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7.62 x 51mm vs .308 Winchester - Redgwell

7.62 x 51mm vs .308 Winchester - Redgwell

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Published by PRMurphy
Do you have a military surplus rifle chambered in 7.62 x 51mm? If so, you probably bought it to get a "308 Winchester" at a really low price. Well, you messed up. It's like looking at a rabbit and a hare. They're close, but each is distinctive, and you have to understand what you're looking at.
Do you have a military surplus rifle chambered in 7.62 x 51mm? If so, you probably bought it to get a "308 Winchester" at a really low price. Well, you messed up. It's like looking at a rabbit and a hare. They're close, but each is distinctive, and you have to understand what you're looking at.

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Published by: PRMurphy on Feb 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/16/2013

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7.62x51mm NATO or 308 Winchester?What's the Difference?
copyright 2001-Stephen Redgwellhttp://www.303british.com/id36.htmlMilitary surplus cases
Do you have a military surplus rifle chambered in 7.62 x 51mm? If so, you probablybought it to get a "308 Winchester" at a really low price. Well, you messed up. It's likelooking at a rabbit and a hare. They're close, but each is distinctive, and you have tounderstand what you're looking at.Early in my military career, I worked on the FNC1 rifle (7.62 NATO). For someone thathad only handled civilian shotguns and rifles, this was going to be a real treat! It wasonly natural that curiosity would generate questions and comparisons about what Ithought was the same cartridge-308 Winchester and the 7.62x51mm NATO.One of my personal rifles was a Midland 2100 chambered for 308 Winchester. It wasmade in England by a small company-Midland Rifle Co-but owned by Parker Hale.Since there was a lot of military 7.62x51mm available, I shot them from my 2100 fromtime to time. There was never a problem chambering or firing the military stuff. It wasa pleasant diversion over the long (read boring) periodsspent at the range for basesmall arms qualifications.
 
 Around this time, I discovered that shooting reloaded cases fired from an FN wasvirtually impossible. They didn't want to chamber. My frustration led me to ask an olderarmourer what was wrong. In anutshell, he told me that they probably didn't fitbecause they stretched. I was using a Lee Loader in 308 Winchester and didn't knowthat they only resized the neck, leaving the rest of the case untouched. The shoulderswere blown forward on initial firing, so the case was simply too long to fit my rifle'schamber! Hmmm...I tried the gauges from work in my own rifle and was surprised to discover that none of them would fit! The corporal brought a set in from home and explained the difference.Here's what I discovered.308 Winchester (SAAMI) GaugesGO-1.6300"NOGO-1.6340"FIELD-1.6380"Shop (Military) GaugesGO-1.6350"NOGO-1.6405"FIELD-1.6455"The gauge sets were different too! What gives? He told me that the dimensions of thetwo new and unfired cartridges were basically the same. The difference lay in two areas-chamber size and cartridge makeup.CHAMBER SIZELook at the picture below. The top chamber represents a military rifle, the bottom one acommercial sporter. With many military rifles, their chambers can be significantly longerthan, say, a Remington 700. Note that the military chamber would fail a NO GO check,but pass a FIELD check using the proper shop (military) gauges.There is a .013" difference in chamber length however, between these two "Safe & Serviceable" rifles!The dotted line represents the point onthe shoulder where the cartridge wouldheadspace
 
There will be distinct differences between chambers of military rifles based on:Type-Ishapore, Garand, FN etc. Amount of UseCondition at Time of SaleJust by looking at the dimensions, you can see that using SAAMI gauges is bound toreveal "problems".CARTRIDGE MAKEUPI said at the beginning that these two cartridges were basically the same,dimensionally. While they may share similar external measurements, there is one majordifference that you can't see-case wall thickness.Military brass is thicker. It needs to be. It was made to function and stretch in a widevariety of firearm chambers. Don't forget that the condition of spent brass is of noimportance to the service. Like 99% of military brass, it won't be reused.Where does that leave you? Follow this rule and you won't have any problems.DON'T USE YOUR RIFLE IF IT FAILS THE SAAMI FIELD CHECK!!Why not? Right away you know that the chamber is measuring more than 1.6380"(SAAMI FIELD)-possibly more. Commercial 308 ammunition may stretch by 0.008"when fired! Possibly more. It may even rupture! You must get the headspace correctedto bring it in line with SAAMI specs. Hey, it's for your own safety!Based on this rule, find your situation below. __ I DON'T RELOAD AND USE ONLY MILSURP AMMUNITION. You shouldn't have any problems.I DON'T RELOAD BUT WANT TO USE COMMERCIAL AMMUNITION.

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