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Headspace for M1917 Enfield rifles

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    Headspace for M1917 Enfield rifles

    I recently ordered a Go and a No/Go headspace gauges from CMP (Clymer) to check all my rifles before firing at my local range. These are 30/06 gauges and my M1 Garands all checked out ok as well as my Springfield 1903A3 - when I went to my 1917 Enfields it was a different story. Both the Go and No-Go gauges went all the way without stopping using slight hand pressure. It was my understanding that all 30/06 bolt actions and the Garand could all use the Clymer gauges. I do not have the field gauge as I was told that you will not need one. Could someone enlighten me about this challenge - as I followed the book exactly on headspacing. I find it hard to believe that all three 1917s could be that far out of battery -but do not want to fire until I find out what is happening. The one Enfield has a replaced WW2 BBL but that was done by a local gunsmith well versed on WW1/WW2 Enfields. Will be waiting for your input. Thanks in advance

    #2
    Disassemble the bolt before checking the headspace on a 1917, not doing so will give a false reading every time. Use light finger pressure when attempting to close the bolt on the gauge. This procedure is necessary due to the 1917 cocking on closure which is the reverse of the 1903.
    Last edited by RoscoeTurner; 12-28-2020, 03:06 AM.

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      #3
      And after following Mr Turners excellent advice if it still closes on the No Go you will need to ignore the previous advice you got and buy a Field gauge. If it doesn't close on the Field your headspace is perfectly fine. A No Go is what I refer to as the "feel good" gauge. When your bolt doesn't close on it it makes you feel good because you have perfect headspace. But the Field is actually the failure guage. And, even then, if it barely closes on the Field you can adjust the brass shoulder set back to compensate and keep right on shooting as long as you don't see signs of brass web damage. Also be encouraged that headspace, whatever it is, is very unlikely (won't) to ever change in your lifetime or before the barrel bore wears out.

      I had a CMP Danish return Garand I bought that barely closed on a Field gauge. For that rifle I slightly adjusted my sized brass shoulder setback and put about 1000 rounds through it over a two year period. It was accurate as hell with that Danish barrel and I never once saw any negative effects on the brass.

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