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Saiga 7.62x39 Bolt Interchangability

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Every rifle is different. Headspacing is accomplished by how far the barrel was pressed into the trunnion. Someone with more experience than me should chime in here shortly.

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The bolts are fitted to each rifle individually. Just because they are the same caliber and same size bolt head does not mean they will have the exact same headspacing. It'd be wise to check it or have it checked before you ever swapped them, as you could really damage the rifle, or get hurt in the process.

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An easy way to compare headspace with two identical rifles and bolts is to take a dummy round or snap cap and add a trimmed piece of scotch tape to the case head. Just place it over where the primer would normally be. Then, insert the round into the chamber, and slowly close the carrier/bolt onto the round. Add another piece of tape, one at a time, until the bolt will no longer lock up smoothly on the dummy round. You will probably reach this point with just three pieces of tape. If both bolts stop locking up with the same amount of tape added, the headspace is close enough to interchange the bolts.


You should always check headspace, but my belief is that current Izhmash manufacturing processes are probably precise enough that most parts are probably going to be interchangeable without any major headspace differences. The major differences in assembly come into play when you consider that the rifles are still largely assembled by hand after initial machining of parts are done. You are depending on the assumption that all of these parts are machined to identical tolerances, or that the assembler headspaces every rifle the same - this isn't always the case. That's why even if you think they're going to be the same, you need to verify.

Edited by mancat
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