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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a Snider Enfield that I believe had been either warn to the point of no rifling or had the rifling removed.

I have found that it almost chambers a 2 3/4 inch 28 Gauge shot shell.

(about 1/8th of an inch too long)

Has anyone tried a custom 28 gauge shell for their Snider Enfield?

Does anyone have a pet load?
 

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I believe the 28 gauge will be a little small. I hear there are 24 gauge hulls available from Mag Tec which are usable but, unless your Snider's chamber is on the large side (which isn't unheard of), they'll need to be sized. One can use regular .577 brass cases to make shotshells. This thread on the Snider forum has some pictures. http://p223.ezboard.com/fbritishmilitariaforumsfrm2.showMessage?topicID=1001.topic

There's a wealth of knowledge there that can take days to read!

Steve
 

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Long rifle, short rifle, or carbine? the 3 groove slow twist rifling can be a bit hard to see, especially with a little wear and/or crud. The 5 groove fast twist is a little more distinct. There's always the possibility that it was smooth bored prior to issue to native troops or some other such downgrade.

Steve's spot on about the British Militaria board...some true expertise there.

I've got a little Snider cavalry carbine that I'm right fond of. I'm trying to keep from adding Sniders to the list of my "addictions" though...
 

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Based on the overall tenor of your post, jrhead75, I'd venture to say you have already become addicted but haven't yet reached the acceptance stage.:)

Steve
 

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I agree that you should check on the British Militaria forums ...

There is a chance that your rifle is not smoothbore, but rather has a "Lancaster oval bore" - i.e. the bore is actually somewhat elliptical rather than round, with a twist to the orientation of the oval ... which imparts the spin to the projectile. If so, it would be quite a scarce item.

(Then again, it may well be an Indian Service or Gaols Service smoothbore ... or even a rifle which has been bored out to make an economical shotgun ... pictures and/or detailed description of markings would help.)
 

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Based on the overall tenor of your post, jrhead75, I'd venture to say you have already become addicted but haven't yet reached the acceptance stage.:)

Steve
You may very well be right. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here is my update:

I have got my Snider carbine functional now, with a new old stock pin and spring.

I still need to figure out what acceptable firing pin protrusion is, otherwise it seems to be functional.

I pushed a 58 caliber mini ball down the barrel from the muzzle and there was some resistance but not enough to deform the ball.

It felt like it was twisting as it went down, but that may be just wishful thinking.

I read the information posted and see that this is a purpose built carbine from the front and rear sights. (thank you Steve and Grant)


I got a deal on an full size Snider at a gun show recently.
I purchased it because the price is right and it appeared to be in very good to excellent condition and included the bayonet.

There are markings on the butt plate that would lead me to believe that this may be a recent Nepalese import.

Is there anything I should look out for on these?

What is the acceptable protrusion for the Snider firing pin?
 

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If you use a tight patch a piece of tape on the cleaning rod wii
indicate a twist. It won't twist very much with the slow twist.
Good luck!
 

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If I'm reading you correctly, you now own two Sniders? You may need to start thinking about counseling, addictions are best addressed early on.:)

I'm not sure if it will help you any or not, but here's a couple of pictures of the firing pin protrusion on my Snider sporting rifle. I'd think as long as you have enough length to reach the primer, a little extra shouldn't hurt anything. If you are reloading for your rifles try it out on some primed cases.

I slugged the bore on mine by using a .570 round ball which I had flattened slightly with a hammer so it was a larger diameter. When I tapped it down the bore it showed the rifling quite well. If your carbine has rifling, it should show up on the slug if you want to go that route. A .575 minie ball goes down my bore pretty freely, don't think I could tell much about my barrel if I used one of those.

Steve
 

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If you can find a Lyman 585-513 mold you'll find it works perfectly for the Snider. I found one years ago and kept it until I bought a rifle. Eight years ago I bought a Non-Com's rifle with a beautiful bore that will shoot 2-3" at 50M with this bullet over a 70 grain volumetric equivalent of Pyrodex RS. ~Andy
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I will look and see if I have or can get that Lyman mould.

I went through my stock of .58 caliber stuff and can find Mini balls and sabots that fit decent, but not perfect.

All of my round balls are .57; too loose to consider using.

Yes, I have two Snider's now.

