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Old December 12, 2012, 11:17 AM   #1
Sea Buck
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USGI WWII barrel proofs

A question came up recently with several opinions. When were the barrels of USGI rifles proof stamped: flaming bomb and date? Due to war time production my guess is that a random selection was made,fitted to a reciever and proof fired.The rest were inspected and stamped.Later (next week,next month?)to be fitted to a reciever.So I might have a 9-43 barrel date but an earlier or later reciever serial number. Is this all wet?
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Old December 12, 2012, 12:02 PM   #2
PetahW
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AFAIK, the US Gov't didn't proof, nor proofmark, rifles or barrels - the Ordnance Bomb stamp/mark is an acceptance stamp.

Arsenal rebuilds used (then) new barrels (say, one made during "9-43") on whatever receiver they were rebuilding, stamping them with the particular arsenal's ID.

I would presume each one was checked/adjusted for correct headspace, function-tested & test fired prior to re-issuing - but IDK about any such "proof firing" or "proof loads" used.


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Old December 12, 2012, 12:37 PM   #3
Sea Buck
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Thanks for your reply. I and others thought this was a proof stamping. At what point in time was the acceptance stamp applied to the barrel. Did it apply to just the barrel or to the complete rifle?
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Old December 12, 2012, 12:58 PM   #4
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Classic proofing refers to the (mainly European) custom of firing the gun with special high pressure ammunition to confirm its quality. Depending on the country, there were multiple such firings, from white barrel to assembled gun.
The US acceptance marks mean that the inspector used gauges to verify the dimensions, but did not conduct an overpressure test.
Normally, acceptance stamps were issued on final assembly, and often also after repairs.
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Old December 13, 2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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The military did have proof loads in the system for small arms but I don't know when or where they were used.
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Old December 13, 2012, 07:34 PM   #6
PetahW
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IIRC, US Ordnance acceptance stamps were applied to complete weapons, and not parts - although the stamping was usually applied to only one part of the weapon.

FWIW, inspector's marks on wood stocks are referred to as "cartouche's".


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Old December 13, 2012, 08:59 PM   #7
James K
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Interesting comments, as the "P" on U.S. rifle stocks really does mean the rifle was proved with an overload, just the same as in any other proof test. The reason the proof mark was put on the stock was that U.S. actions were very hard (or case hardened) and a proof mark would not take well.

In addition, barrels were proved not once, but at least twice. The billet was drilled, short chambered, then installed in a test jig and a proof load fired. That was to weed out defective billets before time was wasted in finish boring, reaming, rifling, turning, and chambering. Then, after the barrel was finished, it was again proof fired in a test jig. As before, the idea was to weed out any bad barrels before time and money was wasted in installation of a barrel and also because if a bad barrel was installed and failed proof, it would normally take the receiver and stock along when it blew, with even greater waste.

The barrel proof marks varied; one was to put a dot in the middle of the ordnance "flaming bomb"; another was the simple letter "P".

Receivers were also proved with test barrels, again to weed out failures before time and money was wasted on them. The proof was usually a single punch mark, sometimes believed to be from a hardness test.

Like rifles, pistol barrels were also proof fired in a jig; the "P" on M1911/A1 barrels is a barrel proof, not a gun proof.

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Old December 14, 2012, 10:20 AM   #8
PetahW
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Interesting, Jim - I haven't come across that info before.

Can you quote a Gov't or other source ? .


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Old December 15, 2012, 09:23 PM   #9
James K
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I saw the testing of billets described but cannot now find the source. It made sense to me that it would be done for the reasons I mentioned.

Still, statements that the U.S. did not proof test military rifles are simply incorrect. Brophy, Hatcher, and Ferris all mention proof testing of the completed rifle, and Brophy describes the proof of barrels, receivers and bolts of the M1903 before assembly, stating that if those parts did not bear the necessary proof marks they would not be assembled into a complete rifle. Also, the barrels were proved separately, as barrels (Brophy), and that included barrels used as replacements, since the barrel shop had no way of knowing which barrels would be picked for new rifle assembly and which would be set aside for factory or field replacement.

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Old December 17, 2012, 10:00 AM   #10
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Jim, thanks for explaining that procedure. I always wondered about the lack of proofs on may US weapons.
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Old December 17, 2012, 11:15 AM   #11
Sea Buck
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Thanks Jim for your input.As I look at my 03A3 I see a punch mark in the Flamming Bomb. I'll have to dig out my Garands,and 1911 from the safe to check them out.No stock P on one Garand,I figured it to be a replacement.
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Old December 17, 2012, 11:39 PM   #12
James K
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I have checked a couple of my WWII M1 rifles, and they do have a P on the barrel just ahead of the chamber area, but too far down toward the bottom to be seen without removing the barrelled action from the stock.

Other marks were used, but P generally meant a barrel proof.

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