Proof Marks

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Proof marks are stamps applied to various parts of a weapon during and after manufacture to show that the weapon is safe for use with the ammunition for which it was designed.

In England, the London and Birmingham proof houses were established (in 1637 and 1813, respectively) by Royal Charter to protect the public from the sale of unsafe weapons. A number of other countries have also established their own proof houses and by agreement at consular level, reciprocal arrangements have been made for their proof marks to be mutually accepted. At present, these include Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

A number of other countries have their own forms of proof, either in-house or centrally run. For various reasons, these have not been acceptable to the European commercial proof houses, and the weapons have to be fully proofed before they are legally saleable in those countries.

There are also a number of countries which have a separate military proofing system for service weapons. These, once again, are not accepted by the

European commercial proof houses. Weapons bearing military proof marks have thus to be commercially proofed before they can be legally sold in those countries.

There are basically three types of proof: provisional proof, definitive proof and reproof.

• Provisional proof is only for shotgun barrels in the early stages of manufacture. This type of proof is designed to prevent the manufacturer from continuing work on barrel blanks which may have hidden defects.

• Definitive proof applies to all weapons and shows that the weapon has been tested with an overcharge of propellant and missile. Generally, this calls for between 30 and 50% increase in pressure over the standard round of ammunition.

• Reproof is an additional test which may be applied after a weapon has been repaired or altered in some way.

1.3.1 Proof marks and the examiner

Proof marks can be a very valuable aid to the forensic firearms investigator as they can give information as to the age, history and country of origin of a weapon.

Many countries have specific exemption from their firearms legislation for weapons which are ' antique'. At one time, the situation was simple, with an antique being considered to be anything over 100 years old. This, however, no longer holds true as many weapons, for example, the Colt Single Action Army Model of 1873, are well over this age and can fire modern centre fire ammunition.

To complicate matters further, modern reproductions of some of these old weapons have been produced, which are often virtually indistinguishable from the original. In these cases, the proof mark could prove to be the only method of accurately dating a weapon.

This is, however, a very complex subject and requires much research and experience in the interpretation of the marks before accurate information can be obtained.

Many papers and books have been written on this subject, but probably the most authoritative is 'The Standard Directory of Proof Marks' by Wirnsberger, distributed by Blacksmith Co., Southport, Connecticut 06490 (Figures 1.23-1.36).

Provisional proof

Definitive proof on action

Definitive proof on barrel

Definitive proof black powder arms



Not nitro

Special definitive proof

Reproof *5F

Reproof where removable chokes have been fitted Year of proof

For certain blank cartridge operated tools

Magazine restriction mark for shotguns

Deactivation mark

Mark for weapons rejected by proof

Barrel proofed for steel shot

Black powder a

London est

LX 06

Steel shot

Definitive proof



Do not fire

Steel shot

London ?

Nitro proof

Nitro proof

Company proof

Company proof



Nitro proof

View mark

Birmingham *

Figure 1.23 British proof marks. (a) Under 1954 rules of proof; (b) under 1925 rules of proof; (c) Birmingham proof marks - 1813-1904; (d) proof marks used between 1887 and 1925; (e) under 1988 rules of proof.

British Proof Marks

Figure 1.24 British military proof marks.


Figure 1.24 British military proof marks.

British Military Proof Marks
Figure 1.25 Spanish proof marks.
Belgium Kal
Figure 1.26 (a) Belgian proof marks - since 1968; (b) Belgian proof marks - before 1968.

Provisional shotguns

Definitive shotguns

Definitive rifles and pistols

Figure 1.27 Czechoslovakian proof marks.

German Luger Proof Marks
Figure 1.28 (a) German proof house marks since marks after 1945; (c) German proof marks 1939-1 marks.

1955; (b) West German proof 945; (d) other German proof

Figure 1.29 Republic of Ireland proof mark.

Figure 1.30 American military proof mark.

French Proof Mark

Figure 1.31 French proof marks post 1960.

Voluntary proof: barrels in the finished state : ordinary proof

Voluntary proof: barrels in their finished state : double proof

Voluntary proof: barrels in their finished state triple proof

Compulsory proof: sample or model proof

Compulsory proof: guns in their finished state, ordinary black powder proof

Compulsory proof: proofed arm ready for sale (supplementary mark)

Compulsory proof: ordinary nitro proof of finished guns

Compulsory proof: superior nitro proof

Compulsory proof: long-barrelled firearms Reproof of long barrelled firearms

Ordinary black powder reproof Ordinary nitro reproof Superior nitro reproof

Proof of short-barrelled firearms

Reproof of shot-barrelled firearms Steel shot proof for smooth bored guns. Note: This mark is now used on all EU proofed firearms

Figure 1.31 French proof marks post 1960.

Voluntary provisional proof

Definitive proof of arms in 'white' condition


Superior proof

Suitable for steel shot

Figure 1.32 Hungarian proof marks.

