§ 479.102 How must firearms be identified?

  1. a.(a) Identification required. You, as a manufacturer, importer, or maker of a firearm, must legibly identify the firearm as follows:

    1. 1.(1) By engraving, casting, stamping (impressing), or otherwise conspicuously placing or causing to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or placed on the frame or receiver thereof an individual serial number. The serial number must be placed in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered, or removed, and must not duplicate any serial number placed by you on any other firearm. For firearms manufactured, imported, or made on and after January 30, 2002, the engraving, casting, or stamping (impressing) of the serial number must be to a minimum depth of .003 inch and in a print size no smaller than 1/16 inch; and Serial number, name, place of business. By engraving, casting, stamping (impressing), or otherwise conspicuously placing or causing to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or otherwise placed on each part (or specific part(s) previously determined by the Director) defined as a frame or receiver thereof, a serial number, in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered, or removed. The serial number identified on each part of a weapon, including a weapon parts kit, defined as a frame or receiver must be the same number, but must not duplicate any serial number(s) placed by the licensee or maker on any other firearm. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(5) of this section, each frame or receiver thereof must also be marked with either: Your name (or recognized abbreviation), and city and State (or recognized abbreviation) where you as a manufacturer or importer maintain your place of business, or in the case of a maker, where you made the firearm; or if a licensee, your name (or recognized abbreviation) and abbreviated Federal firearms license number as a prefix, which is the first three and last five digits, followed by a hyphen, and then followed by a number as a suffix, e.g., “12345678-[number]”; and

    2. 2.(2) By engraving, casting, stamping (impressing), or otherwise conspicuously placing or causing to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed), or placed on the frame, receiver, or barrel thereof certain additional information. This information must be placed in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered or removed. For firearms manufactured, imported, or made on and after January 30, 2002, the engraving, casting, or stamping (impressing) of this information must be to a minimum depth of .003 inch. The additional information includes: Model, caliber or gauge, foreign manufacturer, country of manufacture. By engraving, casting, stamping (impressing), or otherwise conspicuously placing or causing to be engraved, cast, stamped (impressed) or placed on each part (or specific part(s) previously determined by the Director) defined as a frame or receiver, or barrel or pistol slide (if applicable) thereof certain additional information. This information must be placed in a manner not susceptible of being readily obliterated, altered, or removed. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(5) of this section, the additional information shall include:

      1. i.(i) The model, if such designation has been made;

      2. ii.(ii) The caliber or gauge;

      3. iii.(iii) Your name (or recognized abbreviation) and also, when applicable, the name of the foreign manufacturer or maker; When applicable, the name of the foreign manufacturer or maker; and

      4. iv.(iv) In the case of a domestically made firearm, the city and State (or recognized abbreviation thereof) where you as the manufacturer maintain your place of business, or where you, as the maker, made the firearm; and In the case of an imported firearm, the name of the country in which it was manufactured. For additional requirements relating to imported firearms, see Customs regulations at 19 CFR part 134.

    3. 3.(3) Frame or receiver, machine gun conversion part, or silencer part disposed of separately. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, each part defined as a frame or receiver, machine gun, or firearm muffler or firearm silencer, that is not a component part of a complete weapon or device at the time it is sold, shipped, or otherwise disposed of by you must be identified as required by this section with a serial number not duplicated on any other firearm and all additional identifying information, except that the model designation and caliber or gauge may be omitted if that information is unknown at the time the part is identified.

    4. 4.(4) Size and depth of markings. The engraving, casting, or stamping (impressing) of the serial number and additional information must be to a minimum depth of .003 inch and in a print size no smaller than 1/16 inch. The size of serial numbers required by this section is measured as the distance between the latitudinal ends of the character impression bottoms (bases). The depth of all markings required by this section is measured from the flat surface of the metal and not the peaks or ridges.

    5. 5.(5) Period of time to identify firearms. You must identify a complete weapon or complete muffler or silencer device no later than seven days following the date of completion of the active manufacturing process for the weapon or device, or prior to disposition, whichever is sooner. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, you must identify each part, including a replacement part, defined as a frame or receiver, machine gun, or firearm muffler or firearm silencer, that is not a component part of a complete weapon or device at the time it is sold, shipped, or otherwise disposed of no later than seven days following the date of completion of the active manufacturing process for the part, or prior to disposition, whichever is sooner. For purposes of this paragraph, firearms actively awaiting materials, parts, or equipment repair to be completed are actively in the manufacturing process. Licensed importers must identify imported firearms within the period prescribed in § 478.112.

    6. 6.(6) Meaning of marking terms. For purposes of this section, the terms “legible” and “legibly” mean that the identification markings use exclusively Roman letters (e.g., A, a, B, b, C, c) and Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3), or solely Arabic numerals, and may include a hyphen, and the terms “conspicuous” and “conspicuously” mean that the identification markings are capable of being easily seen with normal handling of the firearm and unobstructed by other markings when the complete weapon is assembled.

