Colt MKIV Series 70 (courtesy armslist.com)

TTAG reader RF writes:

I have tried everything I can think of to find a family heirloom. Here’s how it goes. My brother & I bought guns & shared them when we were young. I joined the service & I left all the guns with him. Some I bought, some he bought, some our parents bought. None of them were very special except for a Colt MKIV Series 70 [specific gun not shown]. He bought it, we both used it. It was special-we used to shoot it, clean it, disassemble & assemble it. It was the first big gun we had . . .

While I was stationed on the right coast, he died in a motorcycle accident, 1974. After the funeral I explained to his wife about the guns & how I really would like to get the .45. It was the only thing of his I wanted. I was willing to pay whatever. Not only would she not sell it, she wouldn’t let me have any of the other guns which I paid for.

Years later I contacted her again about the Colt. She had remarried & her husband sold all the guns. I really want to find it but I DON”T HAVE THE F****ING Serial Number. I know where & when it was purchased & contacted the owner about the 4473. He said he went out of business when there was a fire, so he never sent his records to ATF.

I contacted the ATF to make sure & they naturally stonewalled me with the story that they only research guns that have been stolen or used in a crime so they wouldn’t even tell me if they had the store’s records.

So you’ve heard my sad tale of woe. What I would like to know is with all your vast experience, do you know a way I could find the serial number which would give me a start on recovering the gun. This is kind of like the search for the Holy Grail to me- it’s been just about as impossible.

Thanx for listening

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30 Responses to TTAG Reader Needs Your Help Finding “Lost” .45

  1. Sorry for the loss. (both). I suffered a similar loss due to a marriage accident.

    Well where did you get the gun? Might be a start. Hopefully the person you bought it from might know the # or would know what store they got it from.

    • He mentioned that already.

      ” I know where & when it was purchased & contacted the owner about the 4473. He said he went out of business when there was a fire, so he never sent his records to ATF.”

  2. With out a SN you are SOL. Sorry I sold my Great Grandfathers Colt when I had not money and need to sell out of desperation. I have the SN and still can not find the 1903 pocket.

  3. Uh, was there a 4473 in 1974? I don’t think so. Anyhow, I know it’s rude, but I’d have to suggest you purchase an identical gun and pretend.

    • Not rude, without the serial number he can never be sure……I agree with your advice, definitely a sad story, good luck none the less.

    • Yes, they called it 4473 when it was first required by GCA 1968.
      It’s been revised since then, (for example adding ethnicity in 2001 and splitting race/ethnicity into two questions in 2012) but it’s still the 4473, just like the IRS form 1040 has been called the 1040 my entire life.

    • +1 with Larry but…
      If you can not let it go Colt may be able to help. They may have records of sn’s shipped to dealers or distributors to narrow things down. Put your story out locally with the media (good luck with that). Set a drop dead date. If you don’t find it by then get a new toy.

  4. I’m in a similar situation, my father had a fairly nice revolver collection, some nice rifles, and shotguns. He always joked and said he wouldn’t part with them until after he died and then they would be mine. When he suddenly died my lovely step-mother had different ideas and decided to deny they ever existed and even refused to allow me in the house to gather them. Moral of the story, guns are personal and they should be willed specifically to whom they belong.

  5. Do you know what store the new hubby sold the guns to or through? If there was no 4473 for the initial sale, there may have been one for the second sale.

  6. Oh the woes. That’s a feeling I can empathize with. Traded away my Romanian PSL. Not much to other people but the gun I miss the most.

  7. You mentioned the owner of the store lost his records in a fire but if you know approximately when the pistol was purchased and if he can tell you where the Colt .45 was bought from you might be able to work your way backwards to the distributor or Colt Mfg.

  8. Did it have any distinguishing marks or characteristics that would help you identify it as “the” gun? If not, and without the serial number, well, how would you even know if you found it?

    It’s thin comfort, but if it’s a stock Colt MKIV Series 70, maybe consider buying another one and making it a memorial gun. Was there a special color or type of sight your brother favored? Maybe some tasteful engraving of a favorite phrase, quote, etc.?

