View Full Version : Results of Excessive Headspace

March 02, 2001, 20:16
I bought an Israeli heavy barrel at the local gun show last weekend. Yippee!!! http://www.fnfal.com/forums/biggrin.gif Took it out to shoot today. The gun blew up on the first round fired. http://www.fnfal.com/forums/eek.gif The magazine was blown out. The charging handle was bowed out and the receiver was warped above the charging handle. I took a facefull of burning powder. I was using 1979 Hirtenberger and I do not believe it was the ammo as the other 199 rounds out of the battlepack were fired through four other guns with out a hiccup. This leaves excessive headspace as the culprit. The rear portion of the cartridge case is quite mangled and the front is still in the chamber. I purchased this rifle from a Florida dealer/manufacturer with national exposure who will remain nameless if they make good on this when I bring it back at the show tomorrow. If not... http://www.fnfal.com/forums/mad.gif I'd expect an unsafe gun from Guido's Gun and Pawn and Check Cashing but not from an outfit published in several national gun magazines.

For a full photo essay got to this link:

http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=1547902&a=11869584 (http://albums.photpoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=1547902&a=11869584)

Here are some highlights!





I shoot left handed which proved lucky as the dust cover was blown back and to the left, sorta like JFK. Luckily I was wearing safety glasses. Please take heed and be safe out there.

[This message has been edited by tunashark (edited March 02, 2001).]

March 02, 2001, 21:48
Holy S@*T you are one lucky SOB. That smith better make good or he could be in some serious crap.

Timber Wolf
March 02, 2001, 23:19
First let me say I am sorry for your luck and am glad you are OK. Second, thanks for the post which should act as a warning to the rest of us to be more careful. Now for the "but" part......I can not believe that you shot up the rest of the ammo! Because: 1) it just might have been over pressure, and 2) you might need it for a future lawsuit!

derek huffman, azexarms
March 03, 2001, 00:50
Please folks, check these FALs you are buying, I get so many in here that have been built by folks that consider themselves RKIs, with .005, .010, even .020 excessive headspace. Even a little is too much. Even guns I get in here for refinish only, I check the headspace on. Just call me Obsessive. D.
www.azexarms.com (http://www.azexarms.com)

PS. Thank God you didn't get injured.

[This message has been edited by derek huffman, azexarms (edited March 03, 2001).]

March 03, 2001, 01:24
For the record the gun was NOT a Century job. Nor was it imported by Century. It was an Argentine FMAP receiver with an Israeli HB kit on it.

As for shooting the rest of the ammo; I was on the low end of the battlepack of the low end of case of Austrian Hirtenberger. Of all the surplus out there, this is the stuff that I have faith in to meet or exceed US commercial and military ammunition.

The URL I listed for the photopoint album for this doesn't seem to work so use my e-mail address, romeo8j@yahoo.com, to find it if you like.

Speaking of Century, my first FAL was a Century R1A1 on a Hesse receiver. It was a runaway full auto out of the box.I shipped it to Century in Vermont and it was back in two weeks and functions great now.

Returning the gun, getting a receipt for it as my name is on a 4473 saying I have it, and getting my money back is the goal. Maybe somebody creative could save receiver but its just a boat anchor right now. If that happens I'll let the matter die as a life lesson learned. If not I will shout their name from the roof tops; or keyboards.

March 03, 2001, 09:33
you should let the people on this board know anyway so the samething doesn't happen to others and maybe with a worse outcome.

March 03, 2001, 16:35
I returned the rifle this morning in a very civil exchange. My credit card is being credited back. The hack, apparently not directly associated with the dealer, has been severely chastised and won't be able to chase the threads on a machine screw for them again. They were very good about it and there were no outbursts or counter accusations. That being said I will not reveal their company name and no guessing games, please. They marketed a hack job as a favor for someone outside of their company and it bit them in the ass and they immediately sought to make good.

The dealer called the hack on his cell when I showed up and asked him," Hey, that FAL you put together that I sold last weekend, did you headspace or test fire it?" By the guy's expression you could almost hear a sullen "No" on the other end.

Anyway, I'm skipping back to Greenland this week so resolving it in this fashion is best for me as well.

Please learn from my experience, inspect and headspace your parts guns and any other gun show or pawn shop gem. And invest in quality shooting glasses and actually wear them. http://www.fnfal.com/forums/wink.gif

March 03, 2001, 19:40
Tunashark, glad to see you were not hurt to badly. By the looks of the casing, I would suspect that the weapon fired out of battery.
I would suspect a broken firing pin.

Take care.

March 05, 2001, 16:52
Glad you're OK, and dealer stood up.

1*.....Train Like You Fight: Second Place is NOT an Option.

E.M. (Ted) Dannemiller II

March 05, 2001, 23:16
Having had metal bits removed from BOTH of my eyes in the last year (same time both eyes) I will say


If you're not wearing glasses at the range you risk your eyesight. Looking at Tunasharks face we can clearly see that the particles accelerating out of this hack-job penetrated his skin...this could easily have caused loss of eyesight.

Seriously folks, wear protection when operating any power tools, dremels, drills, saws, FALs, even when whacking hardened tools with a hammer. And replace any glasses that get nasty...otherwise you'll find yourself looking above or below the lenses without noticing until it's too late.

/preach mode off


March 06, 2001, 14:54
Glad you're alright Tunashark. It would seem to be a no brainer for the builder to make sure headspace was within spec rather than waste the receiver and kit (to say nothing about almost wasting a customer) http://www.fnfal.com/forums/frown.gif

Rick B
March 07, 2001, 00:12
I seen pictures of someone onthe Garand M14 forum that did worse with the same ammo his gun is in 4,000 little pieces and he was holding it by the clip so it didn't hurt is hand to bad. He blamed the Ammo and gave the lot number. It may very well have been the ammo and the shell split right down the middle and opened like a banana. Thanks Rick

March 10, 2001, 20:26
Between the coincidence of 999 rounds performing flawlessly out of a case of ammo and it being the first time I pulled the trigger on this gun I think headspace is the most likely culprit. Anyhoo, I got my money back and I think I'll use it to get some headspace guages to go in my pocket before I go shopping again. http://www.fnfal.com/forums/wink.gif

March 11, 2001, 05:09
Yeah, after I saw this mess, I decided that I'm going to be buying some headspace guages too. Thanks for sharing the experience because some of us might not be so lucky. I'd prefer to be safe than lucky....

My 2 pesos.
San Diego

March 12, 2001, 21:08
I noticed by the pics too that your gun may not have been all Izzy in origin as the charging handle is not forward assist. If all did not come with that please correct me. Glad to hear your all right and the dealer made good.

March 13, 2001, 01:40
It was a parts kit built on an Argentine receiver. Incorrect parts included the charging handle and a Belgian bolt carrier. It was also missing the limiter bar on the bipod. I understand the limiter bar and the charging handle are difficult parts to acquire.