October 2001:

Norwegian Flag
The Norwegian M1894 Krag-Jorgensen Rifle
Norwegian Flag
Norwegian M1894 Krag-Jorgensen Rifle
Type:  Bolt Action Rifle
System of Operation:  Manual
Caliber:  6.5x55mm
Capacity:  5 rounds
Sights, front: Windage Adjustable Blade 
Sights, rear:  Tangent, V or U-notch 
Length: 50"
Weight (unloaded): 8 lbs 15 ozs
Barrel: 30.07", 4 grooves, left hand twist


It is an interesting historical footnote that while the Krag-Jorgensen (or "Krag") rifle originated in Norway, the Norwegian armed forces were the last to adopt it.  In the autumn of 1893, a combined Swedish- Norwegian Army commission met in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway to consider the adoption of a common service rifle cartridge.  The conference's conclusion saw the adoption of a common cartridge - the rimless 6.5x55mm, but no agreement on a common rifle.  The reason for the inability to agree on a common rifle is open to conjecture.  At the time of the conference, Norway and Sweden were ruled by one royal house, much to the Norwegians' chagrin.  After years of chafing under the Swedish yoke, the Norwegians were more than happy to find any difference to exploit.  Doubtless, the fact that the Krag was a home grown design factored into the matter as well.  In any event, the issue was settled in 1894 when Norway adopted a product improved Krag while Sweden adopted the Mauser.

The Norwegian Model 1894 Krag- Jorgensen rifle has an action that is at the same time very similar to the US Model 1892 Krag rifle and different from the Danish Model 1889 Krag rifle.  Key departures from the Danish pattern include a Mauser type leaf safety, a horizontally pivoting loading gate (the Danish Krag had a vertically pivoted gate), a turned down bolt handle, and a large knob on the end 
Norwegian Krag Receiver
Norwegian Krag Action
Photo by Pete DeMeo
of the cocking piece to permit manual cocking.  Additional differences include a bolt actuated, pivoting ejector vice the M1889's spring loaded ejector.  The Mauser type safety is fixed to the bolt sleeve with a screw, and is of a one-piece design, dispensing with the screw and plunger found on the safeties of many contemporary rifles.  When the leaf is turned to the right the safety is actuated, blocking the cocking piece and preventing the bolt's being opened.
Norwegian Krag Loading Gate
Norwegian Krag Loading Gate Open, Top View
Photo by Pete DeMeo
As noted above, the loading gate pivots downward instead of forward, thus serving as a loading platform when open and minimizing the chance that a cartridge will be inadvertently dropped.  The gate is held closed by a unique multipurpose curved, leaf type spring that doubles as the magazine spring, eliminating the need for a separate gate spring and latch as found on
the M1889.  That is to say, in addition to holding the gate closed, the spring also acts on the follower arm to feed the cartridges, holds the gate open during loading and assists in closure and keeping the gate shut.

Another departure from the Danish design can be found while looking at the magazine box.  On the M1889, the magazine box is a separate unit, fixed to the receiver.  On the US and Norwegian rifles, the magazine box is integral to the receiver forging.  As a result, the the structural integrity and rigidity of the receiver is increased considerably, but is far more difficult to machine, manufacture and heat treat.  A sideplate with a concave inner surface that is held to the receiver by the cut-off spindle forms the left wall of the magazine box and also serves as a cartridge guide.  Both the gate and sideplate are easily removed for cleaning without the use of tools.

As with many other bolt action military rifles of the time, the M1894 incorporated a mechanism to hold the bolt to the rear after the last round in the magazine has been fired.  Early versions of the M1894 had a small coil spring to push the rear end of the magazine sideplate inward so as to engage the bolt face an prevent forward motion.  In the event, this mechanism proved to be too fragile and was removed from the early rifles and omitted from later ones.   A small lip on the underside of the extractor engages a notch in the receiver bridge, holding the bolt to the rear by friction, and preventing it from sliding forward when the muzzle is tilted down - convenient when the rifle was used as a single loader!

