Setting Headspace with a Fired Case

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  • KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    A new pre-chambered barrel (for a Savage 10 action) will be arriving within a day or two and I would like to set the headspace to be similar to (ideally the same as) another rifle chambered in the same cartridge. I have fired, but not resized, cases from the existing rifle.

    Has anyone done this? If so, what issues were encountered, if any. (Yes - I do know that using Go/NoGo gauges is the "proper" way to do this, but I'm too cheap frugal to buy or rent these for a single job.)
     

    Doco Overboard

    Active Member
    I do it all the time. Particularly on a lot of milsurp rifles I rebarrel.
    Take about five cartridges, measure them consistently to the case datum , get an average, select the longest one, or next to longest set headspace.
    Headspace is a range, not a measurement.
    And thats what your rifle shoots, cartridges, not gauges.
    Rimmed cartridges are even easier.
    I bought a couple A3 barrels I bought that were sold off as being new but cut too deep.
    1917 rifles are ones that get a lot of people messed up.
    If you can feel slight resistance, with finger tip / light touch it’s good to go.
     

    4g64loser

    collector of fine .22s
    Jan 18, 2007
    3,078
    maryland
    If the chambers were cut with the same reamer, you *can* do this. If there is disparity between the reamers, it will probably not work out as well as you are hoping.

    If reamers are the same, use the fired case and be sure the bolt closes freely (usually .001-.0015 springback from actual chamber dimensions us what your fired case dimensions will be). Two layers of painters blue mask tape, trimmed with a razor blade, on the case head will give you a sort of functional no-go test.

    The usual disclaimers about using the correct tools and.gauges apply but it's your gun and your face.
     

    Doco Overboard

    Active Member
    One other thing, If your trying to use neck sized only ammo in a another rifle with like cartridge, radial expansion will prohibit that sort of thing to some extent.
    I have a couple rifles that are like this. A Ruger no 1 that will accept fired cartridges from an AB 3 (7mm)
    And , an A bolt 2 that will swap fired brass with a Super grade M70.
    Without flrs.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    One rifle is a 6BR tight neck on a Hart 1A action chambered by the late Sid Goodling and the new barrel is a Krieger pre-chambered Savage barrel, standard neck. NOT the same reamers. The fired cases have turned necks and should not present a neck interference issue. I am not trying to headspace to allow interchanging of cases between rifles, just to set the headspace within an acceptable range and facilitate reloading using my existing Wilson hand dies. (I do not own a 6BR screw-type resizing die.)

    I have another Krieger pre-chambered barrel (AR based 224Valkyrie) which was minimum spec (or less) and was so tight it required the purchase of a 6.8SPC small base die for final resizing (there were no small base 224V dies available at that time). I'm hoping this is not the case with this barrel.
     

    Doco Overboard

    Active Member
    I went back and looked at the thread title.
    Set / ream headspace with an unfired case(s) after taking an average.
    Virgil Howe’s modern gunsmithing vol 2 and Kunhausens Garand service rifle book give good descriptors for cutting / reaming chambers.
    I don’t know the likelihood of having cartridge headspace and chamber h/ s always agreeing being very prevalent.
    However, Maybe manufacturing and tool components are becoming more in alignment with standardized process for that to be always or nearly true.
     

    E.Shell

    Active Member
    Feb 5, 2007
    8,808
    The right side of the grass.
    One rifle is a 6BR tight neck on a Hart 1A action chambered by the late Sid Goodling and the new barrel is a Krieger pre-chambered Savage barrel, standard neck. NOT the same reamers. The fired cases have turned necks and should not present a neck interference issue. I am not trying to headspace to allow interchanging of cases between rifles, just to set the headspace within an acceptable range and facilitate reloading using my existing Wilson hand dies. (I do not own a 6BR screw-type resizing die.)

    I have another Krieger pre-chambered barrel (AR based 224Valkyrie) which was minimum spec (or less) and was so tight it required the purchase of a 6.8SPC small base die for final resizing (there were no small base 224V dies available at that time). I'm hoping this is not the case with this barrel.
    Damn, I had no idea Sid had passed. Sorry to hear he's gone. He built a superb custom rifle for me in the '90s.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    12,669
    Glen Burnie
    A new pre-chambered barrel (for a Savage 10 action) will be arriving within a day or two and I would like to set the headspace to be similar to (ideally the same as) another rifle chambered in the same cartridge. I have fired, but not resized, cases from the existing rifle.

    Has anyone done this? If so, what issues were encountered, if any. (Yes - I do know that using Go/NoGo gauges is the "proper" way to do this, but I'm too cheap frugal to buy or rent these for a single job.)
    I find the mindset interesting - you're willing to buy a barrel, but not willing to buy the gauges to get it properly headspaced? IMO gauges should have been part of the budget for the build, especially since they aren't that expensive.

