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A friend recently picked up a very interesting 1911 Colt Auto from a local family. The couple who sold it had little information except that the pistol belonged to the wifes father or uncle and had been in their family for over 50 years.

This pistol has an un-numbered or de-numbered frame. That is, there are scratches over the area where the serial number usually appears. However, these scratches do not appear to be at a depth that would deface a serial number. This area has a couple of small upper case 'E's with serifs stamped into the the metal over the serial area and a larger upper case 'E' without serifs stamped below. Both styles of these 'E's can also be found on the left side of the frame and in the wooden checkered diamond grips at the the top and bottom screw areas. The frame does also have a SA eagle head mark at the normal location on the left side of the frame with either a 13 or 18 on the bottom of the triggerguard. The slide is of the 1918 Colt pattern with the Colt Pony in the legend and has the 'H' acceptance mark above the firing pin only. The frame and slide otherwise appear to be std 1918 configuration. The bbl has a faint marking on top of the bbl which appears to be the connected HP proof. I was not able to disassemble this pistol so I cannot comment on other internal markings. This pistol appears to have been togeather for a very long time, has an evenly worn finish turning brown and no evidence of basement gunsmithing.

Based on my notes, this is an otherwise std looking 1918 vintage 1911 frame and slide. Definately not an A1. All parts definately 1918 characteristics. The US Property mark was not present on the frame by the serial number area. I believe US property mark was where it should on the right side of the slide. The small serif 'E's were stamped over the serial area and are not the remains of anything else. The large 'E's were also stamped afterwards. There is no depression in the serial area which suggests serial removal though I cannot explain the scraping marks. I am going to see it again later today or tomorrow and will strip it down and get more details. The finish on all parts is even and matches well. Whatever it is - it has been togeather for a very long time.

I saw a toolbox 1911a1 several years back. It was near perfect condition but otherwise pretty sanitary in terms of markings. The 1911 I am discussing strikes me as very different. What possible explanation is there for the 'E' marks on the frame and both grips? I have never heard of the 1911 grips being proofed.

I have a working knowledge of 45's but my collecting interest is German arms. Can anyone provide any insight into this strange pistol or suggest someone who can? The stamping of the 'E's over the serial area and on other components means something. Could this be some sort of experimental or test weapon? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Scott
 

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I am not sure how your friend will take this, but I suggest you tell him to surrender or destroy that gun, or at least the frame. It certainly appears that the serial number has been removed or defaced (by the stamped "e"s) and possession of a gun with the serial number removed or defaced is a federal crime.

It was once common practice for a GI who "liberated" a U.S. service weapon to grind off or deface the serial number and/or the "U S Property" mark under the assumption that the theft could not then be proved. But the removal of the markings, or the possession of a gun with the markings removed, is as serious a crime as the theft would have been, and there is no statute of limitations on illegal possession.

I suppose your friend, or you, or I, could come up with some story that would make the gun legitimate, but it might be hard to get the feds to swallow it. That gun is nothing but trouble.

Jim
 

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There is no requirement for any firearm made before the effective date of the Gun Control Act of 1968 to have a serial number. What crime again?

Don't use this pistol in your next bank robbery and you'll be fine. No one is chasing lost WW1 vintage US military pistols and thousands of them were sold in the 1960s.

-- Chuck
 

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The Crime,

It may or may not have been against the law for a pre 1968 manufactured firearm to have not had a ser# applied by the manufacturer,but there sure is a BIG TIME federal law against attempting to,or actually defacing a manufacturer's or ATF applied ser# or actually removing the ser# from any weapon no matter when it was manufactured.

Stumpy
 

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The subject comes up here pretty regularly, a lot of GIs brought home their service pistol and ground off the serial number and property stamp.
It is possible to petition the BATF for a replacement serial number. They might grant it or they might grab your gun; I have not seen any case studies to say what your chances are.
 

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Defaced Serial Number

Best not to pull the tiger's tail. Much of BATFE regulation left up to the individual agent. My local gunshop was given a warning for not having a pre-1898 Trapdoor Springfield entered in their firearms log. No need to try and explain antique weapon to him.
 
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