S&W Model 66 with serial number removed!


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Quentin
September 14, 2005, 05:07 PM
A friend who is a widow has a S&W Model 66. I was looking at it and the serial number has been removed. No doubt about it - it is filed right off where my Model 19 clearly has a SN. Her late husband bought the gun and she has no knowledge where he bought it.

Anyway, a little Googling shows this is serious, especially transporting it across state lines. She does carry it in her car and has crossed state lines with it. I said this may not be a good idea but she doesn't want to be stuck buying a new gun plus there is sentimental value as he bought it for her. And the gun is in perfect condition otherwise.

She'll never use it in a crime but it's possible she would use it to defend herself. Wonder what can of worms that would open?

I guess there's no legal way to have it reserialized? Would appreciate any thoughts on this subject. Don't want to worry her to death but this could be a real problem. I feel real bad about this because I may have made it worse as before she didn't KNOWINGLY possess a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

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farscott
September 14, 2005, 05:17 PM
Yeah, this can be a bad situation since it is a felony to have a firearm with an obliterated serial number. A couple of thoughts:

1) Has the serial number been obliterated on both the yoke cut and on the butt? Most older K-frames were serialized in those two places. If one of the serial numbers is intact, the issue is not so serious.

2) If the serial numbers are really obliterated, it is best to contact BATFE, explain what happened, and ask if the serial number can be recovered or a new number issued. Usually the number can be recovered. It is my understanding that BATFE is pretty decent when they are contacted about this kind of thing.

Quentin
September 14, 2005, 05:37 PM
Thanks, farscott! The grips on my Model 19 obscure the SN on the butt but when I removed them the second stamping of the serial number was there as you said. I believe her grips cover this area, too - or I would have seen the SN. I'll go back and look at that gun. Hope the SN is there!

Ala Dan
September 14, 2005, 06:24 PM
Obliterated serial numbers may be recovered using a form of muric acid;
as used in most major crime labs. :uhoh: :D

Trebor
September 15, 2005, 02:45 AM
The serial number on the butt of a S&W revolver is the REAL serial number. The number on the yoke is an "assembly number" used to keep the parts together during production. That number can be removed or defaced with no problems.

The assembly number is usually different then the serial number. There are exceptions. I know that some S&W revolvers would also have the serial number stamped on the yoke IN ADDITION to the serial number stamped on the butt. This was so the serial number could be read when grips covered the butt. The serial number on the butt is still the REAL serial number though.

I've never seen a S&W without the serial number on the butt. They may be out there though.

Majic
September 15, 2005, 03:02 AM
If all the serial numbers have been removed then contact the BATFE and they will restamp a new serial number on it. The numbers they used to stamp on firearms started with "ATF".

Carbonator
September 15, 2005, 03:04 AM
Is anyone else thinking she should just destroy the gun?

Sounds like more potential problems than it's worth. It's not clear if her late husband bought it new or used. Either he filed the SS# off and had an illegal reason to, or he bought a stolen gun, which may or may not have been used to commit a crime. Why else would someone file off a serial #, or something they thought was a serial number? If a crime was involved it could become an issue if she ever had to use the gun to defend herself. Could she be slammed with a record for "carrying across state lines" or being in possession of a stolen firearm or anything else that could remove her right to carry in the future? Even if it was an "assembly number" it seems like the intent was to remove it thinking it was a serial number, so intent and motive and likely a crime... If she ever tries to sell the gun she could face charges of selling a stolen firearm etc...

Sounds shady to me...

CAS700850
September 15, 2005, 09:06 AM
I have prosecuted a few cases where handguns turned up with the serial number gouged or filed. Lab guys can do amazing things to recover the number. Once the number was recovered, the owner was tracked down (always keep a copy of your serial numbers for the theft reports, the best chance you have of getting your guns back.), BATFE was involved long enough to re-stamp the gun with the original serial number, and the gun was returned.

