.30 Krag Supplemental Chamber

A recent acquisition for the collection, a .30 Krag supplemental chamber that seems to be chambered for .32 ACP. The chamber within is .75" deep and will not accept .32 S&W Long or .32 Long Colt. They are too long. A Winchester .32 S&W will chamber however several UMC made cartridges will not. This chamber is 2.25" long and with a .32 Short Colt chambered, the rim is entirely exposed. There is a counterbore at the rear of the chamber that accepts the rim of the .32 ACP cartridge. The chamber is very well made of steel and is polished bright. There are no markings. The forward end has 12 very shallow rifling grooves.
30 Krag Supp Chamber0001
30 Krag Supp Chamber0002
Can anyone speculate on a maker?
I have several Winchesters, Marbles, Brayton and Elterich and it is none of these.

Randy

My guess is W. Milton Farrow (1848-1934), noted late 19th Century marksman & rifle manufacturer. He had a machine shop in D.C. 1898-1920. He was “Inspector of Musketry” or some such for the Washington, D.C., National Guard from 1900 to about 1915. He was a serious competitor with the Krag from 1900 to about 1912.

Farrow was a proponent of a large number of lands & grooves when lead bullets were used. I think the 12 grooves are the best clue.

Thank you. I believe that is a good guess.

I sent your question to several serious Farrow collectors & students. I don’t know how to establish authenticity, but Farrow’s rifles bring top dollar today and his loading tools and sights are very valuable. This isn’t something that just goes into your junk box.

My main collecting area is .30-40 Krag and I recently purchased this item so of course it does not go in the junk, it resides with all the other supplemental chambers in the collection.

Here’s my guess for a date: 1905.

Explanation: Starting about 1901, J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. produced “Stevens-Pope” barrels in .22 Long Rifle caliber for the Krag service rifles. The barrels were a screw-in replacement for the military barrel. They became quite popular. National Guard units in Ohio, New Jersey, and “Washington” purchased the barrels and converted some of their active-duty rifles to .22 rimfire for training purposes.

By 1904, the Chief of Ordnance of the U.S. Army issued a General Order forbidding the practice and required the rifles to be returned to their original condition. In protest, National Guard units from the 3 states competed against U.S. Army Regulars in the U.S. National Matches at Sea Girt, NJ, and defeated them. As a result, the Chief of Ordnance ordered the production of some 800 additional Krag rifles in .22 rimfire for issue to National Guard units. Those rifles were made, but did not appear until 1908 or 1909.

FA-produced gallery loads for the Krag cartridge were known to be inaccurate. That was what led to the development of the Stevens-Pope barrel in the first place. In the interim, training on indoor ranges went on. Farrow, an officer in the Washington, DC National Guard, was in charge of marksmanship training. I think he made that supplemental chamber (and probably others) to further his unit’s training. The supplemental chamber may well have been accompanied by specially handloaded .32 pistol ammunition. Farrow also made loading tools.

I was asked by a fellow forum user to post a picture of my supplemental chambers for .30-40 Krag.


On top: 3 different Winchester Auxiliary Chambers plus a sectioned one.
Lower row: From left to right: Brayton, 2 Elterich, 3 different Marble’s, and the Farrow.
I also have three different Zip chambers and kits, not shown.
Randy

2 Likes

Here is an example of the Marble’s Auxiliary Cartridge as it came in the packaging, received many years ago from the late, great Dale Spahr.



Randy

Here is an example of the box that six of the Winchester Supplemental Chambers came in.
30 KRAG SUPP CHAMBER BOX0001
Randy

And, a couple of the Zip kits:



(I can upload these as pdf’s as well if needed; jpg’s tend to not do justice to fine linework.
Randy

Undoubtedly, Waterman’s excellent, detailed information correct.

However, please note that “gallery practice” was largely intended for more or less basic marksmanship training using indoor ranges in National Guard armories when access to outdoor ranges was impractical due to distance, weather, or the time required not fitting into the Guard’s weekly/monthly drill schedules. For this purpose, the cheap, easily reloaded at the local level with Army provided tools, .30 caliber round ball gallery practice cartridges were sufficient. Later gallery practice loads with conical lead bullets were better than the round ball, but still not really “match quality.”

At the same time, there was also a very strong movement for competitive marksmanship with many units taking it quite seriously, as Waterman’s details above suggest. For them, more sophisticated and accurate equipment was highly desirable. Since many Guard units at that time were as much social clubs as warfighters, some had the money and willingness to invest in the latest items to achieve improved scores.

There was also competition using “service rifles” with civilian teams competing against others, including military teams, subject to whatever rules were in place at the time.

This was also the time (circa 1908) the the Cummings Sub Target marksmanship training devices entered the market and became widely used by military units (active and reserve) as well as among high schools with sort of JROTC type programs, or just an interest in marksmanship competition. (These required no ammunition or actual range- a plus for the bureaucrats, but a loss for us cartridge collectors).

About 1901, Capt. Charles Winder, Ohio NG, wrote to the Chief of Ordnance about the lack of accuracy of the round ball load when used at 25 yards on indoor ranges. He wrote that the cartridges were so inaccurate that the men soon lost interest, that even the best shots in his unit could not hit what they aimed at, and that it was impossible to know if any individual’s marksmanship improved with extended practice.

Winder was a member of a US Army rifle team sent to compete in England in 1900. He saw .22 rimfire rifles used for “miniature” rifle practice, brought back a couple of rifles and began training his NG unit with them.

I have had this box for many years and have always wondered what sub caliber device these cartridges were for.

The red print states “Sub-Calibre Cartridges For Krag-Jorgensen Rifles.”

The 20 or so remaining cartridges in the box are exactly as pictured on the top label.

Randy

30army, since you are collecting supplemental chambers for the Krag, seems that you should be best able to tell us. Since the box is open, try a cartridge in each type. What is the diameter range of the remaining bullets?