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Military Rifles in the Age of Transition
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M1867 and M1867/96 Danish Remington
M1867/97 Remington-built Danish Remington rifle
M1867/96 Danish-built Remington rifle
Denmark is a small country (slightly smaller than the US states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined) situated on the Jutland peninsula, in Northern Europe, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east. It is surrounded by water except for its 42-mile southern boundary with Germany, and includes some 500 nearby islands, of which only 100 or so are inhabited. It was the Danish Vikings, not Norwegians, who between 800-1000 A.D. conquered much of England.
Although Denmark acquired substantial territorial possessions during its history, including uniting with Norway and Sweden under Danish rule in the late 1300s, Denmark was forced to give Norway to an independent Sweden at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and, with that loss, most of its empire was gone.
In the 1830s and 1840s the desire for a liberal constitution spread throughout the populations of Denmark as well as its Schleswig-Holstein dependencies (Schleswig was a Danish dependency and Holstein a German dependency, both ruled by Denmark). Open revolt broke out in 1848 in Holstein and southern Schleswig. Prussia, and later Austria, entered the conflict on the side of the rebels. After two separate wars (1848-1850, and again in 1864), Denmark was defeated and forced to surrender the entire regions to Prussia and Austria. Ironically, in 1920, the people of northern Schleswig voted to rejoin Denmark.
ADOPTION OF THE REMINGTON
The Danes were without an effective breech loader in their conflict with Prussia during the War of 1864, and were both outclassed and outgunned by the Prussian forces armed with the breech-loading Dreyse rifles. After their defeat, and following an American tour by members of the Danish Ordnance Commission which included a visit to Remington, the Danes placed an order for 20,000 of the new m/1867 rifles in April of 1867. This was important to the Remington firm, as it was Remington’s first major order of rifles since the American Civil War and Remington’s first major overseas contract. In August of that same year Denmark ordered an additional 10,000 rifles and 1,800 carbines, and in May of the following year, 1868, placed yet another order for 10,000 more of the m/1867 rifles. In addition to these orders for Remington-manufactured rifles, the Danes (as would the Norwegians and Swedes soon thereafter) also secured the rights to manufacture the Remington design in Denmark at the Copenhagen arsenal, which they did in a quantity equal to the orders from Remington.
Original, Remington-built m/1867 Danish rifles were supplied with American walnut stock, color case-hardened receivers and blued barrels.
The Danish model initially utilized an 11.44 rimfire cartridge. The choice of this caliber, in lieu of the much more common ~ 12mm (.50 caliber) in vogue in the rest of the world in these years, resulted from a visit to US arms manufacturers, including Remington, of a Danish representative authorized to contract for the purchase of new rifles and to choose the caliber based on experiments then being undertaken by the US Army’s Ordnance Department. (Of note, these experiments would later lead to the adoption of the American .45-70, a cartridge quite similar to the Danish cartridge actually adopted.)
The initial rimfire cartridge was later updated to a longer centerfire cartridge in 1896, and the rifle remained in service well into the smokeless era. However, with the adoption of the 8mm Krag-Jørgensen in 1889, the need to update or abandon the Remington became acute. In 1893 some Danish Remingtons were re-barreled to chamber 8mm Krag-Jorgensen cartridges.
The orders of the Danish rifles, coupled with orders for the Swedish rifles (and licensing of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for local production of rolling block rifles) paved the way for the eventual enormous successes of Remington in producing and licensing the rolling block rifle.
After World War II a large quantity of these Danish Remington rifles were sold surplus to the US. Large quantities were misleadingly sold as chambered for the US .45‑70 Government cartridge, which the Danish round closely resembles, but the two are not interchangeable. (see the discussion in the CARTRIDGE section, below).
UPDATING THE M1867 DANISH SERIES RIFLES
Danish-built and Remington-built
After the 1889 adoption and introduction of the smokeless powder Krag-Jorgensen repeaters, the Remingtons were freed up for alternative uses. In 1896, the M/1867 rifles remaining in inventory were withdrawn from infantry service, converted to utilize the new 11.35x51R smokeless powder centerfire cartridge, and transferred to fortress and coast artillerymen. At that time, a newly designed rear sight with an unusually long ladder was also fitted to the Danish-manufactured rifles giving them the readily distinguishable look common to virtually all Danish Remington rolling block rifles encountered by North American collectors and shooters today.
The Danish-built rifles were converted to their new use merely by boring out the chamber to accept a longer, more powerful centerfire black powder cartridge otherwise identical dimensions and swapping out the rear sight ladder for a considerably longer recalibrated one, together with installing a new, long range volley site button on the left side of the center band.
However the Remington-built Danish rifles were processed differently. The Danes were of the opinion that the American made barrels where manufactured with lesser quality steel than the Danish-produced barrels, and that they would not be able to easily tolerate the more powerful Danish cartridge. These converted Remington-built m/1867 rifles were instead re-designated m/1867/97 and issued with reduced charge cartridges. While the Danish built rifle cartridges contained a smokeless powder load of 2.3 grams of powder, the 1897 Remington cartridges, while produced with all of the same dimensions, was loaded with only 1.9 grams of powder.
Also, due to being issued with a reduced load cartridge, the Remington m/1867/97 was issued with its original but altered rear sight, rather than a new rear sight leaf as with the Danish-made M/1867/96. The original Remington rear sight calibrations on the leaf were crossed out and the sight was recalibrated on the base to 250 meters, and on the backside of the leaf from 150 to 1,500 meters. This is versus the new Danish rear sight leaf calibrated from 200 to 2100 meters.
All of the rifles just discussed retain their original serial numbers. However, a number of Remington manufactured rifles had their barrels entirely replaced with a new, Danish-made barrel and these rifles were designated identically to the Danish ones, that is M/1867/96, even though Remington-made. While the early Remington manufactured rifles were serially numbered up to 40,000, and the altered m/1867/97 rifles retain their original serial numbers, these newly Danish rebuilt Remington-made rifles were issued new serial numbers in the range of 71,552 and up. Of interest, this is exactly the history of the M1867 Swiss Peabody rifles, many of which had their American (Providence Tool Company) barrels later replaced by Swiss-manufactured barrels and re-serially-numbered after they had been in Swiss service for some time, being re-designated M1867/77 Swiss Peabodys.
Nomenclature: All-original Danish Remington rifles, both Remington-built and Danish-built (both rare!), are designated m/1867 Danish infantry rifles (Dansk Remington bagladeriffel model 1867. bagladeriffel = breechloader)
Updated Danish rifles with new sight ladders and long-range button on the center band are “m/1867/96.”