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.
Because many rifles may have been imported or, prior to sale on the civilian market, have only had military proof marks, then dating from the Birmingham or London Proof House marks needs to be treated with a degree of both caution and common sense. This is mandatory, in the interests of public and personal safety, and any imported, previously un-proved firearm or "Sold out of Service" ex-military arm must be so proved. product where possible, and charges a fee which is donated to one or other of his chosen charities.
Rifles without modern proof still regularly appear on the market, having lain in store for decades. Company for many years and holds most of those records not destroyed in enemy bombing raids on the factories during the War, has been willing to help date a particular B. It should be borne in mind that there is rarely a better way to find out more about your chosen rifle than buying one of the marque or model specific books authored by someone who has spent much of their life researching the subject.
The two markings are shown below, the International to the left, and Century to the right.
From 1975 a further modification was made to the mark, as in Figure III, with another adjustment soon after to Figure IV.
Date marks for the London Proof House did not commence until 1972 and are therefore of limited value in dating classic rifles.
These days, you will hear the term "print is dead" by so many experts in the advertising and marketing fields.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.The mark was modified to that shown in Figure II, with D to the left representing 1953, and the B to the right identifying the Birmingham Proof House. Thus the year codes have hitherto been understood to be 1950 - A; 1951 - B; 1952 - C; 1953 - D; 1954 - E; 1955 - F; 1956 - G; 1957 - H; 1958 - J; and so on through to 1974 - Z; ................we also believed that Q was then used in this series for 1965.However, we have been made aware, by a contributor, of two contemporary rifles, a BSA Mk.