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From the earliest service round to the Mark VI (1889 to 1910) the .303 used round nose or hollow point/soft point rounds. It started out with a round nose, then went hollow point and soft point, back to round nose again. Through it all I believe it was a 215 grain bullet.


The 303 didn't get a spritzer slug (174 grains) until the Mark VII service round was introduced in 1910. It was done after the British faced the Mauser 7MM in the Boer wars and again its opponents thought the 7MM to be superior.
My Mistake !...............
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Because the 30-40 was rimmed, and did not work well with box magazines is my guess. You ever see how the cartridges were fed into a 30-40 Krag?

Since I own one - yes. That is why I said using stripper clips with the Mauser made reloading superior to the Krag. The Russians didn't seem to have to many issues developing weapons around a rimmed rifle case.
 

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Since I own one - yes. That is why I said using stripper clips with the Mauser made reloading superior to the Krag. The Russians didn't seem to have to many issues developing weapons around a rimmed rifle case.
Sometimes cheap stripper clips on them Russian don't work so well. And you are supposed to alternate rims, 1 forward, next back, next forward when you load stripper clips for a Lee Enfield .303 Brit rifle. Takes extra time to do it right. Don't have to worry about that in a Garand.
 

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Lot of close explanations but first and foremost was the rimless cartridge, that is why they went with the 30-03 and of course as already explained the advantage of the spitzer bullet was realized very shortly after and resulted in the modification to the 06. Roosevelt's only significant influence on the 03 was to eliminate the crappy rod bayonet.
 

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Sometimes cheap stripper clips on them Russian don't work so well. And you are supposed to alternate rims, 1 forward, next back, next forward when you load stripper clips for a Lee Enfield .303 Brit rifle. Takes extra time to do it right. Don't have to worry about that in a Garand.
I learned that the hard way, about the staggered rims in the Mosin clips. Once in awhile, I get one that doesn't want to feed properly, and I get rid of it.

I had the chance to handle a US GI Krag today at the gun shop. It handles well, and I like the sights, but I have to agree with TR that loading it through that side port is nowhere near as quick or reliable as the five round vertical strippers of the Mauser design. (I'd love to buy that Krag, but I don't have a spare $1200 right now.)
 

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Because I shoot all the WWII rifles against each other I get a feel for what each soldier must have felt shooting their particular rifles. This is why I collect them. I shoot Jap against Argentine, German against Russian, English against American etc..

With the 30-40 Krags the first thing you notice is this is a solid, heavy rifle. I don't know if Teddy ever actually charged up San Juan hill on horseback shooting a 30-40 Krag. But personally if I was shooting from horseback I would want a smaller rifle. I know it hadn't been invented yet, but a .30 Carbine would be ideal shooting from a horse. Next is loading a Krag- Jorgenson. Putting rounds into a tray on horseback would mean missing the tray and some rounds being jostled out. I just can't see that as being beneficial. Even a foot soldier would have to grab the loose rounds out of his pouch, open the loading tray, then lay them into the tray to reload, making sure they were aligned the correct way. What if he put too many into the tray? Or not enough and ran out of cartridges at a crucial time? Or what if they were in the wrong way?

The Spanish only had to grab the next stripper clip out of their pouch, open the bolt and strip them into the rifle. They had them on clips, already counted to the correct number and all facing the correct way. A definite advantage.

Personally I have fun shooting the 30-40 Krags. I like the old heavy battle rifles. But I can see why they were one of the shortest lived rifles in the US inventory.
 

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Because I shoot all the WWII rifles against each other I get a feel for what each soldier must have felt shooting their particular rifles. This is why I collect them. I shoot Jap against Argentine, German against Russian, English against American etc..

With the 30-40 Krags the first thing you notice is this is a solid, heavy rifle. I don't know if Teddy ever actually charged up San Juan hill on horseback shooting a 30-40 Krag. But personally if I was shooting from horseback I would want a smaller rifle. I know it hadn't been invented yet, but a .30 Carbine would be ideal shooting from a horse. Next is loading a Krag- Jorgenson. Putting rounds into a tray on horseback would mean missing the tray and some rounds being jostled out. I just can't see that as being beneficial. Even a foot soldier would have to grab the loose rounds out of his pouch, open the loading tray, then lay them into the tray to reload, making sure they were aligned the correct way. What if he put too many into the tray? Or not enough and ran out of cartridges at a crucial time? Or what if they were in the wrong way?

