In your quest to learn more about airguns, a rogue thought may have come to stay in your mind. Do airguns have serial numbers?
BB guns and pellet guns do have serial numbers– unique numbers assigned to individual products. Some older airguns may have a lot number, which is assigned to groups or batches of products, but most have serial numbers.
Serial numbers are found on BB guns and pellet guns, which are known collectively as airguns. These numbers may be used for tracking and identification purposes. Knowing what your serial number means can help save you a lot of grief.
How are Serial Numbers Useful on an Airgun?
An airgun is just like any other product that is mass produced. Problems can happen, recalls can be issued, repairs may be necessary. If any of this is true for your airgun, you need to know about it, and you can use your serial number to find it.
Serial numbers are used almost universally, and usually where they are not, lot numbers are used instead. A lot number is similar to a serial number in function, but is not the same thing.
Lot numbers are used to track batches of a product, as opposed to individual numbers. Each company can have a different system for how they number their products, but an example of a lot number is the expiration date on consumable items like milk or candy.
These numbers tend to be more useful for items like food, and other products acquired in massive numbers, as creating a specific number to go with each product would prove problematic.
Serial numbers differ in that there is a unique item assigned to each serial number. No serial number will have two items assigned to it unless an error is made. This allows people to identify specific items for several purposes, and is more useful for items that will last longer than food and are acquired in much smaller amounts than food.
Some manufacturers of airguns used to use lot numbers, which makes them much more difficult to identify, but decades ago almost all manufacturers of airguns moved to a serial number system.
You are probably aware that firearms have serial numbers on them. All firearms are required to have them in the United States, which helps to identify specific guns used in crimes, and track ownership to the individual who bought the gun.
That is not the only use of serial numbers though. Serial numbers can be helpful in identifying specific parts that are compatible with specific products. For example, the laptop that I am writing this article on has a serial number, and so does the battery in the laptop.
If my battery starts to quit out on me, I can use its serial number to find a replacement or learn its history, which can help me solve my battery issue.
Using this numbering system, you can learn the history of your airgun, find replacement parts, get customer support, etc.
If a recall is necessary, the manufacturer will usually state the serial numbers that are in need of recall.
How do I Interpret my Serial Number?
Serial numbers can tell you where the product was manufactured, when it was produced, and which dealership it was sent to. Interpreting your serial number though will not be easy if you are not practiced at it, and I imagine that you will rarely have the time to practice this fine art.
There are really two reasons for this. The first one is that there is not really any standardized way to create serial numbers. Each company will produce a serial number as it pleases, and the system that they have will change from time to time. One example I got was when Crosman, which is airgun company, acquired Benjamin and Sheridan, another airgun company.
Here, Crosman has an article intended to help people who own Benjamin and Sheridan guns to learn how old their guns are. In the article, we learn that in 1992, the manufacturing plant was changed and a system was put in place to allow you to learn how old your Crosman gun is by looking at the first few digits in the number.
Guns made previous to 1992 by these guys do not give you a way to directly interpreting the date your gun was made by reading the serial number. Instead, you have to refer to the tabulated data that they gave us.
Now, I am by no means trying to dunk on Crosman for this, in fact it was very generous of them to put together a table that must have taken some time and effort to make. I was only calling attention to a problem that over time as more companies switch to different methods of numbering, will eventually iron itself out over the years to come.
This lack of standardization though comes coupled with another problem, and may well contribute to it. There are very few guides available on the internet for figuring out what your serial number means.
This is part of why I am grateful to Crosman for putting together a table and telling us what the serial numbers mean. Rarely will you find a guide available for this purpose really anywhere. Part of this is probably because airgunning as a sport is not as popular as some others are.
I know that Briggs and Stratton, which is a popular company that makes engines for things like lawn mowers, weed eaters, pressure washers– things like that, have guides available in their manuals for this kind of thing. I know because I took a small engines class that used their manuals almost as textbooks.
This was in demand because so many people needed to know how to repair their lawnmower, or their prssure washer, or whatever they had. Maybe as airgunning expands to become a more popular sport, and more do-it-yourselfers emerge, there will be more guides available.
For now though, it will be difficult for you to know more of what you need for dating and fixing your airgun if you do not have the help of a friendly customer service representative.
Where Can I Find Said Serial Number?
Again, because each manufacturer has their own style, the one on your gun may jump around depending on what gun you have, but your serial number is a creature of habit, and can usually be found hanging out near the trigger or on the barrel.
Serial numbers can sometimes be difficult find, like the one on my bike. I looked and looked and looked for the serial number, and could not find it anywhere until I had it upside down so that I could do some repairs. It was stamped on the bottom of where the pedals come together, tucked away so that no one could find it unless they had practice.
Now, my bike is not your gun, but you may find similar problems. Serial numbers have been known to hide out under pieces of plastic, apparently desperate not to be found by you.
You might also find that each part can have a serial number of their own, like my laptop and laptop battery. Try not to confuse the serial number of your aftermarket stock with the gun itself.
Do Airguns Need Serial Numbers By Law?
I’ll be honest; I don’t know. Because airguns tend to live in the shadow of normal firearms, information on them can be drowned out by information relating to powder-burning guns, especially on a subject as niche as serial numbers.
An online search containing the keywords and phrases ‘gun’, ‘serial number’, and ‘required’ will bring me a slew of information about how serial numbers heroically help to solve firearm related crimes, or a forum discussing potential legislation to make individual bullets need serial numbers, even though I was looking for “airgun serial numbers required”.
I do know that there was once discussion in California to regulate airguns more, but in researching more information for this article, it was difficult to find what I needed to in order to answer this question absolutely.
Because airguns are not regulated as heavily as normal firearms are, my guess would be that in the United States, the answer is no, they are not required to have serial numbers stamped onto them, and that manufacturers do it because it improves their ability to help you solve their gun problems. But I cannot say with certainty.
If I Have a Lot Number, How Can I Find Support for my Gun?
Support will still be available for a gun that has a lot number on it. Having a lot number instead of a serial number should not make a huge difference if you need a repair, though it can make recalls more difficult.
Considering that most airguns that have lot numbers are older guns, a recall should be very unlikely. Lot numbers can help identify which batch the gun was a part of, and where that batch was made.
Whatever your case is, check with your chosen customer service, as they should be able to help with just about any gun you have that is not so old that no one can fix it.
How are Serial Numbers Tracked, and Can they be Used to Find Stolen Guns?
When your gun or laptop is made, the serial number assigned to it will tell people in the know when and where the gun or laptop was made. In the case of firearms, they are also used to tell where the gun was sent to be sold.
In some cases, airguns can be tracked like this as well because they are sometimes treated just like your average powder-burning gun.
Now at the point of sell, who the gun was sold to is recorded alongside the serial number, creating a point that can connect people to specific guns. That is how manufacturers and law enforcement are able to track who has which guns.
Now, if someone were to steal your airgun, there likely would not be a paper trail generated, but having that serial number can help law enforcement greatly to know for certain that thay have the right item, so keep track of that number.