In this situation, she may need to contact local law enforcement for assistance, rather than going right to BATFE.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2005, 09:16 AM
Trebor:

In times past, S&W stamped the serial number on the butt of some models, and on the forestrap of others where the stocks covered the butt. They also sometimes stamped the number on the back of the cylinder, on the underside of the extractor star, the inside of the sideplate, and the bottom of the barrel.

Following World War Two they continued to stamp the serial number on the butt, and sometime a different (assembly) number on the frame under the barrel, and on the inside of the yoke.

A problem developed when target stocks became common on revolvers that weren't commonly used as target guns. The serial number couldn't be viewed when the stocks were assembled, and the assembly number was sometimes mistakenly used as the serial number.

To address this, S&W changed their past procedure, and discontinued stamping the serial number on the butt, and moved it to where the assembly number had previously been. Sometimes they stamped the serial number in both places.

The location of the serial number therefore is dependent on the time frame in which the revolver was manufactured.

Earlier model 19 revolvers did indeed have the serial number stamped on the butt, but later ones did not.

One of our members, who is an attorney, posted a thread on this forum concerning a case where one of his clients was charged with removing the serial number from a revolver, because the authorities weren't aware that the location had been moved. I believe that when the facts were revealed the charges were dropped.

elric
September 15, 2005, 10:55 AM
To address this, S&W changed their past procedure, and discontinued stamping the serial number on the butt, and moved it to where the assembly number had previously been. Sometimes they stamped the serial number in both places. The location of the serial number therefore is dependent on the time frame in which the revolver was manufactured.

Hmmm, well, in the case of my Model 66, which is from the early-mid 90s, its on the butt.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2005, 11:44 AM
Question: Is this a round-butt or square-butt frame?

Also, to further confuse the matter, S&W would produce and serial number frames before they were built into guns. Thus the serial number could pre-date the actual date of manufacture, although this was less common with popular models that turned over fairly quickly.

Sunray
September 15, 2005, 02:30 PM
What it is or where it came from doesn't matter. She should talk to the local constabulary to avoid any fuss.

Quentin
September 15, 2005, 03:19 PM
I just looked at the Model 66 again, removed the grips and the serial number is intact on the butt. (To answer Old Fuff's question, it is a square design, not rounded.) Thank you again, farscott, for first pointing out the SN should be there.

We talked about the issues and she wants to keep her gun. I said in that case it would be smart to get new grips that do not obscure the serial number and she is agreeable. In fact the grips are too big and she'd like something smaller.

It bothers me just why the SN inside the yoke was removed but I have not brought up this issue with her and won't. Whatever happened, she is innocent and I don't want to cast doubt on what he did or how he obtained the gun. She believes he bought the gun new but I can't imagine a new gun would come with the yoke SN buffed off and the butt SN covered unless he got large grips installed when he bought the gun.

Oh, well, she's a little old lady, 5' 1" and about 125 pounds and the SN will be prominent again. I think she'll be fine.

Still, it's a mystery and it's tempting to run that number to see if anything turns up. But I'm letting sleeping dogs lie!

Thanks to everyone for your help!

Quentin
September 15, 2005, 03:31 PM
Oh, in regard to my Model 19, I've had the wrong SN recorded in my files for many years because I used the one inside the yoke. Even with a jeweler's loupe I read a "6" as a "G", however it's clearly a "6" on the butt. The rough stamping on the yoke still looks like a "G" but really is a deformed "6". Otherwise both SNs are the same.

Thanks guys for helping me get that straightened out!

Old Fuff
September 15, 2005, 03:43 PM
Depending on when the gun was made, it is quite possible - if not probable - that the serial number was never stamped on the frame behind the yoke. If you look in that area the model number (19) is likely stamped. it may be just "19," or it may include a dash number (for example" 19-2). This would determine the approximate era it was made in, and therefore how it might have been serial numbered.

Clearly understand that over the years the model 19 was made (1955-1999) some guns were serial numbered on the butt, some under the yoke, and some in both places. Quite frankly, I don't think the lady's revolver was altered at all.

You might obtain more specific and authorative information by calling Mr. Roy Jinks, who is Smith & Wesson's in-house historian.