The Spanish only had to grab the next stripper clip out of their pouch, open the bolt and strip them into the rifle. They had them on clips, already counted to the correct number and all facing the correct way. A definite advantage.

Personally I have fun shooting the 30-40 Krags. I like the old heavy battle rifles. But I can see why they were one of the shortest lived rifles in the US inventory.
There were carbine versions of the Krag made. A few, perhaps 5000 of them, were issued to the US Cavalry in the last couple of years of the Indian Wars on the American frontier and saw action there. (One thing that the John Wayne movie McLintock! got right has to do with the weapons Chief Puma stole for "the last remembered fight of the Comanche" with the assistance of the halfbreed Bunny Dull and the connivance of his honored enemy and blood brother George Washington McLintock. There was a boxcar on the siding at the railroad station loaded with guns and ammo for the local cavalry garrison. After breaking Puma and the other Comanche chief out of their temporary prison, Bunny breaks into the boxcar and pushes out crates of rifles and ammunition. The war party swings by the boxcar to pick up guns and ammo, and they are clearly shown. They are Krag carbines and boxes of .30-40 Krag ammo.)

The carbines also were used in Cuba and the Philippines by the Regular Army before the Springfield came on the scene in 1903. I don't know how many of the half-million Krags produced were carbine variants. (I think the Springfield Arsenal made four slightly different models, differing mostly in their cleaning gear location and on whether they were modified to accept a bayonet or not.) Good shooters, but doomed by their slow reloading system.
 

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I believe the issue was more the rifle than the ammo on the battlefields of Cuba. Loading with stripper clips was a huge advantage over the box magazine of the Krag.
That was certainly one of the issues. It's much faster to load five rounds with a stripper clip than it is to load five loose rounds one at a time. I believe, entirely subjectively, that it has to do with the military have a difficult time wrapping its head around new advances.

In the Civil War, General James Wolfe Ripley was the Chief of Ordnance for the Union Army. The phrase "that dumb f _ _ k" is certainly applicable to him. The wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time. Metallic cartridges and repeating rifles -- the Henry, the Spencer, the Burnside, even the Colt Revolving Rifle if configured for metallic cartridges -- were all available. The Confederacy had no ability to produce rifles using metallic cartridges; the Union did. In Stars and Stripes Forever, the late Harry Harrison had a character explain the difference between a muzzleloading rifle-musket and a repeater to Queen Victoria thusly: If your regiment has a rifle that can fire three rounds a minute and your opponent has a regiment with rifles that can fire 30 rounds a minute, in effect your opponent has ten times the soldiers on the field. Your regiment will be wiped out in short order.

If Ripley had not been such a hidebound jackass more concerned with soldiers wasting ammunition --and how many times have we heard that old chestnut when changing from one rifle to another? -- and had ordered say, the Spencer into full production, the Civil War would have lasted perhaps one year because the Union Army would have slaughtered the Confederate Army on the battlefield; see the explanation in the previous paragraph. But Ripley refused to see the facts in front of him. The only Union units that got cartridge rifles in quantity were the privately-equipped Sharpshooter regiments and some Cavalry regiments late in the war. I mind me of one battle during the Shenandoah Valley campaign where an understrength cavalry regiment armed with Spencers stopped a Confederate cavalry force of three regiments butt-cold by taking up dismounted defensive positions and letting them have it with their Spencers. The Johnny Rebs retreated in disarray leaving a large number of dead behind them and did not try to force the passage again because they were convinced there was a Union division holding that position. The same thing would have happened infantry versus infantry, if Ripley had not been an idiot. The war would have been shorter and with a lot fewer Union casualties, had Billy Yank been equipped with a repeater instead of a rifle-musket.

The U.S. Army made a similar mistake in 1873 at the competition supervised by Brigadier General Alfred Terry, a Civil War hero and later a respected Indian fighter. 99 different rifles were tested, including repeaters. The winner was the Allin "trapdoor" single shot cartridge loading system; single shots were allegedly more reliable than repeaters. (I'll pause for a moment while we all laugh.) And I am sure that the fact the Army had three metric butt-loads of Springfield rifle-muskets in storage that could be converted into single shot Springfield Trapdoor Rifles and Trapdoor Carbines for a whole lot less money per unit than it would cost to buy repeaters like the Winchester Model 1873 had nothing at all to do with that decision.

