would not need a head space gage, they would not need a comparator, and hind sight is perfect.

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Old November 28, 2012, 02:29 PM   #9
William T. Watts
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I agree with Guffy

L.E. Wilson gages are an aid and may not be exact, I.E have one of their 280Rem cartridge case gage that is .006" short (when I drop a virgin case in the gage it is even with the top step (max).. Yes, I happen to have a headspace gauge set for the 280Rem in my tool box.. William
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