Why a question about square butt vs. round? Because the round butt version usually wan't supplied with stocks that covered the butt, and so was serial numbered there longer then the the square butt - where oversized stocks were usually a stock item.

Trebor
September 15, 2005, 04:39 PM
Old Fuff,

Thanks for the info. All the S&W revo's I've seen have had the serial number on the butt. These guns date from the 50's to the 80's. I know there's more than I've seen, so I appreciate the update.

Would you agree that when there IS a serial number on the butt, that it is regarded as THE serial number? (Even if that number is repeated on the yoke)

Btw, I agree that it's likely the number on the butt was never actually defaced. I bet it's an assembly number.

Old Fuff
September 15, 2005, 05:25 PM
Yes, I would agree that if it's original to the factory, the number on the bottom of the butt, or in a few cases on the frontstrap, is "the" serial number.

Smith & Wesson never put assembly numbers on the bottom of the butt. They do stamp various inspection marks on the side, under the stocks. The reason for an assembly number (not matching the serial number) on the yoke and frame is because at one time they fitted the yoke before the frame was serial numbered. They also serial numbered frames before they were made into guns, which is the reason that in some cases the serial number can only give one an approximate date of manufacture. However for a reasonable $30.00 fee (part of which goes to the U.S. International Shooting Team) Smith & Wesson's own historian, Roy Jinks, will research a particular gun and determine when it was shipped from the factory, and to whom.

On more then one occasion, charges have been brought against an individual for having a revolver where the serial number has been removed, when in truth it hasn't. In other instances S&W revolvers have been registered under an assembly number because someone found it stamped on the frame at the yoke cut. and the butt was covered by target stocks. Part of the confusion was (is) caused because Colt did stamp the serial number under the crane (yoke) starting during the early 20th century, and still do. Colt military revolvers, such as the models 1909 and 1917 have the factory serial number stamped under the crane, but a U.S. Army number stamped on the butt. Ruger (bless them) puts the serial number on the side of the frame, and a prefix denotes the particular model.

farscott
September 16, 2005, 07:38 AM
I agree with Old Fuff that it is unlikely that the serial number in the yoke was never obliterated. I believe it was never there in the first place. In fact, you may find the serial number etched on the inside of the top strap if you swing out the cylinder and look at the inner surface of the top strap. If the serial number is there, you will find it was laser etched.

unspellable
September 16, 2005, 08:28 AM
The confusion here about what is or isn't the serial number reminds me of the situation in regard to military issue Lugers. Most people do not realize that if there is a small letter under the four digit number at the front of the frame it is part of the serial number or that if absent, its absence should be recorded as part of the serial number. Even fewer realize that the chamber date is part of the serial number. So a typical number might be "1917 1234 a". people record only the second four digits. Its likely that a fair number of Lugers were produced with the same second four digits.

The regular commercial versions had more conventional serial numbers.

There is a hybred, the Commercial Model 1920 which were asembled from military parts in storage at DWM when WWI ended. These have military type serial numbers.

In the case of Lugers with a chamber marking of 1920, this is not the date the pistol was made but rather is the "permission date" of the terms under which Germany was allowed to produce pistols for use by the police and the like.

tgf600
September 16, 2005, 05:50 PM
I have no dog in this fight but, let me make a suggestion, If I owned this gun, I would take it to the local sheriff and explain the situation.
Call him FIRST and let him know that you have a gun in your possession that the Serial number has been removed and that you would like to meet with him and have the Serial number checked thru NCIC to see if it is a stolen weapon. Explain that your husband purchased this for you.
This gun could have been used in the commission of a felony etc.

This is only my suggestion as I am, lets say involved in law enforement.

This is a highly recommended suggestion.

Good luck.

tgf600
September 16, 2005, 09:17 PM
It's only "kosher" if it is not a stolen weapon or hasn't been used in a crime.

Just my 2 cents :)

Carbonator
September 18, 2005, 03:08 PM
Is there any reason to remove a serial number from a gun, besides a result of illegal activity?

