Snider Breechloading Rifled Muskett

Snider-Enfield Model P53 (M1853/66) Marks I & II (Converted) and Snider-Enfield Mark III (Newly built Patterns)

Britain's observations of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Danish-Prussian War (1864), the adoption of the Prussian needle-gun and the French Chassepot (1866) convinced her of the need to modernize her arms to maintain parity with the rest of Europe. In 1864 an Ordinance Select Committee was formed to find a replacement for the Pattern 1853 rifled muskett. The committee recommended adoption of a breech loading alteration/conversion system for its Pattern 1853 muzzle loading rifle-musket as an interim measure. Known as the Snider breech-loading mechanism after its designer, it was chosen because of the relative ease of conversion of  the huge stocks of P53s. In trials, the Snider P/53 conversions proved both more accurate than original P/53s and much faster firing as well. Begining 1866, P/53  rifles were converted in large numbers at Enfield beginning with the initial pattern, the Mark I. Snider convertions were completed on the 3-band (above), 2-band and carbine varients (below) of the P53. New rifles were started as Pattern 53s but received the Snider  breech block/receiver assembly during construction. Converted rifles retained the original iron barrel, furniture, locks and hammer. The Mark III rifles were newly made. They had steel barrels, flat nosed hammers and  equipped with a latch locking breech block. The Snider was the subject of substantial immitation. It served in all the armed forces of the British Empire, including  India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand until the commencement of replacement in sevice by the Martini-Henry in 1874.  The change over to the Martini-Henry  was not completed with volunteer and militia forces until the late 1880's. By this time smokeless propellents were coming available. The Snider-Enfield Infantry rifle (3 band) is particularly long at 54 1/4 inches. The breech block houses a diagonally downward sloping firing pin struck with a front-action lock mounted hammer. The action operates by the firer cocking the hammer, flipping the block out of the receiver to the right by grasping the left mounted breech block lever, and then pulling the block back to extract the spent case. There is no ejector, the case being lifted out or, more usually, the rifle being rolled onto its back to allow the case to drop out. The rifles are usually marked Mk I, Mk II or Mk III, the Mark IIIs being those with steel barrels and locking latches on the breech blocks in place of the simple integral block lifing tang.

Snider Calvary Carbine

Snider 2 Band Rifle