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RANGER295
11-05-2006, 12:17 AM
The widow of someone I knew offered to sell me “an old pistol” he had for $75. It turned out to be a GI 1911 with a prewar Colt Ace .22 conversion on it. The conversion is mint. The frame was probably from a gun he brought back from WWII. The problem is that serial number was ground off of the pistol frame. I know that having a pistol without a serial number is a big no no. I gave her the $75, stripped it to the frame and told her that I just wanted the slide and parts and that I couldn’t take the frame. Here is my question. Is there any way that the gun can get a new serial number or somehow get legal status again? If not, (which I suspect is the case) what are the options? Torch cut it and throw it out? :(

medic707
11-05-2006, 12:42 AM
I recently watched a forensic files episode on court tv and they had a guy that pulled a serial # out of the reciever after it had been grounded off. He gave the example of writing on 2 peices of paper you can take the 1st peice off but there will be a indentation left. I cant remember all the details but I know it can be done, as long as it wasnt drilled out per the expert.
Im sure something like that isnt cheap and dont know that it would be worth your while but I hope it is for your sake sounds like a great find!
When i get home ill check my tivo see if i still got the episode maybe i can get you the experts name at least

Turbinator
11-05-2006, 1:09 AM
What Medic707 talks about here is real. When a serial # is stamped into a frame, the impact leaves enough of an imprint to allow the serial # to be discerned several mm's into the metal of the frame. While the # itself may not be visible to the eye, probably some work with a SEM (scanning electron microscope or such) would reveal the number.

I don't know the legality of getting the serial # reissued onto the frame, but any pre-war Colt Ace is going to be worth bucks, I am guessing.

Turby

xenophobe
11-05-2006, 1:19 AM
The very act of tampering with the serial number to remove it is a felony violation of the law.

It is possible that the firearm was stolen at one time, or possibly even stolen from the military.

We have had a few come into the shop like that. We can only tell them we can't do anything with it.

The 'mint' pre-war .22 conversion is worth $800-$1000. You ripped off an old lady. Good job. You have an American flag in your avatar. Do the right thing and give her a couple hundred bucks, and tell her thanks. Especially if she could use the money. Just my opinion of course.

CalNRA
11-05-2006, 2:27 AM
The 'mint' pre-war .22 conversion is worth $800-$1000. You ripped off an old lady. Good job. You have an American flag in your avatar. Do the right thing and give her a couple hundred bucks, and tell her thanks. Especially if she could use the money. Just my opinion of course.

Agreed, albeit not in as harsh of a tone from me. DO the right thing and give the old lady some more cash to compensate her.

AJAX22
11-05-2006, 9:04 AM
You may be able to take the pistol down to the sherrifs department, the process for lifting a serial number is the same if its a car or a gun. And I know that they have personell trained at raising defaced serial numbers with an acid solution. At minimum someone may get a gun back that they had thought lost forever, and if its not stolen, just defaced for whatever reason, you may get to keep it. Either way its a positive outcome.

blacklisted
11-05-2006, 10:44 AM
What if the serial number was defaced before they were required by law?

Kruzr
11-05-2006, 11:04 AM
There are many 1911's brought home by GI's after WWII who then ground the serial numbers off. They were concerned about stolen Government property. As it turned out, the Gov't apparently didn't care at the time.

Today, it will lead to a pistol confiscation and possible felony charges if you are found with a gun with the numbers ground off or altered.

As mentioned, there are ways to retrieve the number from the stamping but then what? Are you going to have the serial number re-engraved?

I know what I'd do but if you want to remain perfectly within the law and allow no room for one of the famous 58 DA's in the state to interpret what happened, then you would turn it in to the PD.

M. Sage
11-05-2006, 11:38 AM
The very act of tampering with the serial number to remove it is a felony violation of the law.

It is possible that the firearm was stolen at one time, or possibly even stolen from the military.

The odds of that are VERY good. I've seen a "bring-home" GI 1911 that was actually still US property. The pistol had to be returned, it was still listed as stolen.

RANGER295
11-05-2006, 1:20 PM
The very act of tampering with the serial number to remove it is a felony violation of the law.

It is possible that the firearm was stolen at one time, or possibly even stolen from the military.

We have had a few come into the shop like that. We can only tell them we can't do anything with it.

The 'mint' pre-war .22 conversion is worth $800-$1000. You ripped off an old lady. Good job. You have an American flag in your avatar. Do the right thing and give her a couple hundred bucks, and tell her thanks. Especially if she could use the money. Just my opinion of course.