Comes the 1890s, and the Army is looking to upgrade to a magazine-fed battle rifle. A competition was held with entries from Lee, Krag, Mannlicher, Mauser, and Schmidt–Rubin. The Army selected the Krag-Jorgensen, because the generals liked the fact the magazine could be topped up without opening the bolt, meaning the soldier could continue shooting while reloading (at least in theory). They also believed that a lower reloading speed versus stripper clip loading would encourage soldiers to conserve ammunition. (And where have we heard THAT before?) Their theory was disproved as I have said elsewhere in the thread by the US Army getting the hell shot out of it in Cuba by Spaniards equipped with stripper-clip loaded Mausers. The Krag magazine was a good system, but one that had been overtaken by time before it had a chance to prove itself in battle.

The stripper-clip loading system ruled the rifle roost for the next half-century. The first serious attempt to depart from it with a semi-auto longarm was with the prototype M-1 Garand. John C. Garand chambered the rifle in .270 Win and equipped it with a detachable magazine generally similar to that of the Browning Automatic Rifle, presumably on the don't-reinvent-the-wheel theory. The Army didn't like that, again claiming it would encourage soldiers to waste ammunition. (Holy Mary, Mother of God, didn't any of these decision-makers ever get shot at as junior officers?) Douglas MacArthur, the US Army Chief of Staff at the time, didn't like the idea of changing the rifle caliber. He HAD been shot at, and shot at a lot, in World War I. (He did not come by his Distinguished Service Cross because he stayed safely in his headquarters.) He liked the idea of the machine guns and rifles having the same round, knew what the .30-06 round could do, and knew the Army had mountains of .30-06 in storage. Garand had to go back to the drawing board, up-gun his design to .30-06, and come up with a loading system that was not based on either stripper clips he saw as obsolete, or on the detachable magazine he saw as the wave of the future. The result was the en bloc clip that is the trademark of the M-1 Garand rifle. But you notice no one else adopted the idea.

Then, of course, the US Army woke up and smelled the coffee after the Korean War, realizing it needed a battle rifle with a detachable magazine, but preferably one that they did not have to completeluy retool to make. Essentially, they adopted the rifle John C. Garand had presented to the Army back in 1932, but in the new 7.62 NATO caliber, the downsized .30-06 round; same bullet, better powder, smaller case, similar performance. The decision-makers at that time had been in World War II as company and field grade officers, and been shot at a lot, and at last did not make the argument that a large capacity magazine would encourage the line-animals to waste ammo. Their attitude regarding the M-14 seems to have been, "Waste ammo, not lives."

Then the M-14 with its powerful 7.62 NATO round was replaced by the abomination known as the Poodle Shooter firing a round half the states in the Union won't allow you to use in deer-hunting; but that's another story.
 

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Sometimes cheap stripper clips on them Russian don't work so well. And you are supposed to alternate rims, 1 forward, next back, next forward when you load stripper clips for a Lee Enfield .303 Brit rifle. Takes extra time to do it right. Don't have to worry about that in a Garand.
I follow that same 1-up-1-back technique with my Mosin Nagant stripper clips, too. I've never had a problem stripping the ammo into the magazine, and I believe that little trick is why.
 
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The 1898 Krag and it's various changes through to 1902 are interesting. I prefer the 1901 ingenious rear sight and 30" barrel. My Krag carbine is of the last ones produced. The Krag was Americas first smokeless round.
The Military approved of it because it had a magazine cut off switch. Ordnance with magazines capable of firing several rounds per minute was considered wasteful. Training and use of the Krag required the cut off switch to be on and soldiers to fire single shot in combat. The magazine was to be held until the enemy launched an attack on their position.
 

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Something our leaders today do not want...effective weapons.
Well, maybe Trump might fix that, but anyway...

The .30-06 is an AMAZING cartridge, and it kills bad guys dead.
Also Bears, Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Rhino, Hippopotamus, and everything
else that walks, flies or crawls on Earth. It'd probably also give
a T-Rex a bad day.