    There's a good thread on the subject here - seems some guys do it by measuring a bunch of cases to find the one they want to use, then filling it with something like JB Weld so that it won't crush. Personally, I would invest in the gauges because there's no real guarantee that you'll get it right by using a fired case - you may think you duplicated the headspace of the other rifle, but I'd tend to think that fired brass would be too inconsistent.

    Take anything I say for about what it's worth - not much. I have done a lot of reading, but have limited first-hand experience.
     

    4g64loser

    collector of fine .22s
    Jan 18, 2007
    3,078
    maryland
    One rifle is a 6BR tight neck on a Hart 1A action chambered by the late Sid Goodling and the new barrel is a Krieger pre-chambered Savage barrel, standard neck. NOT the same reamers. The fired cases have turned necks and should not present a neck interference issue. I am not trying to headspace to allow interchanging of cases between rifles, just to set the headspace within an acceptable range and facilitate reloading using my existing Wilson hand dies. (I do not own a 6BR screw-type resizing die.)

    I have another Krieger pre-chambered barrel (AR based 224Valkyrie) which was minimum spec (or less) and was so tight it required the purchase of a 6.8SPC small base die for final resizing (there were no small base 224V dies available at that time). I'm hoping this is not the case with this barrel.
    I've seen the case web area problem with 6.5x47L (use my 308 Palma/small base body die and problem solved) but never in a 6br rem or norma reamer print. I have 6br gauges but you are pretty far from me. I suspect that your issue will be in the body/shoulder area differences between the (probably norma type) krieger going in your savage and the (probably rem type) barrel Sid did for you.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    Thank you all for the responses. I'll give this a try, using the info provided, and report back. There may be a diameter issue, which will likely be a show stopper. If it doesn't work satisfactorily, I'll spring for the gauges.

    FYI - This is somewhat of a "budget" build. The Boyd's Varminter stock was given to me at no cost - apparently Boyd's had sent this stock out with a large scratch and promptly replaced it. The action and trigger are from a Savage FV purchased from Cabela's for $369. I make my own 3/4" diameter aluminum pillars and epoxy bed myself, and YES!, I did put out $$$ for the SS Match grade Krieger barrel, and waited ~ 8 months. Good barrel, Good trigger, Good Bedding = Accurate Rifle (I hope.) Also, I'm restocking my Voelker "accurized" Remington 541-T 22LR in exactly the same stock to make a matched set.

    PS - Not only was Sid as good as it gets as a precision gunsmith and rifle builder, he was a great guy. Cancer got him a couple of years ago, a huge loss to the shooting community.
     
    Last edited:

    mauser58

    My home is a sports store
    Dec 2, 2020
    1,088
    Baltimore County, near the Bay
    I have never heard of using spent brass to headspace a rifle. Very interesting info from all of you above. I have built quite a few hunting rifles from LR and SR Mauser actions. Also from 03A3 receivers as well. I have always ordered my barrels .050 short chambered to finish reaming myself. I have done it for many years so I bought all the head spacing gauges and reamers for many calibers. However I have never done any Wildcat or Magnum calibers. Thats a whole different area to me. I am not a Gunsmith by anyway but a hobbyist gunsmith doing work for me. Like to read more on the head spacing with brass casings for sure.
     

    Doco Overboard

    Active Member
    One rifle is a 6BR tight neck on a Hart 1A action chambered by the late Sid Goodling and the new barrel is a Krieger pre-chambered Savage barrel, standard neck. NOT the same reamers. The fired cases have turned necks and should not present a neck interference issue. I am not trying to headspace to allow interchanging of cases between rifles, just to set the headspace within an acceptable range and facilitate reloading using my existing Wilson hand dies. (I do not own a 6BR screw-type resizing die.)

    I have another Krieger pre-chambered barrel (AR based 224Valkyrie) which was minimum spec (or less) and was so tight it required the purchase of a 6.8SPC small base die for final resizing (there were no small base 224V dies available at that time). I'm hoping this is not the case with this barrel.
    Sounds like answers to differing questions going on here.
    Maybe you should have had Sid make you a finish reamer to match your chamber.
    Then you could have used it on follow up builds and just ordered a rougher with a new barrel.
    Make a cast and get some dies ground for some custom builds if that’s what your after.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    The barrel arrived last night, no thanks to UPS who "delivered" it by throwing it on the ground, in a pile of dogshit, 200 yards from my house.

    Good news is that both new unfired, and fired Lapua cases from the other rifle both fit into the chamber, and appear to index nicely on the shoulder. Images show mouth of indexed cases almost identical distances short of reamed neck distance. I will be attempting to set the headspace today. Question for 4g64loser: Would it be possible to measure the difference in length (common datum) between the Go and NoGo gauges?

    RAyS49t.jpg

    New/Unfired Lapua Case

    5ixjwtq.jpg

    Fired Lapua Case from Other 6BR

    Just an aside, the lapping finish on this barrel is, as I've come to expect from Krieger, excellent. Superior in finish and uniformity to the Bartlien on my 6.5CM, and both the Brux barrels in my gunsafe. I took a look at my invoice and I had ordered this barrel on 11/24/21, with an expected promise date of one year. They beat that by one day!
     

