It is intended that this synopsis of Enfield production markings will help answer some common questions, with regards to identifying British government arms.
Enfield Pattern 1853 rifles made under contract or made by the British government can be classified as follows:
- Enfield Factory - marked ENFIELD on the locks. Examiners' marks are a crown over E over a number.
- London Contractors - marked TOWER on the locks. Examiners' marks are a crown over a number with no letter.
- Birmingham Contractors - marked TOWER on the locks. Examiners' marks are a crown over B and a number.
- London Armoury Company - marked LACo on the locks. Examiners' marks are a crown over Z and a number.
- Windsor production from Vermont USA are marked WINDSOR on the locks. Examiners' marks are a crown over A and a number.
- Liege (Belgium) production marked on the lock with the usual Crown VR and date but no place name. The date is in italic script and the VR is separated by a little star. Examiners marks are crown over L and a number.
- St. Etienne (France) production is marked the same as the Liege production but the VR is separated by a small cross instead of a star. Examiners' marks are crown over F and a number.
All must carry the small acceptance mark towards the front of the lock plate which is a crown descending into a broad arrow.
In addition to these, those rifles sent for refurbishment to the depot at Pimlico in South London will carry further marks of a crown over P and a number.
Unserviceable arms sold out of the service 'should' have a large S obliterating the barrel proof mark and opposed broad arrows (i.e. point to point) stamped on the barrel and sometimes on the stock.
None of these remarks apply to commercial Enfields made for export or for the Volunteers or target shooters. However, some commercial Enfields can be found with the examiners' marks on some of the component parts. This does not make government models. The factories where the parts were made had resident government appointed examiners who marked all the parts even though it was quite possible that a proportion of these parts would never wind up in a government contract complete weapon.
A government rifle will NOT carry the commercial marks of the London or Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof Houses with their usual marks and double 25 bore size marks. However these can sometimes be found IN ADDITION to the defaced original government proofs showing that the rifle has been correctly (and as required by law) submitted for proof prior to civilian sale.
To be a government rifle ALL the appropriate marks must be present.