Besides being turned down below horizontal, the M1894's bolt handle is bent slightly to the rear, closer to the firing/manipulating hand, and has an oversized knob designed for easy grasping.  These features contribute in no small part to the Krag's reputation for fast handling and easy bolt manipulation.  (Note:  While the bolt handle of the M1889 Krag is also bent slightly to the rear, but the straight bolt handle does not make for the same ease of operation as the bent handle.)  The M1894's speed of operation is also enhanced by an eighty degree bolt throw (as compared to ninety for most Mausers).

Like the Danish Krag rifles, the M1894 actually has two locking lugs:   The single forward locking lug and the elongated bolt guide rib both bear on the receiver to provide two locking surfaces.  Despite this additional safeguard, Krags should not be considered suitable for second generation, high pressure cartridges such as the 7.62mm NATO.  One Scandinavian expert, Nils Kvale, proffered this analysis of the Krag receiver:

One weak spot on the Krag receiver is the corner near the rib on the bolt when the bolt is in the closed position.  On the early Norwegian made Krags this was a sharp corner, and whenever there was a failure in one of these receivers, the crack seemed to start at the sharp corner.  On the later production the corner was slightly rounded, which made it stronger.
Other experts, notably Hardy Ahlgreen, a Chief Inspector at the Kongsberg Arms Factory, state that the M1894 action, while suitable for conversion to 7x57mm Mauser, would not prove strong enough for conversion to 7.62mm NATO.
The strength afforded by the "dual" locking lug system had its price though.  Getting the locking lug and bolt guide rib to bear against the receiver properly required a great deal of hand fitting, and thus was not conducive to easy mass production.  Additionally, a significant number of complex machining operations was necessary to make the magazine box integral to the receiver.  This in itself was a challenging task which required the 
Norwegian Krag Bolt
Norwegian Krag Bolt.  Note the single conventional locking lug at the forward end of the bolt and the guide rib that serves as an auxiliary locking lug along the side
Photo by Pete DeMeo
machinist to have special skills, as well as the workers involved in heat treatment.
Norwegian Krag Bolt Face
Norwegian Krag Bolt Head
Norwegian Krag Bolt Face and Bolt Head, showing position of extractor relative to where the cartridge head would be.
Photo by Pete DeMeo
The  M1894 differs from the Danish and American Krags in that it incorporates features designed to prevent double loading.  (Double loading is a phenomenon that occurs when there is an attempt to feed a cartridge from the magazine while there is a cartridge already in the chamber.)  Double loading can happen in almost any bolt action rifle when the bolt is not turned to the locked position after a cartridge is chambered, subsequent to which the bolt is reciprocated to chamber another round.  In the best case, a feed jam occurs.  In the worst case there is an accidental discharge when the nose of the incoming cartridge strikes the primer of 
the chambered cartridge.  This problem is addressed in the M1894 as follows:  As the 6.5mm cartridge is pushed forward by the bolt, the rim engages underneath the extractor hook prior to the round's clearing the magazine box.  The cartridge is thus under the control of the extractor from the time it leaves the magazine until ejection, preventing double loading.

The M1894 uses a coil type sear spring while the M1889 uses a leaf type sear spring.  In both rifles, however, the trigger mechanism is of the two-stage type in which the sear is partially disengaged from the cocking piece during the first stage, where the slack is taken up, and is fully disengaged during the second stage.  Two fulcrum humps on the trigger produce the two distinct stages.  This system is found on many military bolt action rifle designs and provides generous initial sear engagement with the cocking piece so as to provide a large safety margin, while at the same time the final engagement is small enough so as to give a reasonably light and crisp let-off.  In some M1894's the rear hump of the trigger bears against a small screw in the receiver tang after the slack is taken up by the preliminary pull.  Turning this screw adjusts the amount of sear engagement with the cocking piece during the final stage of the pull and thus makes it possible to reduce creep.  The adjusting screw in the receiver tang is accessible after removing the bolt.  Another fire control improvement is a leaf spring that bears upward against the cocking piece to keep it in uniform engagement with the sear.  This spring is riveted in the cocking piece groove of the receiver tang.

