Gun Serial Number Lookup (All You Need To Know) (2023)

Want to do a Gun Serial Number Lookup?

How can you do a serial number search on a gun?

What’s important to know?

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you all about gun serial number lookup online!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Gun Serial Number Lookup Overview

Are you looking to buy a gun and want to know the gun’s history?

Unless you’re buying a new gun, it may be difficult sometimes to get the background information on a gun.

You may be able to get some background information on a gun by looking up its serial number on law enforcement sites, online databases managed by third parties, or by speaking to gun dealers.

Therefore, running a serial number serach is an essential step to making sure that you’re purchasing a legal firearm.

Although it’s illegal for gun dealers to sell stolen guns, lost ones, and those used in a crime, mistakes can happen.

(Video) PSA: Check Your Serial Numbers!

To make sure that you’re not going to get yourself in trouble, you’re better off doing a serial number search on the gun you’re looking to buy to make sure that you can legally own it.

Locate The Gun’s Serial Number

According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, manufacturers producing guns are required to identify every gun with a serial number.

The serial number is a crucial piece of information that identifies the gun.

Typically, the gun manufacturer will include the following information about the gun:

  • The gun’s serial number
  • The name of the manufacturer
  • The country of production
  • The model of the gun
  • Importer information
  • Gauge and caliber information

In essence, the manufacturer will stamp the gun’s serial number on the gun itself in areas where it will not wear off with regular wear and tear.

If you’re looking to get a gun, make sure you get the gun’s serial number and all of the above information about the gun.

Performing A Gun Serial Number Search

Let’s look at some ways you can run a search on the gun’s serial number.

Police Record Search

In some cases, you may be able to input the gun’s serial on your local law enforcement agency’s website to find further information on your gun.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to find some information on the gun.

Some law enforcement agencies do not offer any service to lookup a gun, but it’s worth trying.

When law enforcement finds a gun at a crime scene, they’ll typically try to trace the gun to find more information on it.

In this process, they’ll record the gun information in their database so they can identify this gun as one being found at a crime scene.

Every year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) helps law enforcement agencies trace thousands of guns.

As such, your local law enforcement office may help you locate some background information on your gun to the extent it’s in their registers.

Third-Party Gun Databases

Another place you can go to find background information on your gun is to do a search on third-party gun databases.

Third-party sites may offer you some information but you’ll need to be careful to ensure that the information is reliable and correct.

Some sites collect data on guns through reports filed by gun owners themselves.

You’ll typically need to enter the gun’s serial number and the database will return any relevant hits if any.

ATF Central Registry

If you’re looking to buy a machine gun, you should consider searching the machine gun’s serial number on the ATF Central Registry for machine guns.

According to the National Firearms Act, the ATF is required to maintain a machine gun database called the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

(Video) Gun Facts 101: Serial Numbers On Guns

In the registry, you’ll have a lot of useful information recorded on a particular machine gun, such as:

  • The gun’s serial number
  • The manufacturer
  • Gun importer identification
  • Gun model
  • Caliber and gauge
  • Gun registration date

The owner of a machine gun must have his or her identity and address registered in the database.

Vintage Gun Search

It may be difficult at times to find background information on guns with serial number.

What about vitage guns that were produced at times when manufacturers were not required to imprint a serial number on the gun?

The reality is that it may be challenging to find background information, but it’s possible.

One way is to identify the gun manufacturer and see if they are still in operation so you can contact them directly.

Another way is to reach out to a gun dealer who may have some information on the particular gun that you’re looking to buy.

Another alternative is to find a gun collector who may be knowledgeable in the type of gun you’re buying so he or she can point you in the right direction.

How To Do A Gun Serial Number Lookup

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to perform a gun serial number lookup to find as much information on your gun as possible.

Step 1: Locate Gun Serial Number

Locate the serial number on the gun.

Typically, the serial number of the gun should be imprinted on the gun onto the metal portions of the handle, receiver, slide, or trigger guard.

