GO: Corresponds to the minimum chamber dimensions. If a rifle closes on a GO gage, the chamber will accept ammunition that is made to SAAMI’s maximum specifications. The GO gage is essential for checking a newly-reamed chamber in order to ensure a tight, accurate and safe chamber that will accept SAAMI maximum ammo. Although the GO gage is necessary for a gunsmith or armorer, it usually has fewer applications for the collector or surplus firearms purchaser.
NO-GO: Corresponds to the maximum headspace Forster recommends for gunsmiths chambering new, bolt action rifles. This is NOT a SAAMI-maximum measurement. If a rifle closes on a NO-GO gage, it may still be within SAAMI specifications or it may have excessive headspace. To determine if there is excessive headspace, the chamber should then be checked with a FIELD gage. The NO-GO gage is a valuable tool for checking a newly-reamed chamber in order to ensure a tight and accurate chamber.
FIELD: Corresponds to the longest safe headspace. If a rifle closes on a FIELD gage, its chamber is dangerously close to, or longer than, SAAMI’s specified maximum chamber size. If chamber headspace is excessive, the gun should be taken out of service until it has been inspected and repaired by a competent gunsmith. FIELD gages are slightly shorter than the SAAMI maximum in order to give a small safety margin.
When checking the headspace with the upper off of the lower drop the gauge in the chamber and SLOWLY push the carrier forward, pop the rear of the carrier with your palm to snap the extractor over the rim of the gauge. Do NOT place the gauge in the mag and hit the bolt release. That could slam the gauge into the breech of the barrel and damage both.
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The Nextgen of 308 rifles