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Thread: British Snider experts- what do I have?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    244

    British Snider experts- what do I have?

    Hey folks,
    I've gone and found a Snider that needed a new home. From what I can tell, it's a Mark III made by BSA in 1872. The barrel has a "STEEL" stamp which I believe it's a late Snider that was built as a new rifle with a steel barrel, versus being converted from a muzzleloading Enfield rifle.

    The barrel has two bands and is approx 31" from breechface to muzzle. It doesn't look to have been cut down as the front sight and bayonet lug look like they belong there. There are opposing "sold out of service" broad arrow marks on darn near every piece of the gun. There is also a stamp in the wood with reads W.D. and Birmingham. Is this "War Department"?

    What else can you tell me about what this gun is based on the photos and markings? (Other than it's a really neat old gun.)

    Other than checking that the bore was good before adopting it, I haven't dug deep into the mechanics other than the lock functions and the breechblock latches.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    997
    The latest Rifle magazine has an article by Terry Wieland giving a condensed history of the Snider-Enfield. There is a passage in that article "when the supply of convertible Enfields ran out, they produced entire rifles from scratch with steel barrels and a perfected breech mechanism. They were made in, among other places, Belgium, France, Nepal and Afghanistan" Judging by the lockplate date and the STEEL marking on the barrel, yours looks to be a purpose-built Snider instead of a conversion and made at BSA in England.

    British rifle markings are a study unto themselves. I have been interested in No.1 and No.4 Lee-Enfields, so the following is from The Lee Enfield by Ian Skennerton and pertains to markings on Lee Enfield rifles, but could very well be applicable to your rifle.

    The small broad arrow markings on various parts indicate accepted for government service, after inspection. They're normally everywhere; note that your rifle has a broad arrow on a large screw head on the left side of the receiver.
    The W^D is a War Dept. ownership mark.
    The crown and VR is a royal cypher for Victoria Regina.
    The cypher and 1P under the crossed flags on the barrel may be a mark for the first proof of the barrel only.
    The cypher with 2P under the crossed flags may be 2nd proof with the barrel and body ,i.e., receiver together.
    The smaller marks are probably various inspectors marks.

    By all means try of find a reference specifically for Snider rifle markings. Remember that the reference I am using is for Lee Enfields but the early Lee Enfields didn't come along that much later than your Snider. If someone comes along to correct me my feelings won't be hurt.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    Jun 2005
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    Thanks higgins.
    I read the Rifle article. It gave some good history and had lots of information the use of the Snider.

    I've concluded that mine is a two band "short rifle" and concur with your assessments on the 1st and 2nd proof stamps. There are inspectors marks on darn near every part on this gun. I guess there isn't much else to find out beyond that.

    There are no Nepalese marks on this one and clearly being marked as sold out of service, maybe it isn't one of the IMA ones. I wonder where it's been.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    The sold mark assuredly means its never been anywhere near Nepal,and since you re in the US ,Canada would be a likely source ............and yes,every part was inspected and stamped as accepted...............also mention you have the Mk III breech that latches closed,and cannot fly open as the earlier marks were wont to do .

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I took a closer look at the stock tonight. There is a faint DC above some numbers on the left side of the buttstock that I hadn’t noticed in earlier inspection. That seals it as coming from the Dominion of Canada.

    Would the sold out service stamps have been applied when the Canadians disposed of the rifle, or would the Brits have applied them when they gave the rifle to the Canadians?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master smkummer's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    A friend of mine brought one back when he was in the military about 15-18 years ago, no problem bringing it back as it was an antique. I believe it was Afghanistan. It is a MKIII. I found him about 12 modern made 577 cases for $1 ea. ( cheap). I lucked out and found Lymanís 585213 hollow base for a bargain. We tried some low pressure smokeless but still have the best luck with black or pyrodex cartridge. At 70 gr. Equivalent, itís got a bit of fearsome thunder to it!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    The sold mark is for civillian sale .......it may also have what looks like a series of horizontal teardrops ,with a date underneath ....this is a 'separation mark'

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check