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Thread: 1896 .30-40 Krag rifle with a little too much head spacing....

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Driver man View Post
    I have heard it said, If you fit an o ring along the case so it fits snug against the rim and then shoot it as normal then the case will have fire formed perfectly to your chamber with minimal case stretch , From that point on neck size only and use that case only in that firearm
    LOL this K1W1 was reading through and was about to type out the same...its often suggested for 303 brit.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master
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    The Krag I owned had the same issue. Didn't use the O ring but simply fire formed and then neck sized only. Doing it that way there were no further issues.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master


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    I have done that as well, when I first started reloading for my Krag. Did't have nary a problem with case separation. But with mine having as much as .007 headspace on the rim (depending on which case brand I was using) I decided to try and take out as much slack as I could. After fireforming the case, there will be "spring back". But, when I partial size, the die does squeeze the case at the junction of the case body and the shoulder. Which in turn,
    lengthens the enough that when I close the bolt, I can feel the shoulder being pushed up against the chamber.
    We may be splitin hairs.
    If a 41 won't stop it, I wouldn't bet my life on a 44.

  4. #24
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    I pulled out my Enfield "Jungle Carbine" that I bought 30 years ago. It is in very good condition but has an issue. When firing commercial .303 Britt ammo, you will get case head separations.( it is NOT the bolt head )
    The carbine has been a safe queen since then.
    This morning I pulled out my stash of fired POF .410 brass Berdan primed cases. As you know, in order to make .303 Britt, the factory made .410 cases in order to load the CORDTIE into the empty brass and then form the neck and shoulder. ( They did the same thing with the 1Z grain powder ) I cut a case lengthwise in half and the case thickness is the same as the normal .303 Britt Ball case.
    The only fly in the ointment is that the primer cup is .5 mm shorter in height than the English made primers. As it turns out in my Berdan primer rack I have a few hundred of the primers I need. All I had to do is anneal the brass and size to .303. No trimming was needed. I adjusted my sizing die up to form a way too far forward shoulder and kept moving the should back down until the case would allow the bolt to close. The formed cases shoulder is .020 farther forward than a new unfired casing, military or commercial.
    I loaded up a starting load and fired it into my bullet trap. No problems with the primer or the case stretching. I then neck sized only and loaded up 5 rounds of a full charge and 180 grain bullets in the same casing and fired them into the trap.
    No issues what so ever and the brass shows no signs of stretching. Another firearm I can shoot again and be able to reload the brass without the brass being ruined.
    Fired five times with full loads.
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    The primers that fit the POF brass cases.
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    Fired case, no issues with the primer.
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  5. #25
    Boolit Master
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    Most rimmed case headspace problems Start when the reloader Full Length sizes fired cases. I have many rimmed case arms and my favorites are .303 British. IF I followed the die maker's instructions, I would have case head separations on the second firing. Most of my Enfields, Krags and other arms are "long on the tooth."

    I have a dozen .303s and a favorite MkIII requires me to back off the resizing die 1.5 TURNS. I SIZE to the chamber dimensions of each individual arm, both rimmed and rimless. Replace bolts, bolt heads, etc., or let the rifle tell you how much to resize. Whatever.
    Adam

  6. #26
    Boolit Master


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    More than one way to skin the perverbial feline.
    If a 41 won't stop it, I wouldn't bet my life on a 44.

  7. #27
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    I have to neck size only my belted-magnums as well. Same problem.
    An ideal solution would be to hydraulically expand the new cases into a clone chamber.

