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You may not necessarily find specific date information within the text of particular pages, but often the images of advertisements or catalogue entries contain some dating 'give-away', such as the year in which a particular rifle achieved a notable competition score by someone, but which data is in graphic format and therefore not "searchable" by a text search engine.

Do not briefly glance over a page and assume that the information you require is not there.

British and Commonwealth Service rifles can sometimes be dated by their serial numbers and prefixes, and the manufacturing works can be identified by manufacturers' coded leter and number marks. This is not a date mark, although occasionally the number may coincidentally seem to relate to one's approximate estimate of the rifle's age; it does not. Proof , View and Black Powder or Nitro-Proof marks have to be easily visible to, for instance, the purchaser of a firearm.

The keenest researchers will search manufacturers' records where such are archived or available. civilian production of target and sporting rifles, then purchase a copy of " B. Also be aware of the Birmingham Proof and Birmingham View marks - respectively BP and BV - each under a Crown.* With, for example, the BSA Model 15 or BSA Model 12/15 Martini-actioned rifles, the view mark should be visible both on the barrel and on the action body RHS top. Thus they are usually very obviously stamped on the appropriate pressure-bearing parts where thay can easily be seen.

For the latter, dates of introduction of military arms can be located within the Government "List of Changes" (Lo Cs) as can dates of obsolescence and of modification or upgrade to later marks.

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From 1975 a further modification was made to the mark, as in Figure III, with another adjustment soon after to Figure IV.

The system ceased to be used during 1941, since there was practically no civilian firearm production for the next five or six years, and, with war-time production levels reaching unprecedented proportions, almost all military proofing was effected within the various manufacturing facilities by Government inspectors. However, such date codes as there are are still useful in dating the many firearms manufactured between the First and Second World Wars, including much output from the Birmingham Small Arms Company ( see also BSA Rifles), as indeed is true post 1952 for those rifles more recently falling into the classic class. These marks are also not to be confused with the crossed flags stamp of the miltary proof markings, which may carry similar letter codes identifying the country and/or place of inspection.

This so-called "secret" marking system was as follows, with the marks illustrated below applying as indicated. From 1921 to 1951 Figure 1 applies, and for firearms proved between mid 1921 and mid 1922 the code letter is A.

Fortunately, many of these scholars make their work available to the public in reference books, and details of a number of the most useful ones are to be found in our Bibliography. The only exception to this is a comparatively recent situation in which the acquirer of a historically important firearm that may have been re-imported, and hitherto have carried no London or Birmingham proving mark, scan request, when that arm is sent for the necessary proof that, the marks are put out of sight, under woodwork for example, in order that the original appearance of a valuable piece is not spoiled..

It is worth mentioning one or two books in particular from which much data relevant to this website's subject matter can be sought. However, date marks such as are under discussion and described below, are usually out of sight on the under-side of the barrel, and removal of fore-end furniture may be necessary to find them.

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