No Serial Number

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by lonewolfmp63, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. lonewolfmp63

    lonewolfmp63 New Member

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    I have a question of concern that I am hoping can be answered. I do not have that much knowledge on the law pertaining to the specifics on the missing serial number on a handgun. I do know that it is a Remington Rand Inc 1911 made in Syracuse, NY. I received the handgun as a gift from an older Combat Veteran, who has passed away, that served in the War and was issued this weapon. The weapon is in by no means mint condition, but it fires very well. The handle piece of the handgun is a shiny silver metal (chrome, nickel...not sure) and the rest seems to be standard issue. After a period of time, I took the handgun to a local gun shop and was told that he cannot help me because there was no serial number. He then tried to find one with a small grinder of some sort and chemical, but to no avail. Really all he did was made the appearance worse. "Thanks guy". I never found out if the serial number was either filed off, did it ever have one or what. Then he told me that the gun was more trouble than it is worth to have and suggested that I get rid of the handgun and purchase a handgun with a serial number. He did say that he could make the handgun legal by replacing the handgrip, but was going to cost me a min. of $450. I do not want to have an illegal handgun, but at the same time it is a very functional gun that I can use to protect my wife and child if the time ever came.

    My question is... 1. Is it legal or illegal to have a handgun without a serial number?

    2. If I was ever to use this weapon in self defense (someone breaking in my house, robbing me ect..), would I also be in trouble?

    Any information will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Shane
  2. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    lonewolf - first, welcome to the forum

    This is just my opinion but I think the guy is trying to rip you off with charging you $450 to "change the handgrip". That is kind of steep to put a new receiver on a 1911, in these parts you can buy a new Rock Island or one of the lower grade Springfield 1911s for that $450.

    I am not sure of this next statement but I will make it anyway - it is possible that the early Remington Rand 1911's did not have serial numbers. I know that some early rifles did not have them because they were not required at the time.
  3. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    All 1911's of that era had serial numbers. If it has any markings at all it's not a " Lunch box gun" and the serial number has been removed. It is illegal as h-e double LL. Sorry about that. However the parts are not illegal and collectors are always looking for the correct slide, barrel, and so on. but the grip frame with no serial number has to go.If I remember correctly. long arms were not required by law to have serial numbers prior to 1968, but handguns were required that nicety since 1935. regardless, all 1911's by Colt or any of the authorized wartime makers had serial numbers. To keep the gun as is , is really playing with fire.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  4. guns4life

    guns4life New Member

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    please do not part that gun out I would be interested in it could you take a picture of it and post it thanks
  5. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Are you trying to talk this guy into an illegal act??
    If it has no serial and from what he has stated, a gunsmith tried to raise one with a grinder and acid. Whether it ever had one is now a moot point as it will appear that the serial was removed or obliterated. In either case it is a Federal offense to buy or sell a firearm that had had the serial removed, altered or otherwise defaced.
  6. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    serial numbers were not required until 68 if i recall correctly. the frame is not a remington rand unless it has been altered. but it could have been a frame someone sneaked out, and made a lunch box guns as it's coined. i would expect any gunsmith could order frames without numbers... and then build custom pistols and number them accordingly. and before 68, no numbers were required.

    i would keep it and not worry about it. in a few years you'll need all the guns you can get
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    I don't know whether pistols were required to have numbers since '35. I do know that all guns made for the military, in the 20th century, had serials. And I do know that having a gun that has had the SN removed is illegal.

    So, if you have a Remington Rand receiver, someone has removed the SN. Like Ron said, illegal as aitch eee double hockey sticks.

    If it was me, I'd strip the receiver and then get in touch with ATF. Tell them what you have, and that you want to see if they can raise the numbers, so it can be re-serialed. If it works, your gun is legal again, and you can put it back together. If it doesn't work, they will confiscate the receiver, since it is "contraband". But you shouldn't get in any trouble for it. I wouldn't take them the whole gun, though, because if it is determined to be non-fixable, they'd keep the whole gun, and you'd be out everything. Detail strip it, and just take in the frame.
  8. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    i didnt know serials were required on handguns in 35.

    wouldnt it work to just weld the gun back up and stamp a number on it?
  9. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    You missed the point. All military frames had a serial number. If that serial number has been removed, the gun in contraband. (You can't just "remark" it.) If, by some chance the frame was "lunchboxed" before the serial was applied, there is currently no way to tell because the gunsmith "tried to raise the serial with a grinder and acid." This little operation will appear for all intents and purposes that the serial number has been ground off. I don't think the Feds will buy the "we were just looking for a serial number" bit. The gun is contraband. However, only the frame is considered to be the "gun", so, as suggested, strip all of the parts and lose the frame. (Cut it into at least 3 pieces (at least one cut through the rails), turn it in, deep six it, whatever. Just don't get caught with it.)
  10. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    I could be wrong about the 1935 and 1937 Federal Firearms Acts. Few months ago I was trying to wade through the written pages of the Act and I was surprised that handguns were required to have serial numbers. Come to think about it have anyone seen a hand gun made after 1935 that doesn't have a serial number? Also in addition to what Deadin posted. In the case of a missing serial number, it is presumed that the possessor is the one who removed the number and must prove other wise and that no criminal intent was meant. In other words , you are guilty until you can prove otherwise.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  11. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Don't take my word for it as I can't document where I read it, but I believe you can have a number stamped on it by a practicing gunsmith. A phone call to the BATFE could either confirm or deny this. However; there are things we don't know about this gun from the OP's posting. Is there a United States Property stamping on it? Or a cartouche of the inspector on the frame? If so, it's a military pistol and had a serial number at one time. Removing the serial number was a not uncommon practice by owners that feared the Government was going to come and pick up their pistol. These pistols were released for public sale around IIRC 1951 and you could buy one for $25. Also IIRC all records pertaining to serial numbers were destroyed in the 1960's. FWIW. Jon
  12. yellerdawg

    yellerdawg Former Guest

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    A very interesting post. I hear often of : lunch box" term and that there " was " maybe periods where serials were not needed..?