Old Fuff
September 18, 2005, 04:59 PM
Sometimes a custom 'smith will shorten the butt of a revolver, and if the serial number is stamped there it will be removed. Subsequently the same number is usually re-stamped by the pistolsmith, usless it is otherwise located on the frame.

I would again point out that on the revolver mentioned in the original post, the number was not removed, but rather overlooked because it was covered by the stocks. The lesson should be: don't get worried until you examine the entire frame, and if in doubt call the maker and ask where the number should be. If it isn't there then get worried ...

Carbonator
September 18, 2005, 06:32 PM
much obliged Old Fuff

tgf600
September 18, 2005, 09:44 PM
I must point out what the inial post said.


"A friend who is a widow has a S&W Model 66. I was looking at it and the serial number has been removed. No doubt about it - it is filed right off where my Model 19 clearly has a SN. Her late husband bought the gun and she has no knowledge where he bought it".

This was not my assumption, the guy that posted it says "it is filed right off"

With that said, I will say no more but rather stick with my previous post.

Old Fuff
September 18, 2005, 09:58 PM
tgf600:

Please read posts #3, and #13 through #15 ... :uhoh:

tgf600
September 19, 2005, 09:42 PM
No 13 post,

"It bothers me just why the SN inside the yoke was removed but I have not brought up this issue with her and won't. Whatever happened, she is innocent and I don't want to cast doubt on what he did or how he obtained the gun".

Serial numbers are normally not removed just to have something to do.

There removed for a reason.

:banghead:

Old Fuff
September 19, 2005, 10:04 PM
tgf600:

The number inside the yoke wasn't removed - for a simple reason.

It was never there in the first place .. :eek:

At the time the revolver was made they didn't stamp the number under the yoke - that came later.

If there was a number under the yoke it was an assembly number, and matched a similar number stamped on the yoke. But neither of those numbers was the serial number.

Now all you have too do is learn to keep your numbers straight ... :scrutiny: :D

tgf600
December 1, 2005, 11:40 PM
tgf600:

The number inside the yoke wasn't removed - for a simple reason.

It was never there in the first place .. :eek:

At the time the revolver was made they didn't stamp the number under the yoke - that came later.

If there was a number under the yoke it was an assembly number, and matched a similar number stamped on the yoke. But neither of those numbers was the serial number.

Now all you have too do is learn to keep your numbers straight ... :scrutiny: :D


"It bothers me just why the SN inside the yoke was removed but I have not brought up this issue with her and won't. Whatever happened, she is innocent and I don't want to cast doubt on what he did or how he obtained the gun".


Do you have the serial number? Have you seen the gun?

If not you don't know if one was there or not. Im going on what the gentleman said in his post.

Now , If no number was ever there, Why would he say it was removed?

Im not saying you are wrong by saying it was never there.

It's just you nor I have seen this gun.

Thanks

carebear
December 2, 2005, 12:47 AM
From post #13 by the thread's author...

I just looked at the Model 66 again, removed the grips and the serial number is intact on the butt. (To answer Old Fuff's question, it is a square design, not rounded.) Thank you again, farscott, for first pointing out the SN should be there.

Way to stick to your guns after not first reading the entire thread.

:rolleyes:

I would add that it matters not if a serial number is visible. Oversize grips, electrical tape or pink polka dots don't matter. As long as the number has not been removed or altered you are kosher.

If there's ever a law enforcement issue, you may have to remove your grips, cut off the tape or scratch off the paint, but you aren't in any kind of violation.

mnrivrat
December 2, 2005, 02:03 AM
OK - My 2 cents worth :

I agree with TGF600

and the serial number has been removed. No doubt about it - it is filed right off where my Model 19 clearly has a SN.

If the information under the crane was in fact removed and shows file marks or signs of removal, it creats the possibility that someone at least attempted to remove what they thought was the S/N .
If that is so, there is a strong possibility that this firearm was involved in a theft or other crime. The S/N should be run to find out if the gun shows up as stolen or has a criminal history. If it clears - no problem . If not, it may help resolve a criminal act & keep the present owner out of possible trouble.

