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In Defense of the .30-40 Krag

November 18, 2009

There were a few snorts over the earlier comment that anyone considered the .30-40 Krag as a superior deer rifle.  And when my buddy showed the Krag to me we were both about 14 years old, which does tend to lend some legitimacy to the dismissive comments.  So I went poking around and was surprised at the wealth of fond memories for the old rifle.

It turns out that it was a very popular deer rifle and even saw some service in elk camps.  And it was cheap; a virtue not lost on the country folk I grew up with.

Consider this accolade by Holt Bodinson:  “Opening and closing the bolt of a Krag action is like rolling ball bearings on glass.  It is the smoothest and slickest military action ever made, with maybe the Mannlicher taking second place.

Equally important is the Krag’s fast, simple, reliable box magazine.  Just flip it open, drop in cartridges, shut and shoot.  It’s an ideal design for recharging the magazine with a cartridge in the chamber.  And, if you’ve been freezing on a deer stand, it’s the only magazine frozen-hands-friendly.

For many years, you could walk into any New England deer camp or Western elk camp and find a Krag sporter or two doing its faithful duty for the American hunter.”

The deficiencies of the .30-40 cartridge that became apparent when matched against the Spanish Mausers in the Philipines were what did it in as a military round.  The U.S. Army dumped it after only a few years in service in favor of the .30 caliber 1903 Springfield.  I had one of those once — an 03-A1 in full military stock.  Wally, the gun guru that sold it to me for a song, worked it over for me first, refinishing the stock so beautifully that I never could consider tearing the rifle apart to use the action as the base to build a new sporter around.

— Jim Margadant

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2009 6:39 am

    Wally dead?

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