Last updated: 9 January 2017

Board of Ordnance manufacturing system and markings

[photo of British Light Dragoon pistol]
British Light Dragoon Pistol
Storekeepers Date Mark: 1800

This is a quick reference mostly based on personal notes and observations of firearms produced during this period.

In 1715, the British Board of Ordnance instituted a standard system for manufacturing military firearms. Sealed Pattern Arms (i.e. identified by wax seals) were made up under their control for use by Contractors as outlined below.

Assembled Locks (plates, cocks, frizzens, pans, trigger machanisms, etc.), Barrels, Brass Furniture (trigger guards, side plates, butt caps, etc.) and other components were manufactured under contract (mostly by Birmingham fabricators) then inspected and stored in the Royal Armory at the Tower of London.

The Board of Ordnance initially contracted with London Gunmakers (after 1804 Birmingham gunmakers were included) to produce completed arms using the above components issued by the Tower Storekeeper.

Completed arms were marked with Board of Ordnance stampings and returned to the Tower Armory where the Storekeeper recorded and stored them for eventual issue to designated Army Units.

Examples of British Military Flintlock Firearms Markings 1715-1815

[British Military Flintlock marking] [British Military Flintlock marking]
Left: Contractor and date EDGE 1759 lock mark prior to 1764
Right: TOWER without date lock mark after 1764

[British Military Flintlock marking] [British Military Flintlock marking]
Left: Royal Cypher - lockplate between cock & pan
Right: Ordnance Broad Arrow mark underneath pan (right)

[British Military Flintlock marking] [British Military Flintlock marking]
Left: Barrel Proof marks (two crowned cross scepters)
Right:Barrel proof marks - crown/cross scepters)

[British Military Flintlock marking] [British Military Flintlock marking]
Left:Storekeeper's mark on right rear of stock
Right: Later Storekeeper's mark - broad arrow over BO


Link to the Historical Arms & Accoutrements Directory