The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) is in serious trouble. The scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious has revealed a federal law enforcement agency actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy. Instead of sheltering in harbor, the ATF is adopting a damn the torpedos full-speed ahead strategy. Exhibit A: the Agency’s decision to ram through an unconstitutional long gun registry for 8500 border-dwelling American firearms dealers. Exhibit B: a recent raid on Elite Ammunition for manufacturing “armor piercing” pistol caliber ammo. Elite’s CEO Jay Wolf takes up the tale . . .

“It started with a visit by an ATF IOI (Industry Operations Investigator) on July 3. They asked for bullet samples. I gave them samples and showed them a 2008 FTB [Firearms Technology Bureau] ruling stating that using the Barnes 45gr Banded Solid bullet in .223 and 5.7×28 was not a 1968 GCA [Gun Control Act] violation.

[Our bullets are modifications of the solid brass Barnes bullet. I re-shaped the Barnes boat tail and made the bands in the Barnes bullets deeper. That’s it. I made a lighter version of their bullet that would break up on impact for hunting. These rounds have proven very popular with feral hog hunters out west.]

On July 9, an ATF team showed up at our door: eight agents in body armor with a search warrant dated July 8th 4 pm. The ATF would not let me copy the warrant or provide a copy. They took all of our bullets in .223, 6.5 Grendel and 6.8SPC, loaded ammo and computers. The ammo’s total retail value was approximately $15,000.

The agent in charge stated that .223, 6.5 Grendel and 6.8SPC were now handgun cartridges. Since our bullets were made of brass they were AP [Armor Piercing] and prohibited. The agent told me I could no longer sell or manufacture these bullets or loaded rounds. They produced an FTB [Firearms Technology Branch] order dated the day before stating the above change in cartridge classification. They would not provide a copy and they would not let me make a copy.

The ATF confiscated our computers. According to the agent, they were going to copy our database and then move to recover ALL the bullets and ammo we’d sold. When the ATF returned our computers on July 13th, I asked about the hearing and what charges I would be facing for selling AP ammo. I was told there would be NONE. There would be no charges, fines or issues with me keeping my FFL or staying in business. This was not stated in writing.

The ATF provided me with nothing in writing save the search warrant. They confiscated 15 grand worth of product (I’d just finished making a run of bullets). They copied all the information on our customers from our computers.

We’re a small company. This was a hobby until I got laid off about a year ago. Now it’s our sole source of income. Even though we just don’t have the money and are struggling to keep the doors open I have contacted Mike Danforth of Shaw Law to represent us in a lawsuit against the ATF.”

According to our source at the 2011 Firearms Industry Importer, Exporter and Manufacturer Conference, the ATF confirmed that it now considers brass bullets in .223. 6.5 and 6.8 calibers armor piercing handgun ammunition. They are officially verboten.

The industry lobby group known as the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Federation) “aggressively questioned” the Agency’s stance. The ATF conceded that they may need to look at the policy, develop variance policies, and draw up a FAQ on it.

Meanwhile, here’s the official (i.e. public) ATF definition of Armor Piercing ammo, as per 18 USC 921(a)(17)(B):

(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means –
(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a
handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence
of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of
tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or
depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber
designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a
weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the
projectile.

Rifle-wielding hunters and marksmen buy Elite’s (and Barnes’) brass bullets for increased accuracy and consistency (less wobble baby wobble baby). Our man Foghorn points out that the U.S. government sells surplus ammo that’s more AP-enabling than Elite’s products. In specific, the SS109 and XM855 [below].

The latter’s a 62gr lead bullet with a steel cone in the tip designed to penetrate material like . . . body armor. The Lake City armory manufactures the round; Federal sells surplus them on the civilian market.

UPDATE: Mr. Wolf has received a copy of the new ATF regulation. I’m hoping to persuade him to share it with TTAG’s readers.

