Researching a guns history

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This subject has come up a lot lately on several forums that I look at (not just Ruger forums).

Ruger will tell you when it was shipped and model number when it shipped but that is it. But where do you start digging to get more info on it? Like where was it shipped to ( Davidsons, Lipseys, RCMP, Indian Govt, etc.) originally, was it a contract, how many of that configuration were shipped, etc.?

Chads Reference of Rugers is an excellent starting place, but even it doesn't have all the info that some people would like to have.

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to see what the build order or contract said (dealing with the configuration).
 
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Ruger does not give any info other than ship date and what it shipped as ,model number....quite a few years ago , the RCA used to have available a "certificate' and that had a bit MORE info as well as the "build" ( made) date, still NOWHERE near or like or as detail as Colt, and some of the S&W info provided by Mr Jinks...........Ruger just does not, will not , get into using a company "historian" for data, info, etc....they use 'other' departments' and 'add on" the limited search they perform, via mail,and now for an 'extra' $10......check what a FULL info Colt letter will cost!!
 
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rugerguy said:
Ruger does not give any info other than ship date and what it shipped as ,model number....quite a few years ago , the RCA used to have available a "certificate' and that had a bit MORE info as well as the "build" ( made) date, still NOWHERE near or like or as detail as Colt, and some of the S&W info provided by Mr Jinks...........Ruger just does not, will not , get into using a company "historian" for data, info, etc....they use 'other' departments' and 'add on" the limited search they perform, via mail,and now for an 'extra' $10......check what a FULL info Colt letter will cost!!

I understand the Ruger process, I have almost all of my Rugers "lettered" (both free and paid for). What people are asking is how can an individual research his gun on his own? Where do you begin? How do you find out the history of, say, a DAO GP100, fixed sights, with small grips, marked GPNY that you don't have the original box? Did it actually get to the NYC PD or was it a contract overrun that was sold to a distributor? Is the finish correct for that configuration or did someone do something to it? What about a Ruger that was sold to the RCMP, where does one start to search?

From the remarks that I have been seeing on other forums, people understand why the Colt and S&W letters cost so much and they realize that Ruger will probably never do this, thus the question "How do I do it myself, where do I start"?
 

contender

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Without documentation from Ruger,, I doubt you'd get very far unless you are able to know who all bought said gun.
When you consider the sheer volume of firearms Ruger has built in it's history, it'll be a herculean task to ever get the records in such a detail we'd all like to have. Colt, S&W etc had MUCH lower production numbers in their early beginnings. Easier to get their info in order.
I would say that it would take a couple of people, working daily, 8 hr shifts, over 2 years to just transfer the data in Rugers records to a computer. THEN it would have to be cross checked with data such as returns, repairs, transfer bar upgrades etc.
So, the only way I'd know how you can trace a firearms history is to be able to trace it back to the original purchaser, and then try & convince the gun shop to allow you to know which distributor he bought it from. Then try & convince the distributor to give you any info on where they got it & when.
A hard job to be sure.
 

radicalrod

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Contender, I call BS on the lower numbers :lol: :lol: :lol:

Heck Colt and S & W both made guns almost 100 years before RUGER started.....RR.
 
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the RENE comes about the closest ( if not the ONLY 'other' source), and then there are ALL the distributor special, limited editions, and on and on, and you will not "find" any certain "source) for this, Ruger treats all of this as "proprietary" (sic) :wink:
magazine articles ( stories) ha ha.......and word of mouth (Ruger lore) again, "stories"............folks want "provenance", not tales, we hear 'tales' at any given gun show or gun shop everywhere :roll:
 

Doc4429

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I have letters on many of my Ruger 44s and my S&Ws. For post-WW II firearms, S&W provides the shipping date and the location. The letter also states the configuration of the gun and if rare, will sometimes comment on the number made, engraving, etc. Rarely, shipment is to an individual, but rather to a dealer or distributor (many are out of business since I focus on guns from the 50s and 60s). It is next to impossible to go beyond where the gun was shipped by the company and I have only pursued this in a couple of instances (with a little success).

S&W's records shipping invoices for records from the 1920s to the mid-1970s are paper documents that are hand searched to verify the gun's configuration, shipping date and location. I don't know how many letter requests Ruger responds to in a year, but one person, full or part-time, could probably handle the job.

I sent a request to Ruger with a question about a Super Blackhawk shipped in a white, cardboard case. I asked them to look at the price on the invoice and using that, determine if the gun was billed at the cardboard case price, or at the price of a SBH shipped with a mahogany case. After about a month, I received a response indicating they did not have pricing information and could not help me (my check was also returned).

I think much of the frustration on the part of Ruger collectors is not knowing what is available, or how to find out, or access what is in the records (if any access would be allowed).

Bill
 

Tucsonite

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radicalrod said:
Contender, I call BS on the lower numbers :lol: :lol: :lol:

Heck Colt and S & W both made guns almost 100 years before RUGER started.....RR.

I agree with Rod here, S&W and Colt had Millions and Millions of guns shipped long before Ruger even started.

