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View Full Version : Why the Krag rifle mechanism never caught on?


vt34
December 06, 2013, 10:46
So I love my krag so much, it has some old Pacific Machine aperture sights and a nice Boyd's stock. Gun is perfectly balanced and bolt is smooth as butter and lightning fast even for a lefty. I believe the perfect balance can be attributed to the unique magazine design.
I wonder often, why this mag design wasn't ever used by subsequent rifles. I know stripper clips are potentially faster(I can reload my mosin as fast as most folks reload auto-loaders, k bragging done) but that doesn't mean the krag's design is poor, it can be brought back into action very quickly too. And it comes out ahead when reloading with frozen numb hands. If it weren't for the scarcity of ammo I'd be inclined to say that if I could have only one rifle that would be it.
Perhaps a machinist will pop in here and explain that the mechanism is secretly super flimsy, though I doubt it considering my rifle is 115years old and works flawlessly.

So I hope we can get some good, practical explanations as to why it hasn't been used since.
Let's avoid ignorant/inexperienced opinions as those aren't really opinions at all.

tdb59
December 06, 2013, 11:59
The Krag is an excellent action, though it has 3 " flaws ".

When western militaries moved to rimless cases, the Mauser design caught on fast due to a more rapid reload method, although the Norwegian Krag was in 6.5x55, and the Nazis produced some in 8X57 during occupation.

The two contact points on the bolt are not as strong as a Mauser type, and gas containment is poor if a case ruptures.

It fell into the " not designed here " trap of U.S. Military procurement, even as royalties were paid to Mauser for the 1903 Springfield.

All that said, I have a Norwegian Krag that I rebarrelled to .250 Savage, and I am building an 1898 Krag in .35 Remington Rimmed.

TenTea
December 06, 2013, 12:52
John Milius had some great *Krag comments* on the A&E special Story of the Gun many years ago.

To paraphrase: "Ordnance handed these wonderfully smooth, hand fitted, beautifully finished, gorgeous rifles to our soldiers to slog around in the mud with."

I owned one in original trim (M1898) and enjoyed it thoroughly for many years.
I eventually found other fish to fry...

Brophy's Book of the Krag is also a treasure.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51EicVRQQ3L._SY300_.jpg

kev
December 06, 2013, 13:49
Style had a lot to do with it. The military always wants something 'new'. Supposedly the .30-40 Krag was thoroughly outclassed by the Spanish 7mm Mauser but in truth our tactics were outclassed. Krag wielding troopers assaulting a well defended hill will do that. The Krag was the scapegoat.

It's true that the Mauser was quicker to reload with strippers and the Krag couldn't be redesigned to take clips(they tried!), but the Krag has an advantage that the Mauser can't match,...............the Krag can be continually topped off while it remains loaded and ready to fire. The Mauser is completely out of commission when being loaded whether one at a time or with strippers.

On the civilian side Krags were practically given away when the Springfield was adopted so I guess over the years shooters just desired something 'else'. The Krag is still one of my favorites and I own several,....US, Norwegian and Danish. Only the US version is limited by the two lugs,...the others have three and the US version could easily have three as well. Spitzer bullets are no problem and ballistics could easily come close to matching the .308 with the stronger breaching.

The only real drawbacks I can see to the Krag are that it doesn't scope too gracefully(sidemount) and the massive receiver in the center that gives it such nice balance prevents the Krag from ever being much lightened. I've also never seen a good way to speed up the firing although fast locktime is something that doesn't matter much in a hunting rifle. Still, it's one of those newest and greatest things that are needed to sell to people.

Frankly I'm glad that the Krag is overlooked. I've snapped up lots of fairly nice 'sporterized' Krags over the years for $150 apiece and eventually I'll use a few of them for full custom rifles. A very well done custom Krag is a thing of beauty.

vt34
December 07, 2013, 09:54
great stuff you guys, thanks! That's the kind of insight I was after.
It is still surprising that nobody has ever mimicked it. what with all the ridiculous experiments being presented in the firearm world. Two weeks ago I saw a 22lr STG58 clone, cause I guess that's what the people want.

gew98
December 15, 2013, 19:50
The Krag is an excellent action, though it has 3 " flaws ".

