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M1869(?) Montenegrin Krnka


Montenegrin Krnka Photo Credit: Michal Novotny

NOTE TO VISITORS:  We are in the process of researching and building this webpage.  We are always excited to receive helpful information.  Please feel free to contact us.


  Montenegro is one of the small Baltic states with its eastern border forming a rough triangle between Serbia and Albania, its southern coastline extending along the Adriatic Sea, Albania to the south and Croatia to the north.  Montenegro was one of the six “people’s republics” later making up present day Yugoslavia.  The history of Montenegro (Black Mountain in English) is that of a remnant of a Slavic tribe related to the Serbs which never surrendered to the Ottoman Empire after the Turkish conquest of the Balkans following the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.  Their area of control was constantly shrinking under repeated Ottoman attacks until it finally encompassed only the desolate and remote “Black Mountain” area. 


   In 1697 Danilo Petrovitch was proclaimed Prince‑Bishop and began reclaiming land from the Turks, establishing an alliance with Russia.  In 1858 a crucial battle against the Turks was won prompting the great European powers to de facto recognize independence. This acknowledgement however did not last long.  In 1862 the Turkish army launched a series of coordinated offenses in an effort to surround and militarily destroy Montenegro.  The war raged for much of 1862 with heavy casualties on both sides.  After sustained Turkish losses of over twice that of the Montenegrins, a cease-fire was offered by Omar-Pasha Latas which was accepted by Montenegrin King (then Prince) Nicola I (1841-1921).  Interestingly for our purposes, Nikola I Petrovic-Njegoš reigned as prince from 1860 to 1910, and only became the King of Montenegro in 1910.


  In 1870, Serbia supplied 5,000 rifles and additional men to reorganize the Montenegrin army


   Despite an official cease-fire, hostilities and intermittent war continued between Montenegro and Turkey culminating in several decisive battles between 1876 and 1878 which resulted in considerable additional territory being brought under Montenegrin control virtually doubling Montenegrin territory and regaining an outlet to the Adriatic Sea coast.  Finally, in 1878, at the Congress of Berlin, the European powers recognized Montenegro as an independent nation.


   During the 1880s Montenegro developed a formal army introducing modern military organization, strategy and tactics.  Throughout this time Russia remained Montenegro’s principal financial backer helping also to finance the Montenegrin army.


   Montenegro was defeated in WW1 and after the war was absorbed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.


[Researching -Section Still In-Progress]

  Tentative thoughts:   From examination it appears as though the Montenegrin Krnka rifle is not a conversion of an existing earlier, cap lock percussion muzzle-loading rifle to metallic cartridge.  Rather, this rifle appears to be a newly manufactured rifle in its entirety.   The barrel appears small for a previous muzzle-loader and the simple nosecap is modern by 1860s rifle standards.  The trigger guard, lower tang assembly is common for this era, but the rear sight is more modern than would be expected on a converted existing earlier rifle.  Nevertheless, we await additional information.


   The Krnka rifle features an action with a laterally pivoting breech block by screwing a separate steel  receiver and a breech block onto the end of the barrel and fitting a specially designed hammer onto a conventional lock.  The remainder of the rifle, if it is a conversion of an existing rifle, is left unaltered.


   The M1869 Montenegrin Krnka was the first design by the prolific Bohemian arms designer Sylvester Krnka to be adopted by any nation.   The Montenegrin rifle conversion is based upon Krnka’s early 1849 breech-loading design which does not incorporate any positive breech-locking features.  Rifles similar in principal, though differing greatly in detail, were adopted by the Russian army as the M1856/69 and M1858/69 Russian Krnkas.



  We have not personally examined an actual Montenegrin Krnka specimen.  However, from reviewing photographs, it appears to function exactly as the Russian M1869 Krnka series rifles and reference is made to that version for specific operating features.


