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Regulations relating to Gun Barrel Proof

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During the initial assembly of this page, It will have information from early documents that may have been subsequently revised or superseded.
This notice will be removed when the page is more complete.
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Proof may be defined as the compulsory testing of every new firearm before sale. The purpose of the testing is to ensure that the purchaser and/or user of any shot gun, sporting rifle, pistol or any other weapon which uses a propellant cartridge, can do so with the clear knowledge that his/her firearm is safe to use with the defined "normal" load.

The word "compulsory" is used and this compulsion (in the UK) is provided by an Act of Parliament... In 1637 the Gunmakers of the City of London, usually known as the "Gunmakers Company of London", was granted a Royal Charter to protect the public against unsafe weapons being made and sold, the Company secured Ordinances in 1690 which enabled it to enforce "Proof" among its members in the London area. The other main manufacturing region was the area was around Birmingham and in 1813, at it's own expense, the Birmingham Gun Trade introduced a Parliamentary Bill setting up a Proof House to be operated by the "Guardians of the Birmingham Proof House ". Therefore, since 1813 at least, it has been a punishable offence both to sell or offer for sale (including auction) any unproved weapon in the United Kingdom. It is also an offence to export such a weapon or to pawn one. Penalties for such offences are imposed on a per barrel basis. Forging or altering a proof mark is considered a greater offence and carries heavier penalties.

The Firearms Act of 1868 (Section 122(4)) makes it an offence to import any small arm into the United Kingdom, unless it carries foreign proof marks that are accepted under reciprocal agreement, unless their arrival is notified to the Proof Master at London and Birmingham within seven days and/or they are submitted for Proof within 28 days. This ruling apparently does not apply to anyone who imports an unproved arm for his/her own personal use. While it remains his/her personal property it can be used unproofed. Whilst it may be legal to use such a weapon it would be foolhardy to use this loophole to avoid proof. For you own peace of mind... submit the weapon for British proof.

other rules

Reciprocal arrangements have been made by various countries:-

The products of all other countries, including the United States of America, must be submitted for proof within 28 days of importation.

The marks of these foreign countries are only valid if the marks are the current version. Proof Marks on a foreign weapon should be compared with the illustrations in the "Notes on the Proof of Shot Guns and Other Small Arms" if you wish to be certain that a particular weapon is still "in proof".

Submission for Proof or Re-Proof... Anyone may send a weapon for proof at a Proof House, but this is not a good idea. Before the gun can be subjected to proof the action must be in good order and tight on the face and, if applicable, the head space must be correct because the proof process involves subjecting the gun to a greater pressure than that produced by the normal load. The barrels must be "struck up" with the bores smooth, pitting removed, bulges knocked down and dents raised. Undoubtedly the best procedure is to have a gunmaker carry out the preliminary work and then when he/she is convinced it is in adequate condition, for them to submit the weapon to the Proof House on behalf of the owner.

The Proof Master has the right to refuse any firearm for proof which cannot be viewed adequately to reveal defects or be safely loaded and fired with a Proof Load.

There are four classes of Small Arms Proof:-

First Class... Smooth bore breech loading guns of 4 bore or smaller.

Second Class... Rifled breech loading weapons discharging shot or bullet.

Third Class... Pistols with barrel length less than 14 inches, but otherwise as Second Class.

Fourth Class... All other firearms and all other devices that use black powder or other propellant, as well as any items declared to be "arms" by the Proof Master or by the person requesting proof.

 Originated... 18 December 2002, New Domain... 13 February 2003, Upgraded... 26 January 2007, Code Altered... 18 May 2008,
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