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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Barracks (Moderators: Delmonico, Pitspitr)  |  Topic: Black powder loads for 30-40 Krag 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Black powder loads for 30-40 Krag  (Read 1215 times)
Crow Choker
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« on: May 01, 2018, 09:43:24 am »


Hello to the Barracks. Not a regular poster here, but read a lot, always interested in military history from the era. Fall 2017, I bought a nice 1902 era Springfield Krag 30-40 rifle. Have reloaded smokeless 180 grain jacketed SP's for it and plan on doing the same with a cast 200 grain bullet (Lyman mold) that I bought for some other 30 caliber military bolt rifles. I shoot a variety of percussion and cartridge conversion revolvers and a muzzleloader rifle and am interested in loading up some 30-40 Krag ammo using the 200 grain cast bullet from the Lyman mold and black powder. Searched CAS for any, none surfaced. Have searched the web some. Has anyone here ever done so? Any input appreciated as far as cast bullet used, powder and grains of, and shooting results. CC
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2018, 10:13:58 am »

The Krag used a 'semi-smokeless' powder - not blackpowder.

Try loading it properly according to the Lyman manual,  and you'll see what the accuracy really was.

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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2018, 10:36:44 am »

The Krag used a 'semi-smokeless' powder - not blackpowder.

Try loading it properly according to the Lyman manual,  and you'll see what the accuracy really was.

Scouts Out!

I know that, but wanted to try some black powder loads out of it. May not work worth a hoot, but intrigued by trying it. Black powder loads were never loaded for the 1911 45 acp either, nor was it designed to, but I've read where a lot of guys try and do it. Something that I have no interest in. Being the Krag was the borderline child between smokeless and black powders, be interesting to see what transpires. No plans to shot any in any CAS events. Just me, myself, and I-maybe a few shooting friends tossed in the fray.
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2018, 10:48:24 am »

Hi

I"m no expert, but from what I know about black powder loads, and about the .30-40 Krag, you're going into uncharted territory. 

1.  The .30-40 Krag was the first smokeless cartridge rifle in general use by the US ARMY.  Black Powder loads weren't part of their planning process.

2.  Black Powder cartridge loads are best worked out with a full case and slight compression on the powder.  Being a bottle neck cartridge, this won't be possible.  It is my understanding that if you don't fill the cartridge, you can ring the chamber (bulge it?).

I'd hate to see you ruin an original 1902 Krag, just my $0.02
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 11:08:50 am »

You can try it, fill the case halfway up the neck with 3f, seat a properly lubed 200 grain LRN, and squeeze a few off.  It has been done, but by the 3rd to 5th shot they'll be tumbling.  You might get a decent group by cleaning between shots, like the small bore Shuetzen guys.  Once you get below a certain diameter, the bullet just can't carry enough lube to allow a good string of shots.  

Most BP military cartridges were in fact bottlenecks, its the bullet diameter that is the limiting factor here.  I believe the smallest successful round was the Turkish  9.5mm.  The Brits did load the .303 with a compressed BP charge, but that was not what the case was designed for, the smokeless powder simply was not ready in time.
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2018, 12:41:40 pm »

Hi

I"m no expert, but from what I know about black powder loads, and about the .30-40 Krag, you're going into uncharted territory.  

1.  The .30-40 Krag was the first smokeless cartridge rifle in general use by the US ARMY.  Black Powder loads weren't part of their planning process.

2.  Black Powder cartridge loads are best worked out with a full case and slight compression on the powder.  Being a bottle neck cartridge, this won't be possible.  It is my understanding that if you don't fill the cartridge, you can ring the chamber (bulge it?).

I'd hate to see you ruin an original 1902 Krag, just my $0.02

Now I hadn't thought of that aspect of the program, ie your #2 on your post. Aware of the need for compression, as I've loaded black a lot in 44 Colt, 38 Spec, and some in 45 Colt (straight wall cases). Don't know how a load would compress with that long neck on the 30-40 brass.  I'm not a black powder rifle cartridge shooter, so never thought that far into the process-good that you pointed that out. Don't want to 'bung up', the Krag. Ya just can't go out and buy em cheap or at the local wherever. Unless someone who has done it before has a surefire method and its not super time consuming (like rolling paper cartridges for percussion revolvers) and good accuracy results, might have to shelve the idea, at least put it on hold. If the case was straight wall, probably not be a problem as long as the bore doesn't fowl badly. The compaction issue could be why there isn't much if any written about black in a 30-40 Krag.

You can try it, fill the case halfway up the neck with 3f, seat a properly lubed 200 grain LRN, and squeeze a few off.  It has been done, but by the 3rd to 5th shot they'll be tumbling.  You might get a decent group by cleaning between shots, like the small bore Shuetzen guys.  Once you get below a certain diameter, the bullet just can't carry enough lube to allow a good string of shots.  

Good info there. Don't care to spend more time running a cleaning rod between shots or every few. If the bore/rifling can't take the black powder, be happy just to shoot smokeless through the ol' girl. Would be interesting to do if possible, but 1961MJS's post has me a little leery unless it is well documented as possible to do. I do plan on casting up some of the 30 caliber bullets from the Lyman mold I have, have the newer Lyman cast bullet book and good info from Glen Fryxell's web page on cast bullet loads for my particular bullet. I've a few military bolt rifles that I reload and shoot more cast bullets than jacketed, enjoy the reloading and shooting. Cheaper to shoot, plus just as much fun-accurate too.