  2. b.(b) The depth of all markings required by this section will be measured from the flat surface of the metal and not the peaks or ridges. The height of serial numbers required by paragraph (a)(1) of this section will be measured as the distance between the latitudinal ends of the character impression bottoms (bases).

    b.(b) Exceptions—

    1. 1.(1) Alternate means or period of identification. The Director may authorize other means of identification or period of time to identify firearms upon receipt of a letter application or Form 3311.4 from you showing that such other identification or period is reasonable and will not hinder the effective administration of this part.

    2. 2.(2) Destructive devices. In the case of a destructive device, the Director may authorize other means of identification or period of time to identify that weapon upon receipt of a letter application or Form 3311.4 from you. The application shall show that engraving, casting, or stamping (impressing) such a weapon as required by this section would be dangerous or impracticable, or that the requested time period is reasonable and will not hinder the effective administration.

    3. 3.(3) Adoption of identifying markings. Licensed manufacturers and licensed importers may adopt the serial number(s) or other identifying markings previously placed on a firearm in accordance with this section provided that, within the period and in the manner herein prescribed, the licensee legibly and conspicuously places, or causes to be placed, on each part (or specific part(s) previously determined by the Director) defined as a frame or receiver either: Their name (or recognized abbreviation), and city and State (or recognized abbreviation) where they maintain their place of business; or their name (or recognized abbreviation) and their abbreviated Federal firearms license number, which is the first three and last five digits, followed by a hyphen, and then followed by the existing serial number (including any other abbreviated FFL prefix) as a suffix, e.g., “12345678-[serial number]”.

    4. 4.(4) Firearm muffler or silencer parts—

      1. i.(i) Firearm muffler or silencer parts transferred between qualified manufacturers to complete new devices. A licensed manufacturer qualified under this part may transfer a part defined as a muffler or silencer to another qualified manufacturer without immediately identifying or registering such part provided that, upon receipt, it is actively used to manufacture a new complete muffler or silencer device. Once the new device with such part is completed, the manufacturer of the device shall identify and register it in the manner and within the period specified in this part for a complete muffler or silencer device.

      2. ii.(ii) Firearm muffler or silencer replacement parts transferred to qualified manufacturers or dealers to repair existing devices. A licensed manufacturer qualified under this part may transfer a replacement part defined as a muffler or silencer other than a frame or receiver to a qualified manufacturer or dealer without identifying or registering such part provided that, upon receipt, it is actively used to repair a complete muffler or silencer device that was previously identified and registered in accordance with this part.

    5. 5.(5) Firearms designed and configured before [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE]. Licensed manufacturers and licensed importers may continue to identify firearms of the same design and configuration as they existed before [EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE FINAL RULE] with the information required to be marked by paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section that were in effect prior to that date, and any rules necessary to ensure such identification shall remain effective for that purpose.

  3. c.(c) The Director may authorize other means of identification upon receipt of a letter application from you, submitted in duplicate, showing that such other identification is reasonable and will not hinder the effective administration of this part. Voluntary classification of firearms. The Director may issue a determination to a person whether an item is a firearm as defined in this part upon receipt of a written request or form prescribed by the Director. Each such voluntary request or form submitted shall be executed under the penalties of perjury with a complete and accurate description of the item, the name and address of the manufacturer or importer thereof, and a sample of such item for examination along with any instructions, guides, templates, jigs, equipment, tools, or marketing materials that are made available to the purchaser or recipient of the item. The Director shall not issue a determination regarding a firearm accessory or attachment unless it is installed on the firearm(s) in the configuration for which it is designed and intended to be used. Upon completion of the examination, the Director may return the sample to the person who made the request unless a determination is made that return of the sample would be or place the person in violation of law. A determination made by the Director under this paragraph shall not be deemed by any person to be applicable to or authoritative with respect to any other sample, design, model, or configuration.

  4. d.(d) In the case of a destructive device, the Director may authorize other means of identifying that weapon upon receipt of a letter application from you, submitted in duplicate, showing that engraving, casting, or stamping (impressing) such a weapon would be dangerous or impracticable.

  5. e.(e) A firearm frame or receiver that is not a component part of a complete weapon at the time it is sold, shipped, or otherwise disposed of by you must be identified as required by this section.

    1. 1.(1) Any part defined as a machine gun, muffler, or silencer for the purposes of this part that is not a component part of a complete firearm at the time it is sold, shipped, or otherwise disposed of by you must be identified as required by this section.

    2. 2.(2) The Director may authorize other means of identification of parts defined as machine guns other than frames or receivers and parts defined as mufflers or silencers upon receipt of a letter application from you, submitted in duplicate, showing that such other identification is reasonable and will not hinder the effective administration of this part.