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Discussion Starter #1
Possibly someone with extensive knowledge of the Krag can answer a question I have had for years.

WHY did US engineers tool eliminate the guide rib as a locking lug on US Krags?

It makes utterly no sense to me.

The Danish and Norske Krags both have two bearing locking surfaces; the front lug and the guide rib, with the bolt handle serving as a safety lug. US Krags have in effect one bearing locking lug and two safety lugs.

The US Krag has always been hampered by its single locking lug and in fact has been known for cracked lugs.

I have read of custom US Krag rifles having their lugs lapped to allow the guiderib to bear but I am not sure if such work ruins the case on the single lug.

Anyway, can someone with knowledge of the engineering history of the US Krag comment?
 

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Lee: the US army did not "ruin" the Krag, they modified to fit their specifications, wants and needs. As I understand it, they felt the single locking lug would be more than sufficient with the .30 Army cartridge and that the guide rib should only serve for "emergency" locking - and they were right. The sheared off locking lugs you hear so much about were the result of the army attempting to improve the performance of the cartridge in 1898. They upped the velocity from 2000 to 2200/2300 fps but kept the same 220 gr. bullet with its long bearing surface. Some rifles (in reality, very few) sheared lugs. The other failed bolt stories I've heard of usually include handloaded ammo....'nuff said.

With the original .30 Army loading, a good condition US Krag is perfectly safe to shoot. I used to shoot mine with cast 180 gr. round nosed lead bullets with excellent results. A few years ago I got a deal on a large quantity of 148 gr. FMJ spitzer bullets (ex-7.62mm NATO) from a friend and worked up a couple of mild loads that shoot beautifully. I don't shoot them enough to worry about wear with the FMJ bullets and it enables me to avoid one of the chores I hate the most - casting and resizing bullets! ;-))
 

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I ve never thought of the Krag being unsafe before. I ve shot 400 rnds out of mine. the only problem I every had was a split case from a handload "brought a box of reloads should of known better I was young and stupid back then"
I do check the Locking lug for any signs of stress after I have a long firing session.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I never said the gun was unsafe for the .30-40, per se.

What I am interested in is if anyone has any ordnance documents that indicate a REASON why such a change would be made. Not just anecdotal assumptions that it wasn't necessary. I am actually wondering if there was some documented perceived advantage {production or service} that prompted the alteration.

No amount of excuse-making can deny the fact that a locking surface was eliminated in production. That is a rare occurence in gun production.

For example, if in the production of the US Springfield M1903 the engineers eliminated bearing of the left lug I suspect the right lug just might hold for most service ammo. There would thus be the non-bearing portion of the left lug and the bolt handle root to serve as safety lugs. But somebody could {SHOULD!} legitimately ask WHY would such a ridiculous design alteration be made? Well, an exact same ridiculous design alteration WAS made in the case of the US Krag bolt.

Why would the sound Scandinavian design be altered to make it less strong? By any definition the US Krag is weaker without the guide rib bearing than with it bearing. The Danes and Norwegians had it right.

All the US Krag collectors I know agree that this is a mystery and seems to have absolutely no grounding in the common sense of ordnance design.

A case can be made for "it doesn't need it", or "for the .30-40 Krag it is sufficient" or something of that order, but the elimination of locking/bearing surfaces in gun design and production is rare indeed and this one seem to be a particularly ridiculous example.

I would love to see an ordnance report that offers an explanation for this mystery.
 

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So would I for that matter.

Keep in mind that the M1903 Springfield's and Gew. 98 Mauser's 3rd "safety" lug did not bear upon the receiver unless the bolt failed, so the US Krag is not unique in this area.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Krag:

That is correct. A "safety" lug does not normally bear.

It is the elimination of the guide rib bearing lug for which no good reason seems to exist since there is already a non-bearing safety lug in the form of the bolt handle root.
 

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Boy, those are pretty strong words- Ruination of the Krag?

I picked up my copy of The Krag Rifle Story by Mallory and Olson to see what they had to say on the matter.