  8. #28
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    The new Krag bolt body showed up today! Was not supposed to be here until Saturday....Happy dance.
    The new bolt is nice and tight on my re-loads and fired cases show no signs of any stretching! WaHoo.. I will be shooting the rifle at my 200 yard Off-Hand Match at 200 yards ( steel Chickens ) this Saturday. 220 grain round nose flat base, 35 grains IMR-3031, Remington 91/2 primers, Lee Factory crimp die.
    This will be the first time I can shoot the rifle more than a couple of rounds and not have the brass fail since 1975!
    The new bolt body is as new as the day it was made. It was covered in Cosmoline and the bolt face has a black protective covering on it. No idea what it is, never seen anything like it before.
    It does wear off from the rim of the brass rubbing on it as the bolt is rotated.
    I fired 5 shots into my bullet trap and the cases are perfect. Neck sizing only from now on to keep the brass working for many reloads. The shoulder is still .0250 further out than new brass.
    Just for giggles I fired a couple of 220 grain loads in the older brass that shows stretching after the first shot and they held together. Fingers crossed that they too will last.
    Some kind of coating on the face of the bolt:
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    The new bolt after cleaning off the Cosomoline:
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    In my rifle, looks pretty good:
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  9. #29
    Boolit Master


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    Let us know how you did at the 200 yard match.
    If a 41 won't stop it, I wouldn't bet my life on a 44.

  10. #30
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    We were allowed three sighter shots at a 12x10" target then 20 rounds at NRA High-Power Chicken Silhouette AR500 steel targets. All set at 200 meters and shot off-hand.
    There were AR-15's, an AK 47, M1 Garand and SKS's. I was shooting the 1896 Krag and for a 2nd rifle, the No 5 Jungle carbine. The wind was 5 mph left to right.
    Bright sunny day, targets painted Black.
    My loads for the Krag were 35 grains of IMR-3031 under a Speer 220 grain RNFB bullet, Remington primers, Winchester brass. ( 1,950 FPS at my altitude )
    I did not have a single malfunction of the rifle and the brass looks as new as it was made, no stretching. I tied for first place. ( no shoot off )
    The heat off of the barrel after 15 shots was causing a sighting issue. Several members said the same thing with their rifles.
    Then, after everyone else had fired at least once, shot the Jungle Carbine and won with that rifle 1 st place. 39 grains of IMR-3031 under a Norma 180 grain SPFB bullet and RWS Berdan primers, .410 Shotgun POF reformed brass.
    After the matches I fired the Krag using military surplus M-118 185 grain SPBT FMJ bullets using a Reloader-15 load, same brass and primers. The rifle shot them very well at the Chickens and did hit a couple.
    I purposely shot a fast burning powder to really stress the brass to see if any were to stretch or fail ,non did.
    Same with the .303 Jungle Carbine.....and there was no "Wandering Zero" in the JC, and the barrel was hot after 20 rounds in four minutes.
    Next months match will be at 500 meters. Man Torso AR550 target with electronic flash to record hits. I'll work up a good load as there are several Saturdays to practice before the match.
    I will try several bullet types and powders.
    It is so nice to enjoy this Krag rifle I bought the 1975. It looks to be a fine shooter.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master
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    I'm working on a #4 Enfield that has headspace on the loose side. The chamber is also a little sloppy and blows the case to one side. My go gage is .064 and the no go is .067, it will close on the .067. British military is .074 max. The bolt will not close on the .064 with a .006 shim behind it. I think the headspace is around .069.

    I am wrapping the case in the extractor groove with dental floss till the bolt will close firmly. This centers the case and holds it firmly against the bolt face. The extractor has been removed to allow the case to center itself. I am using Rem factory loads. The fired case look good, shoulder is blown out to fit the chamber and the case expanded evenly. I haven't loaded any yet but am going to load one case several times neck sizing with a Lee collet die and see what happens.

    This rifle was nasty with a frosty bore but strong rifling, It does seem to shoot well.

