Krag-Jorgenson?


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The Rabbi
October 24, 2004, 11:14 AM
I am reading a great book now by Max Boot on America's Small Wars. In the chapter on the Phillipines insurrection he mentions the Army had the new .30 caliber K-J, a Norwegian made gun.
I figure someone here will know everything there is to know about the gun and be mroe than happy to share it. What was the genesis of the thing? What did it shoot? How long was it used by the army etc?
Thanks.

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DF357
October 24, 2004, 12:16 PM
I can't tell you the entire history of the Krag but I do know that the first was made around 1890 and went thru several iterations until it's demise just before 1910. The most popular was the model 1898 which was made by Springfield Armory for a half dozen years. It is a .30-40 caliber, has a flip down side magazine that holds 5 rounds. It is a well made rifle shat shoots extremely well. The 1898 model never saw action in the Spanish American was but was used in the Phillipines. The earlier versions did get into the SA War, though and were reported to be inferior to the Mausers the enemy was using.

It was used to some degree for training into WWI but was pretty much replaced as a battle rifle by the M1903 - based on the Mauser action.

I may be mistaken, but I think that the European version has a front hinge on the magazine in stead of the bottom hinge on the SA1898 model.

It is reputed to have the smoothest, easiest action of all bolt action rifles, and I'd agree.

Hopefully others can give you a more detailed history of the 98 and other models.

http://www.dfandkf.com/krag1.jpg

rbernie
October 24, 2004, 12:50 PM
It is reputed to have the smoothest, easiest action of all bolt action rifles, and I'd agree. Helped in part by its single locking lug on the bolt. This was also its biggest flaw - it just wasn't a terribly strong action and the unequal locking of the bolt-to-the-receiver caused the rifle to 'string' shots.

Part of the issue with the K/J was that it was loaded with a .308 220gr bullet moving @ 1900fps. While this gave a flatter trajectory than the 45/70 Trapdoor used primarily by the US in the Spanish/American War (and had the benefit of smokeless powder which the 45/70 did not), it still didn't have the trajectory of the 7x57 Spanish Mauser.

The K/J was adopted in 1892 but by 1903 had been replaced by a Mauser-style bolt action shooting a more powerful 30-cal load.

natedog
October 24, 2004, 01:57 PM
I've got a sporterized Krag carbine. It has a very nice trigger, and smooth smooth bolt. I haven't got a chance to shoot it yet- ammo is $17/20 :uhoh:

Jim K
October 24, 2004, 02:47 PM
The rifle was developed by two Norwegians, Colonel Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jørgensen. They tried to interest their own country, but the first nation to adopt the rifle was Denmark, in 1889.

In the 1890 period, the U.S. was looking for a repeating rifle to replace the single shot, .45 caliber rifles (called "trapdoors" for the way they opened for loading) that had been in use since 1873. An Army commission tested various rifles, and selected a modified Krag-Jorgensen as the one they felt would best meet American needs. They also chose a new, .30 caliber cartridge loaded with 40 grains of the then-new smokeless powder; the cartridge was called the .30-40 on the commercial market.

The rifle was officially adopted in 1892, but production at Springfield Armory, in Massachusetts, did not begin until 1894. The rifle served in the Spanish-American War, but was in short supply and some volunteer and militia units were armed with the old rifles. All U.S. Krags were made at Springfield; none were made anywhere else.

There were three basic rifle versions, the Model 1892, Model 1896 and Model 1898, although the differences were minor. There were also carbines of each model as well as Model 1899 carbines. The carbines had shorter (22" vs. 30") barrels than the rifles to make them more usable for the cavalry.

Since the "Krag", as it was usually called, was in use in the period when America became a world power, it has often been associated with, and been made a symbol of, that expansion. One example is a poem about American action in the Philippines, with the refrain "Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag." Since the main opposition in the Philippines came from the Moros, who were Moslem, and who fought with the same fury as modern Jihadists, there is a bit of "deja vu" in discussing that period.