    4g64loser

    collector of fine .22s
    Jan 18, 2007
    3,078
    maryland
    The barrel arrived last night, no thanks to UPS who "delivered" it by throwing it on the ground, in a pile of dogshit, 200 yards from my house.

    Good news is that both new unfired, and fired Lapua cases from the other rifle both fit into the chamber, and appear to index nicely on the shoulder. Images show mouth of indexed cases almost identical distances short of reamed neck distance. I will be attempting to set the headspace today. Question for 4g64loser: Would it be possible to measure the difference in length (common datum) between the Go and NoGo gauges?

    RAyS49t.jpg

    New/Unfired Lapua Case

    5ixjwtq.jpg

    Fired Lapua Case from Other 6BR

    Just an aside, the lapping finish on this barrel is, as I've come to expect from Krieger, excellent. Superior in finish and uniformity to the Bartlien on my 6.5CM, and both the Brux barrels in my gunsafe. I took a look at my invoice and I had ordered this barrel on 11/24/21, with an expected promise date of one year. They beat that by one day!
    KRC,

    My gauges are Pacific Tool and Gauge. Measurements taken with stoney point .350 bushing setup in mitutoyo calipers.
    The GO is 1.156
    The NOGO is 1.161
    Variance .005

    Don't know if it helps you, but I meaured some of my fired 6br lapua brass and it averaged 1.159 datum. My (bushing neck bump die) sized cases are all at 1.158 datum.

    Edit to add: I am not trying to poo on your parade route (especially since UPS already did) but I think the body variance will be your issue with interchangeable brass between the two rifles. Example: I have two .260 rifles and the headspace is held to exactly the same datum measurement. The cases can be sized in my bushing neck bump die with no adjustment (necks are turned to exact same thickness). The cases from rifle A fir in the chamber of rifle B but not the reverse. There is a very slight differential in body/web area dimensions. If full length sized or body sized, this would not be a problem but I just segregate my cases and have no issues.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    4g64loser - Thanks for the gauge info.

    I have completed setting the headspace and will shoot the rifle this afternoon: 1-shot clean, 2-shots clean, and will then look at the three fired cases. It is easy to disassemble and reset the headspace if I do not have it set correctly. Again, I am NOT trying to final ream the chamber or to set the headspace to facilitate interchanging cases. Cases for each rifle will be separate.

    GGm85QC.jpg


    For now, this is a single shot rifle, but I'll likely get some bottom metal to incorporate AICS magazines.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    Hallelujah!
    The fired cases (Lapua 6BR Norma), although a somewhat tight fit at the base, fit my Wilson 6BR Remington neck sizing and bullet seating hand dies. I may not have to purchase a new set of dies.

    I won't likely get a chance to get to a range until next week to see what the rifle can do and start to develop load data. (My 50 yard backyard range, with a small 3/8" AR500 backing plate is only used for rimfire, with the rare exception of breaking in a new centerfire barrel.)

    Again, THANKS to all who have responded and helped out. Much appreciated. And a Happy Thanksgiving to all.
     

    4g64loser

    collector of fine .22s
    Jan 18, 2007
    3,078
    maryland
    Congratulations on a great looking rifle. That Krieger should be a hammer. It sounds like you already have plenty of experience with a high quality 6br but if you need or want any data, pm me and I will be glad to share.
     

    KRC

    Member
    Sep 30, 2018
    481
    Cecil County MD
    Thanks for the offer. I'll be starting with 105 Hybrids over 29.4-30.4 gr. Varget with CCI 400's. I see many are using 450/Magnums, so I'll give those a try as well. (The other rifle shoots 30.4 gr. Varget, 400's, with moly Hybrids.) But I'm getting fed up with high price and spotty availability of the Hybrids and am thinking of working with ELD-M's.
     

    4g64loser

    collector of fine .22s
    Jan 18, 2007
    3,078
    maryland
    I haven't gotten the consistency from varget in my BR barrels that everyone talks about. I went to benchmark very early and haven't looked back. I shot Nosler 107s and berger 105s side by side with both powders (both over cci450s) and the benchmark loads shot single digit SDs and mostly single digit extreme spreads for three shot groups across ten loads. The varget was about twice the es/sd. As a cherry, the benchmark loads had slightly higher average speeds. I jam all my 6br loads, usually .015-.020.

    I've worked up benchmark loads for a lot of wildcats and cases that it isn't listed for. It's all but magic for tight spreads. In the 260 with 100s, spreads were amazing but groups sucked. In the br, it shoots bulletholes with 88 bergers and always sub half with 105s.

    In 223, benchmark is magic with the 40-55gr pills in long barrels.

    ETA: hornady bullets are junk. Especially the "match" stuff. I have plenty of stories. And their "techs" are morons.
     

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