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Proof Marks and Identification Understanding Firearms Markings 1880 -1945 Ian Mc. Collum www. forgottenweapons. Proof Marks and Identification Understanding Firearms Markings 1880 -1945 Ian Mc. Collum www. forgottenweapons. com [email protected] com 1

Types of Markings Date(s) Patent marking Country of origin Model name/number Manufacturer name Brand Types of Markings Date(s) Patent marking Country of origin Model name/number Manufacturer name Brand name Serial number(s) Military acceptance Proof mark(s) Refurbish mark Unit number Conversion marking Import marking Caliber 2

Where was this rifle made? 3 Where was this rifle made? 3

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

Two More 5 Two More 5

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

Proof Marks What is a proof mark? 7 Proof Marks What is a proof mark? 7

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

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

Proof Marks - England The modern British proof law was passed in 1868, with 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. 10

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

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

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

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

Proof Marks - England In addition to everything else, a special mark was used 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). 15

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

Proof Marks - Belgium Royal decree in 1672 required proof testing and marking of 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 17

Proof Marks - Belgium Crown over R – Black powder proof of a barrel 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. 18

Proof Marks - Belgium EPV (Epreuve de Liege) with crown – final overall proof Proof Marks - Belgium EPV (Epreuve de Liege) with crown – final overall proof mark after 1893 Plain EPV – final overall proof from -1893 (used on muzzleloaders after 1893) 1853 Star over letter – Individual inspector's marking, 1877 to present. From 1853 to 1877, a crown replaced the star. 19

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

Proof Marks - Germany The modern German proof mark law took effect in 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. 21

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

Proof Marks - Germany Weapons manufactured prior to the proof law taking effect (1893) 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). 23

Proof Marks - Germany In 1939, the crown was replaced by an eagle, and 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. 24

Proof Marks - Germany Typical commercial Mauser rifle 25 Proof Marks - Germany Typical commercial Mauser rifle 25

Proof Marks - Italy Italian replica cowboy pistols are probably the most likely place 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. 26

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

Proof Marks - Italy 28 Proof Marks - Italy 28

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

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

Proof Marks - Spain First mark is the actual final proof – gun is Proof Marks - Spain First mark is the actual final proof – gun is good Early (1923 -1928) Second is the date A – 1927 B – 1928 Late (1928+) Until 1927/28, a “P. V. ” was used instead of the date C – 1929. . . 31

Proof Marks - Spain Third mark is an admission to the proof house: Early 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) 32

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

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

Date(s) Dates marked on a firearm can mean several different things: Date of manufacture 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 35

Date of Manufacture Dates can take several forms - 36 Date of Manufacture Dates can take several forms - 36

Manufacture Date 37 Manufacture Date 37

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

Refurbish Date 39 Refurbish Date 39

Refurbish Date 40 Refurbish Date 40

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

Adoption Date. . . but not always. 42 Adoption Date. . . but not always. 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

Country of Origin This is rarely directly marked on military arms, with the exception 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 49

Import Markings In 1968, the GCA required this information to be marked on all 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) 50

Import Markings Typically abbreviated heavily: Century International Arms, Saint Albans, Vermont 51 Import Markings Typically abbreviated heavily: Century International Arms, Saint Albans, Vermont 51

Import Markings Location varies – 2002 regulation change required them to be “conspicuous” Serial Import Markings Location varies – 2002 regulation change required them to be “conspicuous” Serial number may not contain non-latin numbers – if it does, a new one must be marked. 52

Import Markings Possible locations Under front of barrel Under grip panels (old) Side of Import Markings Possible locations Under front of barrel Under grip panels (old) Side of receiver Sometimes tiny! 53

Import Markings Prior to 1968, commercial imports had to be marked with the country Import Markings Prior to 1968, commercial imports had to be marked with the country of origin 54

Import Markings Of course, they sometimes goofed. . . 55 Import Markings Of course, they sometimes goofed. . . 55

Import Markings Remember, not all info has to be in the same place. If Import Markings Remember, not all info has to be in the same place. If the caliber, model, or other data is already on the gun, it does not need to be marked again. Import markings are not required to be on the receiver, but are illegal to alter or deface. However, it is legal to remove parts they are on (ie, barrels) for repair. 56