If we didn't have so many dang pansies in the military today, nobody
would be complaining about "We can carry more 5.56!"
Well, yeah, but you gotta shoot 'em 5 more times to kill 'em!!
View attachment 89009

And that was bull anyway 'cause I carried 2K rounds of 7.62 in my ruck,
with everyone else getting 500 rounds of 5.56 and complaining it was
heavy & displacing their MRE's...gah...that's why you take out the sleeping bag
and use 3 poncho liners!! So you can carry more ammo!!
View attachment 89010

What's gonna hurt more, throwing a handfull of BB's (5.56) at someone??
Or throwing a handful of MARBLES (7.62)??
Years ago I met a fella who was Spetz from the mid '60s through the '70s. He and his wife, who had been born in a German concentration camp, used to spend a lot of time at Books-A-Million in the Eastwood mall here in Birmingham.

My mom had a kiosk in the mall, and the mall pretty much became my home in my pre-teen years. They sort of became my weekend grandparents at the mall, despite not being THAT much older than my parents.

Anyway, When I met him around 1992 he couldn't have been more than in his early 50s, but he looked ancient, and he and his wife were both already retired. His left shoulder was bowed like an old nag's back, and one day I got up the courage to ask how it happened.

Here is the story he told me:

He was a machine gunner with a DShK. In the early days a heavy gunner in the Spetz had the same crew as a heavy gunner in the standard army. Two guys hupped the gun - usually with the aide of a wheeled mount, and a third guy hupped the ammo and the bipod (in cases where terrain made the wheels unfeasible).

Someone in the Soviet brass, however, decided that the Spetz needed leaner organization, one of the cuts was the third man from the gunner's crew. Now two men carried the gun, all the ammo, spotting gear and the bipod.

Next, someone in the Soviet brass supposedly found out that American special forces worked in small fire teams or squads.

It was at this point in his story the man unfolded a picture from his pocket. By the face I could tell it was clearly him, but this now-frail man had once been built like Dolph Lundgren.

A strap had been threaded through several ammo cans and ran from his left shoulder over to his right side. The DShK, which weighs close to 80 pounds by itself is slung over the same shoulder and being balanced with one hand on the barrel the way some ******** carry a rifle. The other hand is holding a cigarette. The man is halfway up a mountain in the Sinai. There was no bipod, but there was some sort of pommel-looking thing on the gun that he used as a rest.

He told me that when all the muscle was there he had no idea the weight was crushing and reshaping his bones. When He left the military and went into engineering he got lean and realized how much damage had been done.
 

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Just a personal opinion, but I don't think the 7mm whipped the .30-40 in Cuba because of cartridge ballistics either.

I've heard for decades about the Americans thinking the 7MM Mauser round was superior to the 30-40 but ballistics don't seem prove it. In fact - I was surprised how well the 30-40 compared to the .308 round.

The quoted ballistics of the standard cartridge in the standard rifle in 1898 are used, the .30-40 looks to be marginally more powerful and provides superior ballistics than does the 7mm. The list below assumes a 173-grain jacketed round nose bullet for the 7mm and a 220-grain jacketed round nose for the .30-40. Velocity figures come from Barnes Cartridges of the World.


7mm w/173 grain bullet: 2093 fps 1673 ft./lbs.

.30-40 w/220 grain bullet: 2000 fps 2364 ft./lbs

Some other service cartridges in their 1890s configuration.

British .303 w/215 grain bullet: 1970 fps 1850 ft./lbs.
French 8mm Lebel w/232 grain bullet: 1885 fps 1831 ft./lbs.
German 7.9X57 w/226 grain bullet: 2095 fps 2200 ft./lbs.
Austrian 8X50 w/244 grain bullet: 2030 fps 2240 ft./lbs.
Russian 7.62X54 w/210 grain bullet: 2115 fps 2086 ft./lbs
Belgian 7.65X53 w/211 grain bullet: 2130 fps 2150 ft./lbs.
Danish 8X58 w/237 grain bullet: 1968 fps 2041 ft./lbs.
Japanese 8X53 w/238 grain bullet: 1850 fps 1810 ft/lbs.


As adopted in 1894 the .30-40 holds its own if not superior against the other cartridges of the day. I agree the Krag rifle was inferior as a battle field weapon -specifically due to the magazine, but the round appears to be as good or better than the rest of the world's service rounds. The other issue is the Krag is a difficult rifle to manufacture. Just look at it, there is a lot of machined surfaces and the single lug didn't do it any favors.

I gotta agree.

What a hoot!

Here's that hoary old narrative in its entirety. I penned that 10-12 years ago just for fun and stuck it up on several forums.

Pontification ahead.
 

