bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

U.S. Military Krags
DShK
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:03 pm

bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by DShK »

Hello,

I have been interested in Krag rifles for a while but I never saw one come up for sale locally - that is until yesterday. The local gun store had an 1898 Krag rifle for sale that looked to be in original military configuration and unsporterized. I went ahead and bought it without knowing much about the details of Krag rifles.

I would like to know a bit more about the gun - serial number is 322xxx. Is there a record of serial numbers for dating purposes? If anyone could tell me the date of manufacture, I'd appreciate it.

I also understand that there were several types of sights used on these. To the best of my knowledge, my rifle has the "1901 pattern" of sight - would that be correct for the date of manufacture of my gun? The sight screws look totally clean and unmarred so Id expect that the be the original sight it was issued with. I have attached a picture of my gun's sights.

Finally, it seems that a lot of pictures of Krag's I see on the internet have this nice cartouche on the left side of the stock showing the year of inspection. My stock does not have any such cartouche in a square box and I can't really see any evidence of one having been there. The more I look at it, the more I realize that the wood could have been lightly sanded though - I hope I didn't overpay for the gun in light of that. Could anyone tell me more about stock markings on these Krag's?

Thank You.
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Zac952
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Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:37 am

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by Zac952 »

Now I am no expert like many of these gentlemen on this forum, according to my research your rifle was manufactured in April/May of 1901, your sight is a 1901 Rifle sight which would be correct on your rifle, but your rifle would have been manufactured with a 1896 sight, but the sights and handguards were changed to the newer sights on rifles still in service after 1904 on. The stocks that were replaced in the field would have no cartouche so that can be correct also, pictures of your full rifle will likely help us figure out more information on original configuration and the like, Also check for a P marking behind the trigger guard on the bottom of the stock,
And just a suggestion, the front lever on the sight is pushed to the left to allow the sight to drift for windage, you may want turn that lever and center your sight before shooting, so your more on target.

Knute1
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Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:22 am

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by Knute1 »

I can see a ghost of a possible cartouche in your first photo. It is just above the rear of the trigger guard. A full length photo and some other close up shots of various areas would help us determine what you have as Zac952 mentioned. Having the hand guard seen in one of the photos is encouraging.

DShK
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:03 pm

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by DShK »

Thank you for the replies. Here are some nice photos I took of the left and right sides at the gun store where the lighting was good.
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Zac952
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:37 am

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by Zac952 »

It appears as if your bolt is blued, if this is the case it was blued post military service by a civilian, so that would not be correct, as all Krag bolts were left in the white and polished bright. Possibly someone reblued the whole rifle, look at the raceway in the reciever, where a cartridge would sit if single loaded, the raceway should be in the white and polished bright. But still a fine looking Krag and bluing remover could be used on the bolt if you want it to look the part, on mine I need to do this as someone cold blued my bolt prior to me owning it. The bolt body is the only thing left in the white on the bolt assembly so dissasembly of the bolt completely is required to keep the original blued peices intact including the cooking peice, safety, extractor, and shroud.

Knute1
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Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:22 am

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by Knute1 »

So apparently somebody in the past wanted to "pretty it up some" and unknowingly had made some ill-advised slight alterations that de-valued the gun. It has otherwise survived much better than many other Krag Jorgensens and is worthy of owning as a decent example of an early U.S. magazine rifle that once sold for $5 and less when sporting rifles were selling for around $35. Enjoy it!

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butlersrangers
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Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by butlersrangers »

Actually, 'DShK' your Krag's metal looks fine to me with the normal patina and discoloration of the (once shiny) bolt that comes from aging and exposure. (I would leave the metal parts, as is).

Your stock has been 'sanded' at some point of time. The 'finger- grooves' are rounded, instead of having sharp & crisp edges, as when they were first machine cut. The remnant of the stock cartouche is visible, like Knute said.

I agree with 'Zac952' with the likely April-May, 1901, assembly date.

FWIW - Only about 3 to 4 percent, of nearly 1/2 million U.S. Krag serial numbers, were found in official documents, by Frank Mallory and others. This information was published in a set of books, by Springfield Research Services, and is commonly called "SRS Data". Most of this Krag data was included in the 2nd edition of Frank's book, "The Krag Rifle Story", (in the appendix).

I only noticed five rifles, in the 322XXX serial number range, listed from the SRS data and contained in the "KRS", appendix. (Two of those rifles were destroyed at New Cumberland, Pa. Army Depot).
It requires all serial number digits to check a Krag's number in the data.