Krags remained in service until after WWI, although none were used in combat in that war. The Krag was replaced by the Model 1903 Springfield, also a .30 caliber bolt action rifle, but one that was much more powerful.

Incidentally, Norway did adopt the Krag-Jørgensen as its service rifle in 1894 and kept it until after WWII.

Like most former military rifles, Krags have become valuable collectors' items, being associated with a time when America was forced into a new role in the world.

HTH

Jim

Vern Humphrey
October 24, 2004, 04:56 PM
Quote:
----------------------------
"Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag."
----------------------------

Damn, damn, damn the Phillippinos
Cutthroat khakiak ladrones
Underneath the starry flag,
Civilize 'em with a Krag.
And return us to our own beloved homes.

The main shortcoming of the Krag was the lack of a clip-loading ability. By an odd chance of history, both the Americans and the British faced the '93 Mauser (the British in the Boer War of 1899-1902) and decided that clip loading was superior.

Both nations decided to adopt Mauser-type rifles as a result -- the Americans developing the M1903 Springfield, and the British the Pattern 13 Enfield (which was never fielded, due to the First World War intervening.)

Art Eatman
October 24, 2004, 06:01 PM
They're fun old rifles. If you run across a "sorta-sporterized" version, they're not collectible and therefore not expensive.

If you reload with 180-grain bullets to no more than 40,000 psi, they're fine deer rifles. The twist will stablilze the 180-grain bullets okay.

Loading most any old .308 bullet that happens to be cheap, with around 20 grains of 2400, makes a fun plinker load.

:), Art

Vern Humphrey
October 24, 2004, 06:09 PM
Even better, they're good candidates for cast bullets. The Lee 200-grain .309 bullet is a good one for the Krag. Gas-checked and lubed with liquid Alox and loaded ahead of 32 grains of IMR 3031, they shoot very well.

If you like, put a tiny dipper full of pure lead in the mould, and then fill with wheelweights -- instant soft point!

davek
October 25, 2004, 11:58 AM
The only thing I have to add to the above is that there is a switch that allows and disallows the magazine to feed the chamber. When it's switched "off", you have a single shot. Switch it back on and it's a repeater.

Jim K
October 25, 2004, 06:25 PM
A lot has been written about magazine cutoffs (the "switch" Davek mentions), usually to the effect that they were to save ammunition. That is true, but not necessarily as many writers mean it. The cutoff was not just to save ammunition in the general sense, but to save the magazine load in that rifle for an emergency situation, which at that time was spelled "cavalry charge". The Model 1903 Springfield also has a cutoff, put on for the same reasons and also to keep from "taking away" any of the features of the Krag.

The Germans apparently felt that the Mauser could be loaded fast enough and ammunition supply could be maintained well enough that a cutoff was not necessary.

Jim

MrMurphy
October 25, 2004, 09:11 PM
The British, under fire from Mausers in the Boer war, first adopted the stripper clip loading system on the Long Lee Metfords and other Lee Metfords, this carried over to the Lee-Enfields and the larger 10 shot mag (from the earlier 8).

The Pattern 13 Mauser action rifle was developed by the "rifle experts" of the time before WW1, but in service, the SMLE (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) already in service proved to be the better rifle of the two. Faster bolt action, 10 shot magazine, and handier (feels better in the hands, also shorter I think), which is why it remained in service until 1955 or so. (As the newer No.4 Mk1 model, although massive numbers of SMLE's were made by Australia and Canada during WW2).



As to the Krag Jorgensen, good rifle, smooth action, but being non-clip-loading (the bottom hinge mag door on the American model was an attempt to help this, you held the door down and dumped five rounds in, as opposed to hinging it forward and feeding them in one by one on the Danish model), and the ballistics... meant we went Springfield. The Krag's not a bad design, but the Mauser 98 types are "better" as is the Lee-Enfield.

philkryder
October 26, 2004, 04:12 AM
Could anyone describe the magazine on the Krag in more detail?

