Headspacing 101

The sometimes misunderstood subject of cartridge headspacing leads shooters to over complicate an otherwise rudimentary part of firearms and shooting.

by Norman E. Johnson

The very definition of headspace is expressed by many shooters and gunsmiths in different ways, almost as if there were some mystery attached. It being an esoteric term, I failed to find the word “headspace” in my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. In fact, the word headspace does not appear in the glossary of shooting terms published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. So here goes my interpretation of a word which I have understood and applied for more than a half century. I define cartridge headspace as the space or distance between the case head and the bolt of breechface of a case that is fully and completely inserted to its most forward position in the chamber.


Read more in our April 2012 issue. Back issues are available.

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