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Rifleman Q&A: Military Krag Loads

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Q. I recently acquired a U.S. Krag rifle for my collection, and I want to replicate ballistics and performance of the arm—as well as for my .45-70 Trapdoor—using the original government loadings. I have learned that no commercial ammunition manufacturer makes a load comparable to the old government loads. I believe it used a 220-grain round-nosed, flat-based, FMJ fired at 2,000 f.p.s. Hornady and Sierra both appear to make a similar bullet, but I don’t know what powder and amount would be the most appropriate.

A. You are correct that both Sierra and Hornady offer 220-grain bullets suitable for use in the Krag. Both their manuals have data that will effectively deliver the 2,000 f.p.s. velocity. Some sources say that original military load was 2,200 f.p.s., but none of the data shown indicate that velocity with modern powders. My experience suggests that H-4350 would be the most efficient powder. A standard large rifle primer is plenty. Magnum primers are not needed.

As to the .45-70 Gov’t., most blackpowder rifle cartridges often seem to use FFG powders, but may I suggest that you investigate some of the modern blackpowder substitutes. Pyrodex, Clean Shot or Triple Seven nicely duplicate ballistics, give satisfying quantities of white smoke, but are far less troublesome to clean. Typically blackpowder fouling reduces accuracy after a relatively small number of rounds, but the substitutes are much cleaner.

Hodgdon has some good data on its website (hodgdon.com).

—Charles E. Petty

This “Questions & Answers” was featured in the August 2005 issue of American Rifleman. At time of publication, “Questions & Answers” was compiled by Staff, Ballistics Editor William C. Davis, Jr., and Contributing Editors: David Andrews, Hugh C. Birnbaum, Bruce N. Canfield, O. Reid Coffield, Charles Q. Cutshaw, Charles M. Fagg, Angus Laidlaw, Evan P. Marshall, Charles E. Petty, Robert B. Pomeranz, O.D., Jon R. Sundra, Jim Supica, A.W.F. Taylerson, John M. Taylor and John W. Treakle.

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