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The Vault

Remington-Lee 1899 Magazine Rifle

James Paris Lee is one of the less recognized prolific arms designers in American history, between the Lee straight pull rifle adopted by the US Navy and the British Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield rifles. One of his less successful designs (commercially speaking) was the modernization and adaptation of the M1885 Lee Navy rifle (in .45-70) into a .30-40 Government (aka .30-40 Krag) caliber. The rifle was intended for military service, but not adopted – ultimately less than 1500 were build for the commercial market.

.30-40 Remington-Lee rifle in military configuration

.30-40 Remington-Lee rifle in military configuration

Lee realized that successful modern rifle designs of his day would need to be well suited for the high velocity smokeless powder cartridges that were on the horizon, and he changed the Remington-Lee design to this end. Where the M1885 rifle was rear locking, the updated 1899 version used the standard Lee rear and safety lugs but also had two locking lugs on the bolt head.

Remington-Lee 1899 cutaway view

Remington-Lee 1899 cutaway view (note cutout for locking lugs at the base of the chamber)

The 1899 Remington-Lee used a 5-round single stack magazine, and had no manual safety. Instead, the cocking piece was designed to be easily gripped and had a half-cock notch. Safe carry was intended to be achieved by placing the rifle in half-cock. In addition to being expensive to manufacture (thanks to the multiple sets of locking lugs, which would requires some precision machining), the main design flaw of the rifle was a lack of a recoil lug on the receiver. The force of recoil was put onlt the thin wood around the magazine and wrist, and stocks were susceptible to cracking with extended use.


1899 Remington-Lee Magazine Rifle manual (English)

1899 Remington-Lee Magazine Rifle manual (English)

8 comments to Remington-Lee 1899 Magazine Rifle

  • butlersrangers

    The State of Michigan adopted the 1899 Remington-Lee for the Michigan National Guard following the service of State Troops in Cuba. I have a picture of members of the 3rd Michigan, Co. E, at an Annual Camp at Manistee, Michigan, circa 1900-1901. The Privates have Remington-Lees and Mills belts for the Lee. The NCOs have Krags and Mills belts for the Krag.

  • David Medley

    I just purchased a Remington-Lee 1999 in 30-40 it is in great shape it looks like the stock has been shortened to sporter it. I would like to know the date of MFG?? the serial # is101384. Any other info would be greatly appreciated


  • sam wade

    this is the rifle on the good conduct medal for the marines and was used in the boxer rebellion in china it was also the first rifle the US ever to use a metric round of 6mm.

  • TRX

    The rifle in the picture is presumably a .30-40 Krag. It has three stamped guide grooves in the magazine sides.

    I have a magazine for a .45-70 Model 1885. It appears to be identical other than having only two guide grooves.

    I don’t know it it’s just a production variation or if it’s a valid way to tell a .30-40 from a .45-70 mag at a distance, though.

  • john rock

    i have just got a Remington 1885 30us. i would like to know how to get the bolt out. in the instructions i use a screw driver i not sure
    where to put the driver. could you show me how
    to get the bolt out.

  • Tom Wilson

    I have 1899 30USA 30-40 krag Im looking for the 3 groove magazine for it.
    And or parts rifle if anyone has these or has an good lead I would relay
    appreciate it

    Thanks Tom

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