Reloading for the 8X58RD Part 3

Read back for the previous two articles on my reloading experiments with the 8x58RD.

Last post I was looking at the implications of using 7,62x54R case as an alternative to the 8x58RD. Lunch time I slugged the bore of the rifle (S&L Model 42) and checked the dimension, the bore comes up at 8,15mm/.321″ however the rifling definition is not particularly crisp. One of the issues with military 8x58RD ammunition is it often uses potassium chloride in the construction of the primer. This leaves a minute deposit of the hygroscopic potassium chloride salt in the bore after a cartridge is fired. Being hygroscopic the salts attract and hold moisture which leads to corrosion/rusting unless one pays particular attention to the cleaning of the bore after use. This is why you will sometimes come across a lovely looking Krag or S&L with a bore that has been all but destroyed due to the owner putting a few rounds of milsurp through the rifle and then returning it to the cabinet uncleaned.

It is always sad to see such a rifle.

Back to the reloading experiments. The 54R brass is easily expanded to suit the new bullet and chambers perfectly after a full length size, in fact it chambers unsized and you could probably  load a 54R round in the 58RD, fire it and end up with a perfectly formed 58RD case – not that I would ever advocate such an action! (Wear your safety glasses if you really must try this)

One interesting feature of the sizing die I use is it not only opens the neck to suit the 8mm bullet it also allows you to flare the mouth of the neck slightly if you wish. This gives two benefits, one is it gives an easier lead when seating the bullet which is especially handy with cast bullets as there is less chance of shaving the lead, it also means you can flare the case neck mouth to a size where it aligns itself with the chamber neck which is something reloaders looking for accuracy with cast bullets will require.

Next step is to source some bullets, fire form the cases and shoot the thing in anger.




Reloading for the 8X58RD Part 2

In my last post I looked at the idea of using 54R brass as an alternative to 8x58RD so lets have a closer look at the two cases and consider if this really is a viable option. Below are the drawings for the two cases with the 7,62x54R at the top and the 8x58RD at the bottom, I have red ringed the key dimensions.two

Starting from the head and moving towards the neck lets compare the two.

Dimension (mm)
7.62x54R 8x58RD A-B
Rim diameter 14.48 14.65 0.17
Head to shoulder 39.76 40.90  1.14
Case length 53.72 57.75 4.03
Neck outer diameter 8.53 8.98 0.45
Case base diameter 12.37 12.75 0.38
Case shoulder diameter 11.61 11.95 0.34
Bullet diameter 7.90 8.20 0.30

A closer look at the table shows the rim diameter is smaller on the 54R however not enough to be significant. The head to shoulder is shorter on the 54R so it will fit however the Alpha shoulder angle is very different however again this should not cause issues as only the front of the shoulder will be set back and then only marginally. Luckily the case is rimmed so no worries about building over length to hold the case in the chamber for first firing.

The 54R case finished length is 4,03mm shorter which is a bit of a problem and the cartridge overall length of the 58RD is 4,77mm longer than the 54R – this is an important detail and does mean we will be jumping the bullet quite a bit regardless of if it is cast or jacketed.

What I cannot predict although it can be calculated is the developed length of case after the first firing, it is at times like this it is worth considering fire forming without a bullet, to do this you use a low charge of faster powder, add a filler and then plug the end of the case with something – soap works well for this and it means the associated pressures with firing are drastically reduced, wear your safety/shooting glasses regardless of predicted chamber pressures.

So that is my musings on the use of 7,62x54R brass in the 8x58RD. Looking at the dimensions the case is going to fit quite nicely and should blow out to conform to the chamber without issues. I would suggest using a reasonable make of brass, Lapua springs to mind. Having written this I am tempted to open the 54R brass out to 8,0mm with a mandrel stage followed by passing the case through a full length sizing die and then fireform with a plugged case.

Pictures to follow..



Reloading for the 8X58RD

Well at long last we have some 8x58RD Dies, they are new, robust and of unknown maker however they are dies and that is a good start as far as I am concerned so the next thing is get some rounds built.

