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Old May 9, 2012, 11:08 PM   #1
BarryLee
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Mismatched Serial Numbers

Spoke with a guy today who bought a used handgun from a LGS. After he had it a day or two noticed that the serial number on the slide and frame do not match. He went back to the shop and the guy at first seemed concerned, but when he could not find the other matching pieces in his inventory basically said it was no big deal.

So, is it a potential legal issue to have mismatched serial numbers? Technically which is the serial number of his gun frame or slide?
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:16 PM   #2
Fishing_Cabin
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The frame...

I have a pistol, an old Walther PP with several numbers...Barrel slide frame, etc, the only one that matters is the frame.

Last edited by Fishing_Cabin; May 9, 2012 at 11:30 PM.
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Old May 9, 2012, 11:56 PM   #3
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legal serial number is on the frame. Any and all other numbers on other parts are just "part numbers" or "assembly" numbers.

Many guns, foreign military ones mostly, had part of the serial number (usually the last 2 or 3 digits) stamped on them. A "mismatched" gun (like a Luger, for example) means that since all the part numbers don't match the serial number (on the frame) this means that at some time the gun was taken apart, are reassembled with parts from a different gun. While common in military guys, it is less desirable to collectors, and so, bring less money than one that is still "completely" origninal.

Its nothing to worry about, from a legal standpoint, BUT if the gun was sold as "new", mis-matched numbers could mean someone mis-represented something.

Or it just could mean someone doesn't understand some factories number parts differently than they do frames.
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Old May 10, 2012, 02:03 AM   #4
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Depends what the gun is.

It's very common for military surplus firearms to have mismatched numbers. In fact, matching serial numbers can even bring a premium.

It's also possible that markings are part numbers instead of serial numbers.
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Old May 10, 2012, 03:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
legal serial number is on the frame.
That is not a hard fast rule: For example, the "legal" serial number on a Ruger Standard .22 pistol is on the upper receiver, not the frame. Likewise, while the serial number of a typical AR15 is on the lower ("frame"), the "legal" s/n is on the upper receiver on a FAL.

I would like to know what kind of weapon the OP is talking about; Is it possible that it is a 1911 frame which would have the "legal" serial, but has a GI replacement slide with a Federal Stock Number?
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:11 AM   #6
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That's interesting. Does the ATF have a catalog of gun models with different rules about their "official" serial numbers?
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Old May 10, 2012, 10:02 AM   #7
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What kind of gun is it?
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:07 PM   #8
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The gun in question is a H&K USP .40 Police trade-in. I have not seen this specific gun, but I own the same model and it does indeed have serial numbers on the frame, slide and barrel.

The gun shop told him they bought a large number of trade-ins and it most likely came in that way. I suppose it makes sense that an Armorer somewhere along the line mismatched the parts either accidently or maybe intentionally for some reason.
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:18 PM   #9
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Not sure on other models, but my Glock also has the slide, barrel, and receiver all serialized...

The one the BATF cares about is the one on the receiver (frame)...

If your friend's receipt has the frame number as the same one on the form 4473, then he is good to go...
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:19 PM   #10
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Police trade-ins are or should be refurbished and that means some non-matching numbers when necessary.
War surplus guns often have mixed numbers.
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
That's interesting. Does the ATF have a catalog of gun models with different rules about their "official" serial numbers?
I'm sure it's buried somewhere in their myriad of regs, but I suspect that BATF recognized the "legal" s/n as that applied by the manufacturer for company record keeping.

Another good example of unusual serial number placement would be on some old Remington single shot .22s; The s/n was placed on the underside of the barrel, not the receiver.

I think now BATF issued a whole series of "guidelines" for placement of serial numbers including font, size of characters, depth of characters, etc.
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Another good example of unusual serial number placement would be on some old Remington single shot .22s; The s/n was placed on the underside of the barrel, not the receiver.
That's because before 1968 there was no requirement that guns have a serial number at all...
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:56 AM   #13
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I have a Colt 1903 Hammerless which has an interesting serial number mismatch that no one can explain: the frame is serial number 388117 and the slide is serial number 389117.
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Old May 11, 2012, 12:44 PM   #14
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I have a Colt 1903 Hammerless which has an interesting serial number mismatch that no one can explain: the frame is serial number 388117 and the slide is serial number 389117.
I can think of two possible explanations.
#1 slide from one gun mated to the other, but with 1,000 guns in between, I can only see this being possible at the factory (and you decide the likelyhood of that actually happening)

#2 Slide mismarked at the factory (stamper used the wrong number and no one caught the mistake). TO me that seems most likely.

Third possibility, someone else, outside the factory stamped the frame number on the slide, and got one digit wrong (I think that's less likely than it happening at the factory, but....?)


Can't proove any of it, but it does explain what you have.
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Old May 11, 2012, 12:48 PM   #15
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I wonder if Colt would have records to narrow the possibilities down.
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Old August 12, 2013, 12:21 AM   #16
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I picked up a gun that had the frame replaced. Different serial, but it came from the same batch. The factory can confirm the status in such a case.
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Old August 12, 2013, 11:00 AM   #17
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I picked up a gun that had the frame replaced. Different serial, but it came from the same batch. The factory can confirm the status in such a case.
If the frame is replaced (the serial# part, frame, receiver, trigger group, what ever the official ser# part is) with a different serial #, then legally, it is a different gun.

So, if you send in a gun with a cracked frame, and you get back a gun with a different ser# , you got a replacement gun. (even if all the other parts are from your original gun, its legally a different gun, due to the serial#)

If you get it back with the original serial #, marked on a replacement frame (which factories can legally do), you got "your" gun back, repaired, not a replacement.
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