One carbine and one long rifle.

There is a big difference in the quality of the work that went into them.

The Long rifle has redundant safety devices incorporated in the loading mechanism that the carbine does not have. (The carbine opens and closes with little resistance from a small lump and hole in the bottom of the receiver while the rifle has a button that locks it open and closed.)

I will snap some photos soon.
 

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Marine: Have you ever tried using 24 ga brass for loads? I have some lathe turned brass that is terrible. I'm thinking of investing $18 in 25 pcs of brass and sizing it down. ~Andy
 

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The description you give of the locking mechanism on the rifle indicates that it has a Mark III action - the carbine has either a Mark I or Mark II action from the sounds of it. In fact, the "Mark" number should be stamped on the top edge of the action "shoe" - i.e. I, II or III, possibly with one or more "stars" (i.e. *) which indicate minor variations of that Mark .... see first image below ....

The Snider system was only adopted as a 'stop-gap' solution for converting existing muzzle-loading Enfield rifles to breechloaders while a 'purpose-built' cartridge rifle was being developed. The original action design actually afforded acceptable safety because the pressure is straight back when the cartridge is fired, simply forcing the breechblock against the rear face of the shoe recess. However, it was discovered that in the event of a cartridge case rupture the excessive gas escape to the rear would sometimes flip the block open .... never with any fatal consequences, or even severe injury, to my knowledge ... but unquestionably very disconcerting to the shooter!

As mentioned in the List of Changes entry for the Mark III rifle (second image below) the significantly improved locking mechanism was introduced at the beginning of 1869, and by that time the existing supply of original Enfield muzzle-loading rifles suitable for conversion had been exhausted (in part because an arsenal fire destroyed a large number) but the Martini-Henry rifle which replaced the Snider-Enfield was still a long way from adoption (that occured in mid-1871). Whereas the Mark I and II versions of the Snider-Enfield had been converted from muzzle-loaders with iron barrels, the Mark III was "built from scratch" using the improved latching breechblock and new barrels made from steel (the barrel on your rifle should be marked "STEEL" on the left side toward the rear .... ) By the way, the "List of Changes in Artillery Matériel, Small Arms and Other Military Stores" was the official record of such things for the British War Department, introduced in 1860 with a name change in 1872 to "List of Changes in War Matériel and of Patterns of Military Stores".)

It is ironic that, although the Pattern 1853 Enfield was one of the finest and most accurate military rifles of its day, the Snider conversions are notorious for inconsistent accuracy. The British War Department went through at least nine distinct variations of Snider cartridge from adoption of the system in 1866 through mid-1871 ... basically they were trying (unsuccessfully) to get the breechloading conversions to shoot with a level of accuracy even approaching that of the original muzzle-loaders. Their biggest mistake was that they kept trying to use the original hollow-base Minie-type bullet (or variations of it) which of course was less than bore diameter to facilitate loading from the muzzle. Such a bullet works as intended in a muzzle-loader - i.e. the skirt is free to expand at the instant of detonation of the powder charge, to engage the rifling right from the start. However, when the same type of bullet is confined in the mouth of a cartridge case, it cannot readily expand until the rear edge of the skirt has moved forward of the case mouth, which is really too late with black powder, as the pressure is already dropping by then.

However, keep in mind that all this was happening at the very dawn of the age of standard-issue breechloading military rifles, and they were really groping their way in the dark, so to speak. Present-day knowledge (gained from at least a century and a half working with breechloading firearms, don't forget) makes it seem obvious that the bullet used in a breechloader should be greater than bore diameter, of course. And that is the single most important bit of knowledge for getting acceptable accuracy from a Snider - though they can still be mighty finicky. Even though I can achieve much more consistent and satisfying accuracy with my Martin-Henry rifles, my Sniders remain 'dear to my heart' because of the very long period of their use as the primary-issue military longarms of Canada - from 1867 through 1896, when the "Long Lee-Enfield" (Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield) was finally adopted by Canada. (As it was, not all Units had their sniders replaced until about 1905!) Although the rest of the British Empire for the most part switched over to the Martini-Henry beginning in the early 1870's, Canada's government decided that the Sniders were "good enough", and never did adopt the Martini-Henry (though a few thousand were obtained, albeit issued only on a very limited basis if at all.) Attached (third photo below) is a composite image of my Canadian-issue MkII* three-band Snider-Enfield rifle against a backdrop of the Fort Henry Guard volley-firing their Sniders ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Marine: Have you ever tried using 24 ga brass for loads? I have some lathe turned brass that is terrible. I'm thinking of investing $18 in 25 pcs of brass and sizing it down. ~Andy
I would try it if I had a source for them.