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Here’s a sentimental favorite of mine, the .30-40 Krag, an all-American cartridge with a Norwegian delivery system. The .30-40 was the American entry into the growing number of “small-bore” cartridges fielded by the world powers in the closing decades of the 19th century. This ancient cartridge was effective in its day and still provides useful ballistics in this 21st century.

France led the way in 1886 with an 8mm cartridge loaded with the first viable smokeless propellant. Introduced after trials cloaked in secrecy, this new cartridge development was said to be both smokeless and noiseless. Smokeless it effectively was but if anything it was likely louder than the old Gras rifles which it replaced. It offered higher velocities with attendant trajectory benefits. Germany, Great Britain, and other European powers scrambled to complete developmental work on concepts they were investigating in order to produce high-velocity small-bore cartridges of their own. These new “high-tech” “small-bore” cartridges when utilized in repeating rifles offered a tangible advantage to the army so equipped. France’s Lebel and Germany’s 1888 (Commission) rifle were tubular magazine repeaters. The more efficient box magazine rifles developed by American James Paris Lee and adopted by Great Britain, the initial box magazine designs provided by German Paul Mauser, and the Mannlicher system of the Austro-Hungarian Steyr rifle effectively rendered the slower loading tube magazine designs obsolete though they only emerged a few years before.

Some ordnance minds of the times both here and abroad were skeptical of these new-fangled high velocity small-bore cartridges and the repeating rifles in which they appeared. Cries of “too small to be effective” and “magazine fed rifles will cause troops to waste ammunition” rose from some quarters. There’s nothing new under the sun and arguments about .223/5.56NATO vs. ammunition using heavier projectiles of larger diameter are only the latest round in the continuing controversy over equipping soldiers with the best possible small arms. Yours truly opines that .22 bore military cartridges are too small and our own soldiers would be better served with something in the 6.5mm to .30 caliber range so likely fits in the group of those who hinder “progress”.

The United States was just a few years behind all of this small-bore development and adoption activity among the advanced nations of the world. Hide-bound ordnance department officers, some of whom fought in the Civil War, thought the current Springfield single shot “trapdoor” rifle and carbine with a large, heavy .45 caliber bullet represented a perfectly good fighting weapon for the soldier. The Indians at Wounded Knee could have certainly considered the Trapdoor an "assault rifle". Despite the resistance from some quarters, cartridge development continued in our own ordnance department in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, resulting in the .30-40, developed by 1892 but first fielded in 1894. Various repeating rifle designs had been solicited and evaluated in the search for the best delivery system for the cartridge under development.

Among all the designs accepted for trial came a collaborative effort of Ole Hermann Krag and Erik Jorgensen of Norway which was a bolt-action repeater with a unique side opening box magazine design. Already adopted by Denmark and being favorably considered for adoption by the inventors' native Norway this repeating design looked promising and, upon further testing, won out over all other comers. The excellent Lee rifle design, which our own ordnance department rejected, served Great Britain well into the 20 century with great distinction. Lee’s rejection was a shame really as Lee was an American and his concepts made for a really superior bolt-action rifle and one that could accept additional technological improvements as they became available. The stripper clip, 8 to 10 round magazines, and many years later, adaptation to the 7.62 NATO comes to mind.



The Krag-Jorgensen was not a bad design and superior to the rifles adopted by some world armies. It gave a generally good account of itself during its period of standard issue, both in “our splendid little war” the Spanish American War of 1898 and in several early 20th century police actions. A cursory look at the rifle and cartridge in the context of the era may refute some of the myths and misconceptions about our early small bore military cartridge and its repeating rifle.

The .30-40 holds the distinction of being the first smokeless cartridge developed here. Variously known as the .30 Army or .30 US it predates both the .30-30 and .25-35 which were the first commercial smokeless powder cartridge developments in the U. S.. As originally adopted for service it was loaded with a 220 grain round nosed cupro-nickel bullet to a muzzle velocity of 2200 feet per second. Later the velocity specification was lowered to 2000 feet per second. This was supposedly done to counteract the inconsistent performance of ammunition procured by the Army. Some lots were generating higher velocities and pressures than specified and the Ordnance Department was fearful of battering and wearing the actions. This velocity reduction apparently occurred after the Spanish American War.

