1917 Mark III* and headspace (what else)
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Thread: 1917 Mark III* and headspace (what else)

  1. #1
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    Default 1917 Mark III* and headspace (what else)

    As a new Enfield owner I did some online research and read a couple of books on my new acquisition. It is a numbers-marching BSA.

    There seems to to be different schools of thought on headspace
    1. You must check it and it must not close on the field gage of 0.074
    2. Headspace Gage's are useless, and if the numbers match you are ok
    3. It doesn't really matter for reloaders, as once- fired brass will keep things tight if you don't FL resize the case.
    4. If the cases don't separate, and the brass looks ok, shoot away

    what say you experts? Just to add one more thing, this rifle closed on an okie field gage, fwiw.

    thank you, and I apologize in advance As this topic has likely been beat to death on this forum

  2. #2
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    First, ask you self what you are trying to achieve by checking the headspace.

    I have absolutely no idea what it is on any of my Lee-Enfields - nor do I care.
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  3. #3
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    I am no expert but I am with the #2 and #3 crowd

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerhunter View Post
    First, ask you self what you are trying to achieve by checking the headspace.

    I have absolutely no idea what it is on any of my Lee-Enfields - nor do I care.
    Have not fired the rifle yet, and was trying to achieve confidence that it would be safe to do so. But I freely admit I may be completely misguided in tying safety to headspace on this rifle. Hence why I asked you guys who know much more than I

  6. #5
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    I think this whole headspace thing is way over blown. Let the bashing begin........

  7. #6
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    It's a specification.
    Call it whatever you want but the US gauging has no resemblance to the original.
    Lets get past the micro-nomeclature & see why it matters (or not).
    The British had 2 settings.
    Too close (Bad, the bolt won't close so the gun wont fire) checked & fixed at manufacture.
    Too loose, poor because a ruptured case could jam up a gun in combat rendering it useless.
    Call them whatever you want, but if it ain't between 0.064" & 0.074" its wrong.

    Why is it wrong?
    Because the War office of Her Britannic Majesty declared it so.

    Your rifle failed an 0.074" gauge, the maximum allowed. OK, have a smith check it to find out why. Is it serious? I don't know, I haven't had the rifle in my hands to check it.

    For me I check them when I think of buying one, if it don't gauge I don't buy.
    “Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom, but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it”.
    : Billy (The kid / Dennis Hopper).

  8. #7
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    Plonker, you're forgetting about the relaxed wartime headspace specs. Those are much more generous and the MoD wasn't wrong when they allowed those older well-worn rifles back into the field.

    FWIW, a rifle can close on a FR gauge and still be good. It's the point of where resistance occurs is where headspace is determined. Not how much camming force it takes to swallow a gauge.

  9. #8
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    i have tied a bunch of older milsurps, enfields included. up to a tire filled with dirt inside and fired them with a 40 foot rope from around the corner of the barn, none blowed up. i did get a few cases that were swelled up some, but the chambers were made to work with ammo not to clean. i have loaded some .303 british shells with the bullet just kissing the rifleing to keep the case back againist the bolt face and then only necking sizing the cases. eastbank.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arisaka99 View Post
    Have not fired the rifle yet, and was trying to achieve confidence that it would be safe to do so. But I freely admit I may be completely misguided in tying safety to headspace on this rifle. Hence why I asked you guys who know much more than I
    Checking the head space is NOT the same as checking that the rifle is safe to fire and so in that case it will be waste of time.

    If you want to be absolutely sure that it is safe to fire, get it checked by an expert. (BTW, someone who simply checks the head space is not only NOT an expert but is a downright bloody danger!)

    Personally my rifles have been though London or Birmingham Proof and that is good enough for me.
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  11. #10
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    Actually I'm not forgetting that.
    But neither is it an emergency now so I think the time to relax the specs is over as well.
    “Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom, but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it”.
    : Billy (The kid / Dennis Hopper).

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by plonker View Post
    Actually I'm not forgetting that.
    But neither is it an emergency now so I think the time to relax the specs is over as well.
    OK I'll put my question again but in this context: What will one achieve by this?
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  13. #12
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    Personally, I don't worry about the headspace at all on the ammunition whose cases I intend to 'fire and forget' (mostly Berdan brass). There is enough margin in that stuff to withstand ONE firing for sure.

    The only time I ever had a problem with headspace was on a Winchester P14 rifle with another manufacturer's bolt in it. This rifle had such a long headspace that the firing pin (yes, firing pin protrusion was within spec) would barely kiss the primer, and would NOT set it off. Anybody familiar with the production of the P14 rifles from the three different manufacturers know why this happens/happened. Replacing the mismatched bolt with a Winchester-made one cured ALL that rifle's problems.

    For ammunition that I intend to reload, I put a small rubber band in front of the cartridge rim before I chamber and fire the round for the first time. This takes up any 'excess headspace' in the rifle and ensures the base of the cartridge is against the bolt face when firing.

    Doing this eliminates nearly all of the stretching that eventually causes case head separations to occur, and as long as those cases are neck-sized only after that, and kept with the rifle they were fired in, the case life should be improved tremendously.

  14. #13
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    Not a lot.
    I do wonder what else is "emergency rated" though, a bit like the Mk5 Spit "Clipped, cropped, clapped"!

    I just like stuff "STRAC".
    “Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom, but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it”.
    : Billy (The kid / Dennis Hopper).

  15. #14
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    .064" Min, always; .068 Peacetime .074 Wartime and Max. More than .074", 1.Change Bolt head 2. Check for receiver stretch...in case of Two, destroy receiver and replace with spare.

    Very simple War Department Rules

    Reason for the .074 Wartime was that a lot of ammo had rims over .068"...(esp. in WWI, "new Plants" didn't have good QA, with resulting problems in ammo ("M", "N", and "J" headstamps, 1914-15). Long story ( The Ross Rifle Problem)

    Otherwise, don't waste your money on HS Gauges....Unless you are a Gunsmith mounting "NEW Cut Barrels" ( ie, NOT Military Take-offs) for a sporting rifle conversion.

    I have a set of Aust. Army HS Gauges (look like .44mag shells), but in steel...One .064", and one .070". They serve my purpose when "checking" Bolt heads and Replacement Barrels (Take-offs).

    Doc AV

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