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Thread: Can a ground off serial number be recovered?

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    Default Can a ground off serial number be recovered?

    Is there a non destructive method for recovering a ground off serial number from a receiver?

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    yup the forensic labs do it all the time..the impact or pressure from the stamping or rolling of the numbers distorts the metal deep ..x ray, acid,magnaflux,,ect

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr44 View Post
    yup the forensic labs do it all the time..the impact or pressure from the stamping or rolling of the numbers distorts the metal deep ..x ray, acid,magnaflux,,ect
    Yea, it has to be "filed off" really deeply to absolutely remove it.

    On the other hand, I dunno if I'd be ballsy enough to try to get a lab which typically belongs to a policing agency, to try to "reveal" a removed serial number.
    The questions will be MANY, and not particularly "friendly" I'd suspect.

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    I was thinking that on EX snippers with partial scope numbers present that by bringing out the old numbers a more accurate listing could be accomplished. Yea no dout if all the numbers were gone someone would call Elliot Ness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomfxr View Post
    I was thinking that on EX snippers with partial scope numbers present that by bringing out the old numbers a more accurate listing could be accomplished. Yea no dout if all the numbers were gone someone would call Elliot Ness.
    Once had a client who (nearly) got in trouble over an H&R Snake Charmer (or maybe it was IJ - whoever it was that made the Snake Charmer). Two problems for him - one was the cops measured the barrel wrong and decided it was less than 18". That was pretty easy to fix, just showed them the approved method of measurement (from ATF publication) and got them to remeasure and the problem went away. Cops don't always know much.

    Second problem was the serail number was scratched, or rather part of it was. That I sweated over. Defaced serial numbers, if done intentionally, are serious trouble, and that was the position the cops were taking. After getting the DA to send his investigator over to the evidence locker with me, he agreed that the scratches were clearly from the gun being banged around an besides, you could actually read what the whole number was, so the DA decided not to accept the case. But I sweated over that one a bit. So did the client, and he decided to abandon the gun to the cops - i susepct it wound up in one of the cars for use on things that needed killing but didn't rate a more serious gun.
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    Default Points to ponder

    To my knowledge, all of the existing procedures to retrieve obliterated nomenclature on firearms are considered essentially destructive. Yet physical destruction would normally be a moot point. In most jurisdictions, altered or obliterated firearm serial numbers or other related essential identifiers, effectively place the gun in the category of contraband. As such it would have been constructively destroyed by inability to legally possess it. Further, it would be administratively subject to forfeiture and actual destruction. (Exceptions exist involving affixing new serial numbers/identifiers - with the prior coordination and approval of cognizant authority.) The party in possession would likely be exposed to criminal prosecution and find themselves facing a potential lifetime prohibition against subsequent firearm possession.
    As I conclude these points, I can foresee that this subject might foster conjecture and 'what if' examples. There exists simply a plethora of law across the multiple jurisdictions of the U.S. Most local laws within the framework discussed are not preempted.
    Personally, I would not acquire any gun in which I had any doubts concerning its correct and legible serial number/essential identifiers unless it clearly never possessed such and was 'grandfathered' within relevant legal framework.
    Points to ponder & my take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomfxr View Post
    I was thinking that on EX snippers with partial scope numbers present that by bringing out the old numbers a more accurate listing could be accomplished. Yea no dout if all the numbers were gone someone would call Elliot Ness.
    Is this is an import. Does this gun have import marking and new serial number? If so the original # is meaningless. You can buy acid kits to raise old numbers, it's no big deal and does not take a police lab to do.

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    If one were talking about the weapons serial # I certainly agree!
    But I was writing about EX snippers with partial scope numbers not original or the importors numbers as keeping the history and originality of the piece should not be violated , At least thats my opion.
    The people at Magnaflux sell major kits and gallon size solutions for industrial applications. I was thinking oz size for a restoration project. If anyone has a product in mind or a source I would be gratefull

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    I agree with the sentiments of some of the other writers. Mere possession of a weapon with an obliterated or effaced serial number is likely a felony. And one that is a slam dunk to prosecute. Dispose of/destroy the weapon ASAP. It simply ain't worth the risk.
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    Anodize the area you want the numbers to come up with silver. Then drop some hydrochloric acid on it and the numbers will appear. However they will fade after a time.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin.

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    Thank you . Does the acid have to be neutralized to stop the reaction or will it stop on its own? Does it work on steel?
    Last edited by Phantomfxr; 04-01-2010 at 12:54 AM.

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    The acid treatment works quite well on steel - that is what it was developed for. As to aluminum - no experience there.