Serial Number In the US, serial numbers became legally required on guns in 1968. Serial Number In the US, serial numbers became legally required on guns in 1968. Virtually all military arms have serial numbers. Most pre-1968 commercial arms of reasonable quality and cost also had them. 57

Serial Number Often multiple large parts are serial numbered. On commercial arms, it is Serial Number Often multiple large parts are serial numbered. On commercial arms, it is rare for parts to be mis-matched. On military arms, it is fairly common – usually bolts 58

Serial Number Some folks (like Germans) would serial number everything right down to the Serial Number Some folks (like Germans) would serial number everything right down to the screws: 59

Serial Number The only legally required serial number is the on the receiver – Serial Number The only legally required serial number is the on the receiver – but this may not be where a manufacturer marks it: 60

Serial Number Sometimes military arms will have unit markings, which look like additional serial Serial Number Sometimes military arms will have unit markings, which look like additional serial numbers: 61

Serial Number Foreign-made guns may have numbers printed in non. Latin numerals: Looks like Serial Number Foreign-made guns may have numbers printed in non. Latin numerals: Looks like “AK”, but it's actually “DK” in Cyrillic 62

Serial Number Arabic script. . . 63 Serial Number Arabic script. . . 63

Serial Number or Thai script. . . 64 Serial Number or Thai script. . . 64

Serial Number Letters within a serial number. . . Production block code (very common) Serial Number Letters within a serial number. . . Production block code (very common) Date code (fairly common) Prefix meaning “number” (“N” on some rifles) Suffix meaning “year” (cyrillic “r”) Model or feature designation (often built into the serial number rather than separate) 65

Caliber Generally caliber markings on military arms specify the bore diameter only – the Caliber Generally caliber markings on military arms specify the bore diameter only – the specific cartridge must be determined from context. 66

Caliber Which 9 mm, exactly? Spanish Jo. Lo. Ar: 9 x 17 mm (. Caliber Which 9 mm, exactly? Spanish Jo. Lo. Ar: 9 x 17 mm (. 380 ACP) 9 x 23 mm (9 mm Largo) 67

Caliber Military forces often updated guns to different cartridges, and did not always mark Caliber Military forces often updated guns to different cartridges, and did not always mark them clearly. 68

Caliber It was also fairly common to change the chamber profile to accept different Caliber It was also fairly common to change the chamber profile to accept different bullet profiles. 69

Caliber Overall length can be a good clue to caliber changes 70 Caliber Overall length can be a good clue to caliber changes 70

Caliber Common opportunities for pistol caliber mixups: 7. 65 mm Browning (. 32 ACP) Caliber Common opportunities for pistol caliber mixups: 7. 65 mm Browning (. 32 ACP) vs 7. 65 mm Luger (7. 65 mm Parabellum) 9 mm Kurz (. 380 ACP/9 x 17) vs 9 mm Parabellum vs 9 mm Largo (9 x 23 mm) vs 9 mm Browning (9 x 20 SR) The really confusing one is 9 mm Largo vs 9 mm Bergmann-Bayard vs 9 mm Steyr, as they are all 9 x 23 mm cases. 71

Caliber Occasionally, militaries actually try to be helpful: 72 Caliber Occasionally, militaries actually try to be helpful: 72

Military Acceptance Many models of firearm were made for both military and commercial sale. Military Acceptance Many models of firearm were made for both military and commercial sale. Military acceptance marks can help determine the provenance of a particular gun. 73

Military Acceptance A few examples. . . Austria Switzerland France Israel United Kingdom US Military Acceptance A few examples. . . Austria Switzerland France Israel United Kingdom US Nazi Germany 74

Military Acceptance One special case worth mentioning is the British “DP” mark, for Drill Military Acceptance One special case worth mentioning is the British “DP” mark, for Drill Purpose Generally meant the part was out of spec, and not to be used for live fire. 75

How about some strange and goofy markings? 76 How about some strange and goofy markings? 76

Chinese Pistols 77 Chinese Pistols 77

Chinese Pistols 78 Chinese Pistols 78

Chinese Pistols 79 Chinese Pistols 79

Afghan Forgery 80 Afghan Forgery 80

Test! 81 Test! 81