Snider-Enfield Mk II** Long Rifle
Snider-Enfield Rifle
Cal .577
In 1864 a committee was set up to consider the practicability of introducing breech loading, and designers were encouraged to concentrate their attention on perfecting a method. After exhausting trials at Woolwich Arsenal. during which some fifty different systems were tested, this one by the American, Jacob Snider of New York was chosen (1866). Muzzle loading rifles of the .577 inch Enfield pattern 1853 were converted and re-designated Mk I Snider/Enfield.  Most of the success of this system was due to the introduction of the brass cased boxer cartridge, which expanded on firing to provide a gas seal to the rear of the bullet, the first British official arm where the cartridge was designed to do the work of stopping the escape of gas at the breech.

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.

Snider Enfields:

British conversions of the P1853 Rifled Musket

M1853/66 Snider-Enfield Mark I & Mark II (Converted) and
M1866 Snider-Enfield Mark III (Newly built Patterns)
TheNepalese Snider, patterned almost exactly after the British Type III
Mark I Long Rifle The Dutch M1867 Snider conversion
Mark I Short Rifle The Danish M1854/65Snider conversion
Mark III Calvary Carbine The Spanish Snider conversions

And the adaptations of the Snider system:

French Tabatiere
Portugese Snider
Russian Krnka.
The Snider Rifle, 1867 byIan Croxall
Jacob Snider, Inventor  by J Scoffern



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 immitation, 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 andRussian 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!!!

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 lifing tang. Look for a substantial number of British proofs.


Subj: Blackpowder Military Rifles (UK)
Date: 99-10-05 08:12:30 EDT
From: (John Baines)

Hi Keith

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.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Artillery  Carbine

Mk I* sight and action closed.
(photos below 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 British Enfield Snider

From a Type II "Dominion of Canada" marked rifle