M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle

(Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

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M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle    

(Fládens Bagladeriffel m/1853-66)
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M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle

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M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle    

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

  Denmark is a comparatively small country (slightly smaller than the US states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined) situated on the Jutland peninsula, in Northern Europe, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east.  It is surrounded by water except for its 42-mile southern boundary with Germany and includes  some 500 nearby islands, of which only 100 or so are inhabited.  It was the Danish Vikings, who between 800-1000 A.D. conquered much of England.

  Although Denmark acquired substantial territorial possessions during its history, including uniting with Norway and Sweden under Danish rule in the late 1300s, Denmark was forced to give Norway to an independent Sweden at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and with that loss, most of its empire was gone.

 

  In the 1830s and ‘40s the desire for a liberal constitution spread throughout the populations of Denmark as well as its Schleswig-Holstein dependencies (Schleswig was a Danish dependency and Holstein a German dependency, both ruled by Denmark).  Open revolt broke out in 1848 in Holstein and southern Schleswig.  Prussia, and later Austria, entered the conflict on the side of the rebels.  After two separate wars (1848-1850, and again in 1864), Denmark was defeated and forced to surrender the entire regions to Prussia and Austria.  Ironically, in 1920, the people of northern Schleswig voted to rejoin Denmark.

GENERALLY

  If nothing else, Denmark’s wars with the Prussians in 1848-50, and again in 1864, in which the Danes lost control of Schlessing-Holstein, taught the Danes the value of modern breech loading rifles.  To their credit, the Danes did not engage in the interminable trials undertaken by some of their contemporaries, but settled fairly quickly on the M1867 Remington Rolling Block rifle.  Being pressed for cash following defeat by Prussia, Denmark was unable to completely re-equip its military forces with new Rolling Block rifles, so conversion of its earlier 1848 pillar breech percussion rifles via the Snider system was concurrently pursued.  The M1848/54/65 rifles were converted to the Snider system from the percussion M1848 Bagladeriffel.  The conversions were accomplished at the Copenhagen arsenal between 1866 and 1868. 

  The Danish navel rifles have a distinctly different, and perhaps more interesting, history.  Although officially referred to as the M1853-66 Navy Rifle (Fládens Bagladeriffel m/53-66), these were derived from an earlier pillar-breech, cap lock, percussion rifle, about 5,000 of which were made in Liége around 1847-48 and purchased by the Schleswig-Holstein rebels.  After the failure of the 1848 insurrection, half of the captured rebel rifles were adapted for Danish military use in Kronborg between 1853 and 1855 and issued to the Danish navy.  These rifles were later re-converted to the Snider system in Copenhagen in 1866.

 

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

  The breech block locking lever of the Danish Snider consists of a large button (16 mm, .63 inch) on the left side of the breech block, which is particularly distinctive.  So too is the interesting Dahlhoff back-sight with curved leaf positioned immediately forward of the action in both infantry and naval models.  The Infantry rifle's barrel is retained by three bands, the center band also mounting a through-bolt which supports the sling swivel.  The metal nosecap is conventionally fitted back from the muzzle, to which is welded with a very small bayonet stud below and well ahead of the front sight.

  The barrel of the naval model, unlike that of the infantry version, is retained by keys, with a brass nosecap being fitted very nearly at the tip of the barrel, immediately under the long bayonet bar (a bar, not a lug or a tenon; see photos) welded to the right side of the muzzle. There is also a transverse bolt through the stock very near the muzzle which supports the upper sling swivel.  The lower swivel is mounted at the front of the trigger guard.   The trigger guard is brass with an integral spur similar to that of the M1867Austrian Werndl rifles produced after late 1869..  The nosecap and cleaning rod channel guides are also fashioned of brass as are the barrel bands, left side lock plate reinforcing serpentine and the buttplate.  The rear sight is a Dahloff  “grasshopper” pattern (see photo).   The Snider breech block of the naval rifle bears a close similarity to the later M1869 Dutch Snider.

M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

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M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle  (Fládens Bagladeriffel m/1853-66)

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MARKINGS

M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

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M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval rifle:  The left side of the barrel as well as the brass lockplate support, trigger guard, buttplate all carry the serial number.  The lockplate is marked with the original Belgian manufacturer’s markings (e.g. “PIRLOT FRERES À LIÈGE”), and the top of the breech block and tang are stamped with the Danish crown.

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OPERATING MECHANISM

  The Danish Snider is a rather close adaptation of the British Snider with a right-pivoting breech block containing a diagonal firing pin struck by the original hammer.  Opening the breech block and pulling it back on it’s guide rod extracts the spent case via an extractor co-located on the guide rod and moving rearward with the breech block.  Like all Snider conversions, ejection is a simple matter of rolling the rifle over, tipping the case out of the receiver.

