British Lend Lease
& .455 Caliber M1911s


British Lend-Lease/Proofs:
Pistols that received British proofs prior to being disposed of in the 1950s, should have matching proofs on the slide, receiver (frame), and barrel. Britain has two Proof Houses: London and Birmingham. Britain has used two commonly found sets of proof marks. One is from the Proof act of 1925-1955 the other is the Proof act of 1955. The 1955 proof act removed the requirement to mark the pistol “Not English Make

London House: Stamp has a crown over a "CP" on barrel and a crown over a "V" on barrel, slide, and receiver (frame).
Birmingham House: Crown over "BP" on barrel and a crown over "BV" on barrel, slide, and receiver.

You will also find a variation of the Nitro Proof mark. A arm holding a scepter over a circle with NP in it.  This mark is from the London house. The Birmingham house has a crown over the BNP mark.

Colt .455 barrels barrels have a E for English or W for Webley stamp forward of the lugs on the barrel for identification.


Here is an example of a 1922-55 proofed 1911A1 from the London house.

Notes on the British .455 British RAF Contract Guns: Serial Number Range W91,100 to W110,700, production period Jan 1918 to April 1919.

The magazines will also be marked Cal .455 or some close variation as well as serial numbered by the British armorers.

It is believed many of these guns where sold to the RAF but they never received the RAF marking until about serial #W99800. These WWI pistols are said to have remained in service with the English for Air/Sea Rescue units in WWII.

The 455s were a corner stone of the English arsenal.   After the war some were converted to 45 ACP. When this conversion was done officially an "x" was usually placed on the last 5 in 455.

These Guns should have the British Military Broad Arrow marking, cross pennants, and have the Enfield Armory inspection marks as well (a crown over a number over a "E", the E has been observed in several positions including turned facing down (Kind of like a "M").

Reference Charles Clawsons “Colt .45 Service pistols”.

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