The Snider rifle occupies a period of history in which armies around the world raced to replace muzzleloading firearms with breech loading equivalents. Trials to replace the P53 muzzle loading Enfield rifle looked at many existing designs, the Westley Richards monkey tail being a close favorite, in the end, the design of an American Jacob Snider won out. Snider’s design replaced the breech area of the barrel of a P53 Enfield with a hinged breech block. This new attachment called the ‘shoe’ was the only major modification except for the replacement of the hammer and minor modifications to the stock. It was an economical and quick way for the British army to convert from muzzleloader to breech loader whilst they worked on developing a purpose made breech loading arm which would become the Martini Henry.
There are three marks of Snider, the MkI and MkII designs which were converted muzzleloading arms whist the MKIII action rifles were built as breech loaders from the start. All three Mks fired the thumping great .577 cartridge, the same calibre as the existing muzzle loading Enfields. The .577 cartridge itself went through nine different variations as incremental changes were introduced but at the heart of the cartridge lies the design we use today in modern day centrefire firearms, the designer being Colonel Edward Boxer of the Royal Arsenal Woolwich.
Between the three Marks of Snider there are numerous variations to study. Our May 27th Arms and Militaria sale contains three interesting variations to focus on.
The first is an Enfield Snider two band carbine, having a 22inch barrel fitted with folding ladder sight, and bayonet lug, MkII ** breech block the action meaning that this was once a muzzle loading rifle which has been converted, the crown VR marked lock is dated 1863 which confirms this was once a muzzle loading rifle. As with most British military arms there is a plethora of stamps to the stock including an Enfield roundel, the butt cap tang marked is unit marked '15 BRA 4B' 62. This Snider rifle is estimated to sell for £400-600.
The second is a B,S,A, Snider cavalry carbine, with 19 inch barrel fitted with folding ladder sight. It has the MkIII breech block which means that it was always made as a Snider action breach loading rifle, the lock has the crown VR mark and stamped B.S.A. & M . Co. 1885. The stock has the war department 1885 roundel along with sold out of service arrows and stamped N.S.W. P.S.C.C for the Australian New South Wales Public School Cadet Corps. This Snider carbine is estimated to sell for £400-600.
The third is a BSA two band Snider rifle, which has 30 inch barrel but with five groove rifling rather than the usual three groove pattern. The five grove rifling is thought to be more accurate and these patterns of shorter rifle were issued to rifle regiments and sergeants of the line infantry. Another distinct feature of this pattern of Snider is the iron furniture rather than the brass furniture. The rifle has a MkIII action, the lock stamped with crown VR and dated 1872, stock is stamped with War Department stamps and BCCA 434 5. This Snider Rifle is estimated to sell for £600-800.
Should you have any antique or modern firearms, shotguns, or airguns you would like to sell at auction we would be pleased to hear from you. For more information, please contact Chris Large on 01270 623878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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