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Headspace a 98

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by AKShooter, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. AKShooter

    AKShooter New Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    Houston Alaska
    I purchased a interarms 98 action and a a&b barrel at a gun show and was told that all I needed to do was finish the headspace with a finish reamer.
    My question is how difficult is this process and how do I check for correct fit. I am pretty sure this sould not be done with a live round, should i load a dummy round to check the headspace. I am new to gunsmithing but am sure I can do this. I just want to be safe and not spend alot of money on tools if I don't need to.
  2. critter

    critter Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    southeast AR
    I am NOT telling you this is the RIGHT way, ok??!!

    I know a 'shadetree' gunsmith who always uses live, factory ammo to headspace them and they turn out great. Course, he has been doing this for probably 50 years!

    He strips the bolt completely: no striker, no extractor-nothing. That is so he can 'feel' the lockup when he locks the round down in the chamber. He wants the bolt to get just a little 'snug' during about the last 1/4-1/2" of bolt lockdown. (BTW, don't use the same round over and over-and you may want to try several different brands.)

    Works for him!
  3. Rottweiler

    Rottweiler Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Whoever it was that told you "All you need is..." lied to you. :uhoh: You're also going to need an action wrench and barrel vise to remove the old barrel and install the new one. You probably also need a 60 degree tap to re-tap the threads on the action. You might get away without this one if you don't mind "playing gorilla" on the wrench to force the new barrel's 60 degree threads onto the action's old 55 degree threads. I don't like doing that so I retap the action.

    By the time you buy the aforementioned tools it will be cheaper to pay someone who already has the tools to do the work unless you plan on doing this repeatedly to absorb the cost of the tools. Also remember that for each different caliber you intend to chamber for you will also need to buy a different reamer and probably different headspace guages depending on the caliber.
  4. Clemson

    Clemson Active Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    Greenwood, SC
    I'll be a little bit more encouraging to you. You can make a barrel vise and an action wrench. An oak block bored to fit the barrel, split in two pieces, and clamped in a bench vise with pine rosin on the blocks will do for a vise. You can make an action wrench from a piece of 1/2" steel with a keyhole-shaped action cutout that fits over the front ring and recoil lug on the action. Check older gunsmithing books for pictures of a setup like this.

    Actually chambering the barrel requires a finish reamer and a GO headspace gauge. If you are going to rent the reamer, you can rent both GO and NO GO guages at the same time. The process involves your installing the barrel, holding the chamber reamer in a holder of some sort (I have gotten away with using a long, 3/8 socket wrench extension which I turned with a large tap wrench. The reamer shaft will fit in the end of the extension.). Ream a few turns using a good lubricant like Rapid Tap in the chamber. Withdraw the reamer (that may require long-nose pliers if you are using the makeshift holder that I described above). Clean the chips from the chamber. Use compressed air if you have it, a cleaning rod with a patch in the holder if you don't. Hook the GO gauge under the extractor on the bolt and try to close it. Keep reaming, cleaning, and checking until the bolt closes with very light drag on the GO gauge.

    A couple of watchouts: Clean the Rapid Tap off the reamer and oil the reamer with a good, light oil (like Rem-Oil) when you are finished. Otherwise the reamer will rust. Using a cartridge instead of a GO gauge risks cutting the chamber too short. A Go Gauge is longer than most factory cartridges, so you should be able to chamber ANY factory round in a chamber that will close on the GO gauge. I have never needed to chase the threads on either the receiver or the barrel shank. Brute force works fairly well in fitting up Mauser barrels.:D


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