The Krag-Jørgensen was a repeating bolt action rifle designed by Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jorgensen in 1886 for the Danish and Norwegian armed forces. The Krag (as it became known) used an innovative capsule magazine which, rather than protruding straight down (as conventional magazines did) wrapped itself around the bolt-action.
Design Details & DevelopmentEdit
The designers of the Krag-Jørgensen were in the midst of an era of firearm innovation, with caliber size dropping. The Norwegian Army had adopted the 0.48 caliber (12.1mm) Krag-Petersson in 1876 and in 1884 adopted the Jarmann Rifle. Both of these designs used a tubular magazine, which (in those rifles at least) was a primitive and in some cases unreliable design. Therefore a new magazine was developed for the Krag-Jørgensen named a Capsule magazine. The main feature of the capsule magazine was that it wrapped around the bolt action system, unlike the tubular magazine (which normally protruded straight down under the rifle). The benefit of the capsule design was that it improved the Krag-Jørgensen's center of gravity and the overall balance if the rifle.
The Krag-Jørgensen was first sent, as a prototype, to the Danish armed forces, where extensive tests were carried out. The tests suggested that the needed to be lightened and a major redesign of the action. The first change was a reduction in the size of the capsule magazine (reduced to a capacity of 5 shots from the 10 round magazine on the prototype) and experiments with using dual locking lugs ended by retaining the singe locking lug, which helped to reduce the overall weight.The changes to the action occurred after long consultation with other gunsmiths and analysis of other weapons of the era. The action of the Krag-Jørgensen used a long extractor (located above the bolt) was inspired by the Jarmann rifle and more curved surfaces on the action, smoothing out the cocking and ejecting systems, reflecting the Mauser designs at the time. This action was stronger, more reliable and was lighter than the original.
The Krag-Jørgensen was also given an innovative magazine cut-off, whereby a switch (located on the left side of the receiver) could be turned to switch the access to the magazine from one shot (for long range, accurate shooting) to allow access to the full five rounds of the magazine (for rapid fire against advancing enemies). This feature would also appear on the SMLE Lee Enfield of 1907 and the M1903 Springfield.
The was originally chambered for the 6.5x55mm cartridge, which became standard issue in Sweden and Norway (where it was designed) and used in the Mauser rifles Sweden used. This round was capable of reaching a muzzle velocity of 3,183 ft/s (970m/s) but the cartridge was tuned down to fire at 2,300 ft/s (700m/s) to allow consistent, and accurate firing.
In Denmark the Danish designed 8x58R cartridge was used in the Krag-Jørgensen which would achieve a muzzle velocity of 1900 ft/s (580m/s). The bullet used would be changed to a spitzer bullet which would be fired at a much higher 2,740 ft/s (823m/s). This was the only rimmed cartridge used in any Krag-Jørgensens.
In the US the American designed .30-40 Krag cartridge was used in the Springfield Model 1892 (Springfield were granted a license to produce the Krag-Jørgensen as its own firearm). This round would achieve a muzzle velocity of 2,000 ft/s (610m/s) on average.
The Krag-Jørgensen was used by three notable nations during its initial service life: the United States of America, Denmark and Norway (its country of origin). Each nation took it upon itself to upgrade and reissue the rifle as it saw fit, with several configurations emerging across the three nations.
American Krag-Jørgensen riflesEdit
- See also: Springfield Model 1892-99 Rifle
In America the Krag-Jørgensen design went through two tests (by the Board of Ordnance Officers) to become the standard issue rifle for the United States army, beating other non-American rifles from manufacturers such as Mauser and Lee-Enfield. To save time and money the Springfield Armory was given a contract by the Krag-Jørgensen owners to build the Krag-Jørgensen, therefore reducing the cost and time to manufacturer and issue the Krag-Jørgensen.
The Springfield M1892 Rifle was the first Springfield "Krag" as it became popularly known, with a 30in (762 mm) barrel and a magazine cut off that operates in the up position, both of which can be used to identify a M1892 Rifle. The cleaning rod can also be used to identify a M1892 Rifle, as it fitted under the barrel. Due to a delay in the selection process the first M1892 Rifles were constructed in 1894, with the receivers stamped with 1894 on them. The majority of M1892 Rifles were reconditioned to the M1896 Rifle spec before they were issued.
The M1892 Carbine is only recognized as a prototype, largely due to the fact that only two are known to exist today. As can be expected, it was heavily based on the M1892 Rifle but with a 22in barrel.
The M1896 Rifle was an upgraded version of the M1892 Rifle, the major difference being the reversal of the magazine cut-off switch (which operates in down position) and the butt trap housing the cleaning rod (instead of it being mounted underneath the barrel). Furthermore the manufacturing technique was refined, allowing for greater tolerances and consistency across all rifles. This improved both accuracy and production rate.