I had planned on taking standard Berdan primed brass and either converting it to boxer or just reloading them as Berdan. The only downside with Berdan primed brass is removing the primers and that is no real hardship as they are easily removed hydraulically or you can always mess around with other techniques if so desired. Hydraulic removal of primers is a wonderful process, find a lump of wood and drill a shallow hole to match the diameter of the cartridge head or rim, now drill a smaller hole to allow the primer to drop through. Now fill the case 3/4 full with water place it in the hole in the wood, find a suitable piston which in this case is a length of brass that fits fairly snugly through the top of the case, insert the piston, hold it firmly (Gloves are good if it is a bit on the short side) now give it a smart rap with something and voila, the primer is pushed out with the hydraulic action, you get a bit wet and the case is ready to be cleaned and sized before priming. You will need the correctly sized primers however that is not a real problem. I much prefer to do this outside on a sunny afternoon and find it quite therapeutic…

The problem is I do not have any fired 8x58RD brass right now so what are the alternatives? Well there is some new Bertram brass available however it has a reputation for splitting even when annealed and it is very expensive. Certainly other cases such as the 45/90 can be necked down however this involves trimming and annealing and again the brass is not cheap. There is a third option and that is to use 7,62x54R brass which is something we have a fair few of here having shot various Russian rifles in the past. Now one of the issues with 54R brass is it is going to come up short once it has been opened up to suit the 8,0mm however it does have a reputation for working fairly successfully and also means as I am reloading I can keep the MV’s down to something sensible.

Now to the choice of bullet, standard jacketed bullets of around 200 grains would be a good start however given that the two rifles have less than perfect bores I am inclined to use cast bullets which means I need to slug the bore first to confirm the best choice of bullet. Slugging is the process of taking an oversize to the bore lead slug or ball and forcing it down the bore, this does sound rather harsh however it is surprisingly easy. Lubricate the bore with some oil, take the slug and tap it down into the bore from the muzzle end and once it is in the bore it will tap down with very little effort, I prefer to use lengths of oak dowel however others will use a single length of suitable round bar, I found this method less easy as the rod will bow during the process if you are not careful plus if you are working with a 30″ barrel you end up having to stand on a chair to start the process. The lengths of oak dowel have worked perfectly many times in the past and I will continue to use them.

Once the slug drops out of the other end it can be measured and used as an indication of the diameter bullet to be used. Of course at this stage it is worth taking a cast of the chamber as well so you have a better idea of what you are working with but I am not going to pursue that avenue in this post as accurising cartridges for cast bullets is a whole subject on it’s own and way beyond this article.

I guess the next job is to decide on what sort of powder load to go for. A serious consideration is the maximum safe pressure for the rifles in question is going to be around 3200 Bar/46,500 PSI – CAUTION!! This applies to the later 8x58RD such as the S&L M.38/M.42 and not to the earlier rolling block One thing I do not want to do is overly stress the rifle so I suspect I will be looking at  a fairly modest load of N140 or similar. Time to do some more research in this area meanwhile I will machine a mandrel, open up some 54R brass and see how it looks.

The Krag-Jørgensen in 1957

This young man is Jørgen Christensen, founder of shooting at Fåvang in Norway in 1957. This particular Krag-Jørgensen was borrowed and is a hunting rifle chambered in 9.3 x62 which is not so far off a 30-06 case wise but with a somewhat heavier bullet.

1957 på skydebanen

Jørgen tells me the majority of hunters used the Krag-Jørgensen rifles, usually in 6,5x55SE converted to single shot. The reason for the single shot modification is they were hunting Reindeer which tend to herd together so the single shot meant reloading took longer and gave the Reindeer a more sporting chance.

All of the people in this picture are Reindeer hunters and they would have to attend a compulsory shooting test once a year to make sure they could use the rifles accurately and safely. The tests took place at 100/200/300m.

Jørgen tells me the same rifles were used for Moose/Elk however they would be hunted with a full magazine.

The Danish M/89 Krag-Jørgensen

I have been meaning to write a few articles on the rifles I like, and preferably own, this one nearly ticks the boxes as it belongs to my wife however as the old saying goes: “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is my own“…

So here it is the dear old Krag-Jørgensen (pronounced  like you would cow but with a ‘r’ in it and Yorgensen) Wiki tells us: Rifle M/89 (Gevær M/89), stocked almost to the muzzle, no hand guard, straight bolt handle and an outer steel liner for the barrel. This weapon is typical of the period in having a long barrel and stock without pistol grip. Was originally issued without a safety catch; instead, a half-cock notch on the cocking piece/firing pin assembly served this purpose. In 1910, this weapon was modified by the addition of a manual safety, which was placed on the left side of the receiver just behind the closed bolt handle.

