M1853/66 Snider-Enfield Mark I & Mark II (Converted) and M1866 Snider-Enfield Mark III (Newly built Patterns)
GENERALLY: The British .577 Snider was the most widely used of the Snider varieties, (the action invented by the American Jacob Snider) being adopted by Britain as an alteration/conversion system for its ubiquitous P/53 rifle-musket muzzle loading arms. In trials, the Snider P/53 conversions proved both more accurate than original P/53s and much faster firing as well. From 1866 on the rifles were converted in large numbers at Enfield beginning with the initial pattern, the Mark I. New rifles started as P/53s but received a new breech block/receiver assembly. Converted rifles retained the original iron barrel, furniture, locks and hammer. The Mark III rifles were newly made, with steel barrels which were so marked, flat nosed hammers and are the version equipped with a latch locking breech block. The Snider was the subject of substantial imitation, approved and questionable, including the near exact copy of the Nepalese Snider, the Dutch Snider, Danish Naval Snider, and the "unauthorized" adaptations of the French Tabatiere and Russian Krnka. It served throughout the British Empire, including India, Australia, New Zealand and the Dominion of Canada, until its gradual phase out by the Martini Henry, beginning in 1874 but not being completed with volunteer and militia forces until the late 1880's, the dawn of the smokeless era!!!
PHOTO: The rifle shown is a Mark II converted from a P/53 Enfield rifle. The breech block is not positively latched at closing but held closed by a detent in the rear face of the block which clicks into the face of the back of the receiver.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The Snider-Enfield Infantry rifle 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 lifting tang. Look for a substantial number of British proofs.
Subj: Blackpowder Military Rifles (UK)
Date: 99-10-05 08:12:30 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Baines)
A few notes on the Snider which may help:
There were five marks: The following were standard 3-band Enfields converted:
MkI - for original Pottet case - breech has rounded rebate for case rim.
MkI* - MkI altered to use Boxer case ie breech rebate altered to square.
MkII* - as per MkI* but built that way not altered from MkI.
MkII** - breech block design changed to strengthen.
MkIII - Purpose built, (not converted) with steel barrel and locking lug mechanism for securing breech, replacing the latching pin of earlier models.
More Snider-Enfield Model P/53 Converted to Type II:
Mk I* sight and action closed. (photos courtesy Jean Plamondon, Military Guns Photo Gallery)
Bolt open on a Mk I*
Mk II**, the last of the conversion rifles. When the need arose for additional arms, Sniders were scratch built. These latter rifles are MK IIIs and have a positive locking latch and barrels marked "STEEL"
From a Type II "Dominion of Canada" marked rifle
From a Type II British Enfield Snider
Page initially built June 5, 1997
Revised September 1, 1999
Revised October 5, 1999
Updated: Oct 29, 2021