See how they prove inside the Birmingham Proof House…

On the face? Birmingham Proof House series, Matthew Brown Photography
On the face? Birmingham Proof House series, Matthew Brown Photography

If you spend any time looking at old English and European guns, “proof” is something you’ll hear about.

In Great Britain and throughout the continent, state-recognized “proof houses” test every new firearm built in, or imported into, that country. Basically, they do this by trying to blow the gun up. If it survives. this process “proves” the shotgun, pistol, or rifle is safe to shoot.

The UK has two proof house: The London Proof House, founded in 1637, and the Birmingham Proof House, founded in 1813. Both are still proofing guns today.

With this series of pics, photographer Matthew Brown takes viewers into the inner workings of the Birmingham house and give us a rare look at one goes on throughout the proofing process.

Take a rare look inside the Birmingham proof house…

The “proofing” of individual firearms is something we’ve never really done here the US. But in the UK, Europe, and in other parts of the world, proofing is a process required by law and carried out by independent “proof houses”.

This video takes an interesting look at William Powell, and it worhships the usual gods of the English gunmaking: handfitting, bespoke ordering, tradition, cost, etc. Interesting stuff, but we’ve seen it all before.

The cool part is at 4:16-5:00 and 5:42-6:00. That’s where you get a glimpse of how the Birmingham proof house goes about proofing shotguns. I’ve never seen this recorded on video before, and it’s definitely worth checking out. I love that shot of the smoke puffing out after the testing of the bbls…