59 Responses to ATF Elite Ammunition Raid Revealed

  1. Well from now on when ever ATF shows up at your place of business, have everyone pull out their camera phones.

    • That would probably just result in them smashing your phone and charging you with “warrantless wiretapping”. Better to set up a series of cameras recording everything – as far as I know they can’t try to claim that crap against a home security system.

      • Even better, have the cameras streaming to an off-site server so you still have all the video when they haul off your hardware.

  2. This is not, in any way, surprising. Like the rest of this administration, when faced with a controversial situation, their first inclination isn’t to retreat and reassess, but to double down. To basically say, ‘You don’t like it? F*ck you. What are you going to do about it?’

    It’s the Chicago way.

  3. What’s frightening is that they seized their customer database. So, now many of us who purchase ammo from online dealers have to consider that our information may be seized by the ATF… and we may have these guys show up at OUR doors to confiscate our ammo.

    And, how convenient that they arbitrarily reclassified certain rifle rounds as “handgun rounds.” What’s next?? I’ve got some of that 855 .223 ammo. Should I be worried about a knock at the door?

      • Though I have yet to order from them, I am a fan of Elite Ammunition company. Their nich was initially the improved 5.7x28mm rounds for the FN PS90/P90 and Handgun.

        But if the ATF is looking to take down all manufactures of armor piercing 5.7x 28mm rounds, (definition of armor piercing asside), then they better go after FN themselves. Plenty of Youtube vids floading around with the SS197SR ammo going through level II body armor.

        Glad to see my tax dollars being wasted again harrassing entrepreneurs and law abiding citizens.

  4. You were expecting logic and consistency from the feds? In a rational world had they made such a rule they would have published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the federal Register and given notice so that people and businesses could respond and deal with the issue. But its a lot easier, and more in keeping with the philosophy of Our New Masters, that they simply ride roughshod over the peasants — I mean the citizens.

  5. (C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun
    shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for
    hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a
    projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be
    used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core
    which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial
    purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating
    device.

    So if the bullets in question are primarily intended to be for “sporting purposes” then they shouldn’t be considered AP. I’m not sure what the marketing jargon Elite used to describe their trident line(and obviously they’re no longer listed on the website) but I’m sure it wasn’t “Now capable of slicing right through a Bullet proof trauma plate”.

    And as long as m855 isn’t made entirely from one of the listed materials(bronze, depleted uranium, vibranium, etc.) and/or isn’t larger than .22 caliber(not sure what the weight differences are between jacket material and core on one since I don’t have a scale or a reasonable way to separate jacket from core on hand) than it’s fine.

  6. Nuts! I might know someone who has many legally purchased 5.56 mm AP government rounds, so what’s the diff? And 7.62 X 39mm….

  7. In a perfect world you could tell the ATF agents to go F**K themselves, but in the real world you’re not going to stop eight guys with machine guns from doing as they please. You can’t win, so you just have to go along with the program and hope that a good lawyer can help. ATF really stands for “ALL THE FOOLS” and since we allow this agency to exist we get screwed everytime. The ATF considered elite guilty on all charges, and now they can spend tens of thousands to try and defend themselves.

    • Which is why the philosophy of “shoot first, ask questions later” is best. Then go to court and swear that they didn’t announce who they were and all you knew were several armed lunatics broke into your home, so you defended yourself.

        • Hey, I never said it would hold up in court, but it beats the alternative of just rolling over and letting them do whatever they want.

        • The alternative being winning a case against the ATF for unlawful search and seizure? If they show up at your door with a warrant and you decide that the best choice you have is to go out guns blazing then they probably made the right choice in issuing that warrant.

          Answer the door, ask for their credentials, and lawyer up. Only mall ninjas think they can win a firefight with 8 federal agents loaded for bear.

        • And you really think that the government (regardless of which party is in power) is going to ever give up a single bit of control over your life? Besides, I never said anything about winning… 🙂

          Just imagine if the founding fathers had decided to peacefully be arrested and hanged instead of fighting back. They knew that there was a good chance that they would