caption=Section of the Krag-Petersson
designer=O.H.J. Krag and A. Petersson
service=1876 to 1900
cartridge=12.17 × 44 mm rimfire
rate=19 shots a minute when used as a single loader
11 shots in 25 seconds when used with magazine
velocity= 381 m/s (1,260 ft/s)
range=900 m (3,000 ft)
part_length=951 mm (37.44 in)
sights= V-notch and front post
variants=prototypes, production rifles
number=17 prototypes and preproduction models
30 rifles for Norwegian trials
975 production rifles
115 rifles for Danish trials|The Krag-Petersson rifle was the first repeating
rifleadopted by the armed forces of Norway, and one of the first repeating arms used anywhere in the world. Developed by Ole Herman Johannes Krag, the action of the Krag-Petersson was uniquely actuated by the oversized hammer. Another distinguishing feature was that the cartridge rising from the magazine was not seated automatically, but had to be pushed into the breech of the rifle.
Testing by the Norwegian military revealed that the Krag-Petersson was a robust, accurate and quick firing weapon, and the
Royal Norwegian Navyadopted the rifle in 1876. The rifle was also extensively tested by other nations, but not adopted. After being phased out around 1900, the remaining rifles were sold off to civilians, and often extensively rebuilt. Today it is so difficult to find one in original condition that the Krag-Petersson has been described as "the rifle everybody has heard about, but hardly anybody has ever seen". [ [http://www.geocities.com/trondwikborg/kragpetersson.html Wikborg, Trond, "Krag Petersson M1876"] Last retrieved 18 August 2005] It was the first rifle designed by Ole H. J. Krag to be adopted by an armed force.
Design and development
The mechanism was developed by
Ole Herman Johannes Krag, with vital help from his friend Axel Peterssonon the actuation of the mechanism. Ole H. J. Krag had been experimenting with repeating rifles for several years before he designed the Krag-Petersson rifle. His earlier models had all been actuated by a side mounted lever working on an interior crankshaft.Hanevik, Karl Egil (1998). Norske Militærgeværer etter 1867] Moving the lever in a half circle counter clockwise made the breechblock– the part of the mechanism that seals the rear of the barrel – move back and down. The rearward movement of the breechblock automatically ejected the spent round and the downward movement allowed the magazine follower to push a new round into the breech. In 1871, Axel Petersson suggested changing the design to allow the hammer to operate the breechblock instead, thus making the mechanism both simpler and easier to operate. The Krag-Petersson, like Krag's previous design, featured a tubular magazine under the barrel.
The action of the Krag-Petersson is, as can be seen from the photograph to the left, quite simple compared to modern rifles, consisting only of eight major components: the receiver (A), the hammer (B), the tilting breechblock (C), the
firing pin(D), two pins to secure the hammer and breechblock (E and F), a lockplate with a screw to secure the pins (G) and the tubular magazine (not shown in the photograph).
The Krag-Petersson repeating rifle has a
falling block action, "i.e." the breechblockmoves downwards as the mechanism is opened, actuated (operated) by the operation of the exterior hammer. The tubular magazine, containing a total of 10 rounds of ammunition, was placed under the barrel. Once the mechanism was open, an extractor ejected the spent cartridge. A fresh round of ammunition was pushed into a shaped recess on top of the falling block by the spring in the magazine, whereupon the falling block rose slightly. The round could now be pushed into the chamber by the shooter, and the breechblock would rise completely. This rising of the breechblock (by means of a powerful spring) could catch the shooter off guard, resulting in pinched skin on the thumb. The weapon was now ready to fire.
– often did not eject the empty cartridge when the rifle had been fired for a while.
During development, it was found that the rifle was not only solidly designed and well engineered, but it was also capable of firing 18 to 19 aimed shots a minute when used as a single loader – faster than the standard Remington M1867's 13 aimed shots a minute. When used as a magazine loader, it was found that 11 shots – ten in the magazine and one in the chamber – could be fired in 25 seconds. Tests carried out during the evaluation also indicated that the rifle was more accurate than the Remington M1867, although both weapons were firing the same ammunition from identical barrels. The rifle was also found to be extremely rugged – one of the tests carried out consisted of throwing the rifle repeatedly from a height of 4 meters (12 ft) towards a rocky surface in order to see if any of the rounds in the magazine would go off. Even modern firearms would be damaged by this treatment, but the Krag-Petersson survived it with only superficial damage to the woodwork.
After the tests were concluded, the committee recommended that several Krag-Petersson rifles be manufactured and distributed to a selected army unit for troop trials. After careful consideration 30 rifles were manufactured and issued to the
King's Guardfor use on their annual exercises in 1875. These 30 rifles differ from the later rifles by being 35 mm (1.4 in) shorter. During the troop trials, roughly 500 rounds were fired from each rifle, or about 15,000 in total. The feedback on the rifles was excellent, comparing it most favourably to the standard Remington M1867 rifles. The function of the extractor was particularly praised in the official reports.
