Krag model 1902 rear-sights - a bit of a 'curve ball'

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Krag model 1902 rear-sights - a bit of a 'curve ball'

Post by butlersrangers »

With Krag rifles, carbines, and sights, it is nice to have things the way and in the condition that they left Springfield Armory, or at least, government ownership.

Various factors complicate and muddle things:

Krags have been around a long time (with most of those years in civilian hands).

Krags were routinely repaired, reconditioned, and updated: at Springfield Armory, arsenals, depots, and in the field.

Many Krags had service with the National Guard, some Police Departments, Veteran's Fraternal Organizations, Foreign Military support and use by domestic Military Schools.

Prior to entry into W.W.1, some Krags were apparently "recalled" from organizations, possibly repaired or refurbished, and pressed into service as "training rifles".

Some Krags got into the civilian market through dealers like Bannerman's and Stokes-Kirk, who are known to have bought discarded parts at auction and "re-manufactured" arms to meet demand.

Nowadays: This requires 'The Student of Krags' to ponder and judge, if a rifle, carbine, or sight-assembly is credible .... or the (sometimes very odd) product of someone's parts salvage?

An item like the model 1902 sight can be very tricky, because there are three generations of sights: model 1898, model 1902, and the 1903 Springfield 'Rod-Bayonet' model, that share components that will interchange.
The use of some of these compatible parts was 'officially approved' and carried out.
These sights are known variations of the model 1902 sight and found on legitimate rifles.

The books by Mallory, Brophy, and Poyer describe five basic groupings of the 1902 sight, likely found with both rifle and carbine versions.
Actually, given the different compatible parts, things quickly get more complicated.

By my reckoning, the model 1902 rifle and carbine rear-sight parts may create 96 or more different possible combinations of parts.

My calculations are based on:

3 bases - (rifle, carbine C on right, carbine C on left)
2 locking-knobs - (simple slot, slotted for .30-03)
4 styles of leaf - (line through range number and fine serrations, line through range number and coarse serrations,
line stopping at number, and fine graduations marking 25 yard increments)
4 eye-pieces - (regular, regular with Sgt. peep, converted 1898, converted 1898 with Sgt. peep).

Unless I'm mistaken: 3x2x4x4 = 96 possible combinations

(That's a lot of model 1902 sights that might be correct and the number could be larger)!

I believe, I've allowed for how the three different styles of leaf serrations, (fine, coarse, and cross-hatched), were actually used.
Some leaf variations only used one style of serrations.
I didn't differentiate if a converted 1898 eye-piece was plain or marked with a "C".

My calculations only allowed for two types of elevation 'locking-knobs': simple slot and slotted for rimless cartridge.
In reality, there are four distinct types of knobs: no slot, converted by having slot added, made with slot, and slotted for rimless cartridges.
(Non-slotted knobs have definitely been found on some model 1902 sights. I don't know who, where, or when these were done, but, they exist and would add to the number of model 1902 sight variations).

I have a hunch that converted model 1898 eyepieces were not used to make model 1902 carbine sights.
If I am right on this point, the number of model 1902 sight variations might drop a bit closer to 40.

Occasionally, you will find a sight that is clearly wrong, like a model 1902 'top' on a model 1898 base.
Loose parts being around and the need for useful or marketable sights has encouraged the creation of 'mixmasters' that are not official.

Mallory reported that 110,000 model 1898 leaf and eye-piece assemblies were converted to make model 1902 sights. He calculated 76,000 new model 1902 rifle sights and 1,000 model 1902 carbine sights were produced. This would total 187,000 rear-sights.

My conclusion is that at least 40 and possibly over 100 combinations of parts may be found in model 1902 Krag rifle & carbine sights. Easy to see how things get complicated!
(I'm not going to collect them all)!

I like this 1913-14 era photo of students at Kemper Military School (Mo.). Some of their 1902 sights have sheared-off 'elevation locking-knobs'. Some stocks show damage.
If these rifles were subject to 'recall' and underwent repair, I am not sure where the work was done or the standard they were restored to?
TBW-Kemper-ms1ed_004.jpg (634.86 KiB) Viewed 130 times

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