IMHO - You bought a nice looking model 1898 U.S. Krag rifle, that should be fun to take to the Range and shoot, without feeling guilt about putting wear on a "museum piece".
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DShK
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Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by DShK »

Thank you again for all the information. The bolt on the gun is actually all white as you all say is correct - my previous pictures just weren't that good. It seems that the body itself is very white, but the bolt handle is slightly oxidized. I have attached pictures of the bolt from three angles - any and all comments are welcome!
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DShK
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2021 7:03 pm

Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by DShK »

butlersrangers wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 2:29 pm Actually, 'DShK' your Krag's metal looks fine to me with the normal patina and discoloration of the (once shiny) bolt that comes from aging and exposure. (I would leave the metal parts, as is).

Your stock has been 'sanded' at some point of time. The 'finger- grooves' are rounded, instead of having sharp & crisp edges, as when they were first machine cut. The remnant of the stock cartouche is visible, like Knute said.

I agree with 'Zac952' with the likely April-May, 1901, assembly date.

FWIW - Only about 3 to 4 percent, of nearly 1/2 million U.S. Krag serial numbers, were found in official documents, by Frank Mallory and others. This information was published in a set of books, by Springfield Research Services, and is commonly called "SRS Data". Most of this Krag data was included in the 2nd edition of Frank's book, "The Krag Rifle Story", (in the appendix).

I only noticed five rifles, in the 322XXX serial number range, listed from the SRS data and contained in the "KRS", appendix. (Two of those rifles were destroyed at New Cumberland, Pa. Army Depot).
It requires all serial number digits to check a Krag's number in the data.

IMHO - You bought a nice looking model 1898 U.S. Krag rifle, that should be fun to take to the Range and shoot, without feeling guilt about putting wear on a "museum piece".
Ah I see - so what sort of documents were used to obtain this SRS data? I can give you the full number - 322372 - if you can reference that data for me and let me know if it was made in 1901 as it seems.

A previous commenter mentioned that this rifle would not have been issued with the 1901 sights despite having been made in 1901 - can you give any information on why that is? I would like to learn about all the Krag sight variations, but have no idea where to find that information.

Yeah it seems like you are definitely right about it having been sanded. Upon closer inspection of the buttplate, it does seem that the wood is slightly smaller than the metal plate which would indicate sanding. I paid $750 out the door for the gun. I hope that that was not too much for what I got.

Could anyone let me know how much an all correct unmessed with 1898 pattern rifle would be worth in decent condition?

Thanks!

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butlersrangers
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Re: bought my first Krag - help needed with dating the rifle

Post by butlersrangers »

Metal parts and finish look good and legit. How is the condition of your rifle's bore?

$750 is a fair price for your Krag, (Not a bargain, but, not over charged). Pristine model 1898 rifles will run $1,500 to $2,000 and are hard to find. Gun values are unstable and in a state of flux, right now. Krags are in a funny niche market! Condition Rules!

U.S. Krags were seeing lots of service from 1894 to 1918 with the Army and eventually, Navy, Marines, and National Guard.

After 1903 and then again after WW1, military schools, Nicaragua, Veterans' & police organizations bashed around loaned Krags.
(The big civilian sales program to get rid of them grew around 1927. In 1929, the Army was even destroying some of the obsolete Krag inventory).

During WW1, Krags were needed and widely used in training camps; Krags that had been 'on loan' were likely 'called in'.

When it was current and then a 'reserve military rifle', The U.S. Krag was routinely rebuilt or reconditioned, at Springfield Armory, arsenals and depots.

Many Krags were taken apart, parts were refinished, (if necessary), and rifles were assembled in a new combination of parts.

There are very few 'Virgin' Krags.

Your Krag, #322372, was assembled, approximately, in April or May, 1901. U.S. Krags were not manufactured in numerical order. Numbered & finished receivers went into parts bins and were pulled out randomly for assembly, dating cannot be precise.
IIRC - The model 1901 rear sight had some manufacturing delays. Per Mallory, it started being put on rifles around August, 1901, (around rifle number 330,000).

It is conceivable, that your rifle 'waited' without sights, until the new sight was available or it left Springfield Armory with an obsolete model 1896 rear-sight.
Whatever, around 1903, the Ordnance Department ordered that only two sights would be acceptable (with appropriate handguard), the model 1901 and model 1902 rear-sights. A lot of rifles got their sights 'updated' and this could be done 'in the field'.

Frank Mallory and fellow collectors contributing to his efforts are said to have crawled through archives and government repositories of documents, in search of official records documenting U.S. martial arms' serial numbers. Some of the records no longer exist.

Your Krag, #322372, is not listed in SRS Data. It is bracketed, which means absolutely nothing, by #322366 (a model 1898 rifle - which during WW2 was donated on 5/5/1943, to the U.S. Navy) and #322384 (a model 1898 rifle - that was destroyed, 5/17/1929, by the New Cumberland Depot guards).
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Last edited by butlersrangers on Sun Jun 06, 2021 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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