M1857/67 Russian Krnka
(Krnka photos these pages courtesy D. Goss)
GENERALLY: The M1867 Russian Krnka is another variety of lifting breach block conversion of muzzle loader to breach loader. It is Russia's conversion of their Model 1857 "Six Line" rifle musket (15.24mm; the Russian "liniya" is equal to 1/10 inch, hence 6-line = .60 Cal) by use of the system developed by Sylvester Krnka of Wolin, Bohemia (Czechoslovakia). Like so many other early conversion rifles, the transformation was carried out by cutting off and threading the back of the barrel ans screwing on a receiver (the Krnka receivers were bronze) and adding a steel breech block containing the firing pin. The Krnka system consists of a right pivoting breach block very similar to the Snider and French Tabatiere systems with the distinction that the breech block opens to the LEFT rather than to the right in all of the other Snider varieties. The conversion maintains its original back action lock but the hammer is converted to a very simple flat hammer like striker (like a hammer with no head on it) to strike the firing pin fitted longitudinally through the breach block. Conversions were carried out at the Tula Armory (T.O.Z.). Some authorities have noted that after 1871 most of the Krnka rifles were converted from 15 mm to the Russian Berdan M1868 caliber, 10.6 x 58 but Hoyem disputes this and it is likely that the references to "converted to 10.6 Berdan" refers to the withdrawl of the Krnkas in favor of the more modern and much more effective Berdan 1 and shortly thereafter Berdan II rifles. Please see the pictures below to Krnka markings and the generous translations by Ilija Stanislevik.
PHOTO: The rifle shown is a Model 1857/67 Russian Krnka Infantry Rifle, converted from the Russian M1856 "6 Line" infantry rifle. (note that the sight on the rifle shown is mounted backwards. The sights are easily removed and replaced.)
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: Flat headless hammer, bronze receiver, breech opens to the left! At least two models of Krnkas were converted from the 6-Line Model 1857; an infantry rifle (shown here) and a Cavalry Rifle (not a carbine!). The rifles are very similar, differences being that the infantry rifle is approximately 53 1/2 inches (136cm) long and the Cavalry Rifle is some 48 1/2 inches (123cm) long. Also, some Cavalry Rifles sport a shorter stubbier hammer, some a longer rear sight and some sling slots in the forestock and buttstock in lieu of sling swivels.
MISC NOTES: Text in RED are translations of the Russian notations courtesy of, and with sincere appreciation to, S. J. Zielinski.
I received the following letter from Vlads Rybalko, for which I am very grateful:
From: email@example.com (Vladimir A. Rybalko)
About Baranov rifle. N. Baranov (1836 - 1901) made his rifle in1865. Baranov rifle is not a version of Krnka 1869, it had a quite different lock mechanism, very similar with Albini (Belgian Albini-Braendlin, 1867). The Baranov had the similar front-hinged lock, hammer-striker joined assembly for locking and firing. Sometimes the rifle is mentioned as Albini-Baranov. The Krnka lock appeared in Russia in 1869. Both locks were intended for use in the programme of conversion muzzle loading Russian 6-lines (.60) rifle (1856) into breech-loading. During the government competition in 1869, the Krnka lock proved to be more reliable and easier to be made. Both rifles had the same barrels, rifling and bullets. Baranov used cartridges designed by Fusnot, Krnka used ones by Berdan. After the competition, the manufacture of Baranov rifles was stopped. But about 10 000 rifles were already made. Afterwards they were used in Russian Navy. ( Information from a Russian book "Small Guns" by V.Markevitch ).
But more. In Russia there was a rifle ,which really could be named a version of Krnka. It was a so-called fortress gun Krnka-Gan 1876 ( Gan was a Russian colonel). It was a very heavy rifle, cal. 8 lines (.80; 20,4mm), metal. cartridge. Gan reinforced the Krnka lock , and change the position of a hammer (not on the right side, but in the middle, as in revolvers or in Remington, 1864). The butt had a buffer mechanism (since the recoil was very strong) and under the barrel was attached a large hook for fixing rifle (for example between sacks with sand). This rifle was not a hand gun, it was designed for defence of forts, bastions, barricades etc., so it had no bayonet. Range of fire was up to 710 m.