The sorry reputation of the .38 Long Colt revolvers in our military service must have rubbed off on the performance of the .30-40 as I’ve read several recent accounts that pooh-poohed our .30 rifle round. My view is that this inadequate performance is over-blown. I suppose that the Spaniards and semi-civilized colonial troops that opposed us in the Spanish-American War must have known that one ceases hostilities when struck by a bullet, as the .30-40 was generally highly thought of in after-battle reports from that conflict. Not so with the famous Muslin Juramentados encountered in the Philippines when U. S. troops took over occupation and administration of that archipelago after cessation of hostilities with Spain. These fanatical (read that terrorists) tribesmen would drug themselves up, bind their bodies tightly to retard blood loss, and run amok, attempting to take out as many infidels as possible before their inevitable deaths. Their wicked kris and barongs dripped with the blood of many U. S. soldiers who encountered them while on occupation duty. These encounters provided more of a backdrop for the eventual adoption of .45 caliber handguns for U.S military service than they did for sullying the .30-40’s reputation. There were some incidents where these fanatics suffered multiple hits from our rifles and continued their mayhem. Who knows how accurately shots were placed from the rifles of the troops? Would the 7.62 NATO or .30-06 have been that much more effective against such a determined and bodily fortified enemy? I’m of the opinion that the .30-40 was about as effective as small arms could be against such attacks. The .38 Colt? I wouldn’t have expected any stopping performance from that handgun.

A myth has been repeated over the years that one reason the Spanish M1893 Mauser rifle was considered better than the Krag was the superiority of it’s ammunition. Now comparing excellent modern Norma factory 7X57 to Span-Am vintage .30-40 would validate this supposition, however if quoted ballistics of the standard cartridge as used in each rifle in 1898 are used, the .30-40 looks to be marginally more powerful and provides superior ballistics than does the 7mm. The data below assumes a 173-grain jacketed round nose bullet for the 7mm and a 220-grain jacketed round nose for the .30-40. Velocity figures come from Barnes “Cartridges of the World” and are representative of the military issue ammunition of the era.

7mm w/173 grain bullet: 2093 fps 1673 ft./lbs.

.30-40 w/220 grain bullet: 2200 fps 2364 ft./lbs

Additionally see some other world cartridges in their 1890’s configurations.

British .303 w/215 grain bullet: 1970 fps 1850 ft./lbs.
French 8mm Lebel w/232 grain bullet: 1885 fps 1831 ft./lbs.
German 7.9X57 w/226 grain bullet: 2095 fps 2200 ft./lbs.
Austrian 8X50 w/244 grain bullet: 2030 fps 2240 ft./lbs.
Russian 7.62X54 w/210 grain bullet: 2115 fps 2086 ft./lbs
Belgian 7.65X53 w/211 grain bullet: 2130 fps 2150 ft./lbs.
Danish 8X58 w/237 grain bullet: 1968 fps 2041 ft./lbs.
Japanese 8X53 w/238 grain bullet: 1850 fps 1810 ft/lbs.


As adopted in 1894 the .30-40 holds its own against the other cartridges of the day. Since there is really no marked superiority of any one of these cartridges over another, one has to look further to find reasons why the Spanish Mauser was superior to the Krag.
 

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Some reasons the Model 1893 Spanish Mauser could be considered the better service rifle include: ease of field maintenance, a strong double locking lugged bolt, and a larger, sturdier, and simpler extractor design. On the other hand the Krag Jorgensen has a single locking lugged bolt, the bolt handle serving as a safety lug. The Krag extractor is more complicated and doesn’t offer as much purchase on the case’s rim. In the event of a sticky case it would seem that the camming action of the Krag’s bolt could pull the extractor through the case’s rim though I’ve not heard of any instance of this occurring.

One rapid-fire string entailing a reload reveals the primary reason though. The Mauser with its charger loading system may be loaded easily and more rapidly than the Krag which requires insertion of its compliment of cartridges into its magazine one round at a time. The Mauser’s stripper clip aids in controlling the cartridges when executing the reload and also keeps them conveniently straight in the cartridge belt or bandoleer. The stress of handling any repeating rifle on the field of battle would surely render correct and rapid manipulation of its action more difficult. The motion of poking loose rounds into a mechanism would be slower and more likely to induce fumbling which would be frustrating and distressing. Practice with a clip-fed rifle would yield more effective trained use of the arm than would practice single loading a rifle with side-opening magazine.

After the conclusion of hostilities in 1898, efforts were sought to improve loading efficiency of the Krag-Jorgensen, including attempts to adapt a charger loading system to its magazine. This experimentation didn’t work out and ultimately the Krag was displaced by the 1903 Springfield with a charger loading system and a new rimless cartridge to facilitate it.


