Date: Apr 28 2020
The US Army, replacing the .45-70 Government, officially adopted the “.30 Army”, better known as .30-40 Krag, in 1892. The rifle was a unique bolt-action, designed by Captain Krag of Norway, officially known as the U.S. Magazine Rifle Model in 1892. It featured a single locking lug, offered smooth operation and earned a reputation of being reliable. A unique feature was the side mounted “door” that allowed cartridges to be loaded into the magazine with the bolt closed. By 1903, the U.S. Model 1903 rifle and the .30-03 Springfield/Government cartridge were officially adopted (which soon evolved into the .30-06 Springfield), and surplus Krags were sold to civilians with many still putting meat on the table. As is the case with most service cartridges, the .30-40 Krag became popular in several sporting rifles including the notable Winchester Model 1895 lever-action rifle that became especially common on the Western frontier and among big game hunters.
Due to the limited strength of the U.S. Model 1892 rifle, with its single locking lug, loads should not exceed industry pressure guidelines of 40,000 CUP, with all accompanying data being within that limit. Krag rifles should be in good condition and determined to be safe (inspection of locking lug and bolt face) by someone familiar with this design before firing factory ammunition or handloads.
The original U.S. Service load contained a 220-grain roundnose bullet, and thus many U.S. Krag rifles feature a long throat and usually shoot best with this bullet weight and profile. Furthermore, many rifles will not feed spitzer bullets as smoothly as roundnose designs. On the other hand, original Winchester Model 1895 and 1980’s era Browning Model 1895s feed reliably with a variety of bullet profiles and have often given this writer 100-yard groups hovering around 1 inch.
In developing the accompanying load data, most loads produced unusually low shot-to-shot velocity spreads and consistent accuracy in a Browning Model 1895 test rifle.
Start loads should not be reduced, or inconsistent velocities and odd pressure curves may result, especially with spherical powders.