There is more to the story. I didn’t think that the rest was relevant to my question and did not want to make an overly cluttered post. Since I have been made to look like a leach that took advantage of an old lady:mad: let me give the rest of the details. The gentleman that owned it was like a grandfather to me. He taught me to drive tractors and do all kinds of shop work. He helped me with my first antique tractor restoration, a Farmall Cub. Though he lived simple, he was a multi millionaire. He had several rental properties. He was also a packrat. Having lived through the great-depression he would pick up bent nails “because you can straighten them and use them”. At his house he had a 3 car garage that was so full that you could not even walk into it. A that hauls away junk wanted over $8,000 to clean out the garage, shed, and yard. A friend of mine and I spent several weekends and evenings there cleaning it out and loading my truck and 20’ trailer and taking half a dozen or so loads to the dump. We did not charge her for out time, the diesel for the truck, or the dump fees. I did it because I wanted to help her out not because I wanted anything in return. Darn right I have the Flag of the United States of America in my avatar, there is no such thing as an American flag unless NAFTA has one or something (sorry I am nit picking there). Let me tell you why I have that avatar. Everything in it has meaning to me. I would sacrifice my life for what Old Glory stands for. The faceless soldier is in honor of all those whom I have known that have done just that. As well as all of the other service men and women that have fought (and continue to) for what this great nation stands for. I used to have a poster that said “Honor is a way of life, live it with pride”. I try to live by that. In fact I think I am going to change my signature to that. I also bought a S&W 10 for $80 and a Pre64 Model 70 Supergrade from her for $150. I think that given the amount of work that I did for her as well as all of the other stuff I have done for her that she came out financially ahead. In the grand scheme of thing, when you consider all of the knowledge and time he gave me, I came out way ahead. What he gave me when I was growing up is something money can not buy. To help his widow out is the least I can do. If she was in financial trouble I would do what I could to help her. Just because that is what I feel is right. Sorry to have rambled on as I did but that hit a nerve.

Now as far as the pistol goes, I have no doubt that he brought it home from the war. As I said, I stripped the frame and left it with her. Outside of the fact that it was his and it has character down to the 4 notches etched in it, it is not worth going to all of the trouble you guys have talked about. It is kind of banged up and the finish is gone. You guys basically confirmed what I already thought. Another thing he had was a Sten gun where the tube had been cut with a chop saw in front of and behind the mag well and the section had been turned around and welded back in so that you could not put a mag in facing forward. I passed on that as well because I don’t think that is demiled enough to be ok. Am I correct in that assumption?

M. Sage
11-05-2006, 2:47 PM
The frame aughta be turned in to the police. They didn't freak out when we found out the one I mentioned existed. We just turned it in kinda quiet-like. If he was a known pack-rat, you just found it in his stuff, dunno what it was doing there.

It's a lot better than taking the chance of someone finding her with it some other way.

xenophobe
11-05-2006, 7:26 PM
You can always call the ATF, tell them the situation and ask them to look at it to see if it has been demilled to specification. If it has dewat paperwork, it could be worth $10,000 even in chopped up rewelded (demilled) condition to a collector who could restore it.

As for the rest of the story, well it sounds like you earned your keep, but if she didn't know the true value of them, I still say she should be compensated a bit unless she specifically sold them to you for cheap for being good friends with them. In any event, as long as you are comfortabe, that's all that should really matter.

EBWhite
11-05-2006, 7:33 PM
Don't listen to all the bashing.

Legal or not, just keep the trap shut and keep it. Put your own serial number on it and refinish. Again, keep the trap shut :-)

dwtt
11-05-2006, 7:41 PM
I think Ranger should ask the widow to turn in the pistol frame to the sheriff. It's nothing but trouble for her.
As for recovering the serial number from a frame where the SN was ground off, they can do it with scanning acoustic microscopy, where a ultrasonic transducer sends in an ultrasound signal, and the reflections will reveal variations in density. The stamped serial number will have localized areas of higher density below the numbers. The most common mode is C-mode where you get an image plane perpendicular to the direction of the transducer. SAM is used for nondestructive testing of parts like semiconductor packages, welded joints, and high reliability glass-metal joints, just to name a few examples.

RANGER295
11-05-2006, 9:17 PM
You can always call the ATF, tell them the situation and ask them to look at it to see if it has been demilled to specification. If it has dewat paperwork, it could be worth $10,000 even in chopped up rewelded (demilled) condition to a collector who could restore it.

As for the rest of the story, well it sounds like you earned your keep, but if she didn't know the true value of them, I still say she should be compensated a bit unless she specifically sold them to you for cheap for being good friends with them. In any event, as long as you are comfortabe, that's all that should really matter.
There is no paperwork with the Sten. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had brought that home with him as well. I will probably look into it more for her. As to the pistol, as much as I hate to see any firearm put into a situation where it will most likely be destroyed, I will take dwtt’s advice suggest that she turns it in. It seems like the safest course of action though I really doubt that they would throw a 75 year old lady in jail because they find a stripped pistol frame with no serial number in her garage. Thanks for all of the input everyone.

As far as the value… maybe I should talk to her. I told her that I thought the Model 70 was probably worth around $1,000 (I have since found out that it is probably a little more) and she was fine with what I gave her. I had no idea about the Colt Ace until I looked it up a couple of weeks later. Even if I talk to her I don’t think it will make a difference. But yeah I am comfortable, especially being that I never plan to sell them. I want to give that rifle to a son or grandson someday. Anyway no hard feelings… sorry I flew off the handle like that.