In the Nowegian section, there was mention that the guide rib bearing "was not conducive to ease of production" This is very understandable.

I did not readily find what the reason Springfield did not use the same process as Denmark and Norway, but I am sure that it was not considered necessary.

One must remember that the 1890s were a time of rapid development of small arms and ammunition, all perpetuated by the availability of smokeless powder. The Krag was just a stop in the road with better things to come.

We know now that the Mauser system was superior due to stripper clip loading and dual locking lugs in the much larger receiver ring.

The Krag was a marvel of engineering and manufacturing. It was just too expensive to make and was found wanting in the face of Mausers in the Spanish-American War. That is why it was so short lived as the US infantry weapon. It had nothing to do with the bearing of the guide rib.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ken, the "Ruination" part was my attempt to generate some interest in the post, naturally...

Your info from The Krag Story may indeed be the answer, which I suspect we all suspect WAS the answer...US engineers felt the multiple bearing locking surfaces of the Dano-Norsk guns was unecessary, and speed of production won out over loyalty to the original design.

Nevertheless, the decision significantly altered the gun. Krags are frequently described as "weak because they only have one one locking lug". A "single locking lug" is NOT the locking system of the original design. The Danish and Norwegian rifles have a locking system that in essence combines the front locking concept of the Mauser with the rear locking concept of the British Enfield, along with the bolt handle root safety lug which of course the Krag has in similarity with the later British P-13/P-14 and US 1917 Enfield rifles and many modern sporting bolt actions as well.

Since the mating surfaces of the front lug and the guide rib are not machined with the same cutting tool/bit the work required to get them to mate is indeed a production drawback though it may not be a functional one.

I would be fascinated to know what added strength the Danish and Norwegian rifles possess over the US rifle, if any. Taking a look at the ballistics of the Danish 8mm service cartridge should grab the attention of anyone who thinks US .30-40 service loads are the be-all and end-all of Krag potential.

As for the stripper clip loading feature, I have read that some US Krags were successfully modified to allow stripper clip use, directly into the magazine. Obviously other features of the Mauser were considered more desireable and the Krag went by the wayside.

One funny thing I find about the Krag is that it seems to be the antithesis of the M-16. Vast amounts of praise are heaped on the Krag though it soldiered for relatively few years and it was, militarily, not a particularly sucessful design. The other side of the coin shows the M-16 which has been condemned for 40 years by herds of self-proclaimed experts though it is one of the most successful military designs ever fielded. I suspect that the Krag was really something to shout about when it first saw issue though other designs quickly left it in the dust as it was not a design that could be modified to keep up with the pack. Again, the opposite is true of the M-16; it began service with a flurry of trouble but was indeed modified {and continues to be} in such a way as not only to keep up with, but rather to outpace many competitors.
 

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We discussed this some over on the Jouster gun talk Krag forum a while back:

http://www.jouster.com/cgi-bin/krag/krag.pl?noframes;read=12186

While I backed off my initial assertion that the Krag could match .308 ballistics with powders available in 1900, I still believe they could have done considerably better than what they had if they had just looked at lighter bullets (150 gr or so). Mallory mentions that SA evaluated .22 caliber rounds but had accuracy issues (probably due to the deep throat in the Krag).

I still assert that the Army could have: (1) solved the clip loading problem with the Parkhurst system; and (2) at least matched .303 British ballistics using a lighter bullet @ higher MV. I think the one major item that lead to the Krag's replacement was cost of manufacture (which was brought up in the jouster discussion, above).
 

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It should be kept in mind that the Norski Krag was produced from a better grade of steel than the US rifle. In addition, the Danish 8x58R cartridge was no ballistic powerhouse, not even with the m/08 loading.

I agree that the .30 Army could have been improved with a lighter, spitzer bullet and the Parkhurst clip loading system, but the US army's experience at the hands of Spanish troops armed with the 7x57 Mo. 93 Mauser doomed the Krag.

Personally, I believe the only reason the Norwegians and Danes stuck with the Krag so long is that neither army experienced combat from the 1860s through 1940. They just never had to face up the the Krag's shortcomings.

