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M1917 Headspace Question

M1903, M1903A3 and M1917.
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Swede49
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M1917 Headspace Question

#1 Post by Swede49 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:30 pm

Picked up a 1917 530xxx recently. 99% Winchester, excellent bore on a 2/18 barrel. Problem is that bolt will not close on a Clymer 30.06 GO gage. Bolt stripped, and very light fingertip pressure applied. Would not, as expected, close on both NO GO and FIELD gages. Bolt closes normally on surplus ammo and my loads. Any suggestions or things I need to know? Not my first 1917, but others were either Eddystone or Remington. Thanks in advance.

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#2 Post by 72 usmc » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:25 pm

Interesting, the bolt will not close on a go gauge, yet works on factory ammo ok. I wonder if the bolt number matches the rifle? Maybe an out of spec GO gauge? I never had a M1917 with a bolt that tight? Generally, most M1917s have use/wear, and close on a no go and more than a few close on a Field gauge. Does the rifle bolt close hard on a cartridge? Sounds like you got an almost new bolt/barrel, if it closed down easily on a cartridge. Or is force required to close the bolt on factory ammo or military factory ammo. Try some military 30-06 and different commercial factory ammo, does the bolt close easily without force? I bet your clymer gauge is marked wrong or made out of spec. Maybe a nice tight fit like a custom build sniper rifle.

For shi" s & giggles, try another persons 30-06 GO gauge and see if you get the same results. Any burr or ding on the Clymer gauge? Was it dropped on the floor?

If you have fired a round in that Winchester, can you open the bolt as normal? Does it open with ease, like any other M1917, or...is it hard to open requiring some force or a good hit to open the bolt? Is Extraction normal? Does the chamber appear polished and smooth-- no dings? Then if all is good, you got a nice fit and firing M1917.
Some info:
https://www.milsurps.com/showthread.php?t=30247
Last edited by 72 usmc on Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:31 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#3 Post by ammolab » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:31 pm

If the bolt closes on factory, reloads and what you want to shoot?? What’s the issue?

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#4 Post by Swede49 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:52 pm

Thanks to you both. Haven’t fired the rifle yet, and since the bolt was a non-matching Eddystone, thought I would ask for advice. My RIA 1903 (rebarreled HS 1943) and RA 8-43 O3A3 do not have a similar issue. So is this a Winchester or 1917-peculiar issue? My previous 1917s were all Eddystone and had no issues. I examined the gages and they appear normal. I have a couple of Winchester bolt bodies on the way. Picked up the rifle at a gun show in Spokane. Great bore and wood, but filthy inside and out, with lots of crud in the chamber. I’m going to spend some time with this piece today. Thanks again!

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#5 Post by Rapidrob » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:21 pm

I have never seen a M1917 that had a head space issue.
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#6 Post by 72 usmc » Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:25 pm

I have seen at least seven old beat 1917s that closed on my field gauge. I never purchased these. My CMP 1917s do not close on a no go. Two others fall in-between closure on a no go, but do not close on a Field gauge . The rifle bore and chamber as well as a bolt must be spotless when you do a headspace test. If it was me, and it has a mis matched bolt, I would find a Winchester bolt body that actually fits on a go test and at least does not close on a field gauge. Then it sounds like you got a winchester with at least a winchester bolt body :dance: :dance: :clap: :clap: I even like my P14s to pass a field gauge test. The trick is to find a Winchester bolt body for a 30-06 at around 45 bucks :doh: Libertytreecollectors had some but you had to call to get a specific brand. 35 bucks many moons ago. They also had complete bolts.

Now most would not give a rip if the round fired, extracted, and hit the target. Most never check headspace. I do on a FIELD gauge test on all my purchases, if I pay top buck, I want a rifle that still does not close down on FIELD gauge. :shhh: :shifty: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:
Since my stroke out and loss of some memory, I forgot who made my military spec No Go and Field gauges. I never buy a Go gauge. They made my French gauges and Mauser 7mm gauges????? :violin: :oops: It is hell getting old.
If I remember right, :think: Winchester made the best to spec 1917s and those were so good some were utilized for sniper rifles. My two Winchesters are more accurate than I can shoot.

did you see this info worth printing out:
http://www.vgca.net/education/TheUKPatt ... -09-17.pdf

and Ferris's book US Rifle Model of 1917 is great. Scott duff also sells it.
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#7 Post by ammolab » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:57 pm

72 usmc wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:25 pm
Interesting, the bolt will not close on a go gauge, yet works on factory ammo ok. I wonder if the bolt number matches the rifle?
Bolt matching? Are M17 bolts numbered to the rifle?