‘Our Krag is from 1892 and is chambered in 8x58RD (Rimmed Danish to us)

The story behing ours goes something like this:

We were in Denmark start of September 2011 for a shooting holiday and heading up to the range on the first day we called into a gun shop called Korsholm, by UK standards this place is like a super market, a rather exclusively stocked super market at that. The good news is they sometimes sell 7,62×51 Milsurp at very good prices and anyway it is marked on the GPS…

Back to Korsholm. I was quite taken by a JagFeltSkydning Mauser chambered in 6,5Swede last time we called in so we popped back in to see if was still on the shelf, it was and it probably still is right now. I suddenly spotted an unusual looking rifle right in the corner of the rack and asked the sales person what it was and could I have a closer look. He obligingly removed it from the rack and handing it to me advised me it was something ‘old and Danish’ and maybe 8mm but he knew nothing else. Now we liked it, in fact we both liked it a lot and the price was keen as well, so Christel took some pictures and we left to research this ‘old Danish 8mm something’ rifle.

It turned out to be an M/89 Krag-Jørgensen and being Danish, unusual and a shite old military rifle it ticked all the boxes so we went back the next day and the salesman promptly dropped 25% off the already rather keen price. SOLD! So that was it, we had ourselves another rifle. Of course being in DK it involves some local paperwork and a variation added for the rifle on Christels Firearms Certificate but no matter it is paid for and we will call back and collect it at some point. Personally I am rather excited at having another Dane in the house, having a Danish wife, a dog from DK, a Schultz & Larsen and now the Krag.

Until it comes home some rather poor images will have to suffice.

Interesting features include the side entry hinged magazine cover, load 5 rounds into the right, close the cover and the rounds are routed under the received and into the left hand side of the action which has a magazine cut off fitted. This M/98 also has the later 1910 fitted safety catch. The process of removing the bolt is unusual and the barrel itself is fitted with a tube sleeve as the earlier Mauser was. I wonder where that idea came from?

Approximately 60,000 M/98’s were built in Copenhagen and this one is marked Kobenhagen Gavaerfabriken. The kind hearted Germans liberated Denmark to save them from us Brits 9th April 1940 and even more kindly took over half the M/98’s for ‘safe keeping’ Now when you consider the humble SMLE was churned out to the tune of 17 million plus, the Danish Krag is quite unusual even in Denmark.

The original Krag-Jørgensen is Norwegian and the Danish M/98 is based on the original design but with some changes made. I will post more on the history of the rifle at a later date.

…and when it comes home, well I just hope it fits in the cabinet!

The Bayonet M/1889

The Danish Krag-Jørgensen Gevær M/89 bayonets. This post will be a place holder for the range of bayonets used with the M/89 Krag-Jørgensen and here are two examples.

Firstly an example of the earlier German built Bayonet M/1889. This one is marked 91 for 1891 and was built by Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Co, Solingen. This design of bayonet was approved 7th October 1892 and manufactured with the leather grips until around 1892/93, after this time the bayonet was manufactured with wooden grips

I have a feeling the scabbard with this bayonet is for the later wooden gripped versions and is probably a Danish manufactured version, the scabbard is not numbered to particular bayonet so hard to be sure.


This is the later pattern Bayonet M/1889 Danish (Copenhagen) built version, this one was manufactured by HVV and is marked 07 for 1907


Overall length 350,0mm

Blade length 230,0mm

Please note the correct designation for Danish Krag-Jørgensen Gevær M/89 bayonets is always Bayonet M/1889 regardless of grip material.


First lesson, how to pronounce Krag-Jørgensen

This is your first lesson and an important lesson at that, how to pronounce Krag-Jørgensen. I hear so many interpretations of this rifle name so here goes..

Krag – this is pronounced with a silent ‘g’ so think of it as saying crowd but missing the d off the end, sort of like crowwwww but not like the bird.

Jørgensen or Jorgensen if you want the English spelling, this is pronounced with a Y at the front, so Yorgensen.

Put it together and you get Croww Yorgensen. Easy really! 🙂

We will move on to the Danish 8x58RD (Rimmed Danish) Krag-Jørgensen in a bit.

EDIT – I must point out this applies to the Danish Krag and not the American or Norwegian Krags….. 🙂