That being said, I still feel the Krag was the epitome of the engineer's and machinist's skill and is a joy to behold, shoot and collect.
 

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That being said, I still feel the Krag was the epitome of the engineer's and machinist's skill and is a joy to behold, shoot and collect.

Well said. In all this discussion, I wasn't trying to say the Krag was a superior battle rifle to either the '03 or the M1917 -- just that it could have been a lot better than it was and its shortcomings could have been improved upon to the point that it would have been very competitive through WW1. I only use my Krag on the target range, and as a target rifle, it is wonderful -- thank God I've never had to face combat. McAuley states in his book that the troops thought "the Krags worked just fine" (p 246) throughout the SAW, Phillipine Insurrection and Boxer Rebellion.
 

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"Underneath the Starry Flag......civilize 'em with a Krag"
 

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bolt strength of the Krag

While the military experienced problems with bolt lug shearing when testing for a more powerful cartridge most cracked lugs seem to stem from civilian reloading beyond the limits of the Krag's pressure resisting ability. Available refernces to cracked lugs usually are found in civilian discources on reloading or as side bars related to an article on shooting the old Krags. Why a second mating bolt locking surface such as a guide rib was eliminated ( and as has been stated above ) machining and finishing time were definitely part of the reason this bearing surface was eliminated. Keep in mind that such decisions were based upon what was known, believed and practiced then not what we know or practice now. As a magazine rifle the US krag is a machining wonder and much more complicated than the efficient and less costly Mauser magazine system. It is nteresting to note that while the US Army would have preferred an American designed weapon ( there is some indication of bias against any German design ) they ended up with a variation on the Scandanavian design. I suppose that national interests were just as chauvanistic then as they are now. Having been a collector of pre-WW1 arms for several years I can tell you that why certain designs were adopted in the face of something better can only be explained by local politics and the desire to have a home grown product. The US Krag continues to be one of my favorite rifles for a lot of reasons some of which are more romantic than scientific. The Krag's bolt was found to be " sufficiently strong " for the cartridge used in it and that term " sufficient " is used a lot in ordnance trials and reports Just some musings. Joe
 

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After reading all of this I suppose it almost goes without saying that commercially loaded 30/40 by Winchester keeps sufficiently within the PSI limits of a Springfield made '96 then - yes? (This is the older white boxed ammo with red/orange stripes)

Although I feel somewhat silly asking as I'm 99% sure of a positive answer - always better safe than sorry. Cheers.
 

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Any commercially loaded Krag ammo should function safely within Springfield Krag limits -- assuming of course the rifle itself is in good order.
 

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Some thoughts….

There is no question that there was a great deal of home indignation towards the Krag, two gunmakers even took the gov’t to court over the selection.

To say that American engineers intentionally weakened the Krag bolt/receiver may be going a touch far. Most likely they simply streamlined (weakened) things for production. But there was no love for the foreign rifle, not when you had so many great home grown gun manufacturers spurned.

However, the SAW doomed the Krag, bad tactics cost American lives, and it was the Krag that got the blame, and the Mauser that got the fame.

Tho it was “sufficient” for the task, the achilles heel was the loading system, for you can shoot a Krag just as quickly in single shot mode. And since American engineers already disliked the foriegner, it didn’t get the R & D upgrades (ie like the later M16).

Its cousins in Europe soldiered on, built of better metal and better design, not only were they used against the Nazis, they were also built for the Nazis, and in the late forties were even chambered in 8mm Mauser and 30-06.

As for today’s collector it is perhaps the most eclectic and elegant military rifle in the American pantheon, and when kept within the design parameters of the 30-40 cartridge, an excellent all purpose rifle.
 

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I have always said the Parkhurst system was a solution to a problem that did not exist. At the Infantry Trophy matches, the Krag shooting Nat'l Guard teams would regularly take the 1903 shooting active teams "behind the woodshed" until the Krag was no longer allowed as a "service rifle" in 1907-08.