Despite this, the committee did not recommend the Krag-Petersson as a standard issue weapon for the Norwegian and Swedish armies, primarily because the round it was designed around was considered to be obsolete. At the same time, the committee had already started testing the
Jarmann M1884bolt action rifle. However, the Royal Norwegian Navydecided to adopt it as their standard arm in 1876, pointing out that they still were using the old M1860 " Kammerlader" ("chamber-loader") modified to fire the 4 "linjer" rimfire round. It was also clear that the Jarmann, if adopted, would first be issued to the Army, leaving the Navy without a modern arm for at least another decade.
, oil bottle and straps.
The weapon as approved for use was chambered for the 4 "linjer"
rimfire ammunitionalready in use in the Remington M1867rifles by Norwegian and Swedish armed forces, and apparently equipped with identical barrels to the Remington. While the ammunition was nominally 4 linjer, the calibre of the barrel was 3.88 linjer (12.17 mm or 0.479 in), while the uncoated lead bullet had a diameter of 4.021 linjer (12.62 mm or 0.497 in).
Since Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk – the main armoury in Norway – was occupied manufacturing Remington M1867s for the Norwegian army, the Krag-Peterssons were manufactured partly by
Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärfaktori(serial numbers 1 through 200 and 301 through 700) in Sweden, and partly by Carl Johans Vern(serial numbers 201 through 300 and 701 through 975) in Norway. A handful (around 17) were manufactured at Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk, although these were most likely development models and prototypes, since Krag was working there at the time.
Bayonet for the Krag-Petersson
), of which 57 cm (22.5 in) was the blade. Today, a bayonet in original condition is as hard to find as the Krag-Petersson itself, and it is often mistaken for a Remington M1867 bayonet. A well-preserved bayonet can fetch around $1,000 U.S. if it is in good condition.
The bayonet was almost identical to the bayonet issued with the Remington M1867, but was numbered on the guard as opposed to the blade itself. The available sources seems to indicate this was done because the bayonets were fitted to the rifles after the blade had been hardened, while the bayonets for the M1867 was fitted to the M1867 before the blade was hardened. The reason for this is that Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk manufactured the bayonets, and shipped them to Carl Johans Vern where they were fitted to the individual rifles.
Evaluation in other countries
The Krag-Petersson was one of the earliest repeating rifles in the world, and as such generated considerable interest in Europe and the rest of the world. It was tested by several countries, but despite good reports and much praise was not adopted by any other nation than Norway. Most probably, the main reason for this is that the rifle was designed around an outdated cartridge, and there was doubt that the action could be modified for more powerful ammunition.
In 1876, the Danish military tested two preproduction rifles delivered from Norway, and were impressed enough to manufacture slightly modified 115 Krag-Peterssons in 1877 for troop trials. Despite the good results, the Danes decided not to adopt the Krag-Petersson. Krag did not receive any royalties on the production in Denmark, but was later made a knight of the
Order of the Dannebrog, as thanks for his efforts both with the Danish Krag-Peterssons and for his efforts with the Krag-Jørgensenthe Danes adopted in 1889.
France also tested the Krag-Petersson, and adopted – without asking – the "magazine regulator" of the Krag-Petersson for their own
Kropatschekrifle. As a form of compensation, Krag was later made a knight of Légion d'honneur. It is also known that Russia and Braziltested the Krag-Petersson, without adopting it, and that Krag travelled Europe extensively to market the Krag-Petersson.
Fate of the Krag-Petersson rifles
The Krag-Petersson remained in use in the Royal Norwegian Navy for almost 25 years, alongside the Jarmann, and, from 1896, the
Krag-Jørgensen. By 1900 they were considered obsolete and sold off to civilians, many of whom rebuilt the rifles to centerfire and in a few cases to shotguns. The details of the sales are lacking, although it is known that in 1928 only 70 Krag-Peterssons remained in military warehouses. It is likely that these were considered unsellable and scrapped. Today the Krag-Petersson is very rare, and unaltered specimens can fetch high prices – anywhere from 2,000 USD and up.
museum in Oslo.
Comparison with contemporary rifles
The Krag-Petersson is often said to be a good rifle. By comparing it to the Remington M1867, which was the standard issue rifle in the Norwegian Army, as well as against the standard service rifles of Germany, France and the United Kingdom at the time, it is quite clear that the Krag-Petersson suffered from having been designed for an outdated cartridge.
Other Norwegian rifles:
Comparable weapons from the same era:
MauserGewehr 71 and 71/84
Gras rifleand the various Kropatscheks
Notes and references
* Hanevik, Karl Egil (1998). "Norske Militærgeværer etter 1867". Hanevik Våpen. ISBN 82-993143-1-3. Chapter 2 and appendix A
* [http://www.geocities.com/trondwikborg/kragpetersson.html Wikborg, Trond, "Krag Petersson M1876"] Last retrieved 18 August 2005
* [http://www.geocities.com/trondwikborg/kragpetersson.html A page with a few details and some photos of the M1876]
* [http://www.militaryrifles.com/Norway/KragPetersson.html More pictures of the rifle]
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