Corrosive Krag


I just took this round 30-40 Krag (RA 17) from a box of loose military rounds I have had for years. It was sitting on top of the lot with a large fresh liquid puddle of corossion. Figure it would have been dried and done by now but somehow is still actively corroding.



When I was still collecting US Infantry rifles and the web gear that went with them, I bought a Bandoleer of these to fill up a good portion of a Krag 100-round belt I had, for display. I decided it was not a good idea to display the belt with live ammunition in it, so the ammo sat for a couple of years in my house. When I looked at the ammo, so much of it was similar to what you picture that I used the ammunition disposal service at one of the local clubs I belong to so that it would be destroyed. Even the bandoleer itself was ruined.

“Blue Ooze” can be a real problem, everybit as bad as the internal corrosion with German 7.9 steel cases.


Seems to be a regular thing with that round…

Powder was tacky and had that sour odor of things going bad.



Wecome to the club, and just hope it don’t happen to that Krag round that’s worth 2 or 3 hundred bucks.


Two things have happened here.

  1. Age cracking of the neck…due to the fact that the US did not neck anneal brass until the mid 1920s…the Forming of the neck and shoulder was not followed by the typical anneal which colours the neck and shoulder as seen on much military ammo from the 1930s onwards.

  2. Moisture from the atmosphere as well as moisture produced by the deterioration of the Powder ( along with Nitric acid formed by the breakdown of Nitrocellulose, ) has caused the blue-green Nitrate/Oxide corrosion of the brass, from the inside out. An analysis of the “ooze” will show all these components ( a good High School Science Lab experiment). The Bullet base (lead) will also be corroded into White Lead Oxide and Nitrate ( coloured by the Copper compounds)

The only solution ( no pun intended) is to pull the bullet, dump the powder, wash the case out with warm vinegar followed by hot water, dry, and re-assemble.

Sadly, all or nearly all of our precious cartridges from before WW II, ( and some after) will suffer from this “Green Cancer” sooner or later.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.
Brisbane Australia


What is shown is fairly typical with Krag cartridges loaded in the teens and up through the 1920’s. (The WW1 contract rounds and most of the Sub-caliber rounds). These are loaded with the powders of the day, the early IMR’s and so forth, and I think this is where the problem arises. These powders in many cases were not made properly and, as has been stated, break down with time. However, Krag cartridges made in the 1890’s up through 1909 seem to exibit no problems like this, even though many have the typical cracked neck…These were loaded with many powders, including DuPont, Peyton, W-A 30 Cal, Laflin & Rand and others…



Doc AV,

Good info and thank you for sharing.


Do you as a rule pull and dump the Krags from the problem years without signs of breakdown or do you wait until it’s obviously needed?

Has anyone compiled a checklist of the collectibles that tend to “go green” and need extra attention?



Are there differences in the primers used in the “likely to go bad” Krag years compared to the “relatively stable” period?


John: The earliest Krag cartridges were loaded with mercuric-type primers I think, but the H48 potassium chlorate-based primer came in about the time of the Spanish American War. It was, in turn replaced in 1917 (maybe) by the FA70, also a chlorate type, which was used until corrosive priming was dropped after WW2. I agree with Randy that the older Krag cartridges seem to be holding up better than the later ones, but I think the problem lies more in the propellants used post-1910 than in the primers. I once had a small collection of powder samples from military rifle cartridges I kept in glass cigar containers (each container being cigar-shaped and sealed with a plastic stopper) and after a couple of decades noticed that the only sample which went bad–producing a dark red stain on the glass–was an IMR-type propellant from some WW.2 vintage .30-06 cartridge. This wont make the cut for a scientific test but it did catch my eye. Jack


Before the H48 primer, which came along about 1900?..There was the G36…I have no idea of the mixture used without further research. I stated earlier, and Jack re-iterated, that the problem seems to rest with the powder, not the primers.

Dave E…I have not pulled down any Krag cartridges that are still in “good shape”, as those that I have found without corrosion seem to remain that way, (hopefully !!), and most that I find that are corroded, like alot of the sub-caliber rounds, are beyond repair when I find them…