    The acid will eventually react fully, leaving badly etched area, if you don't wash it off or otherwise neutralize it. There is an art to doing this, and you are always left with an area of (at best) frosted metal where the acid was applied.

    If a gun has the serial number applied on more than one place, with one or more obliterated by some mishap (including over-enthusiastic polishing), you don't really have a problem, but it is better to NOT have to worry. If the obliteration is on an accessory (as a scope mount) then there is no legal problem at all. Any alteration affecting a serial number on a modern firearm that had one applied at the time of manufacture invariably leaves me - nervous.
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    I'm not sure I understand. Are you looking for the rifle serial number or the scope s.n.?

    Magnafluxing is non destructtive and can be done by most good machine shops. Don't have an idea about the cost--its been too long since I worked in a machine shop.
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    Scope Numbers on ex snippers only. Since there are so many ex snipers being re condtioned and all of the lists outthere An accurate list could be complied instead of rifle with scrubbed scope number ect>ect>

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    Shouls be no big deal, legally, to deal with AN ACCESSORY serial number, since, from my reading of this, the particular rifle in question, serial number XXXXX, also has a serial number of a scope that was once installed,, serial number ??XXX.

    I'd avoid the acid method, if possible, since it will be harmful to the finish, at the very least.

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    An auxiliary number to match the gun to the scope shouldn't be a problem as OS suggests. Taht isn't the serial number of the gun, it is like an assembly number or a rack number and isn't the GUN's S/N and that (the S/N assigned to the firearm) is the only thing of importance for regulatory purposes.

    I have a Steyr Hahn that was assembled by Century, the importer. The frame, slide and barrel came from three different guns. Century removed the original S/Ns from the slide and barrel and restampted them to match the frame (frame is Austrian, slide Romanian contract, barrel???). The only one of importance for regulatory purposes is the one on the frame since for US regulatory purposes the frame IS the firearm.

    And then there is my Browning T-bolt, built (and purchased) BEFORE S/Ns were required in the US. The receiver doesn't have one, but the gun is serialized. it is stamped on the bottom of the barrel, and IIRC (the gun isn't handy to check) concealed by the forearm.
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    Acid is acid. If you do not wash it off you will end up burning everything you dont want burned.
    The only real power comes out of a long rifle. - Joseph Stalin.

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    How do you anodize the scope # area on a 91/30?

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    Quote Originally Posted by iskra View Post
    To my knowledge, all of the existing procedures to retrieve obliterated nomenclature on firearms are considered essentially destructive. Yet physical destruction would normally be a moot point. In most jurisdictions, altered or obliterated firearm serial numbers or other related essential identifiers, effectively place the gun in the category of contraband. As such it would have been constructively destroyed by inability to legally possess it.
    Serial numbers are frequently restamped if ground off during repair/alteration or worn off by use or accident. There's an ATF letter out to this affect, and I believe it requires that the original serial number be stamped again in a different location. You may be able to find it at ATF.gov

    Consider it the same as a broken firearm going full auto. It's only illegal if its deliberate and if you don't repair it with reasonable haste.
    I swear by Jupiter Optimus Maximus .... in the army of the consul Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and for 10 miles around it I will not steal anything worth more than a sestertius in any one day.

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    Default It's what you don't know...

    As I read the threads in this post, I's like to offer an additional commentary to my prior post. But please, nothing here is offered or should be construed as legal advice. It is simply provided in context of the old adage: “It's what you don't know that can get you”.



    1. In understanding laws pertaining to firearms, it's first necessary to determine the definition of “firearm” in the context of the particular controlling statute(s). For instance, firearms laws pertaining to discrete identification and accountability issues speak to such as serial numbering and related essential identifiers. Such often tend to define a firearm as the frame or receiver of a weapon. In such context, the presence of serials or any nomenclature other parts or accessories is probably legally irrelevant (unless it may call the relevant nomenclature into question.). Yet laws with other objectives, for example such as those principally addressing fish & game regulatory areas or manufacturer's taxation, might define a firearm differently. Applying either a common sense notion or the wrong statutory definition, hazards the wrong legal conclusion.
    2. Just getting to a researched conclusion in a single jurisdiction such as as federal or a particular state typically encounters complexities. But in much statutory research, it's necessary to have a close look at both federal and one or more state laws/local ordinances in the area(s) of concern. A common and erroneous presumption exists that federal law automatically preempts state law. Comparable federal and state laws often essentially create parallel jurisdiction and thus enable civil and/or prosecutorial controls at either level. Further, state law may often be more restrictive and create civil or criminal penalties where none exist in federal law. The point here is the fact that something is permissible, excusable or offer certain relief provisions in one level of law, may continue as unremitted violation(s) of law within the other level of jurisdiction.
    3. Now having mentioned the various interplay between federal and a single state scheme, add in the differences in the laws between the various states. Changes of residence, traveling, engaging in commerce or simply interstate transit, may create materially differing liabilities. It's only necessary to begin with varying definitions such as of “firearm”, “possession”, “concealment”, “loaded”, etc., to begin to appreciates the hazards of simplistic interpretation.
    4. Last, we live in the real world. Here, being hypothetically or technically correct often tends to be about as useful as arguing 'technical pregnancy'. In a world so sensitized to any firearms issues, officers and investigators are far more likely to make an arrest and let the judicial system sort out the technical arguments. Unless you're a serious criminal anyway, such as arrest, search warrants and seizure of firearms is probably a traumatic life event. The idea of simply 'prevailing' at some point along the forfeiture/prosecution process can be an expensive and hollow victory attendant with a lifetime employment issue and social stigma.



