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  1. #1
    Member CHUCKW's Avatar
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    Unhappy 1898 Headpsace Out of Whack

    Hey all,

    I just checked the headspace on my 1898 with Clymer go, no-go gauges and the bolt closed on both. Is there a fix for this? I have not fired this gun but would like to. Hope someone can help.


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    Member CHUCKW's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Anyone?

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    Contributing Member rcathey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUCKW View Post
    Anyone?
    Do you have access to another bolt? Maybe you’d get lucky and that’ll help.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUCKW View Post
    Hope someone can help.
    Hang on a couple days, being the weekend...the usual suspects will see this and I'm sure you'll get more answers.

    I have to ask though, have you shot it? Is there a problem? How does the brass look...
    Regards, Jim

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    Member CHUCKW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    Hang on a couple days, being the weekend...the usual suspects will see this and I'm sure you'll get more answers.

    I have to ask though, have you shot it? Is there a problem? How does the brass look...
    I have not fired it yet. I wanted to verify that the headspace was good first and it doesn't seem to be.

    ---------- Post added at 08:46 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:46 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by rcathey View Post
    Do you have access to another bolt? Maybe you’d get lucky and that’ll help.
    I don't have another but could look online, I guess.

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    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    First of all, may we assume that you have inspected the bolt for any obvious signs of damage or excessive wear? If the bolt is OK, then maybe there is nothing wrong with your rifle at all.

    Some explanation is in order here, but don't take anything I write on trust - others will have a different opinion.

    The 30-40 US Kragicon is a rimmed bottle-neck cartridge.
    The rim means that, even if the neck is set back very far (relative to the chamber) the cartridge cannot move forwards any more than permitted by the head/rim clearance, i.e. the space between the front of the rim and the bottom of the rim recess in the chamber.

    Now the Krag was a cartridge introduced in the 1890s, like the .303 Britishicon. And like the .303 it was a military cartridge. Furthermore, it was about 30 years before SAAMI was set up, so using modern standards to judge something made decades before those standards were established is not fair on the items concerned.

    Sticking my neck out a little here, I would guess that, just like the .303s and other military cartridges of that era, the Krags were made with a good chamber tolerance, and a "high" shoulder, so that the maximum tolerance cartridge would fit in the minimum tolerance chamber, even in a dirty chamber after the soldier had let a clip fall in the mud, wiped it off on his trousers, and then loaded it in the rifle. Type acceptance tests were made for the kind of worst case situation that might arise in battle. Benchrest tolerances were not envisaged!

    And, don't forget, military cartridges were made to be used once only. My limited experience with .303s is that the neck, after firing, is noticeably further forwards than on a freshly resized case. No problem with once-only use, and better than a high case shoulder possibly impeding loading of the case, with potential slam-fire problems when the bolt had to be banged shut. Or a rifle put out of action because the case was hopelessly jammed. - Battle rifles had to function in tough conditions.

    In other words, that fact that you can chamber a no-go gauge made to modern standards does not prove much more than that you can chamber a no-go gauge made to modern standards. So what?

    There is quite possibly nothing wrong with your rifle at all. I understand that you are concerned about possible safety problems, so I suggest that you measure the head/rim clearance, which I described only last week in answer to a similar query. Please look it up.

    Since a rimmed case is held back by the rim, regardless of any clearance between the shoulder on the case and the shoulder in the chamber, about the worst that can happen on firing is that the case will be stretched as the shoulder moved forwards to match the chamber. This is the major reason why it is not good to fully resize cases on old milsurps in general. Fully resizing will lead to an early case failure, typically about 1/2" above the base.

    So measure the head/rim clearance, as described elsewhere. It is likely to be in the range 10-30 thousandths of an inch. Much more than that, and the gun may fail to fire, because the firing pin fails to detonate the primer. Check the bolt, chamber etc for sign of damage. Then you can fire a test round. Measure the position of the shoulder after firing and compare it with an unfired case. You may well be surprised at the difference.

    The trouble with headspace gauges, in my view, is that they may provide a false sense of security. While it is true to say that the use of a headspace gauge can point out a potential safety problem, such as battered bolt lugs, that needs to be investigated, the reverse - that a "pass" using headspace gauges proves that the rifle is safe to fire - is not true.

    Finally, gauge sets should have a "go" gauge, a "no-go" gauge, and finally a "field" gauge. I have suggested above, that military rifles will frequently accept a "no-go" gauge, because of the combination of initial manufacturing tolerances and a century or more of wear. But a failure with a "field" gauge (i.e beyond that acceptable for a active service rifle) would be a more serious indication that something is wrong.
    Last edited by Patrick Chadwick; 09-16-2019 at 04:05 PM.

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    Really Senior Member butlersrangers's Avatar
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    I use a 'knock-off' .30-40 Field Gauge that measures .073". None of my Krags will close on this. (I strip the bolt for testing).

    Amazingly, my fired Brass Cases will fit, (without re-sizing), eight different Kragicon rifles and carbines.

    I do have a model 1896 rifle that has a larger diameter chamber. The head-space is OK, but, fired cases are expanded more in diameter, so they will not chamber in my other Krags without Full-Length re-sizing. (I segregate Brass fired in this rifle and just Neck-Size it).

    For my other Krags, I also just 'Neck-Size' my Brass, when reloading. (I don't have to keep the Brass separated by rifle).

    I have also answered OP's question on Krag Collector's Association Forum.
    Last edited by butlersrangers; 09-16-2019 at 04:09 PM.

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    So again I ask. Maybe he should fire it and see if there's a problem? I'm not talking out of my a$$ after all, I've had these too...
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member butlersrangers's Avatar
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    'CHUCKW' can add a thin washer or layers of foil to his 'No-Go' head-space gauge, to build up rim thickness to .070 to .073". This will allow it to serve as a 'Field' gauge, for repeat testing.

    Should his bolt close on this impromptu 'Field' gauge, a NOS model 1898 bolt can be bought on ebay for $55.

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    Thanks to everyone for their replies. I will re=read them all and consider my way forward. I am feeling more confident about my Kragicon now but will be cautious.

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