How to Read Colt Serial Numbers: Detailed Instructions

How to Read Colt Serial Numbers

Colt serial numbers can be challenging to interpret if you lack experience. While these model codes have little effect on firearms performance, they help determine a firearm’s origin and history.

We will look at the various methods of how to read colt serial numbers, the suffixes and prefixes, the colt model code, and how to determine the date of manufacture of a colt.

Let’s dive into it.

The Fast Method

It is the easiest method of how to read colt serial numbers.

The “Serial Number Lookup,” lets you research your Colt firearms by entering their serial numbers.

Here’s how to read the colt serial numbers:

  • Visit
  • Click on “Customer Service.”
  • Select “Lookup colt Serial Number.”
  • Use the search bar to look up your guns the characters and numbers on them.
  • Select your query and press search.
How to Read Colt Serial Numbers. Colt site

It’s the quickest and easiest method of reading colt serial numbers. We must note that the data still needs to be comprehensive.

Some older firearms have colt serial numbers found on other models; in this case, you need only match the correct date.

The best method, however, is to read and interpret the serial number carefully. Due to the inaccuracy of the technology, several ancient weapons have serial numbers similar to those of earlier weapons.

Experts on the Colt Forum help you decrypt your colt’s serial number and identify its model should you find any unusual information and require assistance. Then you’ll be able to pinpoint its exact manufacturing date.

The Reliable Method: Use the Archive Letter from Colt

How to Read Colt Serial Numbers. Archive letter

This method will cost you some bucks, but it is one of the most effective methods of how to read colt serial numbers. Colt provides its clients with a dedicated research team. 

Find your gun’s original characteristics and specs, as well as the shipping address, in the enclosed letter. Your gun’s final price will skyrocket after you reveal the archival letter’s wealth of historical detail.

The letter does not include non-manufacturer markings, the Finish, barrel length, caliber, and engravings. This means the corresponding letter descriptions may reflect a different figure other than the weapon’s actual state.

The letter fees vary with the type of colt owned Most common guns cost $100 but vintage models, for instance, the 1851 Navy, will cost over 300 bucks.

It is important to consider that these are the lowest costs incurred. The final cost will defer depending on the need for shipping to international locations and the custom finish.

Archive letters attribute a famous person’s weapons collection to a specific weapon because of the high value of such attributions.

Reliability-wise, The colt archive letter remains the best option.

How to Understand the Numbers of Your Colt

Different methods are used to read colt serial numbers. They include the prefixes and suffixes, the serial numbers, and the model code. Check it out.

How to Understand the Numbers of Your Colt

Prefixes and Suffixes

The prefixes and suffixes include the following acronyms:

  • SA – This represents Single Action,
  • NF – which stands for New Frontier,
  • SP – meaning Sporter,
  • MT – represents Match Target.

If a firearm’s serial number begins with a “C,” colt manufactured it during Colt’s early production years. Guns with serial numbers starting with “D” or “E” were produced in later years. whereas firearms with serial numbers beginning with “F” or “G” were produced in minimal amounts.

Finding a reference table to compare the characters with the production year is necessary if you desire to have an understanding of the guns exact age.

Serial Numbers

It is challenging to comprehend how to read colt serial numbers without context.

The colt serial number range is located on the left side of the barrel, just in front of the handguard.

The serial number is a series of letters and numbers that can be used to track the history and production of each gun. The first letter of the serial number tells you the manufacture date of the weapon, and the rest of the letters and numbers tell you about different parts or features of the firearm.

Colt Model Code

Typically, a colt’s Single Action model number consists of a letter and four numerals. The prefix indicates the frame type, while the following numbers specify the barrel and grip length, model, and caliber finish.

The first digit of your firearm’s model number represents the frame.

  • 1″ denotes a basic frame using the current layout,
  • The Colt Custom Shop’s building is depicted by 2,
  • 3 indicates a non-standard frame structure.

The second digit indicates the caliber of a firearm in the model number.

  • 4 represents The.32-20 Winchester,
  • 6 indicates a 357 S&W Magnum,
  • The number seven stands for a 44 Remington Magnum.
  •  8 illustrates a.45 Automatic Colt Pistol.
  • The 9 represents the.44-40 Winchester caliber.

The third number indicates the barrel length.

  • 3 represents – a caliber ranging from 3 to 4 inches.
  • 4 – 4.75 cm or 5 cm in length,
  • Seven refers to 7.5 inches.
  • The size of one represents 30 centimeters or 300 millimeters.

The fourth number is the coating of the gun.

  • 1 indicates a nickel or deep blue coating,
  • 2 Nickel case-hardened or blue case-hardened coating.
  • 3 is a simple plain nickel finish,
  • 4 represents a royal blue case-hardened finish,
  • 6 depicts a nickel plating.

Since the significance of the fourth digit is heavily dependent on the first three preceding digits, it has been used to distinguish newer models from older ones.

How to Determine the Date of Manufacture of a Colt by Serial Number?

In general, colt models have their own set of serial numbers.

How to Determine the Date of Manufacture of a Colt by Serial Number

The colt serial numbers help you narrow down the possible production years. 

If your pistol is not a revolver, you can narrow your search by leaving out colt revolver models. You can check your search by providing information about the caliber of your rifle. You cannot use a Model 1908 Hammerless if your gun is. 32 calibers. Many Colt model guns have the model’s name engraved on the frame or barrel.

If you don’t have a model name, the serial number, and a few good photos of your colt in the Colt Category, it will help you figure out what model it is and the production date.


You now understand how to read colt serial numbers, how you can determine your date of manufacture, and the colt model code. What is your model colt serial number? Feel free to comment below and remember to share the post with your friends.


My first deer at the age of 45 I joined the deer hunting fraternity a little late, but the desire to hunt has always been there. I love hunting, so I often have to deal with hunting equipment.