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Is it possible to determine what military person was issued which firearm?

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by Uncle Richard, Oct 10, 2013.

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  1. Uncle Richard

    Uncle Richard Member

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    There is a colt 1911 dated for 1942 with the initials on the inside of the wood grips. According to the serial number, it was issued for military use but I don't know what branch.

    Is there a website, book, etc that references what personnel was issued which firearm?

    I would like to research the history of this classic 1911.
     
  2. Rob1109

    Rob1109 Member

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    In 1960 the Army kept tract of who received what weapon, but that info was localized. I.e. only kept at the company level.

    Best.
     
  3. fordfan485

    fordfan485 Member

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    From my experiance as an acting unit armorer in the Army Reserve I can say that the answer is a no. Records are kept at the unit level for what is currently assigned to who but once that list gets updated(e.g. soldier leaves the unit/or is new to unit) the old one usually gets shredded. Most of the time it was more unorganized than that since we usually only would draw weapons a few times a year it was just a simple who was given what for the day on a sign in/out type of form.
     
  4. MasterSergeantA

    MasterSergeantA Member

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    You may be able to trace the pistol to the branch and, possibly, the unit to which it was issued. Beyond that, it is very unlikely that you will have any success. Also, be aware that it may not actually be a "Colt"...at least not completely. Slides and frames were very casually interchanged during the war years (and even later) to keep the guns working. You can trace the serial number to a specific manufacturer and if the slide is marked Colt and the serial number indicates them as the manufacturer, you can at least conclude it is all "Colt".

    You might try your question over at the 1911 Forum
    http://forums.1911forum.com/index.php

    If you give them enough information on the marks/numbers/etc. on the gun, someone may be able to give you some information.
     
  5. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Paper records, unlikely to have been kept more than a couple years before destruction.

    And IF they exist, I can think of no way to recover them from some file somewhere in the world.

    Real example. I have a medical record from 2007 for ME that I'm having a very hard time recovering from the hospital. So, in 2007, just 6 years ago, for MY OWN MEDICAL RECORD, it may not exist anymore. I know, I know. I shake my head in furious, frustration, and anger... but it is what it is.

    So, odds of you getting a record that either was destroyed decades ago, or was sent to some warehouse somewhere, is about zero.
     
  6. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    I purchased a 1911 Colt pistol several years ago, and all I could find out was that it was sent to the San Antonio arsenal in 1913, then the trail disappears. However I acquired the gun from a man living in San Antonio and he said it had been in the family a long time, so it's possible it was issued to an officer who lived in San Antonio and he was allowed to purchase his pistol following WW I. But that's just a guess on my part. I couldn't find any kind of records anywhere.

    When I was in the Air Force, all weapons issues were made on hand receipt documents and were destroyed when the weapon was returned to our arms vault. All we cared about was where the weapon was at any time the inspectors dropped in. That's why they are called ACCOUNTABLE PROPERTY.
     
  7. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    When I lived in Connecticut I knew a man who owned a original Colt 1860 .44 caliber cap+ball revolver. He had the original papers showing the name of the soldier to whom the gun had been issued to in the Civil War. I thought that was pretty nifty!
    But I would not try to outguess what others have said about more modern guns. I never served and have no idea how weapons are accounted.
     
  8. PBR Streetgang

    PBR Streetgang Member

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    I know my dad was issued a M-1 in WW2 and he could recite the serial number up to the day he died.
     
  9. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    No, there isn't, nor would it be particularly reliable during wartime.
     
  10. bainter1212

    bainter1212 Member

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    Records have been spotty through the years....

    For instance, there was a huge warehouse in Missouri that burned down sometime in the 50's. This warehouse contained the bulk of the US service records for Korean War servicemen. So for guys like my grandfather, the only records of his service medals awarded to him are on his DD 214.
     
  11. Uncle Richard

    Uncle Richard Member

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    thanks

    Thanks guys, I appreciate the help. Th

    Can confirm that the serial numbers on the receiver and slide date for the same year and manufactured by Colt.
     
  12. marv

    marv Member

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    The possibility exists that those initials were put there after that gun became a civilian.
     
  13. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Uncle Richard:

    If you will send me a personal message (PM) with the pistol's serial number I may be able to tell you where Colt shipped it to, on what day, and how many were in the shipment. This might help a little, expecially if it was shipped to Springfield Armory that has many of its own records.

    They may be able to tell where it went from there, but after that the trail is likely to go cold.
     
  14. Uncle Richard

    Uncle Richard Member

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    pm sent
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Depots never even kept records beyond the major unit (division) level, and those records were discarded when outdated. Below that, unit commanders were responsible for inventory and ultimately responsible for the weapon (and every other piece of government property issued to the unit) unless they could show it was issued to someone below them.

    In other words, a company commander signed for x number of pistols, rifles or whatever. He delegated the responsibility for serial number inventory to his unit armorer, and that armorer, using a weapon card, put that responsibility on the individual soldier. (If a weapon was not in the arms room, the soldier's weapons card better be!)

    Soldiers' records (201 file) only showed the weapons for which he was qualified, not the weapons he was issued or actually used in combat.

    The accountability did not apply in wartime, when every piece of equipment (and every soldier) was considered expendable.

    In brief, unless a vet remembered the serial number of his rifle, there is no way to track a weapon to a soldier or to know what weapon(s) a soldier was issued.

    Jim
     
  16. Uncle Richard

    Uncle Richard Member

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    thanks again guys.
     
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