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7.62 ammo headspace vs 308

5086 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  overbore
I retired as 'smith in 1992 and refer the skeptics to Clymer Reamer data which clearly states that the length of 7.62 X51 chambers is 0.010" longer than .308 chambers for mechanical head space purposes.. Try this post for reloaders:
Jerry Kuhnhausen, in his classic Shop Manual (available from Fulton Armory; see the M1 Rifle Parts & Accessories or M14 Rifle Parts and Accessories Pages under Books) has published a somewhat controversial recommendation concerning .308 Winchester and 7.62x51mm NATO ammo, headspace & chambers.
I completely agree that if you have a chamber with headspace much in excess of 1.636 (say, 1.638, SAAMI field reject), you must use only U.S. or NATO Mil Spec Ammo (always marked 7.62mm & with a cross enclosed by a circle) since the NATO mil spec calls for a far more "robust" brass case than often found in commercial (read .308 Winchester late production or RWS brass) cartridges; TOO SOFT!!!! It is precisely why Lake City brass is so highly sought. Lake City brass is Nato spec and reloadable (most NATO is not reloadable, rather it is Berdan primed). Indeed, cheaper commercial ammo can fail at the 1.638 headspace (e.g., UMC) in an M14/M1 Garand. Many military gas guns (e.g., M14 Rifles & M60 Machine guns) run wildly long headspace by commercial (SAAMI) standards (U.S. Military field reject limit for the M60 & M14 is 1.6455, nearly 16 thousandths beyond commercial (SAAMI) GO, & nearly 8 thousandths beyond commercial (SAAMI) field reject limit!). Late production Winchester and RWS brass is too soft!!! It will cause head separations!!!

I also agree that 1.631-1.632 is a near perfect headspace for an M14/M1A or M1 Garand chambered in .308 Winchester. But I think that it also near perfect for 7.62mm NATO!

I have measured many, many types/manufacturers of commercial and NATO ammo via cartridge "headspace" gauges as well as "in rifle" checks. If anything, I have found various Nato ammo to be in much tighter headspace/chamber compliance than commercial ammo. Indeed, sometimes commercial ammo can not be chambered "by hand" in an M14/M1A with, say, 1.631 headspace (bolt will not close completely by gentle hand manipulation on a stripped bolt, although it will close & function when chambered by the force of the rifle's loading inertia), though I have never seen this with NATO spec ammo. I.e., if anything, NATO ammo seems to hold at the minimum SAAMI cartridge headspace of 1.629-1.630, better than some commercial ammo!

So, why set a very long 1.636 headspace in an M14/M1A or M1 Garand? It probably is the conflict mentioned above. Military headspace gauges say one thing, SAAMI headspace gauges say something else, as do the spec's/compliance covering ammo. However, I believe it is not in your, or your rifle's, best interest. Whether you have a NATO chambered barrel (M14/M1 Garand G.I. ".308 Win."/7.62mm NATO barrels all have NATO chambers), or a .308 Winchester chamber, keep the headspace within SAAMI limits (1.630 GO, 1.634 NO GO, 1.638 FIELD REJECT). THE iZZY HEADSPACE, mechanical, is for feeding/functioning; this is about ammo headspace.

Remember we are speaking of correct ammo dimensions not the mechanical headspace adjustments that others are expert in. I am finishing up a reloading chart for the Izzy semi-auto with a wide range of bullet weights and will post same when I am comfortable that it is "bang on" correct! Ouch!!!
ps my Son is older than most of you and our family, including grandson, reloads 5.56, 22-250, 6.5X55 .308, 300wsm, 30-378 and naturally 7.62X51 and we have never, ever had a misfire or slam fire----yep, we have missed more than several times but that was not anything other than the "jerk behind the trigger" Overbore
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overbore is 100% correct as said refer to the kuhnhausen manuel..:)
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