    I would thik that any would be eager to help concerning this...but I lean toward having such questions checked on by the Fed's themselves...:rolleyes:


    Sure seems complicated per these areas sometimes....but I do enjoy learning more and I have learned from some here...thanks..and Iwill be checking up some more..it is very interesting...

    I have heard that there are the Fed Laws and then there are the State laws...etc..I used to think that the Fed law ALWAYS trumped any State firearms law...but have seen where thats not always true...if what I saw was correct...etc.....

    I even read that ...per Fed and SOME State laws you can make a weapon...or ONE weapon or NOT for resale...etc..

    so in this guys case...if thats true...well...as an example....I could get a notorized affidavit ( witnessed ) by giving relative or witness thereof...as to original ownership and chain of possesion down...etc...

    or in case of making one...and I know people do make 1911's....

    well...go piddle in a machine shop for several hours and ask to rent time on any equipment...etc...and get "receipt "...from place that has such mill equipment...etc..voila...you made a receiver....if it is indeed a blank non ever stamped frame...

    but this is all grey and I still think the proper thing to do is ask proper authorities possibly...?

    Interesting subject......sure like to learn more.....main thing is to observe the law.....:D
  13. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    i know all military arms had serial numbers. but i was thinking that this isnt a military arm and thus, might not have had one when made. The frame i mean. i could put a remington rand slide on a kimber, but that doesnt make it a remington rand 1911.

    having given it some thought, if it were mine, i would do the following. strip the gun. until something is proven to be a way out, either turning the frame in, or modifying it and making it legal again.

    if you're friends with a gunsmith you might talk to him, perhaps he can go through the necessary process to have the frame serial numbered as if it were a new frame that he was building a pistol on. weld it back up and number it as normal it could have a unique serial number also. then it would be legal and the feds would have no idea when the frame was made unless it had ordinance marks or some other marks that would date it.

    the other option is to replace the frame.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  14. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    There were also unfinished frames sold for many years, that you could finish machine.
  15. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    it's always been a secret dream of mine to buy a mill and a lathe and all the tools needed and completely make a pistol. both a single action colt and a 1911. from scratch. of course i dont know enough about metal, and stress and temporing and all of that to do it. but i would love to learn the knowledge and be able to make myself 2 pistols that were as homemade as they could get and then have them engraved. or better yet learn to engrave and do it myself, but yea... i dream big i guess.
  16. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    It would certainly be nice if the OP would jump back in and accurately describe the pistol.
  17. guns4life

    guns4life New Member

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    I did not offer any money or any other kind of compensation I simply said I was interested in seeing it
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  18. lonewolfmp63

    lonewolfmp63 New Member

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    First, I want to thank yall for all the advice that you have given. Secondly, here are a couple of pictures of the 1911 in question. Although I know that the end result appears that it is not going to be in my favor... I still will not part with this weapon due solely to the history that it involves. As the pictures show, this weapon is not even close to being in mint or even good condition, but what weapon carried in combat is. Both times, Afghanistan and Iraq, I tried to take care of my weapons. I knew they were my life line, but they still got scratched up like it was nobody’s business. After writing the initial Thread, I started thinking about the gentleman that they simply nicknamed Colonel. I thought about how he carried this 1911 in combat, don’t know if it was actually used or not, but do know that he was a leader of men in the field. After the war, I guess he decided that he was going to keep his weapon and he did. This weapon like many of your weapons has much history linked to it. Because of this, I am going to keep the weapon as is and simply just go buy another one that can be carried legally.

    As you can see in one of the pictures, the gunsmith was really trying to find the serial number. He said that he is not sure one was there or whoever took the serial number off went really deep.

    I do want to thank yall again for all the replies. Shane

    Attached Files:

  19. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Well, that's a real mongrel. As you said, the slide is a WW2 Remington-Rand.
    However the frame and grips are from a M1911 (WW1 era) It has been denuded except for an inspectors mark at the left bottom of the trigger guard. This mark indicates to me that this was a military frame that should have a serial right where the "gunsmith" whizzed it with a grinder. It has also had the "Unitedf States Property" removed from the left side of the frame ahead of the slide release. In looking at my 1911, this marking is very lightly stamped and it wouldn't take much to polish it out. (However, it doesn't really matter when it comes to legality.)

    Good Luck convincing anyone that there never was a serial number.

    As for having it "restamped", I seem to recall that if a gunsmith needed to remove or obliterate a serial because of modifications to a gun, they could petition the ATF for permission to do so. They had to do this BEFORE removing the old one and then the same number was stamped elsewhere on the frame/receiver. Just making up a number and stamping it on the gun is a no-no.

    Added: AFAIK no one has made 1911 frames (kit form, 80%'ers or whatever) since around 1927 when the 1911A1 came out.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2009
  20. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Yes, all the important markings have been removed. The inspector's cartouche should be immediately above the magazine release button, the United States Property marking should be left side center below the slide. and serial number on the right side above the trigger. All gone. But I certainly would check with the BATFE and see what's legal and if you can get a number stamped on it. . Go to a pay phone.
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