AN INTERVIEW WITH THE UK PROOF MASTER

(Originally posted on Facebook July 2017)

As a firearm journalist I’m always on call when someone of note in the industry is in my area, and it was an absolute pleasure to get the chance to meet and interview Richard Mabbitt, Proof Master of the worshipful company of gunmakers based in London.

And here as a Firearms-UK exclusive is a quick interview with the man himself.

Mike**

“Firstly Richard it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you and on behalf of Firearms-UK welcome to Northern Ireland.”

Richard**

“Thank you it’s great to be here.”

Mike**

“So First things first, what exactly, in layman’s terms for those who don’t know is proofing?”

Richard**

“Proofing really is just testing a firearm for safety, we are only concerned with the safety of the user. We aren’t worried about the accuracy of the firearm or the aesthetics, we are concerned purely with whether the rifle, firearm etc is safe in the users hands.”

Mike**

“So basically once a firearm passes stringent tests you put a stamp of approval on it?”

Richard**

“Absolutely, effectively it is like an MOT for a vehicle only its concerning the safety for the user of a gun.”

Mike**

“That’s a great way of putting it.”

Richard**

“Yes. Normally it’s a one time test unless of course any work has been carried out on the firearm afterwards and all we are saying is if the firearm has conformed to safety standards, in place at the time of testing.”

Mike**

“So would you say you “over test” the firearms in order to find weakness from pressures etc?”

Richard**

“Definitely, we do a minimum of 25% of over pressure which is enough to show up any weaknesses but not enough to cause damage to the firearm itself. So it is a very fine balance. It’s a system that has been going since 1637 when the company was formed and we still use it today, obviously we have many more technological advancements than in those days so we can be a lot more accurate with the pressures we are producing. As we form part of the British proof authority laboratory (which is 1785 accredited) so we can be incredibly exact with the pressures we are putting through the firearm.”

Mike**

“As someone on the front lines of the industry is there any legislation you would like to see introduced rather than revoked?”

Richard**

“Well……we are currently looking at the gun barrel proof act, but you must bear in mind the proof act and the firearms act are two completely different pieces of legislation , we are not concerned with the licensing aspects, only whether a firearm is actually safe to use. We are currently working with the gun barrel proof act of 1868 and there are areas that are not covered such as sound moderators/suppressors so we do need to bring in some changes to bring it up to date with the 21st century. However the basic principles are exactly the same today as they were then.”

Mike**

“So, as a gun enthusiast I’ve got to know, how did you get into this line of work?”

Richard**

“Long story, I managed a gun makers for about a decade or so but I was in a few different occupations before then. I moved to the proofing house with a view to working my way up. After two years I was offered my current position of proof master (which honestly came as a surprise) and I’ve been proof master for the last 8 years.”

Mike**

“So a case of one thing lead to another with a good outcome?”

Richard**

“Well I must have done something right (laughs)”

Mike**

“Aye a bit like myself with the writing.”

Richard**

“Exactly, although my role now is overseeing the whole proof process, so all staffing, the building, security, dealing with the home office, police, military etc. I do still love to get my hands dirty on the more technical/specialist kit.

Mike**

“So I don’t want to sound too presumptuous but I assume you’ve seen every kind of firearm you can imagine, so what is the most unusual thing you’ve seen in the industry?”

Richard**

“…………probably some of the pen guns.”

Mike**

“Pen guns? Like the little ones that fire 22LR?”

Richard**

“Yes exactly, we’ve also seen some fairly unusual prototype guns as well. The bulk of what we do is standard shotguns, rifles you know run of the mill stuff.

Mike**

“Have you came across any punt guns?”

Richard**

“Believe it or not we get a few of those a year.”

Mike**

“Get away.”

Richard**

“No honestly we do, especially up in East Anglia. We build the load to suit the gun and test them but using exactly the same principles.”

Mike**

“I’m genuinely surprised. Listen Richard it’s been great to talk to you and thanks again for letting me interview you.

Richard**

“My pleasure and all the best.”

-Mike Lindsay

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