Headspacing, should I be worried?


February 16, 2013, 02:30 AM
I bought a set of Go/No-go gauges for a Remington 700 project, and they showed up today. I was bored at work, and the only .223 I had was my Saiga, so I checked the headspace. It's my understanding that if the bolt closes on the No-go, you have a problem. Well, it closed right up on the No-go.

This is a factory built rifle, I'm the 2nd owner, but it appeared brand new when I got it, and I have maybe 400 rounds through it, so I doubt there's a wear issue. The only issue at all with the gun is that it could stand to have a heavier spring or an adjustable gas plug like an M1 Garand. Shooting good quality ammo it definitely seems over-gassed and throw brass like 20 feet, the little bit of Tula I've shot seemed to function more "normal". Could that be caused by headspacing rather than the action?

Should I be worried?

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February 16, 2013, 07:22 AM
Coupla things that may apply.

You should close the bolt gently when doing headspace testing.

You should insure that the firearm is chambered the same as the gauge you are using. I suspect your Saiga is chambered in 5.56NATO--if that is true, it is my understanding that a no-go .223 gauge may chamber with a closed bolt even if the firearm is in spec.

February 16, 2013, 07:41 AM
.223 and 5.56x45 NATO are not identical twins. No go dimensions are larger with the 5.56 chambered guns. Unfortunately, some manufacturers either don't know the difference or or don't care. Some are marked .223 when chambered for 5.56 and some the other way. How is your Saiga marked? Also, do you know how to use the gages? There is a right way and several wrong ways to do it.

February 16, 2013, 08:25 AM
If you do not know how to use gauges you may have ruined them. If you closed the bolt as you do on a live round you did it wrong
The bolt should be stripped then let to fall closed basiclly onnits own, with slight one finger pressure. If there is any gap at all between the lug and re eiver it passes
If you did it as you would chambering a round you probably ruined gauge
If you did it correctly you may not have excessive headspace, you need to try a Field Gauge which , if it closes on it then you have excessive headspace

February 16, 2013, 12:23 PM
Who manufactured the gages?
What exactly are the markings on the gages and the rifle?
Did you remove the extractor?
As a matter of curiosity - what's the rifles twist rate?
Are the gages now showing any significant marring?

February 16, 2013, 05:53 PM
I chambered them without the recoil springs, pushing the bolt forward into battery.

Th barrel is marked .223 Rem. I suppose it may be chambered in 5.56 but marked .223, but everything i've read leads me to believe that Saiga .223s are actually chambered for .223 not 5.56. Not sure on the twist rate, I'll have to check it when i get back to it, as I don't remember seeing it marked anywhere on it.

They're Lymar gauges from Brownells marked .223 Rem. All my ARs are 5.56, so unfortunately I don't have another gun to check until I chamber the barrel on my 700.

February 16, 2013, 06:01 PM
Twist rate has nothing to dowith cheacking headspace

Bolt must be stripped
Close with " Finger pressure" only Closing with any force on guage will damage it and give false readings
If fails the No Go it does not mean the headspace is excessive. You must then check with Field Gauge. "If" rifle completely closes on Field Gauge headspace is excessive

February 16, 2013, 06:05 PM
I've had Clymer and Forster both be either mis-marked or altogether improperly ground so between them and the chamber being prepped by Saiga, it's anybody's guess as to what is amiss. I'd be more concerned given your particulars as to what a fired brass case of quality looked like.
While the elimination of the force of the recoil spring is important - at least as important is the gage not needing to be forced over the extractor by the very dimension you're trying to confirm.

February 16, 2013, 08:31 PM
Sounds like my best bet is to do a full dimensional of the gauges, to make sure they are what they say they are. Assuming that's all good, I need to add a field gauge to my set to check the Saiga, and will try these in a friend's guns to verify their fit in a .223 chamber.

Further research is showing that the .223 chamber in the Saiga isn't really a SAAMI spec .223 chamber, so what the Russians are labeling a .223, may infact be a 5.56 chamber, which would explain everything. Perhaps I'll buy some 5.56 gauges as well.

February 16, 2013, 09:01 PM
.223, Wylde, match, 5.56, lazy reamer, lost in translation, bad gages... the variables abound.

Got some fired brass sitting about?

Jim Watson
February 16, 2013, 09:05 PM
Are you reloading for the Saiga?

I would not worry much about the headspace on an imitation surplus automatic shooting imitation hardball in pop and drop mode, as long as it were not so bad as to give casehead separations.

February 16, 2013, 10:00 PM
I'll see if I can find some fired brass. I usually leave it on the ground since it throws it so far and usually beats it up a bit.

I have not been reloading for it, since I could always get .223 plinking ammo cheap, but things being what they are now, I may start reloading .223 plinking ammo for this an my ARs.

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