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can i make serial # deeper on lower receiver?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by koxx.dta, May 12, 2013.

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  1. koxx.dta

    koxx.dta Member

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    i apologize if this is the wrong section...my question is can i make the serial number deeper or reengrave it elsewhere.i want to cerakote my upper and lower but my existing serial number from the manufacturer seems very shallow and i am afraind the cerakote will fill it in, make it not visable or at least very hard to read.

    thanks
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  2. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

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    i dont know the exact verbage of the law.....but i dont imagine anyone would give you a hard time for making your SN# EASIER to read......

    i would take it to an engraver though.....it would be far to risky to try to do it with a dremel.



    EDIT:

    found the exact verbage........not sure what constitutes "altered" ......whether they mean intentionally changing the numbers....or simply reengraving it deeper........


    i dont know how well it will work, but you may want to try filling the SN in with wax before you coat it.....then picking out the wax/paint after its dry revealing the SN
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  3. DoubleMag

    DoubleMag Member

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    My opinion my 2cents, I wouldn't do it myself. Might be construed as an attempt at altering. Have a licensed, regular business gunsmith do it or, seek their advice on who to do it.
     
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I wouldn't touch it.
     
  5. bigdaa

    bigdaa member

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    I would never advise anyone of doing so.
    The reason is that the law may simply decide against you for doing so for whatever reason suits them on the day your S/N is checked, if ever.

    You and I know your reason for doing so. Sometimes what the law thinks seems far from reasonable.
     
  6. average_shooter

    average_shooter Member

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    It may not look the best, but the easiest solution would probably be to just mask off a small block around / over the SN before you spray it. That avoids a lot of hassle, added expense and headache.
     
  7. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    I wouldn't worry about even doing it. It may become a little hard to read but I don't it will fill it in completely.
     
  8. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Member

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    Nothing wrong with engraving the serial number (the same serial number) again elsewhere on the receiver. Don't mess with the original number, however, even if that's just to make the numbers deeper. That could be construed as altering the serial number.
     
  9. Lupinus

    Lupinus Member

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    Properly applied Cerakote goes on pretty darn thin. I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  10. 47CubPilot

    47CubPilot Member

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    Just to play devil's advocate here...... If engraving the serial number deeper to make it easier to read could be considered as 'altering', wouldn't painting over it or cerakoting it and making it harder to read, also be altering?
     
  11. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    I would think if you did it to JUST the serial number but not if you paint the whole gun. It is basically meant to prevent people from changing or removing serial numbers.
     
  12. Mac's

    Mac's Member

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    We refinish firearms. Our finishing process starts with abrasive blasting the individual parts down to bare metal and then building the new finish up on that fresh base. Over the years, I've come across three different application types for serial numbers:
    1...Hard Stamping...This is the type that we're all most familiar with. It's usually pretty deep and just about indestructable.
    2...Stiple Stamping...It's lot's of little dots stamped into the metal in the shape of letters and numbers. It's also pretty durable.

    Both # 1 and # 2 hold up well to normal refinishing techniques. In my experience, they seem clearer after refinishing, most likely due to years of crud being removed from deep inside the stamping. Both types are "recoverable". Even if they're filed off, they can be "seen" by forensic experts with X-rays, acid baths, Magnufluxing, etc.

    Then there's the third kind! It's called "Laser Etching". Sounds high tech, right? It's JUNK! It's about as durable as an ink stamp. It can be rubbed off with a pencil eraser and is not recoverable in any way by any method. The reason that so many manufacturers and importers are starting to use it, is because it's cheap to apply. It's applied ON the metal instead of IN the metal.

    Years back...when I first ran into the Laser Etched serial number..I realized that it would be gone before the preparation work for refinishing was completed. I contacted BATF to ask for their "expert opinion". My plan was to take the frame down to the local BATF office, have them inspect the original number, have the identical number hard stamped right above it, take it back to BATF to have it verified and then refinish it normally. Several hours of phone time later, I gave up.

    Hard Stamping the identical number was not the problem. Making the OEM number go away was a huge problem. Here's a few things that I got from those hours of conversations with the so called experts:
    *...It's fine to stamp whatever numbers/letters you want to any place on the pistol. After all, it's your's.
    *...Altering, removing, defacing, etc. the OEM number is a crime and will be punished. That includes hard stamping the identical number directly into/onto the Laser Etched number.
    *...BATF has no records or any other way (at that time) to know which type of application system was used on which firearm or where it was applied except that it was on the frame or receiver. I think this applied mostly to importers.
    *...Rust, useage wear, holster wear, belly wear, age wear, laying-on-the-car seat-next-to-you wear or any other kind of wear on a firearm with a Laser Etched serial number is a federal crime and will be punished.

