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Military Rifles in the Age of Transition
(Non-U.S.) Black Powder, Metallic Cartidge, Military Rifles
1865 to 1890
(A Research, Photo-Identification and Information Website since 1997)
M1848/67 Dutch Snider
(Infanterij-Geweer M.67, also Geweer Groot Kaliber, “Large Caliber Rifle”)
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M1848/67 Dutch Snider (Infanterij-Geweer M.67, also Geweer Groot Kaliber)
The Netherlands is a small kingdom on the North Sea in northwestern Europe about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut in the United States. The country is sometimes called Holland, which is the home of the two main western provinces, but its official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands (meaning “low countries”). Although the people call themselves Nederlanders, they are most commonly known in English speaking countries as the “Dutch.”
The Netherlands originally included the territory now comprising Belgium, but the spread of the Protestant Reformation during the 1500s divided the areas into Protestant (the Netherlands) and Roman Catholic (now Belgium). During this period, all of the Netherlands was Spanish controlled. Revolt against Spain broke out in 1568 and although Spain subdued the southern Roman Catholic provinces, the seven northern Protestant provinces united in 1579, continuing the revolt and declaring themselves the Republic of the Netherlands in 1581. A truce was eventually signed in 1609 but the Spaniards renewed the war in 1621. Twenty seven years after that, in 1648, eighty years of fighting finally ended with a Dutch victory and independence.
The 1600s are considered the “Golden Age” of the Netherlands despite its state of war. The arts flourished, and the Dutch East India Company expanded its trade around the globe. Amsterdam became the primary European port of entry for trade with the Far East and vast wealth flowed into this relatively small nation. It was during this period that the Dutch settled in what is now New York. The Congress of Vienna, held after Napoleon’s downfall in 1815 remapped Europe, uniting present-day Belgium and Holland under a Dutch king. However in 1830, the Belgians revolted, declaring their independence. From that time on, the Netherlands maintained a relatively strict neutrality all the way to World War II, concentrating on its commercial opportunities and attempting to maintain its Far East possessions.
DUTCH SNIDER CONVERSION
The great advantage of a breech loading rifle is its speed of loading in comparison with a muzzle loading rifle. After the second half of the 1860s most European countries started to equip their armies with a breech loading rifle. The Austrian-Prussian war of 1866 was the trigger for the Dutch king Willem III to ask the Minister of War for the adoption of a breech loading infantry rifle.
In January, 1867 the Dutch Army adopted the Snider action hinge-block breech loading action to convert its M1848 .69 caliber (17.5 mm) muzzle loader to metallic cartridge. It remained in front line service for only a brief time until supplanted by the M1871 Beaumont, but was used by the militia to the very end of the 19th century. Like other Sniders, the breach block opens to the right and contains a transverse spring-locked firing pin which is struck by the original external hammer.
The conversion is accomplished in perhaps the simplest way possible. Unlike British Sniders, but similar to the Spanish Berdan and early US Allin Springfields, the receiver is created by cutting out the top half of the barrel right to the front of the breech plug and slightly milling the back of the chamber to accept the comparatively small cartridge rim. The breech block support mechanism is then welded to the right side of the receiver, the lock plate and stock are slightly milled out to accept the breech block support pieces on the right and detent spring on the left and, with a new rear sight fitted, the conversion is complete.
The Dutch Snider is closer in design and execution to the British adaptation than to the Danish or French versions. The hammer has a half-cock position that will allow the breech block to open. The breech block opens only through about 120 degrees but will fully extract a spent case even with the hammer only at half cock. Like other Sniders, no provision is made for ejection, which must be accomplished for practical purposes by flipping the rifle over on its side (more easily done to the right). A fresh cartridge is dropped into the receiver portion of the barrel, thumb-pressed fully into the chamber and the breech block closed. It is held closed by a spring-loaded pin fitting into a detent in the left wall of the receiver chamber at the very back, up against the breech plug. Once the breech block is snapped close, the hammer is drawn to the fully cocked position (surprisingly far back), and the weapon is ready to fire. Safe is accomplished by carefully lowering the hammer to the half cock position.
The rifle is quite large and remains in its original 17.5 mm caliber. It is initially distinguished by its trigger guard having a flat back side very similar to the M1871 and M71/88 Beaumonts and its ribbed, extended lower tang like French muzzle loaders of the period. The side plate is a typical early 19th century serpentine, similar to that of the Belgian Terssen, and somewhat similar to the Danish Snider, with a nosecap reflecting the Belgian Albini‑Braendlin. The rear sight is a tangent type, also found on early Swiss and Italian rifles. The hammer and lock plate are distinctly French in appearance. The firing pin of this Snider conversion, unlike that of the British Snider, has a very large head and is retained in the breech block by a set screw with twin holes in its head rather than by a nut into which it fits.
The manufacturer of the Snider mechanism is generally stamped on the top of the breech block above the place of manufacture (e.g. “P STEVENS” above “MAASTRICHT”). The lock plate may contain the rifle’s original manufacturing information (e.g. a “PS” over “59”, which would indicate P Stevens manufacture in 1859) and the buttstock may, but need not, bear the rifle’s original manufacturing information (for example a circular cartouche with “DELFT” above a crown over “W” for the monarch Wilhelmina, and a date such as 1865). The cartouche of the Maastricht built rifles consists of a circle around the outside top reading “P.S.” (for P. Stevens) “MAASTRICHT” and “N.B.” above a Crown over large “W”, below which is the original date of manufacture.