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#8 Post by 72 usmc » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:18 pm

U.S. M1917 bolts were not numbered to the M 1917 rifle at the factory. The serial number was on the receiver. However, many rifles have numbered bolts had the numbers added by other country users. I am not sure if late war rebuilds with a park finish had a number added. My Eddystone has its number on the bottom. Its number is stamped on the underside of the bolt handle. My CMP Remington & Winchester has its number on the top stem. Mine were from the Greek batch from 2004-2006?? I also have a M 1917 from a Legion hall that went out and it has a number on the ball. Most of these all have parts that were marked with W, E, Or R. See Ferris chapter 7 p. 89 for all the crazy rifle markings. So, no, a matching rifle may have all the parts with correct letters and stock cartouches, but an unnumbered bolt with a correct letter. Most are dogs, that went through many rebuilds. I never did ask the author if bolt was numbered, the author indicated an Eddystone bolt on a Winchester.

Now on the British .303 P14 Enfields when they were manufactured, the serial numbers was stamped on the receiver, the barrel, the bolt and the underside of the rear sight.

Some nice info on m1917 CMP http://www.odcmp.org/503/rifle.pdf
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#9 Post by Rapidrob » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:33 pm

I only collect Very Good or better rifles. None of the M1917's have a "loose" head space from hundreds and hundreds of rounds fired as many of the rifles sold today are. A couple of mine you have to cam-over the bolt handle at three o'clock to close the bolt on a factory made round. I like that.
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#10 Post by Swede49 » Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:50 pm

I did find a Winchester bolt, which is not numbered, and which does close on the GO gage, but on neither the NO GO or FIELD gages. No issues with closing on various batches of factory and handloaded rounds. Could the original issue have been the lack of interchangeability between early Winchester rifles and Eddystone/Remington models?
This particular rifle has an outstanding bore and is not worn out by any standard.

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#11 Post by Rapidrob » Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:32 pm

No, it is most likely bolt lug set back for being fired many,many times.
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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#12 Post by onefouralpha » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:52 pm

GO gauges are mostly for chambering a barrel, not so much a safety check. If the ammo fits without forcing anything it's probably safe from a head-space standpoint. That said, ammo tends to run on the short side of the head-space tolerance (to ensure it will fit/function even in the shortest-head-spaced chamber). For example, in my precision rifles I cut the head space to fit the lot of cases I buy for that barrel and use an unfired case as the GO gauge and haven't used a GO gauge in several years. The name of the game there is a tight fit in 1 rifle, with no worry of reliability in millions of weapon systems.

My guess is manufacturing tolerance is the reason why one passes a GO and the other doesn't. If you got busy with a set of mics you could probably define the difference in the distance from the bolt face to the rear of the lugs on both bolts and my guess is since one passes a GO gauge, the other doesn't but will chamber ammo, they're within a couple thousandths of each other. I forget exactly what the issue was with the early Winchester rifles-- I'd have to research it again as far as parts interchangeability goes, but I wouldn't expect that particular dimension on the bolt to be one that would vary. I could be wrong, though.

Edit to add: For what it's worth, I was surprised to find that my M1917 had both the shortest head space and the shortest throat of all of the milsurp 30-06 rifles I have. I was looking for a generic load to use in all of them and the M1917 ended up being the one to base everything off of to ensure the ammo would fit in all of them.

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Re: M1917 Headspace Question

#13 Post by ammolab » Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:19 pm

Rapidrob wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:32 pm
No, it is most likely bolt lug set back for being fired many,many times.
Well his “original issue” was insufficient headspace not excessive headspace. So not many rounds on that bolt or receiver.

I note that my M17 also has a shorter throat than my Springfields and Garands. Thus it gets shorter ctg OAL loads than the others which all go to MAX or magazine OAL.

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