.577 Snider buckshot

I picked up this pristine .577" Snider round at our recent ECRA meeting here in the UK but could do with any input as to country, manufacturer, etc…
The very knowledgeable seller could only tell me that ‘they came out of Canada’. It also had ‘Mk 1’ written on the case.
Any help would be appreciated.


I think I have found the answer to my own question in Peter Labbett’s book ‘British Small Arms Ammunition 1864-1938’ and my cartridge quite nicely fits his description of the ‘Cartridge SA Buckshot Snider Mark II’.

When we were looking at this last Sunday I said at the time I thought it was Canadian or possibly Australian/NZ.

I still think it is Canadian as I have never seen a British military Snider round with that brown card wrapping. (although I suppose it could be British commercial) I agree it is a Mark II from the way the shot is contained. The Mark I had a more square shaped paper bag and proved too fragile.


Thanks Tony. Martin said that they had ‘come out of Canada’ but he didn’t clarify whether he thought these were actually of Canadian manufacture or whether he had obtained them from a Canadian source. I haven’t seen any British Mk II’s to compare the paper colouring with and of course the images in Peter’s book are black & white.
I am thrown somewhat by the ‘Mk I’ written on the case. Martin had a whole bunch of these rounds and they are so clean & shiny I’d guess they have only very recently been removed from the packet - its a pity the label info wasn’t kept with the cartridges.

Jim - here are examples of the British military buckshot loads, left Mark I, right Mark II.

There is also the Special AAA for prisons, but that has a plain brass case.

As you can see, both are on ball cases.



Hmmmm, I’m ducking while I say this Tony but I think the round you have pictured left is a Mk II as obtained from the Trade and is not a Mk I.

You have to remember that absolutely loads of ex military sniders were recycled back into the growing civilian market for cheap firearms as the British Empire expanded. Top player in that market was Wesley Richards, but there were others.
So there is no reason this round has to be assumed to military in manufacture or application. I would say its not. A lot of these rifles had a second life which actually lasted much longer than the first.

Canada would be a prime possibility but I cant say. I would throw another spanner in the works and suggest Belgian? a bit tongue in cheek but they did supply the mail order requirements of settlers,

Thanks Vince, I would have thought that a buckshot load would have been almost exclusively intended for military or prison guard purposes. I’m also being guided by the fact that when I bought it this round, and all the others with it, had ‘Mk I’ written on the case.
I would be very interested to see a colour photograph of a British manufactured Mk II as described by Peter Labbett. He simply describes them as being ‘brown paper covered’ and I suspect that he means the matt buff colour found on the British ball cartridges. I have a Snider blank with this same polished deep brown finish which I have listed as being of Eley manufacture but where that information came from I have no idea.

Nothing wrong with a bit of friendly disagreement!

You could be right, although no-one seems to have a confirmed Mark I to judge it by. PL describes the Mark II as being covered in brown paper yet with the coloured ring. All those I have seen have the usual buff coloured paper.

Ir will remain another small mystery pro tem.


Since wwe’re talking about snider shot loads & identifying them…
I don’t know exactly who made the two below brown paper cased examples either, but you can see I have a similar in the 4th from the right. Perhaps a contract load?

The 3rd from the right is a bit of a mystery due to the single base cup but it does have a MKII sort of sabot. I have a similar case construction in a ball load listed as a Colonial contract Pattern I, for whatever that is worth.

The right one has a Colonial Ammunition OSC & typical Whitney construction so NZ. & 2nd right Dum-Dum or South Arsenal, India.

The one with the SSG topwad is another mystery to me perhaps a prison loading? or a commercial loading for shot-out barreled Snider rifles?

The 4th from the left, without red bands also has a MK II type of sabot but ???

Tony, I’ve got to disagree…again! I’ll quote directly from page 24 of Peter Labbett’s book where he is describing the case of the Mk II Buckshot…‘The case was of the same measurements and construction as the Mk IX ball case, except that, at least originally, the brown paper case cover omitted the red band of the Mk IX ball.’

My interpretation of this is that the early Mk II’s did not have the coloured ring.

Well Jim according to your reading of Peter’s book my 4th from the left is an early MK Ii?

The only brown cases I’m aware of are the two I show above. (not that I’ve seen everything).

The example he shows on pg 24 is hardly brown, more of a light tan, cream, buff or dirty off-white?

Tony’s, mine and every other MK IX ball case I’ve seen are all this off-white / cream / buff paper yet Peter describes these as brown.