If you cannot find the gun, try looking at the gun documentation.

By accessing the gun owner’s manual, you’ll be able to find the serial number.

Step 2: Contact Gun Dealer

The next step is for you to contact a gun dealer in your area so they can help you do a gun serial number serach if you’re looking to buy a gun privately.

With a small fee, the gun dealer will provide you with the gun serial number lookup service.

Most gun dealers will have basic information about the gun that may be useful to you.

Step 3: Check Law Enforcement’s Website

Next, try looking up the gun on your local law enforcement’s website.

Some states maintain a database accessible to the public allowing them to lookup background information on the gun.

However, not all states will maintain such a database.

If you can’t find anything online, try calling your local law enforcement office to see if they can help you or if they have a database that you can search.

(Video) Is Requiring Serial Numbers on Firearms Unconstitutional?

Step 4: Contact Local Police Department

The next step is to contact your local police department for more information on the gun.

The police department or the sheriff’s office may have the ability to run a gun serial number search for you to see if there’s any information on the gun you’re looking to buy pre-owned.

They may find information on stolen guns or those found at a crime scene.

Step 5: Check Gun Verify Database

The next step is to check the Gun Verify database if you’re looking to buy a gun privately from a dealer or an individual.

The Gun Verify database is one where gun owners report information about a gun.

In other words, it’s a database where users provide information on the gun.

Although you’ll need to make sure that the information is reliable, you may be able to see what other gun users may have reported on the gun.

How Can You Find Out If a Gun Is Stolen?

There are different ways you can find out if the gun you’re getting was reported as stolen.

The first method is to search the FBI lost and stolen gun serial number database.

In this database, guns that are reported as lost or stolen are reported.

Federally licensed gun dealers are required by law to report missing firearms to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”).

When a gun is reported to ATF, the gun will then enter the gun database maintained by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.

Only law enforcement agencies are able to perform searches into this database.

Another way to see if the gun was stolen, you can consult third-party databases where users report information about guns.

When a user reports a lost or stolen gun on the third-party database, that information will become searchable to you.

A third effective way to verify if a gun was stolen is to have your local police department do a search in their database.

In some states, the police department will maintain a database where information about lost and stolen guns is maintained.

However, not all police departments offer such a service.

Gun Serial Number Lookup Takeaways

So there you have it folks!

When buying a gun in a private sale, you should do a gun serial number lookup to protect yourself.

(Video) DIY firearms - the importance of serial numbers

In some cases, you may be purchasing an illegal gun.

If you’re caught carrying a lost, stolen, or illegal gun, you may end up in unexpected legal trouble.

To avoid such a scenario, there are different ways you can get the history of the gun you’re buying.

In this article, I presented to you the most common methods for looking up a gun’s history.

Now that you know how to do a gun serial number search, good luck in your investigation!

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Can you look a gun up by serial number? ›

They can find background information by using the gun's serial number to conduct a search through law enforcement websites, third-party databases, or in some instances, speaking with a gun dealer or collector.

Can I run a serial number on a gun to see if it's stolen? ›

Having the local police check the federal database continues to be the most accurate way to look up gun history by serial number to ascertain whether or not a used firearm is lost or stolen. However, many police departments do not offer this service.

Is there a website to check serial numbers? ›

Have it Back incorporates nearly all freely available serial numbers. Utilizing this database, you can verify before or after purchasing an item if said object has been marked as missing or stolen.

How do experts recover a gun serial number? ›

Generally, scientists will polish the metal with a sand-paper type material to remove chips of metal from the surface. Next they will apply chemical reagents, typically acids, to etch the metal until the number is restored. The scientist will select the proper chemical based on the variety of metal surface.

Does the ATF know what guns I own? ›

ATF does not maintain a federal gun registry, therefore, records are not kept on the sales of firearms, private sales or information on individual purchasers,” an ATF spokesperson told ABC News.

How much does it cost to serialize a gun? ›

Fees Associated With Obtaining a Unique Serial Number

The fee for each subsequent unique serial number within the same transaction is $15. There is no limit to the number of unique serial numbers that an applicant may request within a single application and corresponding transaction.

