Gone Outdoors

How to Use a Serial Number to Search for the Make, Model & History of a Gun

by Neal Litherland

In order to keep track of which firearms are sold where and to whom, gun manufacturers put serial number stamps on the gun's metal. Acting like an ID code, the gun's serial number should be recorded in all transactions that involve the firearm. Because it's used to keep track of where the gun went and who's owned it, the gun's serial number can be used to find out its history. All you have to do is run it through a database or give the information to a manufacturer.

Locate the gun's serial number. It will be stamped on a metal portion of the gun, such as the slide, barrel or trigger guard. Once you have the serial number, write it down so you can produce it easily.

Run the gun's serial number through a firearm database. There are numerous law enforcement databases such as the Florida Stolen Guns Search listed in the References below. Or, you can go to a stolen gun search tool online (see Reference 2 below.) This will only tell you if the gun is stolen, but that's an important thing to know.

Call your local police station and ask them to run a search on your firearm serial number. It's just as important for the police to know the history of a weapon as it is for the owner. Often this search will tell you if there is a record of the gun, who it's been registered to, what company made it and where it was made. The search also can identify the make and model of the weapon (if you haven't found that information through other searches).

Call the manufacturer of the gun. If all you have is the serial number the manufacturer can still look up the history of the gun and share it with you. The make and model is easy enough for the company to find. The company can also provide at least a partial history such as where the gun was made, where it was shipped and possibly who first purchased it.


  • If you suspect that the gun you're searching for was stolen or used illegally in any way, report it to the authorities as soon as possible.

About the Author

Neal Litherland is an author, blogger and occasional ghostwriter. His experience includes comics, role playing games and a variety of other projects as well. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and resides in Northwest Indiana.

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