  12. #32
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    While I am not an Enfield expert I do have a large collection of Enfield rifles and carbines. Does you rifle have the brass pin going from L to R though the stock? In front of the Magazine well?
    If so, it has been to India for issue to the troops and in my collection I too have a rifle with an elongated chamber. I was told by an Indian Officer in 1983 when I was stationed at the Pentagon that this was tried on rifles to allow water to escape around the loaded cartridge during their Monsoon season.
    While I do not know this as a fact, it does make some sense to make sure chamber pressures to not exceed safety guidelines with a rain / water filled bore if fired.
    Years ago I did a photo article at Surplus Rifle.com ( now gone ) showing the measurements and a casting of the rifles chamber and the oblong can be clearly seen. Perhaps "The Way Back Machine" internet archive would still have the article? 1997 I think I wrote it.
    Of the Enfield type rifles I own, not including the P-17 rifles which heave great chambers in my rifles, the Australian Lithgow made rifles have the best chambers and are very accurate. The No1 MkIII, III*,Mk V Trials rifle ( not Jungle Carbine ) and a couple of my No4 MkI rifles have "loose chambers"
    I read in a British Armorer's manual from 1938 which the student wrote in the margin on a page about the SMLE NoI MkIII rifle maintenance
    " head space shall be set in such a manner that the soldier shall be able to keep a dry pair of socks" You can bet some Sargent was drilling that into the students.
    This inspired me to purchase from "Springfield Sporters" every bolt head size they had for all of the Enfield type rifles with replaceable bolt heads.
    I soon found out that the numbers stamped on the bolt heads ( unless wrapped in Vapor-Paper or in a sealed box as new) were normally not the size they are now due to being hand fitted to the rifles bolt. 99% are smaller, and never larger. I still have a tray full of them.
    I got frustrated at the lost time and effort to try to correct the head space case stretching issues I gave up and bought 10,000 rounds of Navy Arms .303 British surplus ammo. Listed as Battlefield pick up ammo. You name it, it was in the crate. A collectors dream. Most of the ammo when bang. A lot had dead primers. WWI to the early 70's. Some not loaded with propellant! Some with notes or even a lottery ticket in it. Some with Drugs. I found one with a tiny eye-hook screwed into the lead core bottom of the bullet and 1 foot of thin twine. A small charge of 4FG powder. What the heck?
    I'm down to about 1,000 rounds now. Lots that shoot well, some for 100 yards shooting only. One lot will hang-fire every time. The bad / dead lots pulled for the bullets and powder. Z-powder and Cordite still like new and I reload it. Cordite great for straight walled calibers or cut up for others.
    Good luck with the floss around the rim. Fire forming can cause the brass to stretch at the web, be careful. Bring a broken shell extractor with you or a tight fitting bore brush to get the body out of the chamber if the case looses its rim. Been there,done that.
    Shoot the Enfields!

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    Sounds like you have a nice collection of Enfields. A Lithgow No1 was the most accurate Enfield I have ever owned, took some bedding work but worth it. My brother owns it now and has taken several deer with it. I had P14 years ago that had headspace of about .083, didn't matter as the bore was worn out. I traded it and $35 for a unissued Faz #4 M2 back in the 90's, ended up scoping the rifle as it's my favorite. I have had several over the years but down to three good ones. Wish I had kept everyone of them.

    The 1953 #4 Faz I am working belongs to a good friend. It doesn't have a brass pin so who knows. Except for the headspace being on the max end of the specs. the chamber is not any worst than any other #4. The rifle actually shoots very well with the Rem factory loads.

    Every Enfield I have ever owned had a elongated shoulder, for battle crud I have read. Your experience with bolt heads is same as mine, the only way to tell what is is with a set of calipers. I have been loading for Enfield for over 30 years and have learned to get decent brass life. I headspace off the shoulder and assign brass to a specific rifle if necessary. A Lee collet neck sizer with an ocassional shoulder bump and annealing the necks. Staying a few grains off max loads is also a helps and usually shoots better. I do have a 303 shell extractor.

    Glad you like the Krag, sounds like a fun rifle.

