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Is it safe to load to your books max o.a.l or a little under,even if you dont know your chambers exact length?
It should be. I would make up some dummy rounds first to be sure they fit your magazine and chamber. Then check them to be sure you see no rifling marks on the bullet and that they eject with the bullet still in the case. Nothing more embarressing as a round that won't eject.

Read this sticky http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/showthread.php?t=76156. It's not that hard to check your chamber length with a piece of sized brass, a bullet and cleaning rod. Do a search and you'll find several threads on it here.
 

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I always used to think so. Then I got a second rifle, in this one caliber. Gun #1, THIS load, loaded to THIS overall length, fit the magazine well, loaded well, and had manageable recoil. It was about .005 UNDER max OAL.

Gun #2. Shot the same ammo. Loaded in the magazine fine. First shot kicked the hell out of me. Second shot kicked the hell out of me. The hell with this - I need to figger out what's wrong. Went to unload gun. Work the shells through the gun - that's the easiest way with a Mauser.

I chamber round #3. I eject round #3. Empty piece of brass and powder everywhere. The bullet from round #3 stayed in the chamber. The nose of it was stuck in the rifling.

Oho, I says to myself. Short leade. Extremely frickin' short leade.

Solution - seat the bullets deeper, which also requires lighter powder charge, since capacity will be lessened, to keep pressures the same. Ah well. It is doable.

Thing is - I had always heard that "as long as it is shorter than max OAL, and is short enough to fit the magazine, you are good to go".

I found out that ain't always so.
 

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Good point Alpo. I guess it's always a good idea to check chamber length on all of your firearms.
 
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