AFTE Presentations – Markings and Magazines

I had the privilege of presenting two classes at the 2014 annual conference of the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) this week. One was a class on proof marks and other identifying marks, and the other was on magazines and clips. I made a point to videotape both presentations, so I could make the available to anyone else who might be interested. These are not flashy or exciting (and they are each 2-3 hours long), but I would like to think that they mark good introductions to the two subjects. You can view them here, and also download the associated PowerPoint presentations:


Introduction to Proof Marks and Other Firearms Identification (1880-1945)

Powerpoint presentation


Introduction to Magazines and Clips – Design, History, and Function

Powerpoint presentation


  1. Congratulations on being invited to give those lectures Ian. I’m 22 minutes into the clips and magazines video and You did your usual excellent job researching and presenting the material. For people viewing the videos I think you could break them into shorter parts fairly easily. There is a pretty natural place for a break at the end of the en-bloc section for example.

  2. Ian–I’m not sure if it my barely competent computer skills, or my aging Apple computer, but when I download the Powerpoint slide presentation, it comes up as “damaged” and requiring “repair.” When I click on the “well, go ahead and repair it then” prompt, it loads a version of the Powerpoint missing some images, such as the Stery M95 straight-pull bolt-action rifle clip for example–among others–and also with several completely blank/white “slides.” Just FYI. Look forward to finishing your lecture after work!
    Cheers. Hope you enjoyed Seattle.

  3. Very interesting information, well presented.

    It’s fair to say the audience would be left with the impression that the author knows lots about guns!

  4. Excellent! Well done for making even the fairly dry topic of markings thoroughly engaging, Ian. Also, kudos for sticking to the point and not going off on too many tangents. You’re a natural teacher.

      • Trust me on this, Ian: You very well might not love to make a living from teaching… Just sayin. 6 years “in the trenches” let’s just say. A noble profession, certainly. And lots of folks are appreciative of learning something from your class, which is always gratifying.

  5. Ian:

    Just watched the markings video and was very impressed. You did an excellent job. By coincidence, I’ve been writing on the same subjects (except for proof marks) and I’m amazed at the parallels in our thinking.

    Many markings on older firearms, as you know, can be confused with serial number – and if those markings have been obliterated, law enforcement might allege that the serial number was illegally removed….. Email me if you want further info.

    By the way, it appears the Mark IV Webley with Israeli markings were a specific commercial contract, as the serial numbers are close. I’ve owned several of them.

    Thanks for posting!

  6. Could you please Identify The rifle that uses the broken stripper clip seen at the 30 -11 mark. Thanks in advance.

  7. Regarding British proof date marks. The london proof house started using date marks in the 1970’s. It is vety simply a LP over the last two numbers of the year eg LP/14 for this year.


  8. Regarding Belgian Proof Marks, and if I remember correctly, “ELG” with or without
    crown is not related with “Liege”. It stands for; “Eprouve Libertas Gentis” in Latin,
    somewhat in a meaning ” Unbound Proof for Honorable Manufacturers”.

  9. Correction; Alan Trigger from “Club Littleguns” states that, “E” for “Eprouve” and
    “LG” for “Liege”, therefore standing for “Liege Proofhouse”. This clears the situation
    since that person is a native Belgian researcher of old small arms.

    Sorry for the initial wrong comment.

  10. Great over-view video on clips and magazines. Most of it wasn’t new information to me but I enjoyed it a lot regardless!

  11. I was a bit surprised the Farquhar-Hill rifle magazine didn’t make it into the ‘some unusual magazines’ section.

  12. Great presentations, I made sure to watch both of them twice. When you started talking about the Pietta Remington 1858 New Army, I grabbed mine and got a big ol’ grin when the year code was the same as mine (CC).

  13. Has taken a while to comment, as it took a while to have the time to watch them start to stop. They were both very interesting.

    I was thinking about the Brownells Gun Kinks book (for store-label cross reference) when the guy in the class mentioned it. Looks like there were a few people in the audience who were into guns in their private time, and then others for whom it was strictly a 9-5 profession.

    Maybe it would be too esoteric to mention, but miss-matched serial numbers and other markings (esp. for M-1’s when the serial number and drawing number do not match, but could be for other arms as well; and presumably would apply if half a receiver was of one vintage as per marks and the other half was a different vintage) can point to de-mil’d re-weld jobs. For a collector it means not original, for a shooter it means the op rod might dismount if the weld job was not perfect, but for an investigator it could point out how the gun was imported (if it came in through commercial channels, or it came in as a de-mil).

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