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Understanding Firearms Markings 1880-1945 Ian McCollum www.ForgottenWeapons.com email@example.com. Proof Marks and Identification. Patent marking Model name/number Brand name Military acceptance
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Understanding Firearms Markings 1880-1945 Ian McCollum www.ForgottenWeapons.com firstname.lastname@example.org Proof Marks and Identification
Patent marking Model name/number Brand name Military acceptance Refurbish mark Conversion marking Caliber Types of Markings • Date(s) • Country of origin • Manufacturer name • Serial number(s) • Proof mark(s) • Unit number • Import marking
France – the markings translate to: Ordnance Factory Chatellerault Chatellerault was a major French state arsenal
What is the point of showing these examples? Context is essential! Always consider the whole gun to understand what you are looking at.
What is a proof mark? Proof Marks
Why Proof Marks? (in no particular order) • Public safety • Industry reputation • Government oversight
Proof Loads • Typically 25% - 30% overpressure • Either one or two rounds
Proof Marks - England • The modern British proof law was passed in 1868, with an official nitro proof added in 1904 and a general update in 1925. • British law did not automatically recognize foreign proofs, so many arms imported into England had to be re-proofed. • Up to WWII, pressure was measured in tons.
Proof Marks - England Birmingham proof mark used prior to 1904: Indicates black powder proof unless accompanied by the words “Nitro Proofed”
Proof Marks - England Standard proof marks, 1925-1954: Birmingham London Final proof View proof Nitro proof
Proof Marks - England Standard nitro proof marks, post-1954: Birmingham London (on action) (on barrel)
Proof Marks - England When on foreign-made guns, the proof marks were enclosed in a circle, and accompanied by the mark “NOT ENGLISH MADE”:
Proof Marks - England In addition to everything else, a special mark was used to date the proofing. From 1922/23 to 1940/41, this mark was used: A=21/22, B=22/23, C=23/24, etc. I and Q not used. From 1950 to 1974, it was this one: A=1951, B=1952, C=1953, etc. I not used (but Q was).
Proof Marks - England Lee-Enfield No.5 rifle, rebarreled in 1974
Proof Marks - Belgium • Royal decree in 1672 required proof testing and marking of barrels • Belgian national proof house established in Liege • In 1888, a new law forbade the sale or display of unproofed firearms • In 1891, proof testing standards for smokeless powder were introduced
Proof Marks - Belgium • Crown over R – Black powder proof of a barrel (also appears on smokeless barrels). • “Perron” - Indicates fit and function of slides, locking mechanisms. Used from 1903 to 1924 (not on revolvers). • Rampant Lion “PV” - used 1898 - 1924 for smokeless barrel proof. After 1924, it replaced the Perron mark entirely.
Proof Marks - Belgium • EPV (Epreuve de Liege) with crown – final overall proof mark after 1893 • Plain EPV – final overall proof from 1853-1893 (used on muzzleloaders after 1893) • Star over letter – Individual inspector's marking, 1877 to present. From 1853 to 1877, a crown replaced the star.
Proof Marks - Belgium Black powder, post-1893
Proof Marks - Germany • The modern German proof mark law took effect in 1893, and remained definitive until 1939. • In 1939, the proof marking symbol was changed form an imperial crown to a Nazi eagle. • The well-known Waffenamt Nazi symbol was actually a military acceptance mark, and not a proof mark.
Proof Marks - Germany 1891 – 1939 proof marks: Nitro Black powder Choked bore Final proof Rifled bore Smooth bore
Proof Marks - Germany Weapons manufactured prior to the proof law taking effect (1893) were required grandfathered, but had to be marked (this did not constitute an actual proofing).
Proof Marks - Germany In 1939, the crown was replaced by an eagle, and the typical 3-proof combination (B, U, and G) was replaced by a single eagle/N mark.
Proof Marks - Germany Typical commercial Mauser rifle
Proof Marks - Italy Italian replica cowboy pistols are probably the most likely place to find black powder proofs today. Italy has a nice simple set of proof marks, but a rather strange date code system.
Brescia provisional proof Gardone provisional proof Proof Marks - Italy The proof marks: • Black powder proof • Smokeless proof • Final definitive proof
Proof Marks - Italy Proof marks on an Uberti 1858 Remington copy: Proofs will also be found on barrel and cylinder.
Proof Marks - Spain • Eibar proof house established in 1844, proofing made mandatory in 1923. • Typically appear as a set of 3 markings:
Proof Marks - Spain • First mark is the actual final proof – gun is good Early (1923-1928) Late (1928+) • Second is the date Until 1927/28, a “P.V.” A – 1927 was used instead of B – 1928 the date C – 1929...
Proof Marks - Spain • Third mark is an admission to the proof house: Early (until mid 1931) Late (mid 1931 – now) (The King fled in 1931, and the crown went with him)
Proof Marks - Spain With this in mind, we can interpret this typical Spanish set of markings: Gun was accepted and proofed in 1945
Other Markings • Date (of manufacture or refurbish) • Model name/number • Manufacturer name • Import marks • Serial number(s) • Caliber • Military acceptance
Date(s) Dates marked on a firearm can mean several different things: • Date of manufacture • Date the gun was refurbished • Date the model was adopted for military use • Date the design was patented
Date of Manufacture Dates can take several forms -
Refurbish Date Sometimes a firearm is marked with the date of a major repair or conversion:
Adoption Date Model dates are usually more obvious...
Adoption Date ...but not always.
Model Name/Number Probably the most unambiguous type of marking...
Model Name/Number But what if you can't read it? (Iranian Mauser)
Model Name/Number This very clearly says that it is a Type 99
Model Name/Number Store brand guns – this was actually made by FN
Manufacturer Name • On civilian guns, typically company name • On military guns, typically arsenal name • Sometimes just a location
Manufacturer Name Often a company's location will also be marked – this was how you could find the company.
Country of Origin • This is rarely directly marked on military arms, with the exception of guns imported for commercial sale • It usually must be inferred from other markings
Import Markings In 1968, the GCA required this information to be marked on all guns imported into the US: • Serial number • Manufacturer • Country of origin • Model designation • Caliber • Importer name • Importer location (city & state)