As Bill points out 1 person could probably fill the position of historian at Ruger but the problem is they are unwilling to release the information to the collectors. How many have tried to get shipping location on a gun to be denied. And since they instituted the new letter processes it is worse. The Legal Dept. is quoted to deny access to the information regularly.

The S&W Historical Foundation is currently scanning all the paper documentation available to digital records that are searchable. The costs are very expensive and time consuming. Our friend Doc4429 aka Bill is a large part of it happening for the S&W Collectors but most of the Historical Records from S&W are privately owned or in museum at this time, so there is access to them. Ruger still owns their historical records.


Dan
 
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One place to start would be here.

An inquiry posted here would get good exposure to all of the folks who frequent this place, and many of them are long-time Rugerphiles who can shed a lot of light on many old pieces.

One might not consider this to be iron-clad "documentation" or "provenance" but it would surely be better than nothing. I've learned a bunch here thanks to our members who share their knowledge.

:)
 

contender

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I know S&W & Colt were making guns long before Ruger was & over the decades, they did accumulate impressive numbers. But if you look at the companies at different times in their historys, Ruger has produced more per year than they did at the same timeframe of the age of the companies.
But regardless,,, of how many each of them made, the fact remains that Ruger has made millions of semi-auto 22's, and millions of SA revolvers, and millions of 10/22's.
That said, I PERSONALLY spoke with Mr Fifer about getting Ruger to undertake an interest in getting the records organized & transferred onto a computer file.
Due to several different reasons, (lack of an available employee, the time/cost of doing so, the way the older records are currently stored, the methods used in years past to keep records, the damaged ones by the flood, the sheer volume of boxes of records, etc.) all make it a huge task. One comment made by Mr. Fifer was that they have to spend their resources (employees) trying to catch up on the daily job of building firearms & reducing the backlog. Plus, he said he has hired "everybody in CT around him that can pass a background check & a drug test" willing to work. He even stated he's hired people from outside CT.
Just look at the plans for a third new plant. They want to expand to meet demands, so "Records" is a back burner project.
I could say more, as I was with another collector at the time of our discussion, and we all three batted around a lot of ideas about "Records."
Suffice it to say that it's a bigger task than most would believe. It's just not a "simple" job anybody can do, and would take a lot of time.

I can agree that if Ruger were to donate the records from say 1949 to 1963 alone to a museum to where folks at the museum could do the work, we could get better info & letters. But,, just like S&W, & Colt, those letters would cost a LOT more than the current $10 fee.

Maybe one day,,,,,!
 

HAWKEYE#28

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Frankly,.............. BECAUSE OF DATED EXPERIENCES, I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE MULTIPLE AND SEPARATE SOURCES OF INFORMATION WHICH COULD BE, IF SO CHOSEN BY RUGER MGMT, EXAMINED FOR INFOMATION ON EARLIER RUGER FIREARMS. FOR EXAMPLE, PERHAPS SOME FIVE OR SO YEARS AGO, I LISTENED(ON THE PHONE) TO A (THEN) VERY EXPERIENCED RECORDS DPT STAFF MEMBER (some of you will know of whom I speak) AS SHE BOTH DISCUSSED AND SEARCHED THROUGH " THREE SEPARATE SOURCES"(her words) OF INFORMATION LEADING TO A VERY DETAILED LETTER ON AN UNMARKED BUT "S", 7 1/2" RUGER 44 FT WHICH WAS MULTI-BARRELED(6 1/2 to 7 1/2") AND MULTI-TIME-SHIPPED........... 8)KIM PRITULA SIGNED THE LETTER :)
 

contender

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Mike, you are correct. There are different sections of "records" for guns. And yes,, due to the volume of production in the early years, it would be a bit easier to build a database of the older stuff. Such as the dates I mentioned. But it would still take a lot of work & time,,,,!
 
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Going back to what I said before, the folks that did ( do) help us, are in another department doing ANOTHER ,full time job, and in the past when any of them would take a bit of "extra" time, and as Mike alluded and I KNOW others who have gotten far MORE info, data, that what would be a "normal" search , without having to go into ,retrieve and look through invoice after invoice,,,,,,,,,,,,,, these ladies, and God Bless and THANK you all for the help you have given us in the past, still have their "job" to do and it is NOT "historian".......maybe once the Ruger company is at or near the 100 years , plus, OR there is a $$$$ monetary reason to actually go back in time "assimilate", put together, and enter any and ALL data into a single "source" can the job become "easier" for one person, there is NOT a cut and dry reason, the stock holders are NOT "bantering" for ,nor is the board of directors beating them fists down, to make a "historian" now or in the fore-seeable future, collectors are in the very small portion of the overall scheme of things "Ruger" and remember once again,old man Ruger did not care for "collectors" he wanted YOU to buy, use, wear and buy MORE of his guns (products).....this buying ,selling and trading amongst "few" die hard collectors is NOT making Ruger Co. a single penny...............
as for the BIG boys, THANK YOU Mr Roy Jinks, (S&W) , Mr. Marty Huber, Kathleen Hoyt and now Mr Joe Canali, all of Colt Fireams, and the fine folks out at the Cody Museum, for their help with Winchesters........job well done! :wink:
 
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If Ruger were to set up and staff an historical department, they would have to charge enough for the "letters" to pay for all that effort. With the emphasis on the bottom line, how much do you think those letters would cost? Yeah . . . lots.