    One thing this does bring home: estate planning is a seriously important thing, at any age, especially for anyone who owns a firearm. And doubly especially if there’s a spouse in the picture who doesn’t like or understand guns

  9. I’m in the same boat also. I’ve been going to gun shows,shops and even pawnshops to find A 22-250 Savage around the South Texas area. It’s one of two I have and they’re A set that go together. The gunsmith who carved the rifles was well known and he had done rifles for Lyndon B.Johnson also. He’s also from South Texas.

  10. I hope your brother’s wife (ex) incurs into something bad, no matter her age.
    I perfectly understand you and if it wasn’t for her, you’d have all you were entitled to have with no remorses.

    Sorry for the negative thought.

  11. And now for areassuring comment. I lost my first gun( a gift from grandpa) in a burglary from my fathers home shortly after I got married. As I had used the rifle throughout my entire adolescent years, the loss was quite depressing. About 8 years after the theft I was working part time in a local gun/ sporting goods store when an elderly gentleman brought in several rifles to trade on a new one. One of the trades was a Winchester youth model single shot .22 closely resembling the one which had been stolen from dad’s house 3550 miles away 8 years earlier. These rifles bore no serial number as it was not required at the time of their manufacture. My father- with much fatherly wisdom- had engraved my SSN on the action inside the stock. After removing the two stock screws on the rifle lying on the counter in front of me, I discovered my SSN, right where dad had engraved it. The gentleman attempting to trade had purchased the rifle from a pawnshop in Texas, who had purchased it from a Latino with ID which later proved to be phony. I recovered my first gun by purchasing it from my boss after he made the trade to gentleman who brought it in. Sucks to have to pay more for your own gun to get it back than it cost when new, but at least it is back where it belongs!

  12. With the information provided, I put the chances at this being found at less than lottery odds. Perhaps you can provide the following information:
    -What state(s) was this likely sold in?
    -When was the last time you contacted her, that you referred to? (so we can know the timeframe in which the sale occurred 1974-?)
    -Are there any imperfections, scratches, or marks that you remember on the gun? If yes, describe them.
    -Does the article image accurately depict your brother’s gun?
    -What is your budget for this? (the gun itself)
    -Are you willing to offer an award, should someone want it, for finding it?

    Lastly, you very likely did something to make your sister in-law very upset, whether you know it or not (ie “she wouldn’t let me have any of the other guns which I paid for.” How soon after the funeral did you inquire about the Colt?) There’s even a possibility that gun never got sold, because : her new hubby liked it; one her hubby’s buddies liked it; she was just telling you it was sold to get you to stop asking about it, because that’s how much she hates your guts; etc. If there’s something you should be sorry for, or perhaps you weren’t very humble in your prior communications, you should contact her, and address that/those issues first (most people can be reasoned with, one way or another) . If you are unable to get any further information from her or her husband, perhaps you might find it acceptable to post their names, address, and phone number(s), because if there was a buyer, they might have this information.

    I’m truly sorry you lost your brother, it has to be one of the most horrible things to experience in life. I sincerely feel and hope what I have written increases your odds in finding what you’re looking for.

  13. The lesson here is if someone tells you they want you have an object, gun, piece of jewelry, whatever… ask them to put it in their Will or add a codicil I have a Ruger GP100 WC model .357 3″ 6 round revolver. The first time my sister in law shot it, she asked me if I could put it in my Will, for it to go to her. And I have added it to codicil with my Will. If you have a weapon that you cherish and want it to go to a special person, make sure it goes to them. Executive designated is legally obligated to abide by your written Will and provide a copy of the Will or codicil to the beneficiary. An attorney friend of mine, ounce told me, “if it’s not in writing, it does not exist”

  14. I know where & when it was purchased & contacted the owner about the 4473. He said he went out of business when there was a fire, so he never sent his records to ATF.

    That’s my kind of FFL dealer right there!

  15. Heck, I’d just be curious to find out what ever happened to X3910 and X3959. Serial numbers for a couple of M1911A1’s in my arms room, back in the day. All the rest had 6 and 7 digit SN’s.

  16. “she wouldn’t let me have any of the other guns which I paid for.”

    Should have called a lawyer right then.

    • JT- 100+. That constituted theft of firearms- Federal offense- one count per firearm! Would have settled out of court by returning said firearms when faced with prospect of years and years in ClubFed. Happy ending all around. But hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it.

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