When western militaries moved to rimless cases, the Mauser design caught on fast due to a more rapid reload method, although the Norwegian Krag was in 6.5x55, and the Nazis produced some in 8X57 during occupation.

The two contact points on the bolt are not as strong as a Mauser type, and gas containment is poor if a case ruptures.

It fell into the " not designed here " trap of U.S. Military procurement, even as royalties were paid to Mauser for the 1903 Springfield.

All that said, I have a Norwegian Krag that I rebarrelled to .250 Savage, and I am building an 1898 Krag in .35 Remington Rimmed.

The danes made some 8mm caliber krags...but not 8x57 caliber mauser though... and the germans never made such an 8mm mauser cal krag. , they simply made the 6,5 cal krags in small numbers while occupiers during ww2.

GaryH
December 17, 2013, 11:25
I thought that it was to easy to get dirt into it in combat. Feed problems. :confused:

bubbagump
December 17, 2013, 13:52
The Krag is an excellent action, though it has 3 " flaws ".

When western militaries moved to rimless cases, the Mauser design caught on fast due to a more rapid reload method, although the Norwegian Krag was in 6.5x55, and the Nazis produced some in 8X57 during occupation.

The two contact points on the bolt are not as strong as a Mauser type, and gas containment is poor if a case ruptures.

It fell into the " not designed here " trap of U.S. Military procurement, even as royalties were paid to Mauser for the 1903 Springfield.

All that said, I have a Norwegian Krag that I rebarrelled to .250 Savage, and I am building an 1898 Krag in .35 Remington Rimmed.

Yep.

great stuff you guys, thanks! That's the kind of insight I was after.
It is still surprising that nobody has ever mimicked it. what with all the ridiculous experiments being presented in the firearm world. Two weeks ago I saw a 22lr STG58 clone, cause I guess that's what the people want.

It was also costly to manufacture being all hand-fitted with milled parts. But it is arguably the smoothest bolt action rifle ever issued to a military anywhere, the only one I know of that comes close is the Lee-Enfield.

It also is the only bolt action rifle I know of where it's possible to top off the magazine without taking the weapon out of battery.

Finally, and I don't know if this holds true in general for the breed or not but mine is absolutely the most accurate vintage military rifle I've ever held in my hands. Whereas a 10 ring springfield is not unusual, my Krag shoots the x ring consistently at 200 yeards which outclasses even most match-tuned M1s. That is until that 115 year old barrel coppers up which is when the predictable happens.

b.

tdb59
December 17, 2013, 13:55
Yep.


Finally, and I don't know if this holds true in general for the breed or not but mine is absolutely the most accurate vintage military rifle I've ever held in my hands. Whereas a 10 ring springfield is not unusual, my Krag shoots the x ring consistently at 200 yeards which outclasses even most match-tuned M1s. That is until that 115 year old barrel coppers up which is when the predictable happens.

b.

The loose nut behind the buttplate may have something to do with how well it shoots....

Jus' sayin'....

bubbagump
December 17, 2013, 16:27
The loose nut behind the buttplate may have something to do with how well it shoots....

Jus' sayin'....

Yeah but I can promise you no mauser or springfield I've ever shot shoots like this Krag does, although both shoot well enough to get the job done at 200. Shooting five shot groups you can cover with a silver dollar out of a rifle that is more than a century old has a certain style to it, don't ya think?

b.

tdb59
December 17, 2013, 17:49
Yeah but I can promise you no mauser or springfield I've ever shot shoots like this Krag does, although both shoot well enough to get the job done at 200 shooting five shot groups you can cover with a silver dollar out of a rifle that is more than a century old has a certain style to it, don't ya think?

b.

Ayeup !

aardq
December 17, 2013, 20:01
Always read that it was weaker than the Mauser design, and the reloading was sloppy and awkward for untrained men. I can understand the reloading part considering loose rounds were being "poured" into the action and many were probably dropped to the ground.

Dan

bubbagump
December 18, 2013, 10:31
Always read that it was weaker than the Mauser design, and the reloading was sloppy and awkward for untrained men. I can understand the reloading part considering loose rounds were being "poured" into the action and many were probably dropped to the ground.