    Again, NOT LEGAL ADVICE in any sense, but very much...
    My take.

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    I've tried a search for that ruling. My guess is it's pretty old, and many years of the rulings are not posted on the ATF website and nobody else has posted it. And not having any post 1898 firearm with ground off number I'm not about to make a big deal about it.
    Anyone with this problem should contact the ATF, links and addresses aare at: at http://www.atf.gov/contact/

    I would NOT trust your local office to give the correct answer.

    And Iskra, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes: “In English law, everything is permissible that is not expressly forbidden. In Prussian law, everything is forbidden that is not expressly permitted.”

    We are not living in the Kingdom of Prussia, not yet, anyway. I've beaten the IRS on a couple of mistakes they made, one a serious matter of a statewide ruling. No tax lawyer or even an CPA needed. There's no need for anyone to fear a government when it doesn't abide by its own laws and regulatory rulings.
    I swear by Jupiter Optimus Maximus .... in the army of the consul Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and for 10 miles around it I will not steal anything worth more than a sestertius in any one day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clyde View Post
    And then there is my Browning T-bolt, built (and purchased) BEFORE S/Ns were required in the US. The receiver doesn't have one, but the gun is serialized. it is stamped on the bottom of the barrel, and IIRC (the gun isn't handy to check) concealed by the forearm.
    Just checked my T-Bolt. The Ser# on mine is stamped under the barrel just forward of the forearm end.

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    All I'm looking for is The How To of seeing the remnants of a Russian Factory scrubbed scope number so as to make the matching of ex snippers to their scopes more accurate.
    That is all nothing- to do with circumventing ATF Rules or agents.
    The scope number has zero to do with the weapons serial number.
    I am trying to identify a method by which one could accomplish this task.
    So thank you to all for the "legal advice"
    Possibly that information will keep an over zealous enthusiaist from getting into trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZshooter View Post
    Just checked my T-Bolt. The Ser# on mine is stamped under the barrel just forward of the forearm end.
    That makes better sense - but for some reason I was thinking it wan't visible. Odd to have the S/N on the barrel instead of the receiver I always thought (barrel AND receiver, that's different and common, but barrel only just seems odd).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phantomfxr View Post
    All I'm looking for is The How To of seeing the remnants of a Russian Factory scrubbed scope number so as to make the matching of ex snippers to their scopes more accurate.
    That is all nothing- to do with circumventing ATF Rules or agents.
    The scope number has zero to do with the weapons serial number.
    I am trying to identify a method by which one could accomplish this task.
    So thank you to all for the "legal advice"
    Possibly that information will keep an over zealous enthusiaist from getting into trouble.
    You just never know where a thread will go.

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    magnaflux for recovery of serial numbers is not as easy to do as acid etch. both make use of the localised changed grain structure of steel that is created by the pressure of the stamping. in the case of magna a hard stamping will change magnetic permeability and create a localised pole, but reading such poles on this scale requires specialised equipment with sensitivity not found on standard machine shop / weld shop equipment.

    acid etch actually eats around the stamped numbers, leaving them proud on the surface. timing, strength of acid, application variation, all critical variables. sometimes it is advisable to make a test stamping on a piece and do a trial recovery, as unknown steel alloys and heat treatments will react differently to the acids available for use.

    electropencil is not recoverable. small stampings will be unrecoverable if the material underlying is removed to a depth 3X the stamp depth. overstamping with randopm numbers in same size followed by grinding really messes recovery up.

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    It is beyond the scope of this tread to teach you how to anodize something. It really is not that hard.
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    No, anodizing isn't so very hard - but it doesn't work on ferrous alloys, as the iron oxides created just flake off. Not helpful when you are looking for a non-destructive way to recover a removed S/N....
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