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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm looking for information on how one might recover a defaced serial number on an old Govt. issued 1911 (not 1911a1.) While visiting friends out of state this past holiday, I was proudly shown a WW2 souvenir that a friend's father had brought home from his tour fighting the Japanese in the Philippines. The pistol is a beautiful 1911 with a black/red patina, worn but essentially undamaged grips, and just the most wonderful feel of history.

The first thing I noticed, however, was that someone, undoubtedly the soldier who brought it home, had taken a punch to the serial number on the right side of the frame above the trigger. The "US Government Property" stamp on the left side of the dust cover was undamaged.

My friend had never noticed the serial number: it was not an important issue when it was given to him well prior to the '68 GCA. Now he's very worried about what trouble he could find himself in because of this.

I told him that if nothing else, he could simply purchase a newly made frame and transfer all the other parts over. It would no longer be original but at least he could continue to legally own and shoot his dad's pistol. It would be better, however, if the serial number could be legally restored. This gun just emanates an aura of history.

Does anyone know what procedures or methods could restore this number? It was defaced by someone using a flat-sided punch with a rounded tip, making half-moon shaped impressions about 1/16" wide x 1/32" deep at the center of the impression. Might there be way to yet lift the original number? Is there a legal way to restamp it?

I didn't have time to examine the pistol more so I don't know if there might be other places on this pistol where the serial number might be found. If so, could it then be restamped on to the frame?

I didn't notice who the manufacturer was or any of the other markings and cannot check them out now. We live several hundred miles apart and only see each other on major holidays.
 

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I don't know much about WW2 or GI pistols but you can try looking under the grips for another serial #.
 

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I am sure there are ways to retrieve it but would probably ruin the gun. Maybe sanding carefully down past the new punch marks and using some acid kind of process?
My advice (maybe useless) would be to keep it in the house and enjoy it for what it is. Taking it anywhere to have it checked to see if the number can be retrieved, I am sure, would only create problems.
Too bad though, sounds like a really neat piece of American history.
 

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Unfortunately, having a firearm with a damaged-altered-obliterated serial number is a serious federal offense with federal prison time if you are caught. I personally would destroy the frame and put the parts on a Caspian or Essex frame. That way you could have a shooter and still stay out of jail. Good luck.
 

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hmmmmm:thinking:
 

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There actually are ways to retrieve it with acid and such,but I believe that 4real is right,it damages the frame.

Not to advocate anything here but personally, if it got by this long I'd keep it on the down-low. If he's really worried I'd see if it could be donated to a museum. Better than having the ATF destroy it.
 

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There actually are ways to retrieve it with acid and such,but I believe that 4real is right,it damages the frame.

Not to advocate anything here but personally, if it got by this long I'd keep it on the down-low. If he's really worried I'd see if it could be donated to a museum. Better than having the ATF destroy it.
Me too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I called a BATFE field office and spoke with an agent. He told me that since the gun was made prior to GCA '68 it didn't need a serial number so my buddy is probably alright. He also told me that the gun could be taken to a BATFE field office in the state of residence and a new ATF-issued number requested.

The problem with both of those suggestions is that I'm not sure I'd trust BATFE enough to follow that advice myself and I certainly don't trust them enough to tell a friend to do that. BATFE has a 40 year reputation for entrapment and giving bad advice then arresting people for following it.

It will be at least six months or longer before I'll have a chance to see that gun again. I've been told that there is probably a duplicate serial number under the grips. If so, then there's nothing to worry about as that will still count as an original number.
 

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I think they may have told you right about not needing a serial number. I bought an OLD Winchester 22 semi auto rifle from a local dealer and it had no serial number on it. Went through NICS just fine.
Admittedly I am not familiar with the GCA, but possibly the same laws apply for handguns.
What might bother me about the whole thing is that my 22 never had a serial number. If the pistol has one that is obviously obliterated, that could open a whole new can of worms.
I would just be real careful with it, enjoy it, look both ways before I shot it and call it good! :biggrin:
 
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