SPECIFICATIONS, STATISTICS & DATA
Overall Length: 1,462 mm (57.6 in)
Weight, empty: 4.96Kg (10.9 lbs)
Barrel Length (to the front receiver cut out): 975 mm ( 38.4 in)
Rear Sight: A half-moon tangent sight marked from 200 to 800 paces (approx 150 meters (165 yds) , ~610 m (670yds))
SHORT RIFLES, CARBINES & SPECIAL VERSIONS
Snider M1854/67 Calvary Carbine
The cavalry carbine is highly distinctive with a very long saddle ring bar to the left of the wrist, the front end of which is unusual in being anchored to the rear serpentine lockplate screw. It has a much shortened barrel with no barrel bands, and only a simple nose cap, a trigger guard which is fully rounded rather than with a flat back as is seen in the infantry rifle and, most interestingly, a hammer with a full ring at its top rather than a hammer spur, to reduce the risk of accidental discharge while reloading and operating on horseback. The rear sight is only a very simple nonadjustable lug with a notch filed into it.
M1858/67 Snider Calvary Carbine, Photo Credit:https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/14956/lot/217/
M1858/67 Snider Navy Short Rifle
The Dutch Naval Snider was converted from the Dutch Marinebus M1864, a short rifle without barrel bands but rather fitted with a locking key and brass nose cap and an upper sling swivel mounted on a transverse bolt running through the stock. The “Marine” rifle is shorter than the infantry rifle at 1230 mm (48.2 in) overall and mounted the M1858 Marinebus saber bayonet on an extended lug fitted to the right side of the barrel.
M1858/67 Snider Navy Short Rifle, Photo Credit: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search/objects?q=snider&s=artist&p=1&ps=12&st=Objects&ii=1#/NG-MC-1224,1
Sights for the M1848/67 Dutch Snider (Infanterij-Geweer M.67, also Geweer Groot Kaliber)
The infantry rifle does not have a bayonet lug, per se, but rather was fitted with a small stud welded to the bottom of the barrel near the muzzle for use with a modification of the M1848 socket bayonet, which had been a modification of the earlier M1815 socket bayonet.
M1867 Snidergeweer Bayonet
This is the original bayonet that would have fit the Getrokken Geweren No. 1 rifles that were converted to the Snider system in 1967. This bayonet also fit the 1815 & 1848 rifles.
Photos Credit: http://www.muetstege.com/getrokken%20geweer%20no1.htm
M1858 Marinebus Saber Bayonet
This bayonet was issued to the Dutch Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers) for use with the navy version of the Dutch Snider (not pictured). This bayonet was fixed to the side of the musket barrel via a slot in the reverse side of the hilt. These bayonets were manufactured in small numbers in Solingen, Germany as well as by P. Stevens Maastricht.
Photos Credit: https://bayonets.pl/?product=m1858-marinebus
17.5 mm Scherpe Patroon No. 7, aka 17.5mm Dutch Snider, 17.5x 29R and Geweer Groot Kaliber de Snider Patroon (Large Caliber Rifle Snider Cartridge)
Case: Rimmed, straight
Load: 5 grams Black powder
Primer: Center-fire (original large bore retained)
Bullet: A flat-nosed Minié type, weighing 39.5 grams, developing a muzzle velocity of ___ m/s (___ fps)
Photos Credit: https://www.cartridgecollector.net/175-x-29r-dutch-snider
Bullet diameter: 18.04 mm
Neck diameter: 18.78 mm
Base diameter: 18.82 mm
Rim diameter: 20.68 mm
Case length: 29.5 mm
Total length: 43.4 mm
Total weight: 52 grams
Photos Credit: https://www.cartridgecollector.net/175-x-29r-dutch-snider
Somewhat over 83,000 M1848/67 Dutch Sniders were converted; 30,000 arms were produced by the P. Stevens Company of Maastricht, 30,000 by the Birmingham Small Arms Company, an additional 23,000 by the firm of Geweerwinkel c.g. WDW (Werkplaas voor Draaglau Wapenen, “workplace for portable weapons”) in Delft and at least some by Ortmann and Francotte at Liège (or perhaps breech block mechanisms were manufactured in Liège for conversions done elsewhere).
Factory Number of converted rifles Year of conversion
P. Stevens Maastricht, The Netherlands 25.000 February 1867
Birmingham Small Arms, England 30.000 July 1867
P. Stevens Maastricht, The Netherlands 5.000 September 1867
Geweerwinkel (WDW) te Delft, The Netherlands 23.000 1870 and 1872
Approximate total of converted rifles 83.000
Some rifles had a very rich history. They started their life as new made flintlocks rifles. Later on they were converted to the percussion lock. The smooth bore was rifled and a rear sight was assembled. At the end the rifle was converted to Snider rifle. Flintlock and percussion lock rifles were made by factories in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England and even in France.
UTILIZATION BY OTHER COUNTRIES
While the Dutch Snider was utilized by the Netherlands for both its domestic needs and its Far East colonial service, it does not appear that the Dutch Snider rifles were utilized by any other countries. However, Snider action long arms saw extensive use around the globe, especially by the British but also by the Danes and, in a more highly modified version, by the French in its Tabatière cap lock conversions.
PREDECESSOR & FOLLOW-ON RIFLES
Predecessor Rifle(s): M1815 Percussion Musket
Photos Credit: https://www.bolk-antiques.nl/
Follow-On Rifle(s): M1871 Dutch Beaumont
"Special thanks to Jaco Cloete for these additional photos of a M1848/67 Dutch Snider."
Page first built April 14, 1999
Revised September 24, 1999
Revised March 4, 2001
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Updated: Mar 24, 2022