As to ballistics, Dr. Hudson's handloads addressed the Krag's long-range ballistic shortcomings; a 165-180gr boattail bullet would be much more efficient at 600+ yards. Google search "Hudson Krag" or "Horace Kephart Krag"; I have a stock of 168gr Sierra MatchKings I believe I might experiment with.

As to manufacturing, a simple solution to the machining issue would be adopt the Danish Krag method of a seperate magazine box.

We discussed this some over on the Jouster gun talk Krag forum a while back:

http://www.jouster.com/cgi-bin/krag/krag.pl?noframes;read=12186

While I backed off my initial assertion that the Krag could match .308 ballistics with powders available in 1900, I still believe they could have done considerably better than what they had if they had just looked at lighter bullets (150 gr or so). Mallory mentions that SA evaluated .22 caliber rounds but had accuracy issues (probably due to the deep throat in the Krag).

I still assert that the Army could have: (1) solved the clip loading problem with the Parkhurst system; and (2) at least matched .303 British ballistics using a lighter bullet @ higher MV. I think the one major item that lead to the Krag's replacement was cost of manufacture (which was brought up in the jouster discussion, above).
 

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I will give the detractors of the Krag this with regard to lack of clip loading -- rapid fire while on the target range is an entirely different task than trying to advance through unimproved terrain and reload on the move. One of the complaints about the Krag at San Juan Hill were that troops continually fumbled with and dropped cartridges during the advance. The Parkhurst system should have molified the critics.

Nevertheless, I love to take my Krag to the range and try my best to get 10 rounds on target in < 60 seconds:D

I have heard the Krag derided as a "failure". It was not. It was on par with many other military rifles of the 1890s and better than most with regard to being very durable and easy to operate under adverse conditions (mud, dirt, etc.). The SMLE was probably the only other rifle of the day that was as tolerant to dirt and muck. Was the '03 better? Sure - in the long run, but I'll bet the Krag could have been modified to be as good as the '03 (not counting cost of manufacture, which is a signifacant design driver).

I 100% concur with your statements regarding Krag ballistics. I don't understand why the Army didn't try the lighter bullets sooner. Of course, what's obvious now was probably not so obvious then. In the 1890s it was still considered in-vogue to use massed volley fire at extreme ranges which is what I think drove them to the 220 gr bullet. While the rifle didn't work out so well for that, the machine gun filled the volley fire role quite well (read A Rifleman Went to War). The Army got smart with the .30-06 and the 150 gr bullet (after the German's showed the way of course).
 

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I will give the detractors of the Krag this with regard to lack of clip loading -- rapid fire while on the target range is an entirely different task than trying to advance through unimproved terrain and reload on the move. One of the complaints about the Krag at San Juan Hill were that troops continually fumbled with and dropped cartridges during the advance. The Parkhurst system should have molified the critics.

Nevertheless, I love to take my Krag to the range and try my best to get 10 rounds on target in < 60 seconds:D
A bit of education might be in order. The Infantry Trophy match is not a conventional HP course match. Each team is issued @700 rounds at the 600 yard line and has one minute to score as many hits as possible at 600, 300 and 200 yards each. Mats, telescopes and many of the other HP 'accessories' are not permitted shooting the Rattle Battle. Each relay shoots one stage and advances in line of battle to the next stage (up til the WW2 era at the double quick). Even with these rules, the Krag equipped National Guard teams still soundly beat the 1903 equipped Active teams. So much for 1903 'superiority'.

FWIW, I have a Krag era manual of arms. Tactically, the Krag was used as a single shot rifle with a magazine for emergency use; that's the main reason that notch is present.
 

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The Krag wasn't that inferior to the Mauser 93. As they used cartridges
with very similar ballistics. The 7 mm used a round nose bullet, and it's clip loading
had very little effect. Writers often refer to San Juan Hill. What really happened there
was our troops were ordered to charge up an open field against riflemen in bunkers.
To cover there butts the military blamed the KRAG.
The Britts did the same and demanded a 7mm to cure there problems.
Take Care!
 
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