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Old 05-11-2006, 12:38 PM   #1
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Johnson Automatics Rifles

I have found a 30-40 Krag that was sporterized by Mel Johnson. It is in great shape. Blueing must by 90% or better. He was the inventor of the Johnson Rifle and started the Johnson Automatics Comany. Johnson also had his custom shop located in Hope Valley, Rhode Island where he made custom conversions of surplus bolt action rifles into 'state of the art' hunting rifles by converting them to .270 or other high power chambers. The barrel was stamped with Johnson Automatics.

Any idea as to the value of such a piece?
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:06 PM   #2
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It is a 30-40 Krag rechambered to .270? If so, I'd be worried about the pressure - the Krag receiver wasn't made to take that kind of "power" IMHO.
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Old 05-11-2006, 07:24 PM   #3
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I guess I was not clear. It is a 30-40 barreled Krag receiver. It is barreled with Johnson own barrels. Johnson did a number of different type military rifles and in different cals for 270 up. It has Redfield peep sights and it is heavy barreled, approx 0.9 inch at the muzzle. Since these were custom builds by Johnson, I would guess that he only built so many. Sort of a neat connection to a historic firearms designer.
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Old 05-12-2006, 05:43 AM   #4
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That's a new one to me - are you sure it is the same Melvin Johnson who made the Johnson rifles and machine guns? I know he did some modification of surplus M1 carbines in an attempt to stay in business, but never heard of the one you mention.
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Old 05-12-2006, 10:10 AM   #5
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Link

Check the bottom of the page on this link.

http://www.johnsonautomatics.com/brochures.htm

Also found this information:

Johnson Automatics also contracted to the U.S. Government to supply new barrels for WW1 Model 1917 'Enfield' rifles refurbishment programs.

Due to his specilaised work in the area of firearms design the USMC kept him in an inactive capacity throughout WW2 to help the war effort.

After WW2 Johnson diversified his production into the civilian market, converting surplus '41's and making air rifles. In the early fifties Johnson went to work for Winchester's as a designer and advisor to John Olin, Winchester's Chairman, but only after he had forced Winchester to purchase his company and its remaining stock. Johnson Also had his custom shop located in Hope Valley, Rhode Island where he made custom conversions of surplus bolt action rifles into 'state of the art' hunting rifles by converting them to .270 or other high power chambers.
He rose to the rank of Colonel after transferring from Marine Corps Reserve to the Army Ordnance Corps Reserve in 1949. In 1951 he was appointed as weapons consultant to the Secretary of Defense. Ref: http://www.johnsonautomatics.com/Biography.htm
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Old 05-12-2006, 05:25 PM   #6
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I had heard of his replacement barrels for 1917s, just not the custom work. I'll have to re-read Bruce Canfield's excellent book on the Melvin Johnson again. Do you have it?
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:21 PM   #7
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Rick,

I afraid I do not have the book. This is a new field to me and the learning curve is straight up. I remember my first introduction to a Johnson rifle. It was about 1974. It was listed at about $400 at a Sports Shop. This was the same shop I was buying a No. 5 Enfield at $25 (great shape), Nazi stamped Mausers at $20-25, and seeing REAL M1Ds at $400. Those were really out of my range. Not to prolong the post, but the first Johnson I saw was at this shop and it was priced at $400. It though it was way over priced. If I had only known. I remember seeing a guy bring in a Colt, on a 45 frame, that was a 38 super(?), stating that he had found it in a cave that they had cleared the Japanese out of. I would love to know the history of how that pistol got into Japanese hands. He wanted $50 for it. Enough said.