Thanks much for the input. CC  
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2018, 07:55:27 pm »

The 303 Brit was originally a BP load, and they did rather well with it.  Of course, they loaded a compressed charge in a straight case, then bottle-necked it . . . .

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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2018, 09:01:23 pm »

The .303 was in fact designed as a smokeless cartridge, but the initial cordite formulation proved too unstable, so a compressed charge of BP was used for 2 years as a stop gap.  It was considered marginal, but would have to do.

 The BP loads were done in what we would consider a conventional manner, dropped into the necked case.  It was the long stringed cordite loads which would need to be loaded into an initial straight case.  The manner of loading was another factor in the delay in smokeless adoption for the .303.  This was also one of the reasons for the US late adoption of smokeless, as it was decided to wait for the development of a true granulated powder.
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2018, 10:55:07 pm »

OOPS, my mistake--can I ask your source for that?  I try to keep up on the research on cartridge development in the 1800s.

The primary sources I've got on this are in agreement that the .303 Brit was originally designed by Rubini at the Swiss gov't arms laboratory, that the original load was 70-72 grains of bp and a 215 grain jacketed bullet, and that was the load was adopted in 1889 as the "Powder Mark I".  Most of the sources describe the powder charge as a "pellet" with a central flash hole.  The sources that describe loading the rounds--including some with photos--show the "pellets" being placed in cylindrical cartridges that were necked down, and a wad and bullet were seated.  This is consistent with the original Powder Mk I loads I've disassembled--you have to section the case to remove the pellet of powder. 

The first rifle for the cartridge was the Lee-Metford MkI; Metford rifling having been adopted to try to deal with the fouling problems.  The "Powder Mark II" load came along in 1890 with an improved bullet (thicker jacket).  The first smokeless load--"Cordite MkI" load--came along in 1891, and an improved rifle (better rifling for the load), the Lee Enfield Mk I, was adopted in 1895. 
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2018, 12:27:10 am »

Yep, every one quotes Roy Tebbutt, who says what happened, but never really why:  Why would the British develop a BP round in 1887/88, after the deployment of the Lebel?  They and Rubini were working hand in glove with Nobel and his new Balistite propellant, (that got Nobel kicked out of France)  Ennyways, I need to go dig some of this stuff back out.  Never really unpacked after my retirement . . .
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2018, 09:18:17 am »

Sounds like 30-40 Krag blk loads would be possible if the needed compaction can be attained. Received some good info up in the Darkside where I also posted my thoughts of loading up 30-40 Krag black loads. Have to do more research, probably due to fast fowling of the barrel, black powder loads wouldn't be a 'pet' load, but interesting to try maybe a couple dozen. The late 1800 black powder rifle cartridge loads to smokeless information you both posted sounds interesting-have to read up on it. CC
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2018, 05:16:52 pm »

There was also the 8MM Portuguese Kropatcheck, designed as a BP round, but when smokeless came out they changed pretty quick. I believe the BP version used a paper patched lead bullet. I don't know what they did about fouling, or how well it actually worked. I've never tried BP in mine (yet).
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2018, 05:28:37 pm »

Bottle neck cartridges are a bit more finicky than straight wall rifle cartridges.
 With the tapered bodies , shoulder and necks, slower bp works much better than the more F's. Load a few and try it, if you're getting heavy fouling , add more powder in the next go. They'll leave a shinier bore than the straight cases when the powder charge is right.
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2018, 07:15:41 pm »

Yep, every one quotes Roy Tebbutt, who says what happened, but never really why:  Why would the British develop a BP round in 1887/88, after the deployment of the Lebel?  They and Rubini were working hand in glove with Nobel and his new Balistite propellant, (that got Nobel kicked out of France)  Ennyways, I need to go dig some of this stuff back out.  Never really unpacked after my retirement . . .
Not sure who Roy Tebbut was--Navy maybe?  My info came from British military documents dated 1888, 1889, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1901.  Some of the photos showing pellets of BP are dated as early as 1887.  FWIW, in the primary documents I have and those I've seen, Nobel and variations on Ballistite weren't mentioned until 1890. 

As to why they'd go with a BP load after the deployment of the 8mm Lebel, there were technical issues with the 1886 Lebel rifle.  The 1888 and 1889 documents note problems with the rifle including poor gas handling when--not if--cartridges ruptured, slow loading, and lack of a mechanical safety.  More importantly, problems noted with the cartridge and load included pressure excursions in high temperatures (tropics etc), rapid bore erosion, and dis-satisfaction with the bullet in the Balle M load.  The French didn't really have a good cartridge until Balle D came along in about 1898.

The British plan seems to have been to use the BP loadings as a test-bed for the rifle, in hopes that a suitable smokeless load could be developed.  When they had a workable powder, the rifle had many of the bugs worked out already. 
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2018, 05:44:08 pm »

Roy Tebbut wrote a quite extensive book on the .303.  

My source, which I cannot find unfortunately, was a MOW whitepaper I copied while in England a few decades back, discussing case design of the .303.

But:  I think we're really on the same page here:  As you say, they started with a BP loading as a test bed for the rifle while waiting for the smokeless load to develop. A temporary measure.  The intention was to have a smokeless round, hence the bottleneck as opposed to the straight taper originally proposed.  They knew it was coming, and designed accordingly.  And you are correct, the BP was pelletized and loaded into the case before necking.  Mea Culpa.

And boy howdy, was the Lebel a sack of problems for sure!
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