Krag Confusion


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Timthinker
August 11, 2007, 05:14 PM
The Krag rifle, the first "modern" rifle adopted by the U.S. Army, has been discussed on this subforum before. Yet, one puzzling fact about the Krag selection process has never been explained to my satisfaction. Why did the U.S. military reject a Mauser design in favor of the Krag only to select another Mauser design, the '03 Springfield, to succeed it? In retrospect, this seems strange. I realize that we must understand decisions in the context into which they were made. So, I hope some of our military buffs can shed some light on why the military changed its mind.


Timthinker

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Trebor
August 11, 2007, 08:20 PM
The U.S. military didn't realize the superiority of the Mauser clip-loading system until we faced it in the Spanish American War. Being able to rapidly reload rifles with stripper clips was more important then we would have thought. We didn't think rapid reloading would be important because the emphasis was on aimed fire and marksmanship. Many rifles of that era had "magazine cut offs" so they would operate as a single shot rifle with the rounds in the mag held for reserve for emergency use. It was just a different way of thinking.

The fact that the Mauser action was also stronger didn't matter as much at the time, but proved to be an advantage later when we developed the .30 -'06 round.

The Krag was a very pleasant rifle to shoot and had a very smooth action. It was a fantastic improvement over the Trapdoor Springfield that it replaced and was "modern" for the time. We just didn't realize that the Mauser design had leap frogged over it technologically until we faced them in combat.

Jim Watson
August 11, 2007, 09:46 PM
Heck, why did GERMANY not have real Mausers until 1898?

Everybody had different priorities and bad cases of N.I.H.

The Krag was officially adopted in 1892. The only Mausers at that time were the 1889 Belgian and similar 1890/91 Turkish-Argentine. They had not demonstrated their value at the time.

tkendrick
August 12, 2007, 12:51 AM
In addition to the stripper clip issue, there was a "quantum leap" in the pressures generated by the new smokeless powders.

I still have my first Krag, purchased in 1974, and I've hunted a lot of big game with it, including moose and black bear. I've never felt undergunned.

However, the action has only one locking lug, and so is limited to 40,000 cpu, and there is an additional problem that is related to the lack of a stripper clip that you don't hear mentioned much.

When loading, the rim of the cartridge you are loading has to go behind the rim of the previously loaded cartridge. If you aren't paying attention, it's easy to get that wrong, and it jams the rifle. It's an easy to clear jam, but a jam none the less.

So, you're in the Philippines, in the jungle. You're hot. You're sweating. Now, imagine you are trying to load your Krag......BTW, did I forget to mention the 150 screaming Moro warriors coming at you?

gezzer
August 12, 2007, 01:13 AM
Heck, why did GERMANY not have real Mausers until 1898?


You have got to be kidding.

Dionysusigma
August 12, 2007, 05:16 AM
Further proof that the Mosin Nagant (1891), still in active use today, is superior. :neener:

If only there were reliable stripper clips to be had. :mad:

GRIZ22
August 12, 2007, 10:20 AM
Further proof that the Mosin Nagant (1891), still in active use today, is superior.


I don't know if I'd call it superior. It's still in use by people who can't afford anything else. You also need to recognize the fact that the basis for Soviet design technology is "Perfection is the enemy of good enough".

Jim Watson
August 12, 2007, 10:37 AM
Heck, why did GERMANY not have real Mausers until 1898?

You have got to be kidding.


Gee, gezzer, why do you think I am kidding?
I have a good idea as to why Germany did not issue Mausers until 1898 and it has little to do with the much admired qualities of Mauser rifles. Probably the money. They had a lot of investment sunk in 1888 Commission rifles and the plant to build them.

Timthinker
August 12, 2007, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the historical background on this topic. In particular, the "magazine cut off" explanation seems to justify why the U.S. Army would favor the Krag design. Prior to the 1890s, the U.S. military had relied upon single shot rifles and may have believed that troops would shoot too rapidly and inaccurately with a stripper clip design such as that found on the Mauser. The Spanish-American War corrected this viewpoint as our responders noted.

Perhaps more importantly, these answers demonstrate the need to understand events in their proper historical context. Otherwise, people tend to "read history backwards" as I did when I started this thread. Fortunately, we have many knowledgeable folks here that can keep us from straying away. Thanks again.


Timthinker

Hypnogator
August 12, 2007, 08:07 PM
One other thing -- the first model Krag adopted by the US Army was the 1892.

IIRC, the 1893 Mauser was the first Mauser to load from a stripper clip.

Timthinker
August 12, 2007, 11:07 PM
I thought the Belgian, Turkish and Argentine Mausers also loaded from clips and influenced the 1893 Spanish model too. I almost included the Gewehr 88 in this category, but it combines aspects of both Mauser and Mannlicher designs. If I am wrong, and with me it is a definite possibility, at least I am trying to do my homework. I appreciate the comments since they force me to research the topic. Thanks again.


Timthinker

M1 Shooter
August 13, 2007, 03:17 AM
Heck, why did GERMANY not have real Mausers until 1898?


Ummm...actually Germany adopted a Mauser rifle in 1871, called the Gewehr 71 appropriately enough, that chambered an 11mm blackpowder round(aka .43 Mauser). It was followed by the Mauser Gewehr 71/84 which was a repeating version of the Gew. 71 single shot.

The 1888 Commission rifle was actually a combination of Mauser and Mannlicher designs, and Mauser did manufacture parts for it but I don't think they made complete rifles. Germany went with it because it was a quick solution to counter the French Mle. 86 Lebel firing the first smokeless powder military round. Mauser didn't even produce a rifle for smokeless rounds until the following year with the introduction of the Belgian M1889. By then it was too late. Germany had already invested large amounts of time and money on the Commission rifle, and saw no real need to change at that time anyway.

It is true that they didn't adopt another pure Mauser design until 1898, but the Gewehr 98 was not Germany's first Mauser rifle to be adopted for military service.

Jim Watson
August 13, 2007, 09:02 AM
Well, technically, that is true. But in context, the '71 and '71-'84 Mausers are black powder rifles, the '84 with a tubular magazine like the Kropatschek, and are only "modern" by comparison with the Trapdoor Springfield and Snider.

I figure the '88 Commission rifle with separate bolt head and en-bloc clip has a lot more Mannlicher than Mauser in its family tree. As you say, (and as I said) they had too much money invested in '88 rifles and manufacturing plant to modernize until the development of the '98 Mauser really pushed them into it.

The Turks were smart, they wrote their contract so they always got the latest model for every shipment; moved from 7.65 to 7.92 under German influence, then modified and rationalized everything on hand to at least look and operate the same in 1938.

Dr. Dickie
August 13, 2007, 10:04 AM
Prior to the 1890s, the U.S. military had relied upon single shot rifles and may have believed that troops would shoot too rapidly and inaccurately with a stripper clip design such as that found on the Mauser.

It wasn't just prior to 1890's. If you look at the Springfield 03, you will notice that it has a little switch which allows access to the 5 round mag or makes the gun a single shot (the single shot side of the switch is dull the magazine side is shiny--so the sergeant could look down the line and see which way the switch was positioned). For the most part (from what I have read) the soldiers were dissuaded from access the 5 round magazine. The thought was that in the heat of battle 5 shots would be gone in an instant and that would waste ammo.
Remember, prior to WWII, ammo was slugged on mule back to the troops (and was still in WWII), so getting the ammo to the troops was a real problem.

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