How should Krag metal look?

U.S. Military Krags
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butlersrangers
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How should Krag metal look?

Post by butlersrangers »

Our U.S. Krag rifles range in age from 119 to 128 years. Each Krag has had an individual and varied history of use, environmental exposure, and human treatment, care, alteration or neglect.

It is likely that most Krag rifles and carbines, underwent some type of official repair and refurbishment, during a rather lengthy period of service and storage.

An owner will often wonder if a Krag is displaying its first (original) finish or if his U.S. Krag was subjected to an Arsenal/Armory refinish?

Given the fragile nature of the finishes used on Krag parts and the harsh treatment the arms were often subjected to, I find it rather tricky and hard to be certain.
(Frequently, the 'verdict' of various evaluators' seems colored by conflicting views, knowledge and opinions).

FWIW: I've attached some photos of Krags that I own. I think it likely they have all undergone refinishing at the Armory or at an Arsenal.

Two of the actions shown are rather dull black inside the magazine. I believe those were likely Armory/Arsenal refinished.
The other two Krags pictured, I'm not so sure.

My general thinking:

If the rust browned parts are a strong blue, the extractor retains a rich 'flame' blue and the receiver, magazine-gate & side-plate have a dull 'blackened' appearance, I think this is very likely it is an Armory/Arsenal refinish.

If a Krag has strong blue colors and the receiver has discrete mottled colors or is turning 'silvery', I think it likely a Krag may be displaying the first original finish.

When wear and exposure have thinned the various finishes and the parts and colors take on a patina, I find it much harder to have a certain opinion.
If the wood and metal have a nice "been together a long time look", I don't really worry too much. It looks "honest".

Fortunately, it is usually very obvious when a Krag has been abused, messed with, or improperly refinished.

Protected nooks and crannies of the receiver often preserve colors, blacking, and give clues about a Krag's last metal finish.
As 'Whig' has stated, pictures don't always reveal things accurately.
Direct examination and the human eye can pick up subtle clues that the camera misses.

It is a wonderful aspect of the KCA Forum that we have a chance to view and share views of our Krag rifles & carbines, as well as experience and opinions.
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butlersrangers
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Re: How should Krag metal look?

Post by butlersrangers »

Back in July 2022, 'Wagon Mike' shared pictures of his gorgeous Board of Ordnance & Fortifications rifle.

His photographs give a good glimpse of the appearance and colors of a U.S. Krag in new condition.
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butlersrangers
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Re: How should Krag metal look?

Post by butlersrangers »

An Armory or Arsenal 'Rebuilt' rifle is a pretty thing to see, but it doesn't rival a U.S. Krag in 'new' condition.

I took the stock off the newly acquired "model 1894 modified to model 1896", today.
It is an amazing feeling, when you realize, you are the first person to field strip a rifle in 120 years!

This rifle has been well stored over the years. The metal was protected with a heavy coat of cosmoline.
The early preservative has fortunately kept the consistency of Vaseline.
Outside of a couple of small areas of surface rust on the edge of the butt-plate and some freckling on the bolt-knob, this 'rebuild' is free of rust.

Some shallow pits on the outside bottom of the barrel, suggests the original 'used' barrel was left on this Krag receiver, when the rifle was refurbished.

I think the stock was likely steamed to remove minor dents prior to being scraped. This might explain the old 'acceptance cartouche' being an "Outie".
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butlersrangers
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Re: How should Krag metal look?

Post by butlersrangers »

More model 1894 Krag modified to model 1896 pictures:
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butlersrangers
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Re: How should Krag metal look?

Post by butlersrangers »

More parts:
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FredC
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Re: How should Krag metal look?

Post by FredC »

Thanks Br,
We get used to 100+ year old patina and an unused museum grade Krag looks unnatural. My first reaction is someone screwed up by polishing and bluing it. Maybe not.

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