Can you shoot the headspace out of a rifle?

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by whip, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. whip

    whip New Member

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    I asked this on another web site and after the head space article under the reloading heading I decided to ask again. In 1988 my 22/250 begin to have problems. After a case head separation I took it to a gunsmith who using a no go gauge determined my rifles head space was incorrect. I had shot this rifle for 15 years up to that point and put several thousand rounds down the barrel. I estimate that conservatively I put 6000 rounds through that barrel maybe closer to 12000. Can lots of shooting alter the head space in a rifle?
  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Its known as lug setback and is primarily caused by excessive pressures. But could also be caused by heavy use, though the barrel will generally shoot out and be replaced long before the lugs setback under normal pressures. And replacing the barrel requires that you re-set the headspace so any lug setback would be irrelevant.
  3. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Another related cause of lug setback would be a soft reciever or bolthead. In that case the lugs would setback long before the barrel shot out.
  4. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    No need to answer because Josh already did. But I'll just work on my post count instead. ;)
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    +1 more.. Cha-ching! :D
  6. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    What 'chall counting up? :D:D
  7. lonewolf204

    lonewolf204 Active Member

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    What brand was this rifle?
  8. whip

    whip New Member

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    Remington Model 700 BDL bought new in 1973. Moved to Wyoming in 1979 and thought I had died and gone to heaven with all the targets out my back door so to speak. I packed it in my truck everywhere while working and found lots of opportunties to shoot prairie dogs, ground squirrels, jack rabbits you name it if it was legal. I was reloading 300 or 400 rounds every 2 or 3 months and shooting a 1000 rounds a year or more it was during some big prairie dog number years. In 1986 I was beginning to have problems and in 1988 after the case head separation when I took to the gunsmith to have the rest of the case removed he informed me I had shot the head space out of the chamber. I must have misunderstood because I thought the throat was the reason. I didn't have a lot of money and he suggested that I have him set the barrel back into the receiver and rechamber the barrel which would fix the eroded throat and put me back in business. I agreed and that is what he did. Gun shot nearly as well as it did new. That worked until 2009 when the accuracy just went to heck and I put on a new take off factory barrel. I could have bought a better custom barrel but really was hoping to duplicate the feel and accuracy of the old girl when she was new. The swap was ok the accuracy with the factory take off barrel is ok Im working on improving it. Since the 2009 barrel was different in taper from the 1973 barrel and I was using my old original gun stock which was glass bedded my gunsmith free floated the barrel. It has been shooting all over in about a 3 or 4 inch group. I got the suggestion to put a little pressure back on the barrel at the tip of the forearm of the stock and my groups have shrunk to about 1 inch which is much better and minute of angle for calling coyotes which is pretty much what I use the gun for anymore. I have a couple of heavy guns for prairie dogs.

    Thanks for the explanation that makes sense. I would guess all those rounds I shot and yes I used to load to the max all the time as a young idiot more than likely caused some lug set back. My other advice I got as to what happen was the head space was more than likely a result of a factory mistake which I failed to notice for 15 years. That just didn't sound right. Thanks guys.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  9. Inthewind1976

    Inthewind1976 Member

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    While your particular situation would not be the same, shooting a rifle "out of headspace" is a common problem with early military action rifles used/made into sporters. The 93 and 95 Mauser's are a good example. The steel in the actions was "soft" by later standards, and a lot of use tended to "stretch" the action and result in excessive headspace. Of course, excessive headspace in these early Mauser's is more often attributed to their relatively low cost (at least at one time) and as a result, the fact that often the bolts were not the original ones matched to the particular rifle at manufacture; that fact not withstanding, however, the "stretching" is an issue. The heat treating process and the steel strength standards for ANY Remington 700, however, are not particularly subject to this situation, except where, as noted, excessive pressure loads were fed to the rifle for a long time.
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