Specifically - ?did it contain a spring?

thanks!
Phil

106rr
October 26, 2004, 04:31 AM
Some Krag trivia
There were three basic models; the Danish 8X58R, the Norwegian 6.5X55 and the US 30-40. Of these the Danish was the most powerful.
The Danish magwell opens from the front. The Norwegian has a barrel with left hand threads, the only one of which I am aware. The US Krag had variable heat teatment. Believe it or not, Springfield Armory used to eyeball the heat treatment and did not measure the temp or furnace time.
The Norwegian is considered the strongest since it has the most modern heat treatment and the most carefully fitted bolt. The single lug is augmented by a good solid bolt handle in all Krags. If the bolt is loose the single front lug takes all the pressure.
The Norwegian was also made in 8X57J and 7X57, both rimless as was the 6.5X55. Kongsberg Arsenal made them as sporting rifles. There was also a target model in 6.5X55.
Some of the US models were altered to sporting design by Sedgely. Springfield 03 barrels will screw right in to the US Krag reciever and can then be chambered in 30-40 US. The Norwegian is the toughest to rebarrel because of the left hand threads, but some were sold as 308 WCF conversions in the US. They may have been rebored from 6.5! I wouldn't shoot 308 in any Krag.

DF357
October 26, 2004, 12:50 PM
"Could anyone describe the magazine on the Krag in more detail?

Specifically - ?did it contain a spring?"


Here's a diagram:

http://www.again.net/~steve/ipb-springfield-uskrag.html


there's lots more good stuff at that site !

M67
October 28, 2004, 11:35 AM
philkryder, the leaf spring in the loading gate in DF357's diagram holds the gate open while loading, secures the gate in the closed position - and acts as the follower spring. The cartridges are just "dumped" into the magazine, spring pressure is not applied until the magazine lid is closed.

Reloading is actually a bit faster than the impression one might get from reading American accounts of how it was outperformed by rapid fire Mausers at San Juan Hill. I suspect that clip loading also became popular because it makes it easier to handle the ammo, also from a logistical point of view.

For rapid fire competition, a Krag with speed loaders will outshoot a Mauser with clips by a solid margin. Those speed loaders are for competition use, they're not "tactical". But still, 16 hits on a paper plate size target at 150 meters in 25 seconds is impressive to watch.

Smooth bolt action? A shooting buddy had a Krag where you could hold the rifle horizontally with the bolt open, then tip it muzzle down. At a surprisingly shallow angle, the bolt would slide forward, turn and lock(!) under its own momentum.

The most serious drawback of the single lug design, besides being unable to handle high pressures, is the tendency to string the shots high and to the right if the rifle and/or ammuntion gets wet. Some of the old geezers would know how much their individual rifles were affected by humidity and compensate for it, but that is of course not a solution for most "normal" shooters.

Some more trivia: Norway in the 19th century was quite advanced as far as military rifles are concerned. The army adopted breech loading rifles in 1842 (well, I don't think breech loading is quite correct, they were "chamber loading" percussion rilfes). The navy adopted a magazine fed bolt action rifle, Krag Petersen (same Krag), in small numbers in 1875 or '76, the army adopted Norwegian designed Jarmann bolt action repeaters in 1884, 30,000 rifles in a country with two million people. When the Krag was adopted for all services in 1894, the armory at Kongsberg couldn't tool up fast enough for the government, so 30,000 rifles were built by Steyr in Austria as a stop-gap. Kongsberg eventually produced more than 200,000 rifles for the military and for domestic civilian use, not bad considering the size of the population.

Final piece of trivia: Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen had gunsmith Jørgensen make him a handbuilt K-J in .45-90 WCF for one of his expeditions. Nansen didn't trust the then-new smokeless powder in the extreme cold, and .45-90 was the largest cartridge that would fit the magazine.

Edit: Dr. Nansen's Krag mentioned above was a .45-90, not .50-90 as I first wrote. :banghead:

Joe Demko
October 28, 2004, 12:09 PM
Yet more trivia: John Banner aka "Sgt. Schultz" carried a Krag on Hogan's Heroes.

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