Dan

I've done a bit of experimentation around this, having taken mine to the national matches on more than one occasion. It takes patience and 'pouring' them into the magazine gate is a recipe for certain disaster. Instead what needs to happen is they need to be inserted one by one to ensure the cartridge rims position correctly, ie, one behind the other. If they get out of whack it can be disassemble the rifle time.

The easiest way I've found to do this is to rotate the rifle counter clockwise slightly so the rounds will 'fall' into the magazine, then drop 'em into the loading gate one at a time. Gravity will move them to the left side and because of the geometry they'll automatically line up correctly of their own accord. This is the most reliable method I've found and it works quite well from the prone position, not quite as fast as strippers but almost. Sitting is a bit harder, if only because most people will tend to rotate the rifle clockwise a bit (ie, the wrong way) to get a decent cheekweld.

Green troops might have been forgiven for having difficultly with that under fire. Heck, it's hard enough during a match when all you're trying to do is get 10 shots downrange in 70 seconds and the targets aren't even shooting back at you.

b.

D.Fenestrate
December 18, 2013, 11:56
I was given a krag barreled action in exc cond and had to come up with the parts to complete it. In the course of examining a lot of bolts I found that many were cracked at the base of the locking lug. This is serious weakness of the design. I sure do love how the bolt assembles and removes from the receiver however.

tdb59
December 18, 2013, 12:23
I was given a krag barreled action in exc cond and had to come up with the parts to complete it. In the course of examining a lot of bolts I found that many were cracked at the base of the locking lug. This is serious weakness of the design. I sure do love how the bolt assembles and removes from the receiver however.

You must have rotten luck.

20 + US Krags, and 2 Norwegian Krags have been in my possession, and no cracked lugs yet.

bubbagump
December 19, 2013, 08:34
You must have rotten luck.

20 + US Krags, and 2 Norwegian Krags have been in my possession, and no cracked lugs yet.

20 eh? And I thought I was excessive, I guess it's all who you're standing next too. I sure would like another one though. I've thought about rebarreling mine (cmp is selling criterion krag barrels now) as it's dark and pitted. Coppers up after about 40-50 rounds, but it literally pounds nails for the first 40. I doubt I'll find a replacement that shoots like that. It'll need one eventually and I just dread the thought of it. Ergo the lust for another .. !

b.

kev
December 19, 2013, 09:13
New barrels, huh? You guys have almost got me convinced to go digging in the 'trove'. Somewhere deep in the bowels I've got a nos 1896 complete action wrapped in oilpaper. Been holding onto that for around 35yrs just waiting for the right project. That Krag action and an identical condition 98 Mauser action came to me back in the days of good-deals-everywhere-but-no-money-to-be-found. Amazing what fifty dollars could buy back then,.......if you had fifty dollars.

Timber Wolf
December 19, 2013, 09:16
Coppers up after about 40-50 rounds, but it literally pounds nails for the first 40.

If you have not solved the issue with 40 well placed rounds of 30-40, you be over run and bayoneted anyway.:eek:

bubbagump
December 20, 2013, 08:03
If you have not solved the issue with 40 well placed rounds of 30-40, you be over run and bayoneted anyway.:eek:

:bow::bow::bow:

Jarhead504
December 24, 2013, 23:16
I heard that Krags had a propensity to blow all the remaining rounds out of the magazine; the rifles weak spot. It is interesting that the .30-40 had ballistics ALMOST the same as the 308 Winchester, or so it is said.

Jarhead

bubbagump
December 26, 2013, 10:49
I heard that Krags had a propensity to blow all the remaining rounds out of the magazine; the rifles weak spot. It is interesting that the .30-40 had ballistics ALMOST the same as the 308 Winchester, or so it is said.

Jarhead

Not sure it could blow out the remaining rounds unless a bolt/receiver failure would cause it, at which point the remaining rounds would not be the issue anyway. Dunno, maybe a pierced primer? New one on me.

As to .308 ballistics it might be capable but it'd almost certainly be an overload. The original .30 US load was a 220 grain jacketed bullet pushed to 2000 fps or thereabouts. Not exactly .308 territory. I load mine with the 150 Hornady FMJ (38.0 gr 4064 if anyone's interested), I've never chronied the load but it's probably around 2150 or so and shows zero pressure sign. I could probably get it up another couple hundred fps but there's really no point to it.