The rear sight is a tangent type, adjustable only for elevation.  On some M1894's the sighting notch is of the U-type and on others it is of the V-type.  The inverted V front sight is adjustable for windage by means of a small windage screw on the sight base.  The screw head has two small holes instead of a slot, and a special spanner is required to turn the screw.  Some M1894's have a windage adjustment locking screw while others do not.

The M1894 has a one-piece stock with a pistol grip, and is made of walnut, birch or beech.  One interesting feature is the reinforcing screw in the pistol grip.  The upper band has an idiosyncratic swivel with a ring at the front and a hook to the rear.  The hook is used to shorten the sling for parades and the ring is used for stacking arms.  To

Norwegian Krag Rear Sight
Norwegian Krag Rear Sight.  This is the improved model fitted to the M1912 short rifle and incorporating a windage adjustment
Photo by Pete DeMeo
shorten the sling, the quick-detachable sling swivel is removed from the swivel base at the heel of the buttstock and mounted on a hole in the forward part of the triggerguard.  A metal loop on the sling is then fastened to the hook.  The cleaning rod is removed from the fore-end for stacking arms, and is inserted through the rings of the rifles to be held together in the stack.

The cleaning rod is about half as long as the barrel, and is screwed to rods from other rifles to make a rod of sufficient length to clean the bore or remove obstructions.  An oil container and other accessories are carried in a tunnel bored into the stock and capped by the buttplate trap.

The M1894's 30" barrel is rather unique in that it has rifling with a left hand twist, and its shank has left hand threads.  The effect is that the torque created when the rifle is fired twists the rifle away from the firer's cheek instead of into it.  The combination of left hand twist rifling and barrel threading has the added benefit of helping to maintain firm seating of the barrel in the receiver.  The diameter of the barrel at the muzzle end is approximately 15mm.

The first 20,000 M1894 rifles (serial numbers 1 - 20000) were produced in Steyr, Austria by the Austrian Arms Company.  The next 10,000 (serial numbers 20001 - 30000) were produced in Norway at the Kongsberg Arms Factory, with the following 9,000 (serial numbers 30001 - 39000) being made in Steyr.  The remainder of the series (approximately 113,000 - serial number 39001 - 152000) were made at Kongsberg.  Separately serial numbered runs of M1894's were made by Kongsberg for the Norwegian Navy and National Rifle Association.  M1894's with serial numbers in the range 89601 to 90601 were equipped with telescopic sights.  The scope was of the straight tube variety, mounted low and to the left.

Fit and finish on early M1894's was excellent, with the finish being of almost a commercial grade.  Over time, the quality of the finish declined, but workmanship and fit were always top notch.  The M1894 was kept in limited production during the German occupation of Norway during the Second World War.  These rifles can be identified by the year of manufacture stamping on the receiver ring and the substandard finish.  Some of these rifles were used by German occupation forces and others on ships of the Kriegsmarine.  They were also used as training rifles by Norwegian troops who fought for the Germans (these troops carried Mauser K98k's in combat).

Some Model 1894's were converted to short rifles during World War Two.  The conversion consisted of shortening the barrel to 24", shortening the fore-end, installing conventional sling swivels, and removing the original date stamp and replacing it with a stamping noting the year of conversion.  Often, these rifles will bear the marking "NC" and Waffenamt acceptance markings.  The NC is reported to be a nitrocellulose proof mark - the Norwegian service cartridge was loaded with nitroglycerine type powder and the use of nitrocellulose powder for proofing was a nonstandard practice.  While there is some indication that the conversions were done by Steyr, there is no hard evidence.