Distinctive proof mark of the Gardone V.T. Proof house impressed on all firearms

Definitive black powder proof

Definitive smokeless powder proof

Voluntary superior smokeless powder proof

Supplementary mark for arms delivery condition

Suitable for steel shot

Figure 1.33 Italian proof marks.

Figure 1.33 Italian proof marks.

Symbol Arsenal/subcontractor

Koishikawa arsenal (Tokyo) on rifles

Kokura arsenal on rifles

Nagoya arsenal on rifles

Jinsen arsenal (Korea) on rifles

Mukden arsenal (Manchuria) on rifles

Toyo Kogyo on rifles Tokyo Juki Kogyo on rifles Tokyo Juki Kogyo on rifles Howa Jyuko on rifles

Period of operation

1870-1935 1935-1945 1923-1945 1923-1945 1931-1945


1940-1945 1940-1945 1940-1945

Izawa Jyuko on rifles 1940-1945


Toyokawa arsenal on handguns

Sasebo arsenal on handguns 1940-1945

Yokosura arsenal on handguns


Kure arsenal on handguns 1940-1945 Maisuru arsenal on handguns 1940-45

Current proof mark

Figure 1.34 Japanese arsenal/proof marks.

Tula Proof

Figure 1.35 Russian proof marks.

Tula proof mark prior to 1917

Tula proof mark prior to 1971

Tula and Izhevsk arsenal provisional black powder proof marks after 1950

Tula and Izhevsk arsenal final black powder proof after 1950

Final proof

Tula proof house marks Izhevsk proof house marks

Quality control marks

Proof mark of Izmash on AK(S)-47, AKM(S) and AK(S)-74

Proof mark for Vyatskie Polyany Arsenal (Molot) Machine-Building Plant OAO on RPK and RPK-74

Proof mark for Tula Arms Plant (Tulsky oruzheiny zavod) on AKS and AK74

Figure 1.35 Russian proof marks.

Izhevsk Proof House

Arms proof and inspection for ammunition

Klimovsk Proof House

Arms proof and inspection for ammunition

Krasnozavodsk Proof House

Arms proof and inspection for ammunition

Steel shot proof for shotguns

Figure 1.36 Russian federation proof marks.

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  • alexa
    Is a browning 325 sp steel shot proofed?
    9 years ago
  • Espedito
    How much to reproof shotgun?
    9 years ago
    How to read proof marks on black powder revolver?
    9 years ago
  • kenzie sutherland
    What do 1939 luger proof marks mean?
    8 years ago
  • michelle
    What is the difference between a london proof mark and a german one?
    8 years ago
  • Colomba
    What proof marks identify an m1 30 caliber?
    8 years ago
  • Colin
    Greetings gun experts. I need some help. I have a circa 1893 double barrel shotgun that is worn and I seem to be able to make out a proof emblem that is a capital T with a star over it. A separate mark looks similar to the Liege proof house but I can't find the significance of the T-star. Any words of wisdom?<br /><br />Colin
    8 years ago
  • frank
    What does provisional black powder proof mean?
    7 years ago
  • ren
    Do tula akms have proof marks on the trunnion?
    7 years ago
  • bernd
    How to identify a german luger?
    7 years ago
    How to figure out year from indentifying stamps for german made 22 ca single shot pistols?
    7 years ago
  • Mhairi
    What luger proof marking mean?
    7 years ago
  • Chad
    What are proof marks in bullistic?
    5 years ago
  • uwe kruger
    How are proof marks useful to firearm examiners?
    4 years ago
  • Michelino
    What are proof marks and how are they used by forensic firearms examiners?
    4 years ago
  • amina hagos
    What year did russian start standard proof marks?
    3 years ago
  • marcel
    How are proof marks used by investigators ?
    2 years ago
  • terry wallen
    What do the proof marks mean on my FN 458 safari gun?
    1 year ago
  • luca
    What do the stamp marks on a gun barrel mean?
    1 year ago
  • Karen
    What proof mark symbol does Finland place on firearms made there?
    1 year ago
  • hanno
    Where are howa rifles proofed?
    12 months ago
  • steven
    How to read proof marks on german pistols before 1971?
    11 months ago
  • gavino
    What does german first proof symbal mean?
    9 months ago
  • William
    What does it mean when there are marks on a gun from the army?
    7 months ago
  • eino
    What do the fractions mean in firearm proof marks?
    6 months ago
  • eleleta
    What does 15 on a flintlock musket barrel mean between proof marks?
    6 months ago
  • Steffen
    What does the H above the proof mark on my pistol mean?
    5 months ago
  • amethyst
    What does a #4 stamp on action of a shotgun usually mean?
    4 months ago
  • nino
    How to reckognize proof markings on old guns?
    4 months ago
  • Mary
    What are proof marks on barrels?
    3 months ago
  • carita
    What does asheild and m in center mean on ablack powder barrel?
    3 months ago
    What do british gun proof marks mean?
    3 months ago
  • Anne
    What is a provisional proof mark?
    1 month ago
    What does 1 1/4 nitro proof mean?
    1 month ago
  • reeta ilola
    What year did british proof marks started to be usued?
    1 month ago

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