Despite its design limitations the Krag may be loaded rapidly enough to be used in the rapid-fire stages of high-power rifle competition. I’ve successfully used mine in local competition and even placed ahead of some decent semi-auto shooters. By laying my five-round reload evenly on the mat beside me I was able flip open the loading gate, scoop them up, and shuffle them in without much effort. So nice and easy on the mat, such a procedure wouldn’t work in the field where dirt, mud, and weeds could foul the action. My rifle has the Model 1896 rear sight modification, which is the least effective variation of rear sights used on the U. S. Krags due to lack of horizontal adjustment capabilities, yet it is precise enough if one has good vision. Accuracy of the rifle is really superb and it was wonderful to use in the slow-fire stages, especially prone. I find the stock to be too short and its straight grip is archaic but recoil is manageable and the 30-inch barreled rifle is rock steady in the standing position. The bolt cocks on opening and the action is slick and fast in rapid-fire use.
 

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The action of the Krag Jorgenson is a thing of beauty and was likely a bugger-bear to produce with the many machining operations required to manufacture it. A pristine Krag receiver was oil quenched, giving it a dark, muted, and mottled tone. The bolt was left bright and the large flat extractor is fire blued. The barrel, bands, bayonet lug, and trigger guard exhibit a pleasing dark blue and obviously were prepped and polished with meticulous care. Much is said about the smoothness of the Krag action but one simply must experience its operation to appreciate just how incredibly smooth it is! No other bolt-action design is slicker. The action is made of “class C ordnance steel “ which is a simple carbon steel, as was the 1903 Springfield until 1918. I mentioned the Krag on a forum some years ago and a fellow shot back that... “the Krag actions are unsafe with their single locking lug which is prone to crack. If that lug breaks the bolt will come back into your head!”... Naah, it won’t. This “prone-to-crack business has been rumored about and has been in print for years. I’ve examined every Krag I’ve come across for 30 years and am still waiting to see the first one having a locking lug with a discernible crack. Not saying it couldn’t happen but I’ve not observed it. In the event that a lug did break the bolt handle will offer a margin of safety, as it would have to break off or be driven through the rear of the receiver in order to come out of the rifle. P.O.Ackley tested a Krag by grinding the locking lug completely off of its bolt and found that the bolt handle alone would hold the bolt in the action with factory equivalent loads.

The .30-40 afield

In older editions of “Cartridges of the World” Frank C. Barnes he suggested that: “no better deer or elk cartridge exists than the .30-40”. He was likely right. With 150 grain or 165 grain handloads for lighter big game and 180 to 220 grain handloads for larger animals the .30-40 could (and has) successfully tackled all North American big game. The .30-40 cartridge could be had in all those weights in factory loadings at one time but the factory 180 grain loading is all I’ve seen available for many years.

I’ve taken two deer and a black buck with the .30-40. A factory velocity equivalent handload with a 220 grain Sierra round nose bullet was used in all instances as this bullet combination agrees with my rifle’s sights so well. One whitetail deer represented the longest shot I’ve made on a deer with open sights, a little over 200 steps. The deer, struck broadside through both lungs staggered, tried to break into a run but collapsed inside of 30 yards. Of course the bullet completely penetrated. I’d carefully rested the rifle across the hood of a 1969 Ford pickup on my rolled-up coat.

The other whitetail represents the closest shot I ever made on a deer. He was running past me and all of five feet from the muzzle of the long barrel of my Krag when he was flattened by the heavy 220-grain slug. I was walking down a dry creek bed at the bottom of a deep ravine in San Saba County, Texas. My mission had been to drive deer out of the brushy ravine where my hunting buddy could take one from his vantage point on the rim. He moved his position and in the process jumped up a deer from the rim, which fled down into the ravine and almost on top of me.

The Black buck was a non-event, struck as it made an escape from a screen of brush at 40 yards, the bullet passing through diagonally from right hip through the left shoulder. Black buck are small and light-boned and don’t offer much to stop a 220 grain bullet.