    During those conversations, I finally ended up with an "expert" at the BATF Tech Center. I explained to him that the serial number on this handgun was Laser Etched, on the left side of the frame, the owner was right handed and carried it concealed in a belly holster. The number was getting thin due to belly wear and surface rust caused by sweat. His response was: Then the owner is guilty of a Federal Crime and will be prosecuted. So, there you have it! Belly sweat is a crime!

    From that point on, I started carefully examining all ID numbers on the frames/receivers prior to starting any finish work. Anything that even looks like laser etching is masked off for the entire process. Honestly, I don't worry about our Tuff-Gun finish filling in any type of hard stamping even if it's shallow. As long as the numbers are clearly identifiable, it shouldn't be a problem. "Defacing" is removing the face...as in filing it off.

    The bottom line is: If you have a firearm with a laser etched serial number, do yourself a big favor and engrave or hard stamp the same number elsewhere on the frame. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.
    Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
    Mac's Shootin' Irons
    http://www.shootiniron.com
     
  13. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the informative post. :)
     
  14. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Member

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    Jimminy H. Christmas. Now *that* is spooky.

    Thanks for posting, good info.
     
  15. koxx.dta

    koxx.dta Member

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    Thanks...based on what ive read I believe it is laser etched. I can barely feel it, if at all. I took a pic of the first couple numbers but dont know how to post from my phone. So the best bet is to engrave the same numbers on the other side of the magwell? If I put the numbers somewhere else and the original sn is covered by cerakote would that be altering? I may call the company I got the lower from to see what they suggest. Thanks for all the help
     
  16. Mac's

    Mac's Member

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    Question # 1....If you have a laser etched serial number, the best bet is to stamp, engrave, etc. the same number elsewhere on the part for security resons. It's a lot harder to make a number stamped INTO the metal go way that it is to make a number "stamped" ONTO the metal go away.

    Question # 2....Read my response again. The original numbers MUST remain as they are and where they are. If they are laser etched, you only have a limited number of options. Either mask them or don't refinish it.

    Keep yer powder dry, Mac.
     
  17. rookorami

    rookorami Member

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    sidheshooter I am right there with you that is spooky.
     
  18. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Most modern firearms have the SN stamped or printed in multiple places on the firearm. My holster wears on the slide of my Walther to where you have to do some light play in order to see it. The number is also printed on the barrel and inside the lower under the grip.

    I have had only one firearm recoated and it was done at the factory. I did notice that when it came back the SN did seem deeper. Whether they actually redid the serial number or not, that is what I would recommend is having a professional do it. The ATF may just try to make a case of an "altered" serial number with an honest "mistake."
     
  19. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    This sounds like a very high risk undertaking.

    The applicable statute is 18 USC 922(k) which reads (emphasis added):

    For some insight into what "removed" or "obliterated" might mean in this context, let's see what some courts have said:

    • U.S. v. Horey, 36 F.3d 1106 (C.A.10 (Okl.), 1993):

    • U.S. v. Adams, 305 F.3d 30 (Fed. 1st Cir., 2002)(emphasis added):

    So if the serial number is made difficult to read, the statute has been violated. Whether that violation can be overcome by trying to restore the serial number or whether any attempt at restoration would be seen by a court as an alteration, I can't say. I haven't seen a case addressing the question.

    Getting tagged for a violation of 18 USC 922(k) can get you five years in federal prison and/or a fine (plus a bonus of a lifetime loss of gun rights). The downside is significant enough that I would not rely on a telephone call to ATF or any informal contact.

    If I were handling this sort of thing for a client, I would seek a formal, written advisory opinion. Such an opinion, if the request is properly framed and if ATF is willing to furnish the opinion, would be binding on the government. My bill for handling such a matter for a client would probably run from about $2,000 to $5,000. It wouldn't be cheap. (But it would be cheaper than five years in the federal slammer.)
     
  20. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Off hand I don't know exactly where to find the citation, and I don't have tine to look now, but when I was a SOT, the regs used to require a SN to be engraved not less than .003 deep into the receiver. I don't know how companies are getting by with laser etched identification. I don't think that BATFE would relax that requirement.

    To the OP: My copies of the BATF Form 1 contain the following statement regarding serial numbers: Do not Alter or Modify the Existing Serial Number. That's pretty clear to me.
     
  21. MagnumWill

    MagnumWill Member

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    2,000-5,000!?!?

    Cut the freakin' thing up with a torch and buy a new one! Hahah!
     
  22. koxx.dta

    koxx.dta Member

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    ive since orded a mega lower with deep numbers that i will cerakote this on staying how it is due to the laser etched numbers
    thanks again
     
  23. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    It looks like the OP has resolved things.
     
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