I bought the rifle in question. The bore is great. The bluing is still excellent. After 24 hours of Hoppies Benchrest, there was not any indication of copper. Someone knew how to take care of a bore. I now have a connection with Mel Johnson that is neat in a way. I have ordered the dies and I can not wait to see how it shoots.
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Old 05-13-2006, 05:34 AM   #8
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My only direct experience with a Johnson was WAAAAAY back in 1967 when I had just graduated from high school. I had gotten about $100 in graduation gifts from family and friends (big money back in those days!) and I saw a Johnson rifle at a local gunshop. $100!! My mother, having utterly NO imagination, insisted I save the money for college!!

So the rifle in question is a 30-40 Ktag action rebarreled for a .270? I still would check with a knowledgeable gunsmith, if that is the case. The Krag receiver is not made to take the high pressure generated by a .270 round, which is really a necked down .30-06. JMHO, of course.
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Old 05-13-2006, 03:42 PM   #9
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I checked on another Krag forum and a couple of people said there was a wildcat cartridge called the ".270 Krag" - they suggested your rifle may be chambered for this cartridge.
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Old 05-14-2006, 08:26 AM   #10
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My take on this is that he has a 30-40. Nobody in their right mind would rechamber a Krag in .270 Winchester.
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Old 05-15-2006, 07:15 AM   #11
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Personally, I wouldn't consider this one any more desirable than any other sporterized hack job, even if it was done by a famous hack.
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:33 PM   #12
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Oneshy,

I think there are a few people that will disagree with you. From what I have been able to determine, the Johnson custom rifles were regarded as as "high quality" custom rifles and are commanding as much as 150% of the value of similar custom rifles. They are not know as fancy rifles, but as well made, quality rifles. Those that seek a connection with Mel Johnson's work are paying a premium for an option to purchase.

Personally, I bought the rifle because it was a obviously well built rifle with an excellent blue job and a properly hand-bedded stock. The action was slick and the trigger has received match conditioning. Everything felt good. If you have ever built a rifle before, you could see the workmanship. At the time I bought it, I did not realize the conection to Mel Johnson, I only realized the quality of the product.

To call someone that is highly respected, with regard to his contributions to military arms, a hack is somewhat disrespectful. Logic sinces to indicate that if someone is gifted enough to design a rifle such as the Johnson rifle, he would have the ability to produce a quality, custom rifle from a military action. I think both you and I would love to feel that we we capable of such contributions to firearms. Well, at lest I do.

And to make it absolutely clear, the rifle I have is chambered for the 30-40 Krag round. I am sorry I have not been able to make that clear before.

At least this has revealed a little of the history of Mel Johnson that may not have been known by everyone. We all know of the Johnson rifle, but not everyone knows he had a custom gun shop. Maybe this was his real hobby, who knows.
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Old 05-16-2006, 09:48 PM   #13
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A lot of people just don't like sporterized military rifles and consider anyone who does such work to be a "Bubba".

Check out what Griffin & Howe '03 Springfields are going for (scroll down about a dozen listings).

http://www.griffinhowe.com/usedgun-rf.cfm
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Old 05-17-2006, 05:39 AM   #14
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I also agree that there are "good" sporterizations and "bad" ones. I would consider the one in the discussion a "good" one - especially when you consider when it was done, Krags were selling for a few dollars and, along with 1903s and 1917s, were considered "work" guns.

I guess I still don't understand - is it chambered in .30-40 or .270? I'm a little slow on the uptake, sometimes!
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Old 05-17-2006, 10:35 AM   #15
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It is chambered for 30-40 Krag.
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Old 05-22-2006, 05:22 AM   #16
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Re: Oneshy,

Quote:
Originally Posted by nc-shooter
To call someone that is highly respected, with regard to his contributions to military arms, a hack is somewhat disrespectful. Logic sinces to indicate that if someone is gifted enough to design a rifle such as the Johnson rifle, he would have the ability to produce a quality, custom rifle from a military action. I think both you and I would love to feel that we we capable of such contributions to firearms. Well, at lest I do.
Let's not forget he was a Marine...And by dishonoring him, You are dishonoring the Corps. Now drop and give me 50 scumbag!
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