M1896 Cadet RifleEdit
The M1896 Cadet Rifle was a limited production version of the M1896 Rifle, intended for use in training cadets. The M1896 Cadet rifle returned to having the cleaning rod housed underneath the barrel, but lost the use of a sling swivel and the barrel bands (which held the barrel to the stock) were fitted with springs.
The M1896 Carbine featured the same improvements as the M1896 Rifle had done, except with the same 22in barrel of the M1892 Carbine.
The M1898 Rifle was an improved version of the M1896 Rifle, while at the same time reverting back to the M1892 Rifle's magazine cut-off operation. The manufacturing process was improved by a redesigned bolt handle recess and a modification to the rear sight (which was also given the ability to allow for windage).
The M1898 Carbine featured the same changes and improvements that the M1898 Rifle was given. It used the same shorter stock of the M1896 Carbine (however many were restocked as M1899 Carbines) which had the rear sight touching the rear barrel band.
Almost identical to the M1898 Carbine, the M1899 Carbine had a marginally longer forearm and hand guard on the stock. The swivel ring, however, was removed.
M1899 Constabulary carbineEdit
The M1899 Constabulary Carbine was almost identical to the M1899 Carbine, but built for the Philippines. Major changes were the inclusion of a bayonet lug and full length stock.
Danish Krag-Jørgensen RiflesEditDenmark was the first nation to test the Krag-Jørgensen which provided very valuable information in the development of the Krag-Jørgensen. However it was not officially adopted until 1889, after significantly longer and extensive tests. The Danish Krag-Jørgensen used a different hinged magazine door and a steel lining in the barrel, along with a rimmed cartridge, the only use of a rimmed cartridge in the Krag-Jørgensen.
Gevær M/89 (Rifle M/89)Edit
The Rifle M/89 is identifiable by the stock, which lacks a hand guard and reaches almost the full length of the 32.7in (0.83m) barrel (which was steel lined) and the straight bolt handle. Notably the Rifle M/89 lacked a safety catch (instead using a half-cock notch within the cocking mechanism which provided a very primitive safety) until a modification in 1910. The safety catch (on post 1910 M/89s) can be found on the left side of the receiver.
Rytterkarabin M/89 (Cavalry Carbine M/89)Edit
The Cavalry Carbine was marginally shorter than other carbine versions of the Rifle M/89 and featured a hand guard. Originally the Cavalry Carbine lacked a bayonet lug.
The Rytterkarabin M/89-23 (Cavalry Carbine M/89-23) was an updated version of the original Cavalry Carbine, with the major improvement being the addition of a bayonet lug.
Ingeniorkarabin M/89 (Engineer Carbine M/89)Edit
Identical to the Cavalry Carbine, however the Engineer Carbine was originally designed with a bayonet lug.
Artillerkarabin M/89-24 (Artillery Carbine M/89)Edit
The Artillery Carbine was effectively a shortened version of the M/89 Rifle, without the hand guard of the Cavalry and Engineer Carbines. The Artillery Carbine had the sling swivel (used to attach the sling to the front end of the firearm) located on the muzzle end of the front barrel band.
Fodfolkskarabin M/89-24 (Infantry Carbine M/89)Edit
The Infantry Carbine, like the Artillery Carbine, was virtually identical to the M/89 Rifle only shorter (than the M/89 Rifle). The difference between the Infantry and Artillery Carbine was the location of the sling swivel, which on the Infantry Carbine was located further away from the muzzle.
Finskydningsgevaer M/89-28 (Sniper rifle M/89-28)Edit
The Sniper Rifle M/89-28 was designed with a heavier barrel along with a hand guard, weighing the rifle down to reduce the effect of recoil. The sights were also heavily refined and could be tuned almost indefinitely (compared to the standard M/89 rifle sights), with a hooded front sight and micrometer rear sight.
Norway (and its closest neighbor Sweden) in 1891 began tests into finding the most potent caliber to become standard issue. The 6.5x55mm cartridge won this contest, with immediate production commencing in Sweden for its use in the Mauser rifles that Sweden had adopted. In Norway, however, tests (reminiscent of those carried out by the US Board of Ordnance Officers in which they selected the Springfield Model 1892-99) were carried out to find the best rifle to use with the new cartridge. The Krag-Jørgensen came through in 1894, with the first model the M1894 becoming the most widely produced and first Krag-Jørgensen rifle to enter the Norwegian armed forces.
The M1894 Rifle (the "Long Krag" as it became known) was the most popular, and widely produced version of the Krag-Jørgensen rifle with all of the design details outlined in the design development section as well as those implemented on the Danish version of the Krag-Jørgensen. A total of 122,817 examples were produced for the Norwegian Army (in Norway) from 1894 until 1922, with a further production of around 33,600 Krag-Jørgensens produced for the civilian market.