24 Gauge is almost unheard of here.

I hound that I can get a 28 Gauge to chamber without being swallowed and I have found that with effort I can modify a 28 gauge shot cartridge to deliver a 58 caliber mini ball.

I haven't tried it yet, and I don't expect that it would be accurate that way; but there is unknown potential.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Grant,

Thank you for sharing all of that great information and those fantastic pictures and sketches.

I believe the carbine is a Mark I from your description.

It has a very nice but odd bore. The "rifling" is like a shallow fun house mirror so it is hard to really look at with my bore light.

There is definitely a slow twist in there.
 

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Ret_Marine:

No problem ... glad to help! (Actually, you'll find that those of us addicted to the old Brit guns are rather like drug pushers ... eager to get more and more newbies hooked ... ;) )

Full length brass shotgun hulls are readily available under the Magtech brand name - they are actually manufactured by "CBC" in Brazil. Although they used to be only marginally useable because they were all Berdan primed, the stuff brought in by Magtech is now all configured for standard large pistol primers. 28 gauge (at .55 caliber) is really quite a bit undersize for use in forming .577 Snider cases, whereas 24 gauge hulls are ideal for that purpose. (In fact, they must be sized down a little, though that can be easily done just using your loading dies - i.e. it isn't necessary to acquire a special forming die - and also shortened.) There are, however, a few minor detractions: rim thickness and diameter are a bit less than ideal, and they are effectively "balloon head" cases (i.e. lacking a solid web in the head), but neither of those "problems" really creates any serious difficulty - especially for occasional use and black powder loads.

Here are a few online listings for the Magtech 24ga hulls:

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/4,6483.htm ($18.00/25)

http://www.grafs.com/shotshell/product/170154 ($18.59/25)

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=679947&t=11082005 ($19.49/25)

On the other hand, cases made specifically for the .577 Snider are also available. At one time, all we could get was either Bertram brass out of Australia or Kynoch brass from the UK, and the price for either tended to run $6 or more per cartridge case - i.e. at least $120 for a box of twenty! However, Jamison International in the US has tooled up to make .577 Snider and .577/.450 Martini-Henry cases - the price (at about $2.50 each) is more than the CBC shotgun hulls, but they come to you already formed and are a "solid head" design with thicker case walls, so they will definitely be more "everlasting" .... especially if you think you may want to try some smokeless loads.

I have both the Magtech/CBC and Jamison cases. I have always been leery of attempting smokeless loads for the Snider, though others have developed such loads. If I ever tried smokeless, I would definitely do so only in a solid-head case, and limit use of such loads to a MKIII barrel and action, in any event.

Here are a few listings for Jamison .577 cases (I would caution, however, that you should first double check with the supplier to see if they really do have them in stock, because a lot of Jamison commercial brass has been on backorder, since the company got a big military contract) -

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/4,5736.htm ($50/20)

http://www.grafs.com/grafs/search/product/167054 ($49.99/20)

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=190708&t=11082005 ($49.79/20)

I am attaching images (pirated from one of the suppliers websites) of a Magtech 24 gauge hull (on the left) and a Jamison .577 Snider case ...
 

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By the way, Ret_Marine, I'd love to see pictures of your carbine, including clear closeups of the markings .... it really sounds like it may have a Lancaster-rifled bore ... :)
 

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For what it's worth; Shotgun News has an ad for several cases and bullets for various calibers. Listed is a .577 snyder.
Bob Hayley 211 North River, PO Box 889 Seymour Texas 76380 tel# 940 888 3352
Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I will check it out.

I am still trying to get time and equipment to work for me taking pictures.

I am still trying to put items from my last gun show away and two more rifles arrived this evening for me to work on.

It will be easier after opening day is past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I apologize for the delay.

I just got the camera and a small amount of time a couple of hours ago.

Now I find that the pictures are too large or the system is being worked on.

I will try again later.
 
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