Snider-Enfield Mk III Short Rifle

Created on October 5th 2017

Snider-Enfield Mk III Short Rifle by BSA & Co’ 1872 for Dominion of Canada

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One of the singularly best Snider-Enfields I have had the pleasure of working on.  Serial number 611.  This is a freshly manufactured (at the time) rifle, with the new steel barrel and a five groove bore.  Not a conversion from an early muzzle-loader.

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This was the first main army issue breech loader manufactured from afresh.  Single shot with a “swivel-type” action which pivoted on a long hinge pin mounted into the side of the action.  Once swung over and out of the way it was possible to insert the cartridge, close up the breech and take the next shot.  The rifle is chambered in .577 Snider – a thumping great big cartridge.  The barrels were newly manufactured and contained 5-groove right-hand twist Enfield rifling.  The short rifle measures 48.5/8″ in overall length.  The round steel plumb-brown barrel is 30.1/2″.  The trigger pull length is 13.1/2.”  Just out of interest I have dug out my antique trigger pull gauge and found the break pressure is 6.3/4lb ( if my old gauge is still correct! ) A MAN’s TRIGGER PULL !!  (excuse me Ladies)

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Full length military style English walnut stock with iron furniture.  The stock is in fabulous condition with all the normal signs of a service life.  There are NO faults with the stock and in fact, the inside was in perfect, dry condition. So much so, that it is easy to find the Smallheath (BSA) inspection marks impressed into the fresh walnut.  Those marks contain no dirt, almost as if impressed yesterday!  I believe this highlights the fact that this rifle was never dragged through the rain and mud and so, remains in such good condition.  There are also two, slightly less obvious inspectors marks, on the underside of the butt, just behind the tang of the trigger guard, presumed to be similar.  There are other more interesting numerals impressed into the tail of the comb, in front of the butt-plate tang, possibly a rack and rifle number;- “39  / 392.”  The RHS of the butt-stock has a superbly clear manufacturers roundel for Birmingham.  This is the early BSA & Co mark with the “crows foot arrow / W.D.” within the center.  Underneath is a clear “1″  and above all of them is a diminutive, inverted arrow (Sold out of Service mark)  On the obverse of the butt is a clear diamond-shaped box containing the “D.C” Dominion of Canada cartouche.  Adjacent to the DC mark is an initial; perhaps put there by a bored soldier who was interrupted in his carving efforts.

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Note: All the “WD /arrow” acceptance marks have been re-stamped with the opposing arrow of the government sold out of service mark (s.o.s.).  So the “B.S.A. Co / 1872″ engraving on the face of the lock has the ” Coronet / downward pointing arrow” of the lock inspector opposed by the s.o.s mark.   The lock has a fine Royal device (crown) cypher over “V.R.”  for ownership by Queen Victoria’s Government.  The lock face is perfectly flat and well fitted to the timber.  Please see;- http://www.byswordandmusket.co.uk/long-guns/anatomy-of-a-snider-lock/  for an in-depth description of this actual locks internals.  It is in fine condition, functions exactly as it should, holds on half-cock etc.  There is the slightest case-colour hardening showing underneath the hammer which can be seen with the hammer in different positions.

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The hammer itself is the correct flat faced type for this model.  The spur is wonderfully checkered to aid grip at the top of the spur.  The hammer has a splendid brown/grey polished patina to it.  The main screw is clearly marked with the broad arrow.  The lock face has lost most of its colour hardening but also has a pleasing patina to it.  The original nipple protector and chain is still in position, minus the leather insert.  On the underside of the stock is the iron trigger guard with long rear tang.  All of those associated fixings are WD marked.  Trigger is smooth.  All these parts have mellowed to the same plum-brown / grey and there is no sign of damage to any screw heads.  The heads of the main lock fixing screws are similarly marked.  The rear sling swivel is at the rear of the trigger guard and the front one affixed to the front barrel band.  Both barrel bands are beautifully marked with both, inspection stamps and s.o.s markings, as is the full length cleaning rod.

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The receiver bridge is clearly marked with the model designation “III”  The top of the breech block is marked in diminutive text “B.S.A.Co” beside further inspection and acceptance marks topped with the s.o.s. arrow.  The sprung catch works well and releases the block so it may roll-over for loading.  Immediately visible is the serial number “611″ on the underside of the block and on the catch.  The block can also be pulled to the rear to activate the ejector and this is sprung back into position effectively by the internal spring in the hinge.  All functions correctly.  The head of the pin is numbered as well as bearing the crows foot.  The firing pin has been out, cleaned re-greased and replaced putting another long period of use back into this weapon, as with all the other components.  The receiver ring and the rear end of the barrel bare the full inspection and acceptance story on markings, from the day it was made to the day it was sold out of service.

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Ramp and ladder rear sight graduated 1000 yards.  Simple inverted “V” front sight mounted on a block.  Sword bayonet lug braised directly to the outside of the barrel.  During restoration further detail was gathered from the breech area and underneath the barrel.  Matching numbers were found but also another number “649 A” stamped into the hut and back of the breech, beside the knuckle of the hinge pin. could this be an assembly number.  On removal of the butt plate, which has retained some depth of colour on both sides, after cleaning, it is possible to see the hand-made file marks where it was been cleaned and finished all those years ago;  a superb link to the craftsman of the past, that produced this fantastic example of Victorian ingenuity.

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Everything about this rifle is correct.  To add to this fact it even has a splendid bore with strong rifling.  The mildest shallow pitting is present four or so inches from the muzzle but, this just testifies to its use, confirming that it has not sat in a museum for the length of its existence.  Was it used in anger, or self defence.  We will never know for sure, but we can look at the evidence in our very hands and wonder?

£ 1965.

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