Kris versus Krag - Weapons of the Moro Campaigns:

American Long Arms

Soldiers of Co. L, 23rd Infantry in field dress

with Krag .30-.40 rifles, 1904

(Photo from National Archives)

    Americans soldiers derisively referred to their "mission" in the Philippines and Moroland as "civilizing with a Krag", a play on President McKinley's proclamation that the United States had annexed the Philippine Islands solely to "educate, uplift and civilize" its inhabitants. The .30-.40 caliber Krag-Jorgenson was the standard rifle used by the Regular U.S. Army in the Philippine Islands from 1898 until the Fall of 1907. Bolt action with a five-shot magazine firing smokeless powder, it was simple, reliable, and held up well in the hot, damp, humid climate and torrential rains of the tropics and was popular with the troops. It utilized a knife bayonet.

(Photo courtesy of

    Philippine Scouts (left) and the Moro Constabulary (right) were armed with the Model 1889 Springfield .45-.70 caliber trapdoor carbine (photos from National Archives). This single-shot weapon and the full-length rifle version, veterans of the Indian Wars, had been replaced by the Krag and was used during the early phases of the Philippine-American War, 1898 to 1900, by US Volunteer Regiments when Krags were still in short supply. They reputedly had a "kick like a mule" and lacked the smokeless powder cartridge of the Krag, revealing the shooter's position. Rather than carrying bayonets, Scouts were issued the northern Philippine bolo and the Moro Constabulary permitted constables to carry their personal kris or barong.

    It was not until mid-1906 that the Model 1903 Springfield, in .30-06 caliber began replacing the Krag in US Army regiments stationed in the Philippines; even though it had been officially designated as the standard military service rifle in 1903.  Even then it took a year to complete the changeover. This excellent weapon enabled a higher-velocity bullet and the five-shot magazine was internal within the stock, as opposed to the external magazine of the Krag. The Springfield could be reloaded much faster than the Krag since its five cartridges were mounted on a "stripper clip." The Krag magazine had to be reloaded one cartridge at a time. After 1907 the Philippine Scouts were re-equipped with the M1903 Springfield as well. The 51st and 52nd companies of all Moro Scouts used this weapon in the Battle of Bud Bagsak in June of 1913.

(Photo courtesy of

     At the same the Philippine civil government contracted with the Springfield Armory to refurbish and modify 8,000 Model 1899 Krags to in order to upgrade the Philippine (and Moro) Constabulary. Army Cavalry regiments had generally carried the shorter barreled Krag carbine (second and third below), but it did not accommodate a bayonet. Barrels were shortened to 22 inches and full-length stocks added to permit slings the new Army knife bayonet. This became known unofficially as the Philippine Constabulary Krag Carbine (top of picture below) and was used until 1915, when replaced with the M1903 Springfield.

(Photo courtesy of

    Circumventing Army ordinance, General Leonard Wood used his Department funds to purchase Winchester 1873 12 gauge pump-action shotguns. Five-shot with smokeless powder, they were issued to non-commissioned officers and often used by men walking point. Copper-jacketed shells rather than paper were used to counter the tropical dampness. The shotguns proved invaluable in breaking up charges from ambush and each company carried two or three.

(Photo courtesy of

     The Moro Constabulary adopted a shorter barrel (20inch) of the same weapon, which later evolved into the 22 inch barrel Winchester "riotgun". During World War I it became known as the "trench gun." Constabulary officers, in addition to being armed with the Colt "Philippine" .45 DA revolver (next page), were given the option of carrying either the shotgun or a Krag. A typical Constabulary squad had at least one man armed with this weapon.

    The M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, by the famous gun designer John Browning, was the world’s first “successful” gas-operated machine-gun and the first such weapon to be adopted by both the US Army and US Navy. Referred to in field reports as a "Colt Automatic", it was nicknamed the “potato digger” by the soldiers due to the action of its underside cocking mechanism when being fired. During the Spanish–American War, the Colt had been rejected by the Army in favor of the older Gatling Gun, which was so heavy and unwieldy that it was assigned to artillery batteries rather than infantry or cavalry. However, two Colts purchased privately by the Rough Riders easily demonstrated that its relative light weight and portability permitted use as a field weapon. Air-cooled, durable, and simple, it was significantly lighter in weight than a Gatling (only 35 pounds with a 25 lb detachable tripod with a seat, versus the Gatling's 600 lbs). The Colt Automatic gun body and tripod could be carried by hand by three people or carried on a single mule whereas the Gatling had to be pulled by a pair of horses. Another significant advantage was that the Colt was chambered to the standard .30-caliber Krag rifle cartridge, fed by a canvas belt. It would prove its murderous utility as an infantry weapon at the Battle of Bud Dajo in 1906 where three were used.

M1895 Colt-Browning "potato digger" machine gun

(Photo from, Author Hmaag)