BullfrogKen
December 3, 2005, 12:12 AM
Ok. Let's all take a deep breath and stop insinuating foul play . . .

I bought a NIB Model 66 back in the late 90's. It has tooling marks right there at this same spot on the yoke. Right at the spot where the model # and second serial number are. If I didn't know better, I'd say someone tried to file it off, just like our author thought. But these are just the results of shoody workmanship and poor quality control, rather than malicious intent.

And, don't worry about the serial number not being visible because you've got oversized grips covering them up. You may most certainly slap on a piece of wood that covers them up without doing anything wrong.

As far as legitimate reasons why one might want to remove a serial #? Well, in addition to the reasons Old Fuff mentioned, it was quite common for a while to see Browning Hi-Powers with the serial # on the front strap. When the discriminating owner decides to have a pistolsmith checker, stipple, or serrate a frontstrap of one of these bottomfeeders, it destroys the serial number. The serial number gets restamped onto the frame, usually the right side near the slide stop hole. Its quite a common undertaking, really. . .

Thanks for keeping us all grounded Old Fuff. It would be a shame to see that widow destroy a family heirloom. Clearly it has sentimental value, being it belonged to her dearly departed.

Quentin
June 12, 2007, 06:26 PM
Hey sorry to dredge up an old thread but it was an important issue yet somehow I missed the last few replies. It's bothered me a long time that the serial number of a S&W Model 66 that belongs to a friend appeared to be filed off. Her deceased husband gave her the gun and I wondered if he bought a stolen gun.

Thank you to everyone who replied, especially to BullfrogKen who wrote:
I bought a NIB Model 66 back in the late 90's. It has tooling marks right there at this same spot on the yoke. Right at the spot where the model # and second serial number are. If I didn't know better, I'd say someone tried to file it off, just like our author thought. But these are just the results of shoody workmanship and poor quality control, rather than malicious intent.

It's good to know that even a NIB Model 66 can turn up like this. I believe this is the case with my friend's S&W too, before I feared the worst because it looked like the SN was purposely removed.

ryan b
June 13, 2007, 09:28 AM
Where I live it is illegal to possess a firearm that has any numbers filed, damaged or destroyed and it is a felony to possess a firearm in this manner. She needs to contact her local law enforcement agency and let them decide how tocorrect fix the problem. yes the ATF can assist but she needs to look at local law enforcement first. If she comes to my area the weapon would be confiscated!!! For a weapon to be leagal in this jurisdicition it would have to have documintation on the removed number. some county sales of firearms seized had thier serial numbers removed but they have a regesteration number stamped on them and the county name of where it was done. She needs to be careful to not get in trouble with it. as for her carring it does she have a carry permit if not she may be violating the law again

Old Fuff
June 13, 2007, 09:52 AM
Folks, before you jump to any conclusions, read the whole thread!

The problem here was not that a serial number had been filed off (it hadn't) but because the individual who started the thread didn't know where the serial number was. It happened that he didn't notice it because it was covered up by some oversized target-style stocks that covered the bottom of the frame. Thus we got a tempest in a teapot going. :uhoh:

The important thing to remember is before you jump, find out exactly where the serial number is located - and remember that over time some manufacturers have moved them around to different locations.

Smith & Wesson is one of those manufacturers.

Quentin
June 14, 2007, 02:39 PM
Sorry, Old Fuff is right, since this is an old thread I should have recapped in the last post that at first I thought the Model 66 had no serial number at all because the target grips covered the SN on the butt. My Model 19 also has target grips and I'd temporarily forgotten those grips concealed that SN so didn't remove hers until someone said to look there. Sure enough the SN was there.

My 19 had a second SN on the yoke but whatever was there on the 66 has been removed (hopefully by S&W). At the same place the Model # was untouched just a shoddy job of removing whatever was below it.

Thanks to all. And she does have smaller grips that she likes better that don't obscure the number now.

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