How To Check Gun Serial Numbers

When it comes to buying or selling guns, one of the most important things to consider is the serial number. The serial number is a unique identifier that allows you to trace the history of a firearm. In this article, we will guide you on how to check gun serial numbers.

What is a Gun Serial Number?

A gun serial number is a unique combination of letters and numbers that serves as an identification code for a firearm. It is usually engraved or stamped on the gun’s frame or receiver. This number is essential in tracking the history of a firearm, such as the manufacturer, model, and year of production.

Why is it Important to Check Gun Serial Numbers?

Checking gun serial numbers is crucial to ensure that the firearm is legal and safe to own. It can help you identify stolen weapons, prevent illegal sales, and track the ownership of guns used in crimes. Moreover, some states require gun owners to register their firearms and keep records of their serial numbers.

How to Check Gun Serial Numbers?

The process of checking gun serial numbers may vary depending on the purpose and jurisdiction. However, here are some general steps that you can follow:

Step 1: Find the Serial Number

The first step is to locate the gun’s serial number. As mentioned earlier, it is usually engraved or stamped on the gun’s frame or receiver. However, some guns may have the serial number on other parts, such as the barrel or slide.

Step 2: Identify the Manufacturer

Once you have the serial number, you can use online databases or manufacturer records to identify the gun’s manufacturer. Most gun manufacturers have websites that allow you to search for the model and year of production using the serial number.

Step 3: Verify the Gun’s History

After identifying the manufacturer, you can check the gun’s history using various resources, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). These agencies can provide information about the gun’s ownership, registration, and theft status.


Q: Can I check gun serial numbers online?

A: Yes, there are several online databases that allow you to search for gun serial numbers. However, some of these databases may not be updated or accurate, so it’s best to verify the information with the manufacturer or law enforcement agencies.

Q: Are all guns required to have serial numbers?

A: No, not all guns are required to have serial numbers. However, federal law mandates the serial number requirement for all firearms manufactured or imported after 1968.

Q: Can I sell a gun without a serial number?

A: No, it is illegal to sell a gun without a serial number. Moreover, possessing or selling guns with removed or altered serial numbers is a federal offense.


Checking gun serial numbers is a crucial step in buying or selling firearms. It can help you ensure the legality and safety of the gun, as well as prevent illegal sales and ownership. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily check gun serial numbers and make informed decisions about firearms.