   Unlike the early versions of the British Snider (but similarly to the later Mark III), the Danish Snider’s breech is locked into firing position by a wedge, actuated by a thumb button, that locks into the left side of the receiver well.  The firing pin is free floating (not spring loaded) and, if it were not withdrawn, the breech would be jammed closed by the tip of the firing pin.  Retraction of the firing pin is accomplished by the camming action of the internal spur of the breech block locking button.  When pushed, an arm on the locking button cams the firing pin back, all of this taking place inside the breech block itself.  In other respects, operation of the Danish Snider is substantially identical to that of the British Snider

M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

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M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle  (Fládens Bagladeriffel m/1853-66)

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SPECIFICATIONS, STATISTICS and DATA

M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

  • Overall Length:  1,325 mm (52.15 in)

  • Weight, empty:  4.4 Kg (9.7 lbs) empty

  • Barrel Length:  865 mm (34.01 in)

  • Rifling:  6-groove rifling; RH, concentric

  • Rear Sight:  Tangent sight graduated from 300 to 900 alen (615 yds) (?)

M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle  (Fládens Bagladeriffel m/1853-66)

  • Overall Length:  1,180 mm (46.5 in )

  • Weight, empty:  4 Kg (8.9 lbs)

  • Barrel Length:  700 mm (27.6 in)

  • Rifling:  5-groove; RH, concentric

  • Sight:  Dahloff “Grasshopper” curved sliding leaf, graduated from 200 to 900 units, most likely Danish alen (125.5 to 565 m, about 138 to 618 yds)

 

SHORT RIFLES, CARBINES & SPECIAL VERSIONS

M1854/68 Suhl "Tap Rifle" (Suhler Tapriffel M. 1854/68):  The lock plate is marked with a SUHL crown, the manufacturer's initials (VCS), the year the rifle was manufactured and the serial number.  The rifles were used exclusively in the Danish West Indies colony (now U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1873-85

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Photos Credit: Michal Novotny

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Photos Credit: Michal Novotny

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Photos Credit: Michal Novotny

SPECIAL NOTE:  We have information suggesting the existence AND non-existence of both a short rifle as well as a carbine version of the Danish Snider, but thus far we been unable to find photos or additional information regarding either.  We would gratefully appreciate help from any knowledgeable persons.  Please contact us!

M1848/65 Short Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65): These short rifles were converted from the M1848 pillar-breech rifle.  The original barrels were fitted with a breech block unconventionally opening to the left, and a Dahlhoff rear sight, graduated from 300 to 900 alen (190 to 565 meters; 210 to 620 yds).  Some rifles retain the patch box in the right side of the butt, but many were re-stocked, using the original bands and nose-cap.  Trigger guards and side plates are brass, remaining mounts being iron.  The upper sling swivel is mounted below the center band and the lower swivel is mounted below the lower edge of the buttstock.  Like the infantry musket, the M1848/65 Short Rifle accepted the M1848 socket bayonet

M1865 Danish Snider Carbine

SIGHTS

M1848/54/65 Danish Snider Infantry Rifle  (Bagladeriffel m/1848-65)

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BAYONETS

M1853/66 Danish Snider Naval Rifle  (Fládens Bagladeriffel m/1853-66)

 

  The M1848/54/65 Infantry Rifle accepted the Danish M1848 socket bayonet, while the M1853/66 Naval Short Rifle was adapted to accommodate the double-edged M1852 sword bayonet.

Danish M1848 socket bayonet

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M1853/66 Sword Bayonet

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CARTRIDGE

  The M1866 16.9mm Danish Snider, aka 17x28R.  This cartridge is another of the very early, relatively low power, large caliber rimfire rounds adopted for use in a converted muzzle-loader retaining its original barrel.  The case is a straight-sided, rimmed, copper design topped with a conical shaped lead bullet lubricated with grease grooves.   The bullet develops a muzzle velocity of about 325 m/s (1,065 fps) for the M1848/65 rifle and about 300 m/s (990 fps) for the naval rifle with standard ball cartridges.

DIMENSIONS: 

  • Bullet diameter:  16.80 mm

  • Neck diameter:  17.87 mm

  • Base diameter:  17.94 mm

  • Rim diameter:  20 mm

  • Case length:  27.5 mm

  • Total length:  40.02 mm

  • Total weight:    

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MANUFACTURING DATA

  The M1848/54/65 rifles were converted at the Geværfabrik Kjøbenhavn,  between 1866 and 1868.

  About 1,100 of the 2,540 rifles were converted to the Danish Snider system, becoming the M1853/66, at the Geværfabrik Kjøbenhavn in 1866.  Like the infantry rifle, it too was chambered for the 16.9 mm, rimfire cartridge.

UTILIZATION BY OTHER COUNTRIES

None Known.

PREDECESSOR & FOLLOW-ON RIFLES

Predecessor Rifle(s):  M1848 Bagladeriffel

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REFERENCES

Special thanks to Michal Novotny for providing pictures

Page built September 9, 1999
Revised September 28, 1999

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Updated: Sep 24, 2022