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Question about covering serial numbers with grips

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Pat Riot, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    A couple of days ago I was looking at my S&W model 36-2 and realized it doesn’t have a serial number on the frame above the model number. I am pretty sure it has the S/N on the butt of the gun but my Hogue Monogrip covers it up.

    Am I violating the law because of this?
    I seem to recall that covering the serial number is illegal. If so I need a different set of grips.
     
  2. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Most Smith have it under the crane when you open it

    And usually on the butt of the frame under the grip. All the x-frame grips cover that up though
     
  3. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Screenshot_20201115-124415_Gallery.jpg

    All of those cover the S/N except maybe the 686 and I don't really remember on it. Can't tell by the picture. All are Smith factory grips. Even the k frame 617 grip hides it.
     
  4. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Problem is there is no serial number under the yolk.
     
  5. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Some before that were under the ejector star. Is there one there? Some were on the barrel over the ejector too
     
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  6. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Interesting. I will check when I get home. Thanks.
     
  7. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Maybe someone will give a good answer about covering it though. I do not know. A Light covers the serial in a Glock (or FN 5.7 i think.) Maybe more. Of course the slide and barrel are stamped BUT they can be swapped and sold with no FFL so they aren't the "gun" only the frame is and you do cover that with a light. So idk. Never gave it a lot of thought.

    Sorry I didn't have a real answer though. Interesting to know though, maybe someone will chime in. I never thought it was illegal.
     
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  8. Rubone

    Rubone Member

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    You are not breaking the law. Only removing the serial number does that. Relax...
     
  9. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Federal law only says you cant remove or alter a serial number.
    Covering it with grips is not against any federal law.
    IANAL
     
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  10. UncleEd

    UncleEd Member

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    S&W's general practice for fixed sighted guns
    was to place the serial number on the butts,
    not under the yoke. A fixed sighted gun was
    generally sold with Magna stocks, not target.

    The practice of serial numbers on the flat
    underside of a barrel or the back of a
    cylinder was phased out in the 1950s.

    Nowadays, Smith places the serial number
    under the yoke and the butt because the
    company uses Uncle Mike-style/Hogue/Pachmayr
    stocks on the fixed sighted models.
     
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  11. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    As long as the SN is there and not removed or destroyed or altered you are fine.
     
  12. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    No, nothing there. It must just have the S/N on the butt.
     
  13. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

    PR
     
  14. Ohen Cepel
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    Ohen Cepel Contributing Member

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    You're good so long as you aren't grinding it off.
     
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  15. George P

    George P Member

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    That's on older guns. S&W will ALWAYS have the serial number on the butt; covered up by a grip is not illegal - changing the serial number IS illegal.
     
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  16. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Yeah. I know. I just know nothing about the model 36 or when the -2 was made. Don't know that I've seen a 36 TBH. Most of mine are magnums or rimfire
     
  17. Barbaroja

    Barbaroja Member

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    Don’t forget many older guns don’t have a serial numbers
     
  18. George P

    George P Member

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    S&W has ALWAYS had a serial number from the beginning
     
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  19. Barbaroja

    Barbaroja Member

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    I’m speaking generally
     
  20. George P

    George P Member

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    There were some brands that didn't use serial numbers until 1968, but the vast majority had them.
     
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  21. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    By law, the frame is the serially numbered part. The serial number must be on the frame. Any place else is merely for convenience.

    Bob Wright
     
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  22. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Prior to 1968, it was not a requirement for firearms to have a serial number. I have a couple of old Stevens shotguns that have no serial number on them. However, most firearms manufacturers, particularly manufacturers of quality firearms, such as Colt, Smith and Wesson, Remington, Marlin, and Winchester, to name a few, stamped serial numbers on their firearms from the beginning. After the Gun Control Act of 1968, all firearms manufactured in the United States, MUST have a serial number.

