The Snider breech loading rifle was an innovation in small arms as it enabled the much more convenient and faster loading of ammunition than the muzzle loading musket which was the standard government issue rifle for Britain's armed forces in the mid 1800s. The Prussian army had adopted the Dreyse needle rifle, the first successful breech loading military rifle, in the 1840s, and England, recognising its great success, set about finding a replacement for the inferior muzzle loaders the armed forces were using. The Snider was ideal, because as well as being efficient, the breech loading system could be fitted to muzzle loading muskets, converting them to breech loaders.
The Snider rifle was issued to the Australian colony's armed forces, police, prison warders, and other government departments requiring arms.
This particular rifle was used as a property in the 1970 British-Australian film production of 'Ned Kelly' starring Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger as Ned Kelly. Although this version of the Kelly gang story was not particularly successful at the box-office or critically, the film is an interesting document of its time. The Kelly gang are Australia's most famous bush rangers. The Kelly myth is an enduring one and has inspired films, literature, paintings and songs.