Krag-Jorgensen

The Krag–Jørgensen is a repeating bolt action rifle designed by the Norwegians Ole Herman Johannes Krag and Erik Jørgensen in the late 19th century. It was adopted as a standard arm by Denmark, the United States of America and Norway. About 300 were delivered to Boer forces of the South African Republic.

A distinctive feature of the Krag–Jørgensen action was its magazine. While many other rifles of its era used an integral box magazine loaded by a charger or stripper clip, the magazine of the Krag–Jørgensen was integral with the receiver (the part of the rifle that houses the operating parts), featuring an opening on the right hand side with a hinged cover. Instead of a charger, single cartridges were inserted through the side opening, and were pushed up, around, and into the action by a spring follower.

The design presented both advantages and disadvantages compared with a top-loading "box" magazine. A similar claw type clip would be made for the Krag that allowed the magazine to be loaded all at once, also known as the Krag "Speedloader magazine". Normal loading was one cartridge at a time, and this could be done more easily with a Krag than a rifle with a "box" magazine. In fact, several cartridges can be dumped into the opened magazine of a Krag at once with no need for careful placement, and when shutting the magazine-door the cartridges are forced to line up correctly inside the magazine. The design was also easy to "top off", and unlike most top-loading magazines, the Krag–Jørgensen's magazine could be topped up without opening the rifle's bolt. The Krag–Jørgensen is a popular rifle among collectors, and is valued by shooters for its smooth action.

Krag-Jorgensen
Class Manportable
Type Rifles
Manufacturer Krag-Jorgensen
Origin Norway
Country Name Origin Year
Norway 1886
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Norway View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Krag-Jorgensen View
The 1880s were an interesting period in the development of modern firearms. During this decade smokeless powder came into general use, and the calibre of various service rifles diminished. Several nations adopted small calibre repeating bolt-action rifles during this decade.

Even though Norway had adopted the repeating Jarmann rifle in 1884, it was soon clear that it was at best an interim weapon. Ole Krag, captain in the Norwegian Army and director of Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (the government weapons factory), therefore continued the development of small arms, as he had since at least 1866. Not satisfied with the tubular magazine of the Jarmann rifle and his earlier Krag–Petersson rifle (adopted by the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1876), he enlisted the help of master gunsmith Erik Jørgensen. Together they developed the capsule magazine. The principal feature of the capsule magazine was that instead of being a straight box protruding below the stock of the rifle, it wrapped around the bolt action. Early models contained ten rounds and were fitted to modified versions of the Jarmann—though they could be adapted to any bolt-action rifle.

In 1886, Denmark was on the verge of adopting a new rifle for its armed forces. One of the early prototypes of the new rifle was sent to Denmark. The feedback given by the Danes was vital in the further development of the weapon. The test performed in Denmark revealed the need to lighten the rifle, as well as the possible benefits of a completely new action. Krag and Jørgensen therefore decided to convert the magazine into what they referred to as a 'half-capsule', containing only five rounds of ammunition instead of the previous ten. They also, over the next several months, combined what they considered the best ideas from other gunsmiths with a number of their own ideas to design a distinct bolt action for their rifle. The long extractor, situated on top of the bolt, was inspired by the Jarmann mechanism, while the use of curved surfaces for cocking and ejecting the spent round was probably inspired by the designs from Mauser. For a time after the weapon was adopted by Denmark they experimented with dual frontal locking lugs, but decided against it on grounds of cost and weight. The ammunition of the day did not need dual frontal locking lugs, and the bolt already had three lugs—one in front, one just in front of the bolt handle, and the bolt handle itself—which were considered more than strong enough.

The rifle had a feature known as a magazine cut-off. This is a switch on the left rear of the receiver. When flipped up (on the Norwegian Krag-J rifles and carbines), the cut-off does not allow cartridges in the internal magazine to be fed into the chamber by the advancing bolt. This was intended to be used for firing single rounds when soldiers were comfortably firing at distant targets, so the magazine could be quickly turned on in case of an incoming charge or issue to charge the enemy. This instantly gives five rounds to the shooter for quick firing. The M1903 Springfield that replaced the Krags had a magazine cutoff, as did the SMLE (Lee–Enfield) until 1915.

Weight - 3.375 kg / 7.5 lb to 5.157 kg / 11.46 lb depending on model

Length - 986 mm / 38.8 in to 1328 mm / 52.28 in depending on model

Barrel length - 520 mm / 20.5 in to 832 mm / 32.78 in depending on model

Cartridge - 8x58R rimmed (Danish Krags).30-40 Krag (US Krags)6.5 x 55 rimless (Norwegian Krags)

Action - Bolt action

Rate of fire - N/A

Muzzle velocity - 580 m/s (1900 ft/s) to 870 m/s (2854 ft/s) depending on ammunition

Effective range - 900 m (3,000 ft)

Feed system - 5 round magazine

Sights - V-notch and front post

End notes