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Favorite .30-40 Krag Load?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jonnyc, May 18, 2010.

  1. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    Going to start loading for my Krag rifle. I have some IMR4895 and some Reloader-15. On hand, I have some .308 bullets to try in 165 (JSP) and 180 (JSP), and a 220 grain JRN.
    Any other thoughts or recipies?
  2. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    Nobody loads Krag, or nobody loads Krag with 4895 or RL-15?
  3. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Well-Known Member


    I do beleive you should double check your loading manuals as to why.
  4. Maj Dad

    Maj Dad Well-Known Member

    The best powder I have found for my 1896 is 4350 in jacketed & 2400 in cast. You can certainly use other powders as recommended by the manufacturers, but 4350 burns slower and pressures tend to be more moderate. My most accurate load with a 180 gr JSP is with 4350, and I don't worry about max pressure on the old soldier. 2400 is great with 180 & 200 gr cast and great fun, to boot.
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  5. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    "I do beleive you should double check your loading manuals as to why."

    This I don't understand...found lots of 4895 loads in various manuals.

    Thanks, MajDad. If the 4895 doesn't work well enough, I'm only a gunshow away from a bottle of different powder.
  6. Kernel

    Kernel Well-Known Member

    jonny, I fed the data into my Powley Computer for the Krag cartridge. Keeping in mind the .30-40 is limited by SAAMI to only a 40k cup. With 165 grain bullets the ideal powder speed would be in the range of 4895, 748, and N135. With 180 grain bullets the ideal speed shifts slightly slower: RL15 and 4064. 220 grain bullets should prefer powders that are slower yet, in the range of Varget and N540. That's what the math, some of my own assumptions, and thermodynamic theory says, YMMV. The two powders you have look to be perfect for developing Krag loads, and could be used for any of your stated bullet weights.
    Last edited: May 19, 2010
  7. Lorenzo Rojo

    Lorenzo Rojo Well-Known Member

    The .30-40 Krag performs better with the heavier bullets. The cartridge was designed for 220 grain round nose. I prefer 180 grain jacketed round nosed soft points over 39.5 grains of IMR 4064. The velocity is 2150 fps. This load shoots about 3" high at 100 yards and is level at 200 yards. I fire this load out of a Winchester 1895 lever action carbine made in 1906. I have also had good results with 200 grain jacketed spitzers over 37.5 grains of 4064 for a velocity of 2025 fps.
  8. john wall

    john wall Well-Known Member

    As one who has shot the Krag for years, I would suggest RN bullets. The feed ramp does not like spitzers,

    Also, I have had better results with the 180 RN with a slightly compressed load of 4350. Have your firearm checked by a pro before you shoot it. The bolt can crack around the locking lug. NOT a good thing.
  9. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    Thanks all, great info.
  10. Kernel

    Kernel Well-Known Member

    Lorenzo, two questions.

    1) What's your cartridge overall length on that 180 gr load?
    2) How long are the 180 gr bullets you're using?

    Based on my modeling, 39.5 gr of 4064 seems like a lot of powder to squeeze into a Krag case.
  11. Ed Harris

    Ed Harris Well-Known Member

    Slug your barrel and/or cast chamber first!

    Krag barrels vary widely in dimensions, so the first thing you should do is to cast your chamber and slug your barrel to see which bullets will fit best.

    If groove diameter is .3095 or less, you should use .308 diameter jacketed bullets.

    If your barrel groove diameter is .3100 or greater AND the chamber neck diameter is .3400 or larger, then you will have better results using .311" bullets intended for use in the .303 British.

    My Bannerman Sporter was cut down to 22 inches from an 1898 rifle and has a cylindrical ball seat of .314" diameter ahead of the chamber, and groove diameter of .312" and shoots poorly with factory Krag loads or handloads using normal .308" jacketed bullets.

    I load the Remington .311" 180-grain softpoint RNCL intended for the .303 British in Winchester cases, primed with WLR primers with a charge of 38 grains of RL-15. That load chronographs 2185 f.p.s. from my cut down rifle and is an effective deer load.

    For casual plinking I use the Lyman #314299 cast of wheelweights, sized .314 with Hornady gascheck and lubed with Alox-Beeswax, loaded with 15 grs. of #2400. This is fun to shoot and easy on the shoulder.
  12. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    I tried 4 different loads with .308 bullets and 4895, the results were inconclusive. I tried 4 more yesterday, 2 using pulled Soviet 7.62x54R bullets, 147 and 182 grain. Wow...big difference! The 182s produced a 1.25 inch group with a flier. All the above were spitzer and feed great. Next time out I'll try a few different powder weights with the 182s, and maybe even some 174 gr. RN .311s I have for my No.4(T).
    Ain't reloadin' fun!?!
  13. Slim Pickens

    Slim Pickens Well-Known Member

    I have been using Rel-17 with 180 gr jacketed bullets. This has been my most accurate combination by far, it works well with either Sierra Pro-Hunters or Speer RN bullets. The RN bullets are typically better because of the mag length restriction and long throat of the Krag.

    In my original 1898 rifle, ten shot groups were close to 1 MOA. Winchester factory loads were about 3 to 4 MOA in the same rifle (Win ammo was also about 200 fps faster).

    I have not found any published data for Rel-17 in the Krag, so I'm reluctant to post any specific charges. Rel-17 is very similar in both burn rate and bulk density to IMR 4350, which is a favorite for Krag loads and is listed in all the manuals. Hopefully Alliant will publish Krag data some day.

    My bore slugs about .311" at the widest point. I have some Speer RN bullets made for 303 Brit, but I have not tried them in the Krag yet. I have tried several cast bullet loads with Lyman 311284 and 314299 bullets, using SR-4759 or Rel-17. I also tried using different alloys from straight WW to linotype, but so far the cast bullet loads have been disappointing.

    If you haven't made a chamber cast yet, I highly recommend making one with Cerrosafe alloy. It shows the chamber dimensions in great detail. I was surprised at just how large the throat is in my rifle; I'm amazed it can shoot anything well. I also recommend neck sizing - I use a standard RCBS sizing die and only size the neck to the base of the seated bullet. Factory ammo is a very sloppy fit in my chamber.
  14. jonnyc

    jonnyc Well-Known Member

    I only neck-size, using a Lee Classic Loader. It's a great tool for loading 5 and 10 round test lots of this and that.
  15. Maj Dad

    Maj Dad Well-Known Member

    jonnyc, after your original post, I pulled Mr. Krag out of the hole, and he's now on deck waiting to step up to the plate this weekend. Found the ammo stash & will likely load up some more 2400 loaded leads to punish the backstop. I load 170 gr Lyman 311291 RNGCs that fall out of the mold at ~.311-.312 and lube & load them unsized (GC seated without the bullet entering the die). They are very accurate and consistent. I use Midway Mold Dropout spray to lube them, and a 7.65 Belgian Mauser neck expander (.313) to open them up to avoid scraping. Lots of bullet choices, and all are great fun! Enjoy your journey...:)
  16. Oceans

    Oceans Well-Known Member

    The Krag has a nice smooth action, and can be reloaded easily. The carbine is a joy to behold, BUT never load these things hot. The single lug design is not conducive for it, neither is the strength of the steel. The steels used in Krags, are similar to what we now know as "rebar". With a 180-220 grain bullet, you really don't need that much velocity at 200 yards. 2100-2200 fps would be fine.

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