EDIT: Apparently Hodgdon does list a load for a 150 grain bullet at 2500+ fps, but personally I would not be inclined to try it without good reason. I'd expect it would be a bit brisk for a single-lug bolt design myself. Now that I'm thinking about it I may need to drag the Krag and the Chrony up to RB tomorrow and take a few measurements ...

b.

bubbagump
December 27, 2013, 16:15
Not sure it could blow out the remaining rounds unless a bolt/receiver failure would cause it, at which point the remaining rounds would not be the issue anyway. Dunno, maybe a pierced primer? New one on me.

As to .308 ballistics it might be capable but it'd almost certainly be an overload. The original .30 US load was a 220 grain jacketed bullet pushed to 2000 fps or thereabouts. Not exactly .308 territory. I load mine with the 150 Hornady FMJ (38.0 gr 4064 if anyone's interested), I've never chronied the load but it's probably around 2150 or so and shows zero pressure sign. I could probably get it up another couple hundred fps but there's really no point to it.

EDIT: Apparently Hodgdon does list a load for a 150 grain bullet at 2500+ fps, but personally I would not be inclined to try it without good reason. I'd expect it would be a bit brisk for a single-lug bolt design myself. Now that I'm thinking about it I may need to drag the Krag and the Chrony up to RB tomorrow and take a few measurements ...

b.

Ok guys & gals, confirmed the load. .30-40 Krag, 38 grains of IMR 4064, Hornady 150 FMJBT. 2180 fps at the muzzle out of a full-sized Krag rifle, standard deviation around 20 fps.

b.

vt34
December 30, 2013, 14:49
http://cuteoverload.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/threadlovercat_disclaimer.jpg

gew98
January 04, 2014, 13:04
I had a '98 krag rifle and a '99 krag carbine years ago. Both had spotty looking bores but were fun to shoot. The best fun I had with them was loading pulled M25 and M62 tracers and launching them downrange in the backyard. Was a hoot to connect wiht things out to the tracers burn limits. Did try alot of 200 grain cast w/GC bullets in them with mixed results.

STGThndr
January 08, 2014, 01:26
Good thread on a fine rifle. Never owned one, mainly cuz they don't seem to be very available around here. it's a shame that so many have been cut up to make "sporting rifles"...
As far as the ragged bores and the copper deposits, has anyone tried one of those electric lead/copper removers that you stick down the barrel, plug in and check in the morning? Ive been told that they work very well with the coppered up bores of old military rifles.... Might be just the thing for the old Krags...

Gazz
January 08, 2014, 08:04
Somewhere I read that Krag barrels were of softer steel than what was required for the higher velocity jacketed bullets. The previously issued trapdoor rifles always shot lead bullets and the steel used for them was just fine so it seems that barrel steel was not addressed when they changed over to the Krag. I have one that somebody made a quasi carbine or sporter out of and the lands are rather rounded off. Really have not spent much time at the range with it so I don't know how it shoots. Don't know how well I can see those sights either as my eyes are getting old and soft like the rest of me.

bubbagump
January 08, 2014, 11:09
Good thread on a fine rifle. Never owned one, mainly cuz they don't seem to be very available around here. it's a shame that so many have been cut up to make "sporting rifles"...
As far as the ragged bores and the copper deposits, has anyone tried one of those electric lead/copper removers that you stick down the barrel, plug in and check in the morning? Ive been told that they work very well with the coppered up bores of old military rifles.... Might be just the thing for the old Krags...

Montana Extreme pulls the copper very nicely, the problem is it coppers back up after 40-50 rounds. That's enough for me right now, I only need 30 and a few sighters.

Somewhere I read that Krag barrels were of softer steel than what was required for the higher velocity jacketed bullets. The previously issued trapdoor rifles always shot lead bullets and the steel used for them was just fine so it seems that barrel steel was not addressed when they changed over to the Krag. I have one that somebody made a quasi carbine or sporter out of and the lands are rather rounded off. Really have not spent much time at the range with it so I don't know how it shoots. Don't know how well I can see those sights either as my eyes are getting old and soft like the rest of me.

