How to Fix Headspace on a Rifle

If your rifle’s headspace is off, it can be fixed by a gunsmith. First, the gunsmith will check the length of the chamber and compare it to the length of the cartridge. If the chamber is too short, they will lengthen it.

If the chamber is too long, they will shorten it. Next, they will check the diameter of the bore and make sure it matches the diameter of the bullet. Finally, they will test-fire the rifle to make sure everything is working correctly.

  • Check the owner’s manual for your specific rifle model to determine the maximum cartridge length that can be used in the gun
  • This is typically between 2
  • 800 and 3
  • 200 inches
  • Measure the overall length (OAL) of a loaded round using a caliper, from the tip of the bullet to the base of the cartridge case
  • If necessary, adjust the OAL by trimming the cartridge case with a hand-held case trimmer or power tool designed for this purpose, being careful not to cut into the brass too deeply and damage it
  • Chamfer or deburr the inside and outside edges of the trimmed case mouth with a sharp knife or chamfering tool, to remove any burrs that could interfere with bullet seating or cause feeding problems later on
  • Using a reloading die set designed for your caliber and rifle chamber, resize all cases to ensure they are uniform in size and shape before proceeding with reloading them

What Happens If Headspace is Off?

If the headspace is too large, the can will not seal properly and air will be able to enter. This can cause the food inside to spoil. If the headspace is too small, the can may not seal at all or it may burst during processing.

What Causes Excessive Headspace in a Rifle?

When a bullet is fired from a rifle, the expanding gases push on the bullet and cause it to spin. The spinning helps stabilize the bullet in flight. It also causes the bullet to rise slightly as it flies through the air.

As the bullet rises, more gas escapes from behind the bullet and pushes it forward. This combination of back pressure and forward thrust is what causes a rifle to recoil when firing. The amount of space between the end of the barrel and the start of the rifling (the headspace) can affect how well this process works.

If there is too much space, gas can escape around the sides of the bullet before it has a chance to spin up. This can lead to instability and loss of accuracy. Conversely, if there is not enough space, high pressures can build up behind the bullet which can cause serious damage to both gun and shooter.

The ideal amount of headspace will vary depending on caliber, type of ammunition, and other factors, but in general it should be kept within factory specifications.

What Causes Headspace Problems?

There are many potential causes of headspace problems. The most common cause is simply not enough headspace. This can be due to a variety of factors, including using too much wort, not boiling long enough, or having too much trub in the final product.

Another common cause of headspace problems is leaking seals. This can be due to a number of things, including improper sealing of the fermenter, damage to the fermenter, or even temperature changes during fermentation that cause the seals to loosen. Finally, another potential cause of headspace problems is overcarbonation.

This can happen if you bottle your beer before it is fully fermented, or if you add too much priming sugar when bottling. Overcarbonation can also occur if you store your bottles at too warm of a temperature, which causes the yeast to continue fermenting and producing carbon dioxide.

How Much Head Space Should a Rifle Have?

When it comes to deciding how much head space a rifle should have, there are really only two things to keep in mind: the type of action being used, and the specific cartridge being chambered. For example, bolt action rifles generally require more headspace than do lever action rifles. This is due to the fact that in a bolt action rifle, the cartridge case must be firmly held at the rear by the breechblock in order for it to fire correctly.

If there is too little headspace, the cartridge case will not be properly supported and may become damaged or even cause a dangerous malfunction. On the other hand, if there is too much headspace, accuracy can suffer as the cartridge case may not be held tightly enough in place. In general, most bolt action rifles should have between 0.005″ and 0.010″ of headspace.

As for specific cartridges, they vary quite a bit in terms of required headspace. For instance, rimless cartridges like the 7mm Remington Magnum generally require less headspace than do belted magnum cartridges like the .300 Winchester Magnum. This is because rimless cartridges have no lip or flange at their base that needs to be supported by the chamber walls, while belted magnums do have such a flange.

As such, belted magnum cartridges usually need around 0.008″ to 0.012″ of headspace while rimless cartridges only require about 0.003″ to 0.006″. In short then, how much head space a rifle should have depends on both the type of rifle and also the specific cartridge being chambered for it.

Smyth Busters: Fixing Your AR-15’s Headspace


If you’re having trouble with the headspace on your rifle, there are a few things you can do to fix it. First, check to see if the problem is with the barrel or the receiver. If the problem is with the barrel, you can try reaming it out or replacing it.

If the problem is with the receiver, you can try shimming it or replacing it. With either option, you’ll need to consult a gunsmith to make sure that everything is done correctly.