So where did the ‘brown’ come from?

Perhaps a typo on Peter’s part, no, I doubt that, so perhaps noted as brown in a document he was using for a original source, or in the List of Changes as brown? Peter was known for sticking close to the official published documents and not including or neglecting war time expedient items and not-100% official items. So perhaps if it said brown, brown it was?

OK, got out my copy of Skennerton’s re-prints of the List of Changes. In his Vol. I 1860 - 1868 page 55, item 1703- 28 Oct. 1868 the MK Vi case is “covered with brown paper”, on page 71 the Buck-Shot Mk II is noted but the “case is similar in construction to the service ball cartridge”.

Going back in the LoC item 1448 (pg 46) and 1449 (pg 47) cover the Pattern II & III but note no paper color. On pg 65 item 2105 the Mk IX is noted, but again no paper color just how the bullet differs and that it should have a “narrow ring of red ink printed round it”.

So I submit Peter’s use of brown MAY have come from the LoC, and since it was not noted in other LoC marks or patterns descriptions, he carried the Mk VI case color forward.

Could all the examples we see and which photos are published of them, be from the trade?

Jim your blank with the brown glazed / polished paper body & roll crimp is a M.H. and Snider B.L. blank. which would work a treat in a Snider. However see the LOC pg 68 item 2332 3 Aug 1872, and using that date perhaps more for issue to the M.H. equipped troops?

The reason why I mentioned my M.H. & Snider blank is because it has the same dark brown glazed finish as is found on the buckshot cartridge in question. Because of their distinctive finishes I’m inclined to think that both would originate from the same manufacturer. My notes regarding my blank show that it is of Eley manufacture but I have no idea where I got this information - perhaps it was written on the cartridge when I got it bit I really don’t remember. However, I have a copy of Conjay’s catalogue in which he lists a ‘Cartridge S.A. Blank M.H. or Snider Rifle or Carbine Mk IV Converted’ and he describes the case as being ‘brown-lacquered paper foil’. The other similar blanks he describes as being ‘buff paper’ covered so he has clearly differentiated between this particular dark brown finish and the more commonly found buff finish. He identifies the dark brown lacquered case as being of Eley manufacture. Based on this I’m thinking that my Buckshot round was also made by Eley.

Hi Jim
You may well be right about the shot load case being by Eley. I don’t know as packets are VERY hard to come by, but nothing wrong with your reasoning.

As to the blanks I don’t have any “brown” with two base cups. All are single brass base cups.

The photo below shows two I have in the Snider drawer on the left. And the ones on the right are with the MH’s

I’m sure the one on the extreme left is a Snider blank is because of the crimp. I have the same crimp in a number of cut down or re-used Snider cases some with & with out red or black bands or as just plain coiled brass, showing this sort of pie crimp in various forms.

The reason the 2nd left is with the Sniders because these with this roll crimp, which I associate with the MH, could have been issued to either.

I was wrong in noting these roll crimps as on pg 68 of the LoC, as with a 2nd look I see a deeply dished pie crimp, not a roll crimp being illustrated.

The ones I was thinking you were talking about with the brown glazed (shiny) paper were the 2nd & 3rd from the right. The paper is much darker brown and quite shiny when compared to the others. And they are, a you can see roll-crimped.

So is your blank a one base cup & does it have a roll crimp? Anywhere close to the color of any blanks I show?

My blank has the same roll crimp as yours and also has a single base cup. I would say it matches your blank shown 6th from left in caselength.
I should point out that the finish of the buckshot pictured at the start of the thread isn’t actually as course as it appears in the photo. In reality my buckshot and my blank compared side by side both have the same chocolate-brown glazed finish. My guess would be the same manufacturer too!

I dont know where your buckshot was made - but I do know that it isnt made in New Zealand. We didnt load buckshot in that configuration , and Pete de Coux’s Colonial Ammunition Company all-brass specimen is probably the rarest of the NZ sniders that exist. Like only about 6 known examples.

Dont know if that adds much to the discussion , but the more the merrier .

That’s good information Muzza - thank you very much!

6 known !

I figured I should add my two .577 Snider shot cartridges to this topic. I received them from my uncle, and all I know is that they look more “old” than “new”.

The short one on the right is a thinner paper (compared to the one on the left), with what appears to be a cap glued onto the head (There is no actual “glue” that I can see)

The 2 Snider rounds shown are blanks, the left a converted ball ctg and the right a MkI using the original Potet case.