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.
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.
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.
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.
Did the rifle use stripper clips, en bloc clips, or by manually loading rounds like Lebel?
Also this rifle became the basis for the Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield line of rifles used by the British, which used stripper clips. However the it appears that the
Remington Lee didn’t use said clips.
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
Based on the serial number, that rifle was part of the 2001 guns made under contract for the Michigan State Militia, and was delivered in 1899.
I read the manual and watched Ian’s videos, and it looks like the rounds were manually loaded — kind of like modern guns today. However on Mr. Lee’s later rifles like the Straight pull Navy rifle, an en Bloc clip was used.
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.
You’re thinking of the 1895 Lee Navy rifle, made by Winchester – same designer, but a different gun entirely.
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.
I am looking for three fluted magazine for a Remington Lee ,1899 in
30-40 Krag. Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you, Don
One showed up on EBay in last month or so. May still be available .
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.
Noticed your query about the bolt assembly on the 1885 Remington. I have the how to remove the bolt instructions on the 1899 Remington Lee Sporting/military rifle, assuming both are similar.
I am unable to attach the page on this website however if your still interested send me you email address and will attach for you. Hope this helps.
I am greatly in need of instructions regarding bolt removal for the 1899 Remington-Lee rifle.
Thank you so kindly.
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
Hi , I have a Remington-Lee and am looking for a barrel in 43 spanish or any thing , and the full length stock .
I have had good luck with S&S Firearms. They have a wide variety of parts for various models. As I recall they listed a stock for your rifle at one time. Their e-mail address is siesspfirearms.com . They have been very helpful to me.
I have just acquired a Remington-Lee M1885 CARBINE. According to Eugene Myszkowski in his book The Remington-Lee Rifle says that there were noly 25 manufactured, and that only 5 are known. I sent him my s/n and he says that NOW SIX are known.
It is most assurdedly the most rare carbine I own. Bill Holloway
I know this is an old thread however I hoping to contact someone with information (pictures) on the carbine. I have an 1899 with a SN that falls within that range and I am trying to confirm. Thanks
My Great Uncle gave me his Remington Lee 30-40. He purchased it in the upper peninsula of Michigan late in the 1920’s. The serial number is 1004xx which would indicate that it was one of the 2000 that were produced for the Michigan Militia. It has been sporterized and was done by a good gunsmith. Was there any record of anyone purchasing a lot of these rifles from Michigan and cutting them down? Most of these rifles I have heard of had all been cut down.
I am still trying to find out the secret to replacing the bolt. I can get it back in, but it will not function. It worked before I took the bolt out. I am certain I did not break anything.
I really enjoy your xvideo’s and have tried several times to subscribe and pay monthly dues but have been unsuccessful so far. Thanks for your Forgotten weapons work.
In my Dad’s Modern Gun Shop in Toronto, Canada, circa 1949, we sold a Remington Lee sporting rifle in .303 British. It had a half octagon barrel, factory produced original. Leaf sights. I believe Lyman sold a receiver mounted aperture sight for Remington Lee rifles.
Does anyone know where you can get magazines for the Remington- lee Navy 30/40 Krag. Has to be a DSS magazine ?
I just got a Remington Lee M 1899 from my Grandfathers estate. ( that is what my local gun dealer told since I couldn’t find a model on it.) serial # f75200.it is a 30-30Cal. I was wondering if anyone knows anything about it and perhaps its value. it seams to be rare.
I have a Remington Lee M1899 inherited from my Grandfather, who purchased it while in Alaska in the 50s. It is S/N F76184 and thought to be 7mm, but little is known about this rifle. Is there anything you can tell me?
So years ago in the mid 80’s my great grandfather passed away. Near vestaburg michigan. As the first grandson I inherited some of the guns, one being a 30/40 krag. Fast forward to 1995. Just started with the state and didn’t have much money, tired of using a 30/30 winchester. So I took the 30/40 and had it tapped for a scope. And on nov 16, 1995 I shot a 10 point with a 1899 remington-lee 30/40. No idea what the rifle was and the history. Didn’t find out till about 5 years ago when I was doing some research on it. Funny we had old ammo for it and some were tracers, and some I shot through it tumbled. It doesn’t get used to today, just a safe queen. Thought you guys might appreciate that story. Ken
Ken, When the Remington Lee Model 1899 in .30-40 Krag, there wasn’t a lot of control on how the “Bore” diameter was made. What you might want to try is cast bullets in you 1899. The Lyman # 311299 gas checked works well in mine. I use a # 2 alloy ( 9#’s of wheel weight and 1# of 50/50 bar solder) I shoot them as cast and don’t size them when I put on the gas checks. I use a Lee # 90798 case flaring tool to slightly “bell” the case neck out. When you load your case, the flare will make it easier to insert the bullet into the case. Hope this helps.
I have a sporter model of the lee and the serial number is 2 I wonder what it is worth any hints
Remington lee sporter model serial#2.any hints to what it might be worth?
Have one 1917 2715 of 7.6 million made
Matching serial nos clean bore. All orig for sale.
One of these 1899 Remington Lee rifles in very good condition has sat in a local gun shop (NC) for several years. It was offered to me and I did not purchased it because it was missing the magazine. With only 1,500 manufactured it will be mostly impossible and a pain to find. Shame.
I just picked up a Remington Lee 1899 in 9.3×62 with a 30” barrel and I can find no data on it anywhere. It has the Lyman diopter sight on the receiver and is in very good condition. I’m very curious as to the history of this rifle.
It’s actually a 28” barrel. Serial number is 76045.
And it’s in 38-72, not 9.3×62 as I was told.