Can a pistol be traced? ›

ATF's National Tracing Center is authorized to trace firearms by the Gun Control Act of 1968. ATF's National Tracing Center is only authorized to trace a firearm for a law enforcement agency involved in a bona fide criminal investigation.

Is HotGunz a real thing? ›

HotGunz was created by gun owners who felt that regular citizens should have access to stolen gun information. With law enforcement databases only available to law enforcement personnel, there was no simple way of knowing if a used firearm was in fact a stolen gun.

How many digits is a gun serial number? ›

There is no typical serial number. For example, a Browning serial number can range in length from eight to ten characters, a Glock number is only five characters long. Serial numbers can contain both numbers and letters. A serial number is stamped in metal so it doesn't wear easily.

How do I check a serial number? ›

The serial number is usually printed on the label on the side or back of the product, after the SN or S/N or Serial Number. Select a model type below for specific information on finding the printed Product Label.

What can you find out from a serial number? ›

Serial Numbers. A serial number (SN) is a number assigned to each individual product in order to distinguish that product from all others. The serial number is sometimes used only for warranty control and sometimes used for both warranty control and for version control.

How can I look serial? ›

Open the Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, then pressing X. Select Command Prompt (Admin) on the menu. Type wmic bios get serialnumber and then press Enter on your keyboard.

What are the three most commonly employed methods of serial number restoration? ›

Serial numbers were removed by grinding to a point just beyond obliteration. The handbook reports on the results of optimizing several restoration methods: chemical and electrolytic, ultrasonic cavitation etching, magnetic particle, and heat treatment.

What problems do investigators encounter when using serial numbers? ›

The problems facing the police investigators where the method is used are varied. The usual problems are the identification of guns, typewriters, calculating machines, any kind of tool or instrument which is identified by a serial number in stamped metal.

What can people do with a gun serial number? ›

The serial number includes information related to the date and location of the weapon's manufacturing. Additionally, if the weapon is stolen, it can help link the firearm to the original owner when the government places the serial number into a national database.

How many firearms can I own? ›

Applications in terms of sections 13 and 15 collectively may not exceed four firearms. The licence, which is issued in terms of this section, is valid for 10 years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Does the FBI know when you buy a gun? ›

The NICS conducts background checks on people who want to own a firearm or explosive, as required by law. When a person tries to buy a firearm, the seller, known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), contacts NICS electronically or by phone.

Can the ATF come to your house? ›

Whatever the reason, know that law enforcement takes these calls very seriously and it frequently leads to an agent on your front porch asking for your side of the story. What you need to know is that ATF interactions can be scary, especially when you don't know the nature of the investigation.

What is the new law on ghost guns? ›

To help reduce the number of unmarked and hard-to-trace “ghost guns,” the rule establishes requirements for federally licensed firearms dealers and gunsmiths to have a serial number added to 3D printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into inventory.

Do I need to serialize my ghost gun? ›

Under the regulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gun dealers are required to serialize “ready to build” ghost gun kits and to perform background checks on perspective buyers as they would for other guns.

Whats the charge of a gun with no serial number? ›

The mere possession of a gun with an altered or missing serial number is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Can you tell the age of a gun by the serial number? ›

some guns do have dates coded into the serial number, or the manufacturer may know what #'s were produced in what year. but there is no standard pattern for serial numbers on guns the way there is on vehicles.

What model is my gun? ›

Model numbers or names are often stamped or engraved on the barrel or slide, often along with the Make. In some cases, the Model will also be represented as a prefix or other portion of the pistol's serial number, or may be stamped on the frame in less obvious locations (e.g., under the grip panels).


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2. Judge Rules Possession of Firearms with No Serial Numbers Legal
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3. Remington Barrel Code and Serial Number, How to Find Out Manufacture Date
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5. Colt Mfg. LLC - Serial number look up.
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(KB32 Tactical)


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