Copies of the M1894 were made by the Steyr weapons factory in Austria and sold to the Norwegian Army. Many copies of the M1894 were used by Boer forces in the Anglo-Boer War, lasting from 1899 to 1902. Many Austrian origin M1894 Krag-Jørgensen used different serial numbers than Norwegian produced versions. There are also several recorded instances of rejected parts from Norwegian Krag-Jørgensens being used in Austrian made M1894 Krag-Jørgensen rifles.
M1895 Cavalry CarbineEdit
The M1895 Cavalry Carbine was simply a cut down version of the M1894 Rifle. The M1895 Cavalry Carbine was produced along side the M1897 Mounted Artillery & Engineer Carbine with a total of 9,309 of these two carbines being produced.
M1897 Mounted Artillery & Engineer CarbineEdit
A cut-down version of the M1894 Rifle and identical to the M1895 Cavalry Carbine. The only difference to the M1895 Cavalry Carbine was the method in which the sling fitted to the stock.
M1904 Engineer CarbineEdit
The M1904 Engineer Carbine was an improved version of the earlier carbines and can be identified by the full length stock (reaching almost the full length of the barrel). 2,750 M1904 Engineer Carbines were produced.
M1906 Guttekarabin (Boy's Carbine)Edit
A simplified and shortened version of the M1895 Cavalry Carbine. The Boy's Carbine was intended to be used as a tool for teaching teenage boys to shoot (as it was on the Norwegian syllabus until the Second World War). Notably 315 of the 3,321 Boy's Carbines were chambered in the new .22 Long Rifle ammunition.
M1907 Field Artillery CarbineEdit
The M1907 Field Artillery Carbine was produced at the same time as the M1904 Engineer Carbine and is identical, bar the attachment of a sling (which the Artillery Carbine lacked). A total of 750 were produced.
M1912 CarbineEditThe M1912 Carbine or "Short rifle" was effectively the replacement for the M1894 Rifle, as the long barreled rifle came out of favor. The M1912 was improved in 1916 and 1918 named the M1912/16 and M1912/18 respectively, with all versions using a full length stock (to which the bayonet lug fitted) and a stronger action (reinforced in several points). The nose band was improved and strengthened on the subsequent models with 30,118 in total produced between 1913 and 1926.
M1923 Sniper RifleEdit
From 1923 until 1926 the Krag-Jørgensen entered the sniper rifle market for the first time, with 630 examples built. However the M1923 Sniper Rifle proved ineffective and unreliable in field conditions hence many versions being converted to M1930 spec or hunting use.
M1925 Sniper RifleEdit
The M1925 Sniper Rifle improved on the M1923 and was intended for civilian use. 1,900 were produced in a production run lasting 15 years until the German invasion of Norway in 1940.
M1930 Sniper RifleEdit
The M1930 was a significant step in the development of the Krag-Jørgensen Sniper rifle with a fine tuned trigger, heavy barrel, refined stock and improved sights. Only 466 M1930s were produced between 1930 and 1939, all with the action from the M1894 rifle. The M1930 then re-entered production in 1950, only this time using the improved M1912 action. 404 M1930 Sniper rifles were produced from 1950 until 1951.
Model rifles Edit
The so-called "model rifles" were used both when the various sub types were approved and as a guide for manufacturing. Basically, the model rifle or model carbine was a specially manufactured weapon that showed how the approved weapon should be. They were numbered and stored separately. Several model rifles and carbines were manufactured, since small things like a change in surface treatment or other seemingly minor things. There were especially many model rifles made for the M1894, since several were sent to Steyr in Austria to work as controls and models.
A small number of Krag-Jørgensen rifles were converted into harpoon guns, in the same fashion as the Jarmann M1884. It was realized that converting the Jarmann was more cost efficient than converting the Krag-Jørgensen, so further conversions was halted. It is not known how many were converted in this way.
Krag-Jørgensen rifle modified for belt feedEdit
In the factory museum at Kongsberg Weapon Factory, there is preserved an interesting prototype of a M1894 modified for belt feed. Although no documentation has been uncovered, it's clear that the rifle has been modified at an early stage in the manufacturing process to use the same feed belts that were used on the Hotchkiss heavy machine gun in use in the Norwegian Army at the time.
The backward and forward movement of the bolt operates a mechanism that moves the belt through the receiver, presenting fresh rounds for the weapon. While this may have been advantageous while fighting from fixed fortifications, it cannot have been very practical for the user of the rifle to carry a long feed belt with him in the field. Even so, it is an interesting and early attempt to increase the firepower of the Krag-Jørgensen.