Thirty Little Secrets #2 – Mounting a Peep on a Military Rifle

The fan of military rifles finds them equipped with a huge variety of iron sights.  The study of military sights is, in fact, a substantial endeavor in its own right.  One of my favorite old soldiers, the Krag-Jorgensen, used five different rifle sights and four different carbine sights, each with two or three variations, over the relatively short course of its life (1).   

The typical military ramp-ladder sight shown at right does not work well for me in shooting because it is simply too far away from my eyes.  Better sighting is 

Model 1896 sight on a Krag-Jorgensen

justified on rifles that shoot as well as Krags usually do.  You can get scope mounts for them, but I wanted to preserve the original lines of the weapon.  I wanted a peep and I went for the Williams, which offered their FP model for the Krag. It is very serviceable and reasonably priced. 

My Krag began life as a Rifle, Model of 1892.  The date on the receiver is 1894 and the serial number is 15XXX, pretty low.  Like most of the 1892’s, this one was updated to Model of 1896 level at the Springfield Armory.  The sight and handguard are of 1896 vintage.  Before entering civilian life who- knows-when, the barrel was cut to 22”, an ’03 Springfield-type front sight was installed, and the whole turned out as a carbine.  It may have a cut-down rifle stock or an 1899 carbine stock, I am not sure which.  It mainly resembles the DCM (Division of Civilian Marksmanship) Krag sold to the public by the government in the 1920’s and 30’s.  It is not, however, a DCM Krag as the details are not right.  That’s about all we need to know.  It looks good and functions well. 

This Krag is not a valuable collector’s item, but I didn’t want to drill it.  Krag receivers are very hard, and gunsmiths can handle that, but I still just did not want it drilled.  I wanted to work on it myself, so I decided I would glue the sight on.  In the past I had had good luck in other projects with J B Weld, a metal-epoxy based product that is used like most other two-tube epoxy products.  The company calls it a “cold-weld compound” and you can consult their website for more info if you are not familiar with the stuff. 

I scrubbed the blue from the mounting area of the receiver with fine sandpaper.  I found I could hold the sight in proper position using heavy rubber bands, so I slathered on the JB, got the sight in position and banded so it would not slide, and

Williams FP in place on Oley Krag

 let it sit overnight.  In the morning it seemed to be quite solidly attached and at least 98% in the correct position, so I felt pretty foxy.  

A few days later I took Mr. Krag to the range with some factory 180-grain loads.  On the third shot the sight did a forward 3.5 somersault with a 1.5 twist and landed with a plop on the benchtop.  I gave it an “8”.  Luckily, I was the only one on the range that morning, or I would have been mightily embarrassed.  The folks who visit my range are nice people, but they would gather round and interrogate until they had learned the complete extent of my folly, and then never forget it. 

Back at home, I did not want to give up after one try.  I got a slightly coarser grade of paper and really worked over the receiver and the mounting surface of the sight.  Regluing went without incident and the result has turned out to be more durable.  I have fired about 100 rounds since and the connection remains solid.  It is said that one can unjoin pieces joined with JB by heatingthem.  That may be, but I probably will never do it because the Williams peep works very well for me and the Krag so fitted is a good shooter.  The last picture shows a couple of groups fired with the peep sight in place using handloads with W760 powdeer behind a Sierra 180-gr round-nose bullet.  The top group of seven rounds was fired at 100 yds and measures 1.59″.  After the first shot, the remaining six went into 1.20″.  The bottom group of five rounds was fired at fifty yds and measures .74″.   In my article “Precision With A Peep” on this site I describe my targets and techniques for shooting small groups with an aperture sight. 

Two groups fired by Krag with Williams FP

 (1)  Brophy, Lt. Col. William S., The Krag Rifle, 2nd. Edn, The Gun Room Press, Highland Park, NJ, page 93

This entry was posted in Rifles/Thirties. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.