Handload Performance

A 1-in-10 twist is standard for the rifled bore of rifles chambered in .30-40. This is what allows the .30-40 to stabilize the long heavy .308 diameter caliber bullets, even at modest velocities. The 30-40 case has a nice long neck that accepts the longer .30 caliber bullets. It is easy to handload. The .30-40 can deliver performance on the order of the .300 Savage with lighter 150-180 grain bullets. That means it’s close enough to the .308 Winchester that a critter wouldn’t know the difference. A 30-40 with a 150-grain bullet would be a powerful, flat shooting rifle for deer sized animals. Handloading manuals have steadily watered down published loads for the .30-40 since I began handloading for it. Generally I don’t much care for many of the modern handloading manuals and the lighter loads listed for cartridges, but in the case of the .30-40 this seems reasonable. The Krag Jorgensen rifles may up to 113 years old now and the original Winchester Model 1895’s can be about the same age. Additionally the Winchester 1895 action is springy and can develop headspace problems with warm loads. I know as I once had a .30-40 Model 1895 that was hard on cases.

Sierra 220 grain round nose soft point: IMR 4895 MV 2228 ME 2408 ES 42
Sierra 220 grain round nose soft point: IMR 4064 MV 2104 ME 2163 ES 28
Sierra 180 grain Matchking SpBT: IMR 4064, MV 2385 ME 2274 ES 49
Speer 165 grain round nose soft point: IMR 4064, MV 2423 ME 2151 ES 60
Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt Sp: IMR 4895 MV 2703 ME 2434 ES 58
Winchester 110 grain Spitzer: IMR 4320, MV 3022 ME 2231 ES 32

Winchester 180 grain round nose factory load: MV 2478 fps ME 2450 ES 54

Velocity figures taken with a U.S. Krag Jorgensen with 30-inch barrel
Oehler Model 12 Chronograph.

The first load listed is the load that I use for my Krag shooting. The others are pretty accurate but don't impact targets at 100 yards in coordination with my rifle's sights. I have an old long-discontinued Lyman 169 grain gas-check bullet mould of spitzer design but didn't have really good luck with the bullets I made up. While moving I turned up an old box of these that I'd handloaded 25 years ago with a mild charge of Unique. Maybe they'll shoot better with age (NOT). A .30-40 could be a bullet caster's delight though with the right bullet.

Krag rifles were available for $1.50 from the Director of Civilian Marksmanship in the interwar years. The famous old early 20th century firm of Bannerman sold a number of Krags as well. Lots of Krags were sporterized with varying degrees of utility, beauty, and safety. Original examples are no longer commonly encountered and are surprisingly pricey. In fact a number of the old sporterized Krags (even the ugly ones) are tagged with fairly high prices and I suppose some are sold. I’d view any Krag that had been subject to a cartridge conversion of any kind as suspect with regards to safety. A friend once purchased an old, ugly, sporterized Krag for chump change and restocked it into a beautiful and accurate hunting rifle. If one was to pick up a nicely done Krag sporter one would have a capable hunting rifle and a real conversation piece around the hunting camp. At this point in time please don’t cut up an original for a sporter conversion.

Among sporting rifles the famous Winchester Model 1895 was chambered in .30-40 Krag and was the most common .30-40 rifle from a sporting arms manufacturer. Originals in good condition bring good money but “reissues” have been made available in recent years, which are a bit more affordable. The scarce Remington Lee bolt-action rifle, which barely lasted into the first years of the 20th century, was available in .30-40. A few Winchester High Wall, Remington Rolling Block, and Stevens single shot rifles were chambered in .30-40 but are most unlikely to be encountered.

Ruger gave the .30-40 a chance when it once offered a variation of its popular No. 1 single shot rifle design in .30-40 back in the 70’s. Termed the No. 3 rifle, it was also available in .45-70. It was a cute little carbine length rifle and would offer real utility for a handloading hunter who wanted to play with the .30-40.

With all the different .30 cartridges that bracket it the .30-40 seems redundant in the 21st century. There’s no real reason for its continued existence. Many modern .30 rounds and loads offer more pizzazz for the modern shooter with their long or short, fat or belted shapes. Whether they kill game any deader than did the .30-40 those many years ago is open for debate. The hoary old .30-40 should still occupy an honored place in our active .30 caliber cartridge line-up, as it was the FIRST!

 

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The .303 works great with box magazines !....................
Again, it seems like America was the only country on earth that couldn't work its way around rimmed cartridges.

I'm not sure if Germany had an issue with rimmed cartridges when they came out with the Patrone 88, but knowing the Germans, they probably just put the engineering time in to have an excuse to fiddle about with new machinery.
 
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