The Krag is a very important milestone in weapon lineage for the United States. It was the very first U.S. service rifle that was a bolt action and fired a small caliber, smokeless powder, metallic cartridge. Many variations of the U.S. Krag over the years were produced including the following:
U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1892
U.S. Magazine Carbine, Model of 1892
U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1896
U.S. Magazine Carbine, Model of 1896
U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1898
U.S. Magazine Carbine, Model of 1898
U.S. Magazine Carbine, Model of 1899**
The Krags were well liked by troops but were doomed because of a design that allowed only for lower pressure cartridges and the magazine loading system did not lend well to the use of clips for loading. In 1904 the Krag was replaced by the U.S. Model 1903 Springfield Rifle as the U.S. service rifle but still saw limited service through WWI and after. By the 1930s the military had sold off its stocks and the Krag became an inexpensive sportsman's rifle.
Most Krags have been handed down as an inheritance from a family member that most likely sporterized the rifle in some manner and used it for hunting. Up until 1931 the Krag was sold to American sportsman and collectors for amazing dollar amounts even by today's standards from $1.50 to less than $20. The Krag represented an affordable way if not the only way for hunters in the early part of the 20th century to purchase a bolt action rifle chambered in a smokeless powder based cartridge. The 30-40 Krag cartridge is capable of downing most if not all game in North America. A large percentage of Krags went this way and served many years harvesting deer, year after year. You can purchase sporterized Krags today from gunshows, online auctions and local stores for between $200 and $500 depending upon condition.
A Krag in original military configuration brings a high premium because of scarcity. I rarely see intact specimens and spent the dollars described in this article because I knew that I had better if I ever wanted one. The Krag is not a rifle for a general collector who is just starting out. The Krag in my opinion is the type of rifle you obtain after you have been collecting for a number of years and have purchased all of the obligatory and inexpensive Mausers and Mosin Nagants and are ready to spend more to get something out of the ordinary. Basically it is not the rifle for the faint of heart when it comes to laying down money for a collectible. You can find good to very good specimens on the online auctions starting at about $695. The rifle or carbine will be intact and will have very little finish but will have a fair to good bore and the most important thing is it will be shootable. But, if you are already used to purchasing M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and 1903 Springfields then you probably will not bat an eye at the prices.
**The carbine pictured above is a U.S. Magazine Carbine, Model of 1899.