Firearm manufacturers encode a great deal of information into the individual serial numbers with which they stamp their product. Much like vehicle identification numbers, serial numbers on firearms reveal detailed information such as the make and model of the firearm, when and where it was manufactured and any customizations made to the firearm. This same serial number is used by law enforcement offices to register the firearm each time it transfers to another owner. Unfortunately for consumers who are curious about their firearm's history, these codes are unique to each manufacturer and cannot be deciphered without additional information.
Find the serial number on your firearm. Each manufacturer places the serial number in a different location. You may need to use a magnifying glass if the serial number is in a difficult-to-read location. Some are easier to find than others. Browning, for example, lists the serial number in the owner's manual sold with each firearm.
Visit the manufacturer's website and search for firearm dating charts. Most manufacturers now offer these charts to decode their unique serial numbers.
Contact your manufacturer by phone if you cannot locate a dating chart online. Customer service will be able to walk you through decoding your serial number to determine your firearm's manufacturing date.
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