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March 24, 2009, 06:52 PM
Basically, it is the distance from where the cartridge stops in the chamber to the bolt; like most rimmed cartridges headspace on the rim, some headspace on the shoulder, some of the case mouth. (so you would measure from those points to the bolt face to find headspace)
March 24, 2009, 06:55 PM
In very simple terms, it is the difference between a cartridge head that is fully seated in the chamber, and the bolt face.
There has to be a little difference (slack) in this measurement or you couldn't get the bolt shut.
In practical terms, there are manufacturing tolerances in the ammo specs, and the chamber specs of every rifle.
So a little headspace is a necessary evil so any ammo will fit in any rifle.