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Proof Marks and Identification

Understanding Firearms Markings 1880-1945 Ian McCollum www.ForgottenWeapons.com admin@forgottenweapons.com. Proof Marks and Identification. Patent marking Model name/number Brand name Military acceptance

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Proof Marks and Identification

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  1. Understanding Firearms Markings 1880-1945 Ian McCollum www.ForgottenWeapons.com admin@forgottenweapons.com Proof Marks and Identification

  2. 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

  3. Where was this rifle made?

  4. France – the markings translate to: Ordnance Factory Chatellerault Chatellerault was a major French state arsenal

  5. Two More

  6. What is the point of showing these examples? Context is essential! Always consider the whole gun to understand what you are looking at.

  7. What is a proof mark? Proof Marks

  8. Why Proof Marks? (in no particular order) • Public safety • Industry reputation • Government oversight

  9. Proof Loads • Typically 25% - 30% overpressure • Either one or two rounds

  10. 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.

  11. Proof Marks - England Birmingham proof mark used prior to 1904: Indicates black powder proof unless accompanied by the words “Nitro Proofed”

  12. Proof Marks - England Standard proof marks, 1925-1954: Birmingham London Final proof View proof Nitro proof

  13. Proof Marks - England Standard nitro proof marks, post-1954: Birmingham London (on action) (on barrel)

  14. Proof Marks - England When on foreign-made guns, the proof marks were enclosed in a circle, and accompanied by the mark “NOT ENGLISH MADE”:

  15. 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).

  16. Proof Marks - England Lee-Enfield No.5 rifle, rebarreled in 1974

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Proof Marks - Belgium Black powder, post-1893

  21. 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.

  22. Proof Marks - Germany 1891 – 1939 proof marks: Nitro Black powder Choked bore Final proof Rifled bore Smooth bore

  23. 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).

  24. 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.

  25. Proof Marks - Germany Typical commercial Mauser rifle

  26. 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.

  27. Brescia provisional proof Gardone provisional proof Proof Marks - Italy The proof marks: • Black powder proof • Smokeless proof • Final definitive proof

  28. Proof Marks - Italy

  29. Proof Marks - Italy Proof marks on an Uberti 1858 Remington copy: Proofs will also be found on barrel and cylinder.

  30. Proof Marks - Spain • Eibar proof house established in 1844, proofing made mandatory in 1923. • Typically appear as a set of 3 markings:

  31. 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...

  32. 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)

  33. Proof Marks - Spain With this in mind, we can interpret this typical Spanish set of markings: Gun was accepted and proofed in 1945

  34. Other Markings • Date (of manufacture or refurbish) • Model name/number • Manufacturer name • Import marks • Serial number(s) • Caliber • Military acceptance

  35. 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

  36. Date of Manufacture Dates can take several forms -

  37. Manufacture Date

  38. Refurbish Date Sometimes a firearm is marked with the date of a major repair or conversion:

  39. Refurbish Date

  40. Refurbish Date

  41. Adoption Date Model dates are usually more obvious...

  42. Adoption Date ...but not always.

  43. Model Name/Number Probably the most unambiguous type of marking...

  44. Model Name/Number But what if you can't read it? (Iranian Mauser)

  45. Model Name/Number This very clearly says that it is a Type 99

  46. Model Name/Number Store brand guns – this was actually made by FN

  47. Manufacturer Name • On civilian guns, typically company name • On military guns, typically arsenal name • Sometimes just a location

  48. Manufacturer Name Often a company's location will also be marked – this was how you could find the company.

  49. 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

  50. 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)

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