First I've heard of that but I would not challenge it. Mine does have the original barrel. CMP has new manufacture criterions and I probably ought to have my head examined right now for not laying one of these aside while they're here ...

b.

BiGB808
January 25, 2014, 15:51
Here is how a krag is loaded and shot

Beats mausers ect...go to 4:43 to see what I still can't believe. .amazing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK8fSVuxVaU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

TOWS220
January 25, 2014, 18:50
Very impressive indeed, gotta respect a country that turns out for shooting sports too!

bubbagump
January 27, 2014, 10:33
Here is how a krag is loaded and shot

Beats mausers ect...go to 4:43 to see what I still can't believe. .amazing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK8fSVuxVaU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

That is amazing. I might need one of those.

b.

erhauser
January 27, 2014, 15:50
I...e it. In the course of examining a lot of bolts I found that many were cracked at the base of the locking lug. This is serious weakness of the design. ...r.

My father in law shot one competitively in the 1930's. He had a bolt crack in the way described. Took the bolt to the U of MN metallurgy department. Got advice and built a new one (he was a tool maker) out of a different alloy, and heat treated per instructions. Shot it for many years.

His bottom line was that the advances in metallurgy since 1900 were needed to prevent this problem. By the way consider low number Springfield 1903 rifles.

erhauser
January 27, 2014, 16:19
I...e it. In the course of examining a lot of bolts I found that many were cracked at the base of the locking lug. This is serious weakness of the design. ...r.

My father in law shot one competitively in the 1930's. He had a bolt crack in the way described. Took the bolt to the U of MN metallurgy department. Got advice and built a new one (he was a tool maker) out of a different alloy, and heat treated per instructions. Shot it for many years.

His bottom line was that the advances in metallurgy since 1900 were needed to prevent this problem. By the way consider low number Springfield 1903 rifles.

BiGB808
January 28, 2014, 01:20
He is amazingly fast. I have watched it a dozen times now, didnt know they had speed loaders for them, dam near looks like its a swicth blade stripper clip

ArtBanks
February 01, 2014, 16:16
I have been shooting Krags for over 50 years and haven't had a bolt crack yet. Maybe tomorrow. Someone was wondering about speeding up firing. This one has a bob tailed bolt which is supposed to speed up hang time. I know it's a lot faster than I am.

http://i1180.photobucket.com/albums/x413/nf1e/IMG_0865_zps8bcd2042.jpg (http://s1180.photobucket.com/user/nf1e/media/IMG_0865_zps8bcd2042.jpg.html)

Semper Fi
Art

148Infantry
February 03, 2014, 12:32
That guy shoots his Krag ALMOST as fast I as I shoot mine! :rofl:
I'd love to see him roll out to a Camp Perry match. :highpower:

SWOHFAL
February 06, 2014, 22:29
That is amazing. I might need one of those.

b.

Apparently the chargers are the Norwegian equivalent of $75 a piece.

SWOHFAL
February 06, 2014, 22:35
My father in law shot one competitively in the 1930's. He had a bolt crack in the way described. Took the bolt to the U of MN metallurgy department. Got advice and built a new one (he was a tool maker) out of a different alloy, and heat treated per instructions. Shot it for many years.

His bottom line was that the advances in metallurgy since 1900 were needed to prevent this problem. By the way consider low number Springfield 1903 rifles.

That's a case of them knowing what to do but not doing it. Modern metallurgy likely increases the margin of error, but probably not the ability of a correctly made part to do its job.

bubbagump
February 09, 2014, 07:40
That guy shoots his Krag ALMOST as fast I as I shoot mine! :rofl:
I'd love to see him roll out to a Camp Perry match. :highpower:

Roger that. He'd draw a crowd, no doubt ..

snowhawk jockey
February 11, 2014, 13:03
What I don't see discussed is, which finger were those boys triggering with???

BiGB808
February 11, 2014, 13:06
pinky?..dam crispy trigger

fry
May 11, 2014, 11:51
Why the Krag rifle mechanism never caught on?


because we don't all live at the north pole and load our rifels with mittens on?