Can You Hunt With It? Krag-Jorgensen

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posted on June 11, 2024
MAINSI Krag Image

American Hunter asked me to write up a column called “Can You Hunt With It” about a “Craig.” Let’s just get this out of the way, if you’ve got a friend named Craig, chances are he can’t hunt worth a lick. I have two buddies named Craig. Well, Craig and Krag, the latter dude’s parents were Norwegian. Anyway, while they both have the same names, let me be clear: one is the perfect hunting partner and the other one is about as useful in the woods as a television remote control.

My buddy Craig—bless his heart—loves to wear dime store cologne, thinks guns are scary and has recorded the last five seasons of “The View” because he likes it. He’s allergic to pine tree bark, temperatures below 72 degrees and my trusty hunting dog, Diesel. I don’t think he’s actually allergic to Diesel, I think he’s just embarrassed from that “one time” Diesel stole his jerky and wouldn’t give it back. I understand though, Miniature Pinchers can be fierce, especially when they launch all twelve pounds of fur fury at you when trying to get your jerky back. Needless to say, I don’t take Craig hunting.

Teddy Roosevelt equipped with Krag-Jorgensen

Now my other friend, Krag—he’s one the best hunting buddies I could ever ask for. Despite the fact that he’s older than dirt being born in 1886, he once killed the world record Rocky Mountain elk, runs a bolt-action rifle smoother than a hot knife through butter and he’s hell around a campfire (being a military veteran of quite a few wars). He’ll tell you he rode with Teddy Roosevelt, and I believe him. Who’s going to call a 138-year-old hunter a liar? Not me. Chances are you know him as well. His full name is Krag-Jorgensen. If you’re old enough to know CB (That’s Citizen Band radio for the young ones) lingo, his handle is 30-40.

O.K. By now, I hope you’re at least entertained enough to arrive at the fact that the “Craig” American Hunter wanted me to write about wasn’t my thin-skinned, say “boo” and make him cry buddy, but the short-lived warhorse of a rifle—the Krag-Jorgensen—which in the U.S. variant was chambered in the still very effective .30-40 Krag.

If you know “Krag” like I do, you know you can absolutely hunt with him, err … it; and some folks still do. In fact, both Remington and Hornady still offer factory loads for the .30-40 Krag in 180-grain Core-Lokt and Interlock flavors respectfully. Modern ammo ballistics have Remington and Hornady factory loads performing identically, getting 2430 fps from a 24-inch barrel, and the 180-grain bullets, either Remington’s Core-Lokt or Hornady’s Interlock, producing 2,360 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle. Velocity and energy will vary based on barrel lengths. Shooters who load their own ammunition have far more choices both for bullets and powders. The bottom line is that the .30-40 Krag has all the power one needs to successfully hunt most critters in the Lower 48.

The American Krag-Jorgensen was the winner of a military contest which began in the 1890s when our federal government wanted (and needed) a service rifle. Thanks to its—at the time—genius side-loading magazine and a silky-smooth action, the Krag-Jorgensen rifle design was selected in August 1892. From 1892 through 1899, there would be nine different U.S. Krag-Jorgensen rifles in service including carbines, cadet rifles and constable carbines. The rifles ranged from 7.5 pounds to 12 pounds and with barrels from 20.5 inches to 32.78 inches. All held five rounds.

The American version of this rifle was chambered in what was officially called the .30 U.S., .30 Army or .30 Government. It was the first smokeless powder round adopted by our military. Common folks labeled it the .30-40 Krag because back when it was created, the habit of naming or nicknaming a cartridge after its caliber and powder charge seemed like a good idea. Back then, .30-40 Krag was loaded with a round-nose 220-grain bullet with a 40-grain powder charge pushing the bullet about 2000 fps. Please note, the above research came from the fine work of fellow gun writer Bruce N. Canfield who wrote "U.S. Krag-Jorgensen: The Foreign Rifle" in American Rifleman in October 2010.

I keep saying the American version because Sweden, Norway and Denmark all used a similar rifle, but those were chambered in the sledgehammer-sized 8×58mmR Danish Krag, and my personal Swedish sweetheart the 6.5x55 Swede.

Krag Bolt

So, we have a rifle which, at its worst, pushes a 220-grain bullet about 2000 fps in an accurate, smooth-feeding bolt-action rifle in a chambering which is still available to handload. At its modern-day best, factory loads in a much faster, much more potent 180-grain world-class hunting bullet are loaded from two major manufacturers—Remington and Hornady—and give the .30-40 Krag some sizzle. Elk, moose, deer, black bears, and plenty of other critters have and will continue to fall to the .30-40 Krag.

Can you hunt with a Krag-Jorgensen rifle chambered in the .30-40 Krag? Absolutely. Just don’t ask my buddy Craig to use one.

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