  14. #34
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    I got my first Enfield rifle, a No4 Mk1 in 1965 for 17 bucks from a friend. I still have it. It is in NRA very good condition but has never been a great shooter.
    Head spacing off of the shoulder really is the only way to go.
    I have a SMLE from WW1 with a bore of .317! Could almost shoot early bore 8x57 Mauser out of it.
    Being and owner of Enfield rifles is a love hate relationship.
    I run NM MILSURPS ( New Mexico Military Surplus Rifle Pistol Shooters ). A club where were shoot surplus military firearms from 25-1,000 yards on stationary and moving targets. 50% of the range is in meters out to 500, the other half is in yards out to 1,000. We shoot 50 Saturday's a year, and have been active for 29 years. A great learning experience.
    So far, we have never found a rifle or caliber that was "crap or junk". If the rifle or carbine has a good bore and crown, they will shoot very well at long distance.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master


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    Rr
    Thank you for the report on the match shoot. Good shooting sir.
    If a 41 won't stop it, I wouldn't bet my life on a 44.

  16. #36
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    I will be shooting the rifle at 500 meters this Saturday using 185 grain HPBT as well as 220 grain RNFB bullets. Should be interesting.

  17. #37
    Boolit Buddy
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    Whether for the Krag that was the original topic of discussion, or for Lee Enfields (that the Brits cut with chambers to assure they could deal with either trench mud or verdigris coated rounds from decades of sitting in some munitions storage in some godforsaken part of the British Empire), I would opt for eliminating uncontrolled brass stretching on initial firing by using the technique mentioned by others here. That is, forming a false shoulder by first using a .33 Lyman M die, and then partial full length sizing until the case is firmly against the bolt at the rear and the datum point of the chamber's shoulder portion at the front.

    When this is done, pretty much the only way brass can move is to expand outward to the chamber walls. It can't stretch in length. Fire forming without the firing part. (or in these days of scarcity for some; saving yourself some primers and powder otherwise expended fire forming)

    Followed by use of a Lee Collet die for sizing afterwards. Although for some reason or other, one of the chamberings Lee DOESN'T offer their collet die for is 30 U.S./30-40 Krag.

    Not that it would help me much if they did. My 30-40 is my Grandfather's 1895 Winchester, and it has neck and bore dimensions that would almost make you think somebody accidentally mounted a .303 British rifle barrel on the action; I would need to get a custom mandrel made for the collet die. Or decrease the size of a .303 British collet to get the proper resizing I need for the way oversize 1895 Winchester ball seat/leade.

    As for new brass for Lee Enfields, there is nothing close to replicating WWII/Korea Mark VII ball ammo than Privy Partisan's unprimed brass. Dimensionally, volume, and weight, it is indistinguishable from Commonwealth war brass and the now long gone and deeply lamented Greek HXP military surplus ammo from the 1980's. It could probably work just as well after modification in 30-40.
    Last edited by MOC031; 03-20-2024 at 12:39 PM.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    MOCO31,

    I let all my rifles, both rimmed and rimless "tell" me when to stop resizing brass reloads. Rimmed cases like the .30/40 and .303 are easy to accommodate merely by backing OFF on the resizing die until you get a slight "crunch" fit. I have dozens of rimmed mil rifles and all are easy to get the right fit.

    Be well.

    Adam

  19. #39
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Helmer View Post
    Rimmed cases like the .30/40 and .303 are easy to accommodate merely by backing OFF on the resizing die until you get a slight "crunch" fit.
    I think of it (and I think it's usually described as) a "crush" fit. I.e., some increased resistance when turning down the bolt at the end of chambering.

    I don't recall when I started doing it with bolt action rifles - probably a long time ago after reading something from somebody like George Nonte or Jack O'Connor, or some article in an early issue of Handloader Magazine - but I've been doing it ever since with all my bolt action rifles, rimmed or unrimmed, military or civilian rifle.

    Whoever and whenever I got the idea of adjusting my sizing dies this way, I think it has worked out for me in the decades since.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check