Tag Archives: improved

280 Ackley Improved Emperical Headspace Test

Top is SAAMI or Nosler type headspace gauge for 280 AI. Bottom is the “Traditional” headspace gauge for the 280 Ackley Improved, note the difference between the shoulder angles.

These Chamber gauges were made using the headspace gauges as marked. The purpose being that we can visually see the difference and measure any difference when the gauges are swapped, or ammunition is checked.

Here the gauges have been swapped to the incorrect chambers. NOTE: no difference in headspace, both gauges are flush with the base of the chamber gauge.

According to the argument, The case in the “Traditional” chamber should be .014″ too deep in the chamber. As with the gauges headspace is zero.

The discussion of headspace and the 280 Ackley Improved has been going on far too long.  Recently I decided to perform a test that would demonstrate the differences or similarities between the SAAMI (Nosler) gauge and the “Traditional” Ackley gauge.

First you can see that the shoulder angle is not the same.  The SAAMI gauge is 40 degrees like the factory brass and ammunition.  The Traditional gauge is 17 degree 30 minute just like the original 280 Remington gauge and factory 280 Remington ammunition or brass.

The Chamber gauges pictured below were both made with the exact same 280 AI reamer.  The only difference between the SAAMI and the Traditional chambers are the headspace gauges, all other measurements are identical.

Each chamber gauge was stamped with the name of the gauge used to headspace it.  The headspace was set to zero, or flush with the flat base of the gauge.

Once I had both chambers cut I swapped the gauges expecting to see some obvious disparity as the reamer makers have been emphatic that there is a difference.  However, there was no difference between the two chambers.

How could that be?

Well, when you check the drawings from SAAMI and the Traditional drawings for the Ackley Improved you find that indeed there is a numerical difference between the two drawings of .014″.  The problem stems from reamer makers applying a datum line to the Traditional Ackley drawing at the .375″ diameter on the shoulder, this is not where the datum line is on a traditional Ackley.

The drawing calls for a 40 degree shoulder, but the datum measurement is based on the traditional 17 degree gauge.  In other words the systems of measuring are mixed.  Ackley used the junction of the neck and shoulder to headspace his Improved chamber, not the datum line along the shoulder.

Hence we end up with a headspace length of 2.1542″ on the Traditional drawing.  I measured this length on my cutaway chamber and guess what, that is the length to the junction of the neck and shoulder.  Thus headspace matches the drawings correctly.

The 40 degree SAAMI gauges are made to the industry standard, datum line method.  So the drawings are correct, the datum line is at the .375″ diameter along the shoulder.  The length called out for this gauge is 2.140″, which appears to be .014″ shorter than the Traditional design.

What we have is two different methods of measurement.  However they achieve the exact same result.  Seeing is believing.

With all that said, for liability reasons I would still use the gauge the client asks for.  It’s easier than explaining all this over and over again.

The obvious question will come up, “But I am still having trouble with headspace, so the Nosler brass must be wrong?”  The answer is; More than likely a lazy or inexperienced gunsmith did not use a gauge to set headspace, but rather used brass.  The Nosler brass should work in a “Traditioinal” chamber if the headspace was set between a go and no-go as prescribed by P.O. Ackley and every reamer maker that sells these tools.

Here are some additional source of information on this subject:

http://gunsmithingradio.com/2012/08/16/interview-with-andy-huebschmann-episode-12/

Book has recently been published, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith”

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280 Ackley Improved Alert

Author’s Note:  Read the post at this link first, it supersedes this discussion.

http://wp.me/perb6-8L

A few years back Nosler decided to bring the 280 Ackley Improved into their list of custom brass and rifles. In order to do this they wanted to take the 280 AI to SAAMI and have it standardized.

Part of the process of standardizing the cartridge was for Nosler to see if other manufacturers had worked with it. They found that Remington had been chambering the 280 in their custom shop. Now here is where the alert comes in. Remington’s Custom Shop chose to shorten the headspace on the venerable design by .014″. When Nosler sent drawings to SAAMI they picked up that number as well.

So by a vote of the members of SAAMI the commercial established specifications for the 280 Ackley were changed from the original design.  The reason reported for this change is that Remington believed it was necessary in order for factory 280 Remington ammunition to be fireformed safely in an Ackley chamber.  Apparently they did not know that Ackley was the single most successful wildcatter of the 20th century.  While he was not the first guy to create and “improved” design, he was the first to standardize the idea and create a safe method of fireforming factory ammo in improved chambers.

Ackley’s method was simple, he simply used a headspace gauge .004″ shorter than the factory case.  This shorter headspace assured that the cartridge would be held tight between the bolt face and the junction of the neck and shoulder of the chamber during fire forming.  Ackley’s method worked fine for more than 50 years before these alterations to his design were made.

Bottom line for anyone who now works with the 280 Ackley Improved you must decide which version of the chamber you will use; the SAAMI or the Ackley; you cannot safely use the Nosler brass in  a traditional Ackley chamber, although it would still be safe to fire form factory ammo in a SAAMI/Nosler chamber.

Compare the length of these two designs.

UPDATE:  See this post for new information

Here is another article about the 280 Ackley Improved:

 

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