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 British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War

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Dave

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PostSubject: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Tue May 24, 2011 2:11 pm

What rifle's were used by the British before the Zulu war. Or maybe I you say before the MH.
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keith4698



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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Tue May 24, 2011 2:51 pm

Snider
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Tue May 24, 2011 11:46 pm

Thanks Keith.
Wasn't that the weapon used by the NMP at Isandlwana.
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kwajimu1879

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 9:17 am

Dave,

The Natal Mounted Police carried Swinburn-Henrys during the Zulu War.

The Snider which Keith mentioned was stop-gap weapon which used the previously issued percussion 1853 Enfield rifle and the Snider action.

Prior to the muzzle-loading Enfield rifle there was the short-lived British Minie rifle, which looked like the rifle it replaced which was the 1842 pattern musket.

KwaJimu1879

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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 5:33 pm

Photographic evidence of the NMP taken in late 1877 shows them still armed with Mk3 Snider carbines, and I cannot find any evidence to say exactly when they changed if indeed they did., its difficult in these times to see that the Snider was actually a very popular weapon indeed, durable, easy to handle, and most important to a mounted man could be carried at Half cock (as can a Swinburn), essential when riding, as it is difficult to cause missfire when carried in a saddle bucket or sling, unlike a cocked and loaded MH, by catching the trigger. I had a MK3 Snider carbine made by BSA dated 1873, 5 groove rifling (not 3) marked to the CMR, such was the popularity BSA continued new Snider production under licence into 1880, so not all were stop gap conversions, if anything the ammunition changes, listed in the LOC were keeping the Snider as up to date as possible.

Buller when commenting in 1880 does, as can be assumed from his comments point to the Snider carbine being still quite widespread issue amongst the colonial forces. The Natal Carbineers certainly were Swinburn armed, but the issue was by no means widespread.

Swinburns were sold via commercial agents such as King of Durban and agents acting for V & R Blakemore of London, (they were all made at the Abingdon works in Birmingham) in SA from 1875 onwards. Being a Militia, localised forces had to purchase their weapons almost as a private enterprise so Swinburns were cost prohibitive. A rare animal in the first months of the war was the IC1 Martini Carbine, as production had not got into full swing, even Evelyn Woods personal guard were Swinburn Armed, and some of the IMI.
Buller had a distain for as he put it those "wretched Martini carbines", in reality he was referring to Swinburns, externally they look like a Martini, internally they are totally different, the extraction is poor, unlike the Martini which works directly from the tipping block, so extraction is very good and direct, the Swinburn uses a sliding bed, above the trigger seat, working off the lever, its poor, very poor, and you have to tip the cartridge out of the receiver. Secondly the firing pin is floating, a transverse pin on the extractor claw retracts it, then it is struct forward by an V spring internal hammer, and is prone to not going off first tap.

Amongst the local forces too were the Westley Richards .450 "monkey tail" and the .50 Calisher carbine, an ammo procurement nightmare.




Last edited by Neil Aspinshaw on Wed May 25, 2011 5:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 5:42 pm

Thanks for the information. Just a few questions.m

With reference to loading and firing the 2 weapons which one would have achieved the best result.

With reference to range and accuracy. Were they both on par or one far superior than the other.

I take it they were both breachbloaders.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 5:53 pm

Dave
both difficult to relaod when fired from Horse back, as previously mentioned both could be carried with one "up the spout" with little chance of a miss fire so it could be used as a big single shot "get me the hell out of here" pistol, both are two handed ejection, so little is gained on that front, the snider is moderately more harder to load as the round needs to be offered squarely into the breech.

Range on the Snider carbine is 600-700 yards, depending on the ammunition mark used, accurate shooting cold be expected up to 200 yards, the Swinburn, firing a conventional .450/577 Mk3 Boxer round, either rifle or carbine will give excellent shooting to 500 yards, after that the bullet looses speed rapidly but will remain lethal to 1000 yards.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 7:50 pm

Thanks Neil.
I'm just trying to understand one they needed to change the weapons.Bing I guess they were just moving with the times into more modern weapons. Or was the MH cheaper to manufacture than the Snider.
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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Wed May 25, 2011 8:39 pm

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kwajimu1879

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Thu May 26, 2011 7:46 am

Neil,

I appreciate the Natal Mounted Police were still armed with Sniders at the time of the Annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. However, I also know that by the time of the Zulu War they had been issued with Swinburn-Henrys. In fact there's one on display in Warrior's Gate Museum, Durban, that was used by Trooper Henry Lugg, of the Natal Mounted Police during the Defence of Rorke's Drift. The carbine is mentioned in "A Natal Family Looks Back" where it is referred to as a 'Swinburne Henri'.

There's also one on display in National Army Museum, London, in the Zulu War section stamped to the 'NMP'.

kwaJimu1879


Last edited by kwajimu1879 on Thu May 26, 2011 4:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: British Rifle's prior to the Zulu War   Thu May 26, 2011 9:37 am

Kwa Jimu

You are correct, and I can't believe I overlooked Lugg, I have seen his Swinburn, I have one in my collection Identical to his its even in the V X and Z Natal serial number range as his, I have been looking at the Breechloaders, in particular the Swinburn, as there are two versions issued, a full stocked carbine and a half "sporterised" version, I own both, but most of the photo evidence show the full stock, (as Luggs) by Blakemore. here is the King Half Stock and my Mk3 Snider carbine [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

Then my Blakemore SH Carbine, I took Mike Snook to the range with this and he was amazed on its accuracy, mind you, I would hope so considering how much I paid for it LOL.
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Littlehand, This is a Snider Mk8 original boxer round, alonside a modern MH
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Interesting in Jan 1881 at the siege of Potchesfroom the town magazine contained 6800 rounds of MH Carbine, 2300 rounds of Snider and 3000 rounds of Westley Richards ammo, an insight into what the mix was to be found, two full years after the war
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