And I want to warn that the Russian transliterations of names (Krnka, Fusnot etc.) may be different from English one.
Vlads from Russia
Figure 84 The position of the parts of the lock mechanism of the rifle before firing - breech block closed.
Figure 85 Barreled receiver.
Figure 88 Hammer.
Figure 87 View of the assembled lock of the Krnka rifle.
Figure 90 Cartridge for the Krnka rifle
Krnka action, sling & rear sight
Figure 86 Breech block.
(Krnka photos these pages courtesy D. Goss)
M1857/67 Russian Krnka lockplate markings from 3 different Arms Factories
I received the following letter from Mr. Ilija Stanislevik who was kind enough to translate certain Russian inscriptions for me. The references to the Krnka meanings are below his letter. Photos relating to the Berdan II markings (the first 2 pictures) can be found at the Russian M1870 Berdan II Markings page.
Subj: Re: Translation, Krnka etc.
Date: 8/24/2003 12:54:59 PM Mountain Standard Time
Hello Mr. Doyon,
I think that all five pictures came to me in good condition. The texts written in Russian pre-revolution orthography are readable and here are the results of my translation:
First I give you the text following the digits "41", transliterated in Latin letters: "IMPERATORSKIY TULSKIY ORUZHEYNIY ZAV. 1884".
The text reads: "Imperial Arms Factory of Tula" or "Imperial Tula Arms Factory", followed by four digits, probably denoting year. Another meaning is "Emperor's Arms Factory of Tula". I am not sure which English nuance reflects best the Russian original. The word "Imperial" is in somewhat different font. Was it punched at later date than the rest?
The final word, meaning "factory", is abbreviated to 3 letters followed by dot. The full-length version should be "ZAVOD", of course in Cyrillic.
The transliterated text is: "IZHEVSKIY ORUZHEYNIY ZAVOD N". The final N is in calligraphy imitating handwriting. In Russian this means "number". I expect that some digits follow there, denoting the number of the factory.
It reads "IZHEVSKIY ORUZHEYNIY ZAVOD N30.."
"Izhevsk Arms Factory No.30.." (Keith Doyon Note: The digits "3 0" are the first of several digits denoting the serial number)
Picture 4 (See below)
Four digits (year 1859) beneath the dash-dot-dash line. Initials "T.O.Z." above.
Given the context, this would be an acronym for "TULSKIY ORUZHEYNIY ZAVOD" which reads "Tula Arms Factory".
Picture 5 (See below)
The initials above the dash-dot-dash line are "S.O.Z.". Is it "SESTRORETSKIY ORUZHEYNIY ZAVOD" which means "Sestroretsk Arms Factory"?
The marking to the left is made of Cyrillic capital letter P followed by double Latin I (Roman numeral 2?).
Lockplate of a Russian M1857/67 Krnka Infantry Rifle. The Krnkas were converstions from the
earlier Russian "6 line" (.60 Calibre) percussion breechloaders.
Lockplate of a Russian M1857/67 Krnka Dragoon Rifle
Lockplate of a Russian M1857/67 Krnka Cavalry Rifle (Not a Cavalry carbine, but a rifle for Cavalry)
Russia built what she could, and like most other emerging powers, bought what she was not able to make.
Markings on a Krnka Converted "6-Line" rifle
Is anyone able to help me decipher this cartouche? Unfortunately, this is the best that I was able to do
given the age and wear of the rifle's buttstock. Please let me know!!
Page started March 10, 1999
Revised March 17, 1999
Revised May 24, 1999
Revised September 26, 1999
Revised February 19, 2000
Revised August 24, 2003
Updated: Nov 6, 2021