Carbine models were also produced.  The Model 1895 Cavalry Carbine had a 20.5" barrel and a half length forearm that gives it the general appearance of a sporterized long rifle.  Chambered for the same 6.5x55mm as the M1894 rifle, it uses a similar tangent rear sight.  Other recognition features include a short handguard extending from the receiver ring to the rear sight, a sling swivel mounted on the left side of the single barrel band, and, on early guns, a mounting point for the rear sling swivel immediately behind the pistol grip.  In 1908 the rear swivel point was replaced by a swivel on the left side of the triggerguard.  A variation of the Model 1895 with the rear sling swivel mounting point about 4" forward of the buttplate is called the Model 1897 Mountain Artillery and Engineer Carbine.

The Model 1904 Engineer Carbine also had a 20.5" barrel, but had a fore-end similar to the M1894 rifle, which extended to within a few inches of the muzzle.  The handguard extends from the receiver ring to the end of the fore-end, and a similar sling shortening/stacking swivel is provided.  There is no bayonet lug.  The Model 1906 Boy's Carbine was a commercial offering, and was not used by Norwegian armed forces.  It had a 20.5" barrel, a half length forearm, no handguard, and was generally similar in appearance to the Model 1897 Carbine.

The Model 1907 Field Artillery Carbine was similar to the Model 1904 Engineer Carbine with the exception of the sling swivels.  The front sling swivel is on the lower band while the rear is on the butt.  From 1905 to 1907, Norwegian field artillery units were armed with the Model 1895 cavalry carbine.  Model 1895, 1897, 1904, and 1907 are in the same serial number range.

Model 1912 Carbine
Norwegian Model 1914 Krag Carbine with original sling and long bayonet.  The long bayonet and the sling are extremely rare.
Photo by Pete DeMeo
The Model 1912 Carbine was a significant departure from earlier carbine configurations.  It is stocked nearly to the muzzle and has a 24" barrel, and appears to be more of a short rifle than a true carbine.  The design was heavily influenced by the British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE), as is evidenced by the full length fore-end and handguard, 
lightweight barrel, and upper band mounted bayonet boss.  Model 1912's in serial number range 1 - 21678 have a flat bolt handle knob with the flats knurled, while those from 21679 onward have a conventional round bolt knob.  The early design
for the Model 1912's nosecap/upper band proved to be too weak to withstand the rigors of service usage, and a broad reinforcing band that circled the upper band, fore-end and handguard was introduced in 1916, eventually being made as a single piece with the  upper band.

Another feature unique to the M1912 is that the rear sight is mounted immediately forward of the receiver.  This provides a long sighting radius, but may position the sight too close to the shooting eye.  Interestingly, the Model 1912 was sold in large numbers on the US surplus market in the 1950's, and is the Norwegian Krag model most commonly found in the US.

The Norwegian Krag rifles provide fertile ground for the historian and collector.  Indeed, the rifle is emblematic of both the resistance and the collaborationist forces operating in Norway during World War Two.  Exceptionally well made, with an action whose smoothness is the envy of custom  

M1912 Bolt Handle
M1912 Upper Band
Norwegian Krag M1912 Bolt Handle and Upper Band
Photo by Pete DeMeo
rifle makers to this day, the Norwegian Krag was accurate, reliable, and well suited for the 6.5mm service cartridge for which it was chambered.   Unfortunately, they are few and far between today, and specimens in nice shape can command prices ranging from $500 to $1500.  Additionally, Norwegian 6.5mm service ammunition is known to be somewhat more lightly loaded than the readily available Swedish 6.5x55mm ammunition or commercial sporting ammunition of that caliber, so shooting a Norwegian Krag may be a questionable prospect at best.  Despite these issues, the owner of a Norwegian Krag can count him or herself lucky indeed, for it is a true cruffler gem!


Mallory, Franklin B. and Ludwig Olson, The Krag Rifle Story, 2nd Edition, (Springfield Research Service, Silver Spring, Maryland:  2001)

The Krag Rifle Story is available from Scott Duff Publications.  Please click on the image to order.
The Krag Rifle Story, 2nd Edition

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