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Identify Your Handgun: Finding the Make and Model

Whether you’ve inherited a family heirloom, received it as a gift, or simply lost track of the details over the years, identifying your handgun is essential for various reasons, including legal compliance, using the correct ammunition, maintenance, and personal safety. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to determine the make and model of your handgun so that you can answer the question, “What model of gun do I have?”

Check the Exterior of the Firearm.

Start by examining the exterior of your handgun. Many firearms have visible markings, usually on the barrel, slide, or frame. Look for engraved or stamped characters, symbols, or numbers. Common locations for these markings include the slide near the ejection port, the barrel, or the frame near the trigger guard.

Check the Slide and Barrel.

Check for alphanumeric codes, serial numbers, and manufacturer logos. Serial numbers are particularly important, as they are unique to each firearm and can be used to trace its history. You can use this information to search online databases.

Check the Frame.

Check the frame, the part of the handgun that houses the trigger mechanism and holds the magazine. Manufacturers often place important markings on the frame, including model names, serial numbers, and sometimes the caliber. Look for these markings on the forward part of the frame, near the trigger guard, or on the grip.

Search for Additional Markings.

Some handguns have additional markings on less obvious parts. For instance, the inside of the slide or the underside of the barrel may contain hidden information. Use a flashlight and magnifying glass if needed to thoroughly inspect these areas.

Reference the Owner’s Manual.

If you still can’t identify your handgun, consult the owner’s manual that came with the firearm. The manual often includes detailed information about the make, model, and features of the handgun. If you don’t have the manual, manufacturers frequently provide digital copies on their official websites.

Check Online Resources and Databases.

Take advantage of online resources and databases dedicated to firearms identification. Several websites allow users to search for make and model information based on serial numbers, markings, or photographs. Websites such as GunBroker, GunValuesBoard, and firearm manufacturer websites can be valuable tools.

Consult with a Professional.

If all else fails, consider seeking assistance from a professional gunsmith or firearm appraiser. These experts have experience with a wide range of firearms and may be able to help you identify your handgun accurately.

Identifying the make and model of your handgun is a crucial step in responsible firearm ownership. Regularly checking your firearm for markings, consulting the owner’s manual, utilizing online resources, and seeking professional assistance if needed are all effective ways to ensure you have accurate information about your handgun. Understanding your firearm is not only a matter of legal compliance but also contributes to safe usage, proper maintenance, and overall responsible firearm ownership.

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