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Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

Article about: A 1880 contract Snider Mk III Short Rifle (30 5/8 inch barrel) .577 calibre. Maker C G Bonehill (Christopher Bonehill), a Birmingham gun maker who had a successful business with military con

  1. #1

    Default Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

    A 1880 contract Snider Mk III Short Rifle (30 5/8 inch barrel) .577 calibre. Maker C G Bonehill (Christopher Bonehill), a Birmingham gun maker who had a successful business with military contracts and sporting shotguns. C G Bonehill gained a contract to supply 2,000 Sniders in Short Rifle and Cavalry Carbine for the New Zealand Volunteer Militias and Armed Constabulary. This one has the "N80Z" acceptance mark and "III" to denote a Mk III, and 0318.
    Latch is marked "CGB" numerous inspection marks form Birmingham inspectors. But is marked "243" which may be a Volunteers rack number. Order wouyld be through the Ordnance Board for a Colonial administration so all usual WD marks are found. But it was supplied new to New Zealand.
    Bore is quite good and action strong. The leather sling is quite possibly original.
    These are quite common in NZ, about 10,000 were issued to the Volunteer forces and Armed Constabulary and usually the Carbines are found in the best condition as they were still being used by hunters of wild pig in NZ bush as late as the 1970's. The big slow moving .577 slug was effective in dropping a charging boar.

    Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

  2. #2

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    Thanks for an interesting post.

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    Thanks. The Snider breach loading conversion of the British P1853 muzzle loaders is an interesting story. Mr Snider an Amercian with a business mind contacted the British Ordnance Board offering his breach loading conversion to update the P1853 which were becoming obsolete. With unusual speed for a military bureaucracy the system was adopted by the British and by the late 1860's the P1853 rifles were being converted. By the time of the MkIII, a completely new rifle with the system was being produced. One big advantage was the speed a soldier with a Snider could reload and fire. Not really a long range weapon but up to 400 yards very effective.

  4. #4

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    It's interesting that these rifles were still in use for hunting in the 1970s. Some things were made to last practically forever. I was confused at first because I was still thinking about wild boar hunting when I read your second post that the rifles are effective out to 400 yards. I understand now that you meant effective to 400 yards against a formation of enemy soldiers, not that the average hunter with open sights could hit a wild boar at that range. Were the carbines used for hunting as issued, without being sporterized?

    Sniders were popular in Canada too. They were used in the 1885 Indian War and after their military service some were used for hunting. You don't see Sniders too often here in the USA, and those you do see here are sometimes sporterized and the rifling reamed out to convert them to shotguns.

  5. #5

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    No, never seen a sporterized Snider though only the carbines were used for bush hunting so had 18" or 19" barrel, and plenty were available. And yes I was referring to military use.

  6. #6

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    My two Snider sporters. Both manufactured as such by Robert Hughes. Interestingly, the lower one is chambered for the Martini Henry carbine cartridge.

    Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

  7. #7

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    Some more Sniders

    (1) Long Rifles Mk I*, II* & II**
    (2)Long Rifle Mk III, Short Rifles Mks II** and Lancaster Mk II**
    (3)Artillery Carbine Mk II**, Commercial Cavalry Carbine Mk III (Natal Volunteers), Cavalry Carbines Mk II** & III.

    Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contractSnider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

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    That's a very useful photo Terry. Both the Artillery and Cavalry carbines were used by the NZ Armed Constabulary. C G Bonehill supplied Snider Cavalry Carbines to New Zealand in 1880 and 1881. The Snider long and short rifles first saw service in NZ with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment of Foot from March 1868. When the regiment left NZ a few years later they left the Snider rifles to be used by the newly formed Armed Constabulary that was to replace the departing Imperial Regiments.
    Incidently the bayonet supplied to NZAC was a straight blade with a sawback, (2,000 were produced) which was generally regarded as fairly useless for bush fighting.

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    Unfortunately, the South African Archives provide little information concerning the issue of Sniders to particular regiments. Markings can provide some information, with the Cape regularly marking its rifles. Natal, not so systematic. We also need to remember that many Sniders were commercially imported following obsolescence in the UK.

    For interest, the regimental markings on certain of my military Sniders are as follows:

    Long Rifles. Mk II** = 2nd Bat. Ulster Volunteers
    Mk III = Prince Alfred's Volunteer Guard (Cape)

    Short Rifles. Mk II** = Prince Alfred's Own Cape Volunteer Artillery
    Mk II** Lancaster = 7th Company Royal Engineers

    Cavalry Carbine. Mk III = Cape Mounted Rifles
    Last edited by Terrylee; 06-18-2023 at 02:48 PM.

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    An example in the Te Papa Museum, Wellington of a Snider Artillery Carbine made by C G Bonehill in 1880 for the New Zealand contract.

    Snider Mk III Short Rifle 1880 New Zealand contract

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