Montenegrin Krnka Photo Credit: Michal Novotny

Montenegrin Krnka 24.jpg

Photo Credit: https://popgun-ru


Montenegrin Krnka Photo Credit: Michal Novotny



  We do not yet know which rifle formed the basis for the Montenegrin conversion, however it was fitted with a an iron or steel receiver, rather than the bronze receiver of the later Russian M1869 Krnkas, a conventional forward lock (again unlike the Russian Krnkas), a rather round trigger guard with extended lower tang without any form of finger spur, and a rear sight consisting of a flat base with spring-tensioned ladder mounting a simple slider.  Photo versions indicated that the barrel was mounted with two screw-retained barrel bands with sling swivels fixed below the upper band and half way along the bottom of the buttstock.  Of the two photo sets of Montenegrin Krnkas we have seen, on depicts a rifle with bayonet stud  on the right side abote the simple nosecap, the other without bayonet stud nor tenon, but which could have been removed.  thus it appears that any bayonet would have been a socket bayonet with locking ring fixed against the front sight.


   We currently have no other information about the Montenegrin Krnka at this time,  however, we would invite anyone with additional information to please contact us.



  Montenegrin Krnkas are marked simply but sufficiently with patent markings (“PATENT KRNKA”) on the breechblock, the manufacturer’s name on the top of the new Krnka receiver (“TH. SEDERL”, the mark of Austrian gunmaker Thomas Sederl who worked in Vienna circa 1854-1882), and on the barrel just ahead of the receiver, there may or may not have been stamped the royal "crowned double-eagle" crest of Montenegro, and ahead of the royal crest would be stamped a “Crown over N I” being the royal cypher of then Montenegrin Prince Nicola I.    


   These rifles are not serialized in any visible areas although they might be below the wood.  Various assembly numbers can be found on the action parts.

Montenegrin Krnka 22.jpg

TH. SEDERL”, the mark of Austrian gunmaker Thomas Sederl who worked in Vienna circa 1854-1882 Photo Credit: https://popgun-ru

Montenegrin Krnka 16.jpg

Crown over N I” being the royal cypher of then Montenegrin Prince Nicola I. Photo Credit: https://popgun-ru


Another example of a Crown over N I” being the royal cypher of then Montenegrin Prince Nicola I Photo Credit: Michal Novotny



Caliber(?):  [dependent upon the underlying donor/parent rifle which we have not yet identified.  this rifle may not actually be a conversion at all.]

Sights:  300 to 1100, presumably paces



  We do not have any verifiable information regarding any short rifle, carbine or special versions of the Montenegrin Krnka.  However, the website (, citing Hoyem and Datig, lists a cartridge for the “15,24 x 28,4 R Montenegrin Krnka Carbine.”  If this listing is accurate (if), it would indicate the existence of a contemporary Montenegrin Carbine, however we have been unable to verify this.



[Researching -Section Still In-Progress]


  Hoyem lists a 15.2x28R cartridge which he tentatively identifies as Montenegrin, but this identification is very soft.  We consider it doubtful as this would be insufficiently powerful for a military rifle of this date.


   Datig does not mention the Montenegrin and Huon does not list any distinctive Montenegrin cartridge.


[Researching -Section Still In-Progress]

  From markings, Montenegrin Krnka rifles were clearly produced in Vienna, Austria by Austrian gunmaker Thomas Sederl.  The Austrians were generally supportive of the Serbs, Croats and Montenegrins as bulwarks against the ever troublesome Ottoman Turks.  We have yet, however been able to find additional information on the production, use, nor even ultimate fate of the Montenegrin Krnkas.


  Russia:  The Krnka system found its greatest proponents and adopters with the Russians when they adopted this system to convert their vast stores of M1856 and M1858 6-Line rifles from muzzleloaders to the M1869 Russian Krnka series of metallic cartridge breechloaders.


Predecessor Rifle: 

  We are trying to determine the Montenegrin’s in-service rifle predecessor to the Montenegrin Krnka.  Information would be helpful.

Follow-On Rifle:

     In 1870 the Serbs supplied the Montenegrins with 5,000 rifles and advisors.  We do not know what kinds of rifles these were, but most likely not Krnkas (only used by the Russian and Bulgarian armies), nor do we yet know if these became follow-on rifles or merely supplanted existing stocks of Montenegrin Krnkas.


Photos in this section are credited to: https://popgun-ru

Montenegrin Krnka 04.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 02.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 06.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 18.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 08.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 10.jpg
Montenegrin Krnka 20.jpg

Photos in this section are credited to: https://popgun-ru


We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Michal Novotny regarding this page.


Page created 12/20/22

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