I'd bet there aren't enough serious Ruger collectors willing to fund that operation.

JMHO

:)
 

SteelShooter

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Not certain if this is tru or not, but since Ruger has been in continuous operation, think they have to keep some of their records for any ATF stuff that comes up?

Now the records say you only need to know certain things, and with Bill not caring about collectors, maybe they only kept those parts that the ATF says you have to.

So barrel length, etc. would not have to maintained, but who it shipped to, caliber, etc. would?
 

radicalrod

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Well I would donate some time or money to get the records available on line.....

An even better question is how did the RCA do it years ago.....do they have copies of the "books" ???

I have heard stories of sets of micro fiche.....RUGER had and has to keep those records for ATF....how can they not have them available....the bottom line is money....and an archives dept would need money.....

Maybe we can get CHAD a paid internship in records.....WOW would that be AWESOME.....he might find the note with the answer to who shot KENNEDY :lol: :lol: :lol: well a guy can DREAM......RR.
 

Doc4429

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I am sure a few collectors know part or all of what is available in Ruger records, but nothing has been published to my knowledge. I have two letters from the RCA dated 1988 and 1991 signed by Nancy Padua that list the manufacturing date and shipping date, so this information is available and provided at that time. I suspect the barrier to currently providing this information and the shipping location has its origin in Ruger's Legal Department, but this is only speculation on my part.

I don't know if a letter from the RCA to Ruger opening a dialog on the subject of records and letters would be useful or not, but it would be a first step.

Bill :?:
 

chet15

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Doc4429 said:
I don't know if a letter from the RCA to Ruger opening a dialog on the subject of records and letters would be useful or not, but it would be a first step.

Bill :?:

Been there, done that several times. The first time I made the request, Steve Vogel was still there and WBR came to him asking about what kind of BS my letter was all about (I'd asked if Ruger could start a department devoted the very thing this thread is asking). Well, with Steve Vogel being head of the RCA (the reason WBR confronted him about it) we were more or less "blacklisted" by RCA because SV got his butt chewed. Don't forget what has been "rumored" to be going on "behind" the scenes while this was going on. SV wasn't exactly on WBR's most liked list, but he was still his son-in-law.
Then after the Ruger years I also asked Steve Sanetti about such a department. Although Steve wrote me back several times, I received nothing back in this case.
Also sent a request to Mike Fifer shortly after he got to Ruger, but no reply in this case either. Although, he is also a veteran at Ruger and if everybody sent some correspondence to him about the subject, perhaps there would be something to "Power in Numbers".
But, the best time to have had something like this occur at Ruger would probably have been long before they were building over a million guns a year. Ruger's never really been there to help collectors (WBR kind of saw to that to some extent), they've always been there to turn a few steel components into $, nothing more.
But, if better information were put in a letter, I don't see how Ruger would not be able to make such an office be self sufficient. Even now at $10 a letter, it would seem there are more than enough requests coming in there to support a salary.
These are Ruger's customers after all, and why not provide the best customer service possible?
Sure, its not their policy to show who guns were shipped to, but its not like 99% of their product has went to individuals....they've went to distributors! Who's it going to hurt to hear where a 1949 production gun went to (most of these people are dead now!), or a 2013 production 10/22 of a model they've made millions of?
I guarantee there are more records and information there that Ruger could share with their customers. They've been keeping production quantities of specific models ever since they opened their doors...so don't let anybody tell you they don't count guns!
Chet15
 

chet15

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Here's what the page of a daybook looks like, circa 1959.



As the top of the page says, these are .44 Blackhawks (flattops). The first column is the serial number, the third column is the point of disposition, the next column is the state of disposition, then the "ship date" and the next column is method of shipment, and the last column is the testfire date (this is the mfg. date).
I only have four guns in my notes from this daybook page, the 20511 noted specially at the top because the employee errantly left the number out of the left column (this gun was in the Fred Nielson collection in Stuart, IA and is chrome or nickle plated, but there are no records saying it was a factory plating job...(note lack of space for this in the daybook record).
I also note that you will see an "L" or an "S" in the column right after the serial number. It is my belief that these are the abbreviations for "Long" or "Short" barrel lengths (long being 10", and short being 6-1/2"). 20511 is a 7-1/2" so this is the reason I believe it to not have an "L" or "S" in the column. I also have had 20499, 20500 and 20502 reported which are 10" guns, hence why I believe there is an "L" in the 2nd column.
Also...please note the lack of space for any other features of these guns! This "extra" stuff (grips, various parts etc.) is not important to a manufacturer!!

These day book records still exist!!

Later day book pages have the actual catalog number of the gun stamped in the appropriate column, so there is no question of barrel length.
Chet15
 
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