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Proof Testing and Proof Marking

Before leaving the manufacturer, M1903's and M1903A3's were proof tested for safety.  Proof testing was done by firing several cartridges loaded to produce a pressure substantially greater than that produced by the standard issue military cartridges that would be used in the rifle.  If the rifle survived this test of its strength the letter P enclosed in a circle was stamped on the stock just behind the triggerguard, and the rifle was ready for acceptance by the military.

The earliest proof marks used on Model 1903's were a script letter P which was later changed to a block letter P.

U.S. Model 1903's and 1903A3's will sometimes be found with two letter P's stamped behind the triggerguard.  The second letter P is believed to have been used when a rifle when through a complete rebuild.  Because of the extent of the work it was likely proofed a second time.  If a stock is stamped with two letter P's there is a good possibility that it will also have other marks indicating an arsenal rebuild.  (See the section on arsenal markings)