    Smith and Wesson is no exception. Smith and Wesson ALWAYS stamped a serial number on their firearms. Going back to the Volcanic magazine pistols, the SN may have been hidden inside. But after 1857, with the beginning of the modern Smith and Wesson company, all Smith and Wesson products have always had a serial number stamped on them that was visible without disassembling them.

    This is the oldest S&W in my collection, a No 1 Tip Up 1st Issue, 5th Type. It left the factory in 1859.

    pl8tyYTMj.jpg




    In this photo I have taken the liberty of blocking the last two digits of the serial number.

    pnzKsoTrj.jpg




    During the Top Break era, S&W stamped serial numbers in 4 separate locations. The bottom of the butt, the rear of the cylinder, the underside of the barrel latch, and the top strap extension on the barrel.

    This New Model Number Three does not belong to me, it used to belong to a fellow CAS shooter. I have blocked the last digit of this SN.

    pn6aX1L9j.jpg




    This NM#3 belongs to me. I have blocked the last couple of digits of the SN, but it can be seen on the rear of the cylinder, underside of the latch, and near the latch on the top strap of the barrel. The SN on the underside of the butt was the Serial Number of record. The other three allowed the buyer to determine that those parts left the factory with that gun.

    pnI7KqUwj.jpg




    When the Hand Ejectors came along in 1896, the SN on the bottom of the butt (or frame as Bob Wright states) was still the Serial Number of record. The SN was also stamped on the underside of the barrel, or in the hollow in the barrel underlug, the rear of the cylinder, and the underside of the ejector star. This is a 38 Military and Police, Model or 1899, which left the factory in 1899.

    pmuWrl9tj.jpg




    I have blocked the last digit on the butt, but here it is.

    pmjm0Z22j.jpg




    Rear of the cylinder.

    poQyeMT0j.jpg




    Flat on the underside of the barrel.

    poPo4ZHLj.jpg




    It is difficult to light the SN on the underside of the extractor star, but it is there, just like on any other of the pre-model number S&W revolvers.


    An interesting variation of the placement of the Serial Number happened with some of the I frame Smiths. At the top of this photo is a 38 Regulation Police, at the bottom is a 32 Regulation Police.

    pnTuTLDvj.jpg




    The grip was inletted for the frame in such a way that the bottom of the grip frame was obscured.

    pmFmDApAj.jpg




    So the grips would not have to be removed to see the SN, it was stamped on the front of the grip frame on these revolvers. This is the 32 Regulation Police.

    plkER690j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson obtained a patent for this style of grip. This is the 38 Regulation Police.

    pmYrCtWlj.jpg




    The 22/32 Bekeart models had the same arrangement.

    plCwWKADj.jpg




    pl5tkHI6j.jpg




    pmT4K9c4j.jpg

    All of the above Hand Ejectors continued to have the SN also appear on the underside of the barrel, the rear of the cylinder, and the underside of the ejector star.


    Everything changed in 1957 when Smith and Wesson changed over to the model numbering system. At this time, the only place the Serial Number was marked on the gun was the bottom of the butt. Model numbers were stamped on the frame under the yoke, but the only place the SN appeared was on the bottom of the butt.


    More recently, perhaps during the 1980s, Smith and Wesson also began marking the SN on the frame under the yoke in addition to the bottom of the butt. This Model 28 left the factory in 1965. I'm really not up on exactly when S&W started marking the frames like this as I do not have a lot of 'new' Smith and Wesson revolvers.

    pnIF028Uj.jpg




    Anyway, that should answer the question about Serial Numbers on Smith and Wesson revolvers. As previously noted, it is not a crime to cover a Serial Number with a grip. It is only a crime, a Federal Crime at that, to alter or deface a Serial Number.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  23. mokin

    mokin Member

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    Those are some mighty sweet pictures Driftwood. What was this thread about?
     
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  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Just clarifying where serial numbers have appeared on S&W revolvers over the years. There were some incorrect statements made.
     
  25. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Thank you very much Driftwood. Educational post, as always. :thumbup:
     
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