how to tell gun type

Knowing Which Gun You Have

Some people wonder which gun they actually have when it comes time to buy a holster for it. It might seem a stretch, but not everyone who owns a gun is a major firearms enthusiast and knows about all the makes and models.


It's a lot like cars; a lot of people who just need to get to work and back and don't care the way serious gearheads do.


How to find out, though? There are a few different ways to discern what make and model gun a person owns, in case someone needed to get replacement parts or find a concealed carry holster for it.


The Easiest Way to Identify a Gun Model Type


identify gun type

One of the easiest ways to find out what gun you have is checking out the maker's marks on the slide or barrel. Firearms manufacturers, you see, stamp a certain amount of information on the outside of the gun.


Long guns tend to have that information stamped directly on the barrel. Pick up a rifle or shotgun and you'll see it, usually where the barrel meets the rest of the gun. (Them that there is the chamber, where the ammo goes "bang.") Sometimes it's on the right side, sometimes on the left. The name of the gun is not uncommon, along with gauge or caliber and other pertinent information, such as chamber length on most shotguns.


It's the same with pistols. Semi-autos will usually have the make and model of the firearm printed on the slide, either on the right or left side. There may be certain information printed on both sides. Some guns will even have safety info, such as a warning that there isn't a magazine disconnect safety or other pertinent gun safety information.


Revolvers, much like long guns, often have make, model and caliber info located forward of the chamber. Usually it's on the barrel, and often enough on the left side, though not always.


So, if you're confused about what make and model firearm you have and you'd like to get a holster or other accessory for it, that's the easiest way to find out what make and model it is.


Try A Gun Serial Number Lookup


gun serial number

If the information isn't clearly printed on the firearm, or has rubbed off with age, then try a gun serial number lookup. That may be able to tell you what make and model firearm that it is.


However, it should be noted that a gun serial number check isn't the most reliable or precise method of getting information about your gun. The reason is some manufacturers rely on a mere number. Others, such as Smith and Wesson, have a proprietary nomenclature and thus can be easily nailed down.


The largest resource is the Blue Book of Gun Values. You look up the serial number, and you'll likely get a list of results. A condensed version is available on the NRA website, and there are additional resources located on Cornell Publications.


However, if one goes the route of a gun serial number lookup online, there's a chance that a search will give one multiple results. For instance, let's say a hypothetical person looks up a hypothetical gun with serial number 81005. Among the results, they would find a 1965 Winchester Model 70, a 1926 12-ga. Browning A-5 shotgun or a 1958 Browning Hi-Power, to name a few.


How does one narrow it down? After getting the serial number results, look up each make and model listed for the serial number in a Google search and look at the picture results. The above mentioned guns are wildly different; the Model 70 is a bolt-action rifle (many reckon one of the best) and the two Brownings are an auto-loading shotgun and a 9mm pistol. Eventually, a person will find a picture of their gun and presto.


If All Else Fails, Try A Gunsmith Or Gun Store


gunsmith

However, if all else fails, a person could always just take the gun into a gun store or to a gunsmith and ask. Or perhaps a person has a friend that's knowledgeable; they may know.


As with anything else, a person can always just find someone who knows more and ask them. They'll either know or point you in the direction of someone who does, and then one can go from there.



Sam Hoober  

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.