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? inside a circle armorer marking

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AussieShooter View Drop Down
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    Posted: March 11 2021 at 10:22pm
This is a 1915 Lithgow enfield.  Looks like it was refurbished three times, and the barrel is marked 1917, although i don't have a lot of photos, the receiver appears to have a XXXX markings consistent with FTR.  There is a marking I can't decipher - what looks like a "question mark" inside a circle between the 4 and 9.  I reviewed the Broad Arrow 2, and could not find any markings that are similar.  I reviewed from upside down, and from the side?   I included a photo of the FTR markings, the ?, and the 1917 marking.   Looking forward to any insights on these markings.  The stock, receiver, bolt, and nosecap have matching 28302 serial numbers.  It is quite complete given its 105 year history.  What do you guys think?
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Homer View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Homer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 11 2021 at 11:14pm
Interesting rifle. You looking to buy it?

I see the question mark stamp on the stock as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AussieShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 5:46am
yes. Thinking about it. Can’t inspect it physically so have to rely on photos. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lyman1903 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 6:30am
looks like a partial stamped 2 to me, 

compare the ? on the barrel to the other 2's,  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGonger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 7:19am
I like’s! ClapWink
I think I wouldn’t mind having it all to meself,nice looking for sure! Tongue👍
 That (? inside the circle) looking mark is a puzzle have 2 Lithgows marked with it,spent a many moons,time nearly 10yrs quest in the search’s,reading different Forum inputs etc etc looking for a validation reasoning on it......no joy there yet.
Cheer’s today.
Anyone seen the Tardis Box anywhere? 🤨
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 7:41am
This marking comes up every now & then on different forums.
No-one AFAIK has been able to positively identify its meaning.
Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AussieShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 1:01pm
Awesome news.  I have some great insight on this mark from a very authoritative source, Ian Skennerton, and will copy and paste his response verbatim, including some additional pictures he provided. While the mark is not referenced in the print copy of the Broad Arrow 2, it is available on the CD version.   I have the CD, but no CD player in my laptop, so guess what I am doing this weekend!! Anyone who is interested in the CD for future reference can purchased it at a very reasonable $10 plus P&H from Ian Skennerton's website.  Or I am more then happy to look up stuff, although I may not always respond quickly ad I am often not online.  We were close - it is a modified question mark as explained below.   Enjoy the read...

"We figure that the mark is a question without the dot, sometimes seen in a circle as well.

Most likely marked at the factory SAF Lithgow due to the depth of the stamp(s) and finish applied over it, the same as the serial no.

Originally a barrel mark to indicate a difference in rifling or throat features, most likely a relaxation in specifications.

It is not parallel bore, but could be about the throat or maybe depth of rifling.

It came in late in 1916 and we've not seen it on any barrel later than the end of the Great War, which is another reason why we consider it to be a wartime measure.

We have seen it on rifles assembled in 1917 up to the early 1920s and as I mentioned earlier, on some rifles it was stamped on the right side of the action body above or below the serial number.

Obviously where this mark was stamped on the barrel, it could not be seen under the handguard, so in some cases it was stamped on the action body near the serial number."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Homer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 1:13pm
It is on woodwork as well, noted myself where there is a flaw in the profile........Relaxation of tolerances.
But it’s still only a theory.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGonger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 2:04pm
Can add as a fact that both mark’s that I mentioned above on my two where pre 1920 (Receiver’s,Actions) dated.
Anyone seen the Tardis Box anywhere? 🤨
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AussieShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 2:19pm
I think I am tracking - the ? is stamped where the "relaxation of tolerances" actually occurs - on the woodwork as well as the barrel.  There is also additional markings under the ? on the wood work.  Looks like numerals.  Very interesting and great learning.

Sgonger rifles appear to follow the protocols as a wartime stamp through the 1920s - do your rifles have the mark on the woodwork as well?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SGonger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 2:25pm
Originally posted by AussieShooter AussieShooter wrote:

I think I am tracking - the ? is stamped where the "relaxation of tolerances" actually occurs - on the woodwork as well as the barrel.  There is also additional markings under the ? on the wood work.  Looks like numerals.  Very interesting and great learning.

Sgonger rifles appear to follow the protocols as a wartime stamp through the 1920s - do your rifles have the mark on the woodwork as well?

I didn’t notice it on the furniture on any of them.....but to note they where in sporter setup’s that I was purchasing from various sale site’s.....& then redecorating with furniture from different sources.
 


Anyone seen the Tardis Box anywhere? 🤨
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smerdon42 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 2:40pm
h on the barrel means heavy barrel maybe a target rifle 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Homer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 3:37pm
Its a very common mark on the metal work(action or barrel). I’ve only noted it on rifles dated 1916/17 serial numbered between 45000 and 70000. although Ian said it’s been noted on later rifles and your barrel serial is 77000. Far less common on wood.
On this rifle however, the mark is only present because it’s on the barrel that is a later replacement.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Homer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 3:41pm
I like the above rifle, although hard to determine much from the photos. Don’t worry about the mismatched barrel.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AussieShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 5:01pm
Thanks Homer, I am tending to agree.   I am trying to get the time line correct for a 1917 barrel: 1915 rifle, FTR in 1/1916 which is soon after initial manufacturing - does this make sense a rifle would be FTRd so quickly?  Also, too early for a 1917 barrel; FTR 5/21 - end of the Great War, so this makes sense, but do you think there would still be a 1917 barrel to be used?  According to the bible, Lithgow produces 24K rifles in 16/17 and 23K in 17/18, and 42K in 18/19, so I can't imagine a 1917 rifle barrel would be available in 1921.  I would love others thoughts on this?

I believe the dates on the stock represent FTR dates so i am interpreting this correctly.  I am getting additional photo's so hopefully it tells a more complete story.  Standby.
"Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges" - Tacitus
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Homer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 12 2021 at 5:30pm
Mate 1/16 is likely its first issue date from new, but try not to read into this too deeply. Impossible to know so just accept it’s a later replacement. Every rifle needs to be examined carefully but I’ve seen seemingly unmolested early rifles with mismatched barrels from other early rifles way too many times. And your rifles got multiple returned to stores dates. But be mindful not to use FTR too loosely, it may have only been subjected to repairs of varying levels at base ordinance workshops. I’m not even sure Factory Thorough Refurb was a thing in Australia prior to end of WW2. I’ve never seen any stamp or official source to indicate it was and those rifles that are either stamped FTR or RMA over date are refurbed to new standards and didn’t take place until late 40’s right through the 50’s. It could be it had a barrel change when upgraded for HV Mk7 ammo. Tony Griffiths covers this in some detail.
Also keep in mind, by the middle stages of the war, the British didn’t want rifles that weren’t sighted for Mk7 amongst the fighting troops at the front. Therefore no newly made rifles were sent from Australia to Europe from beginning of 1916. So the figures you quote are irrelevant in terms of what barrels might be available as spares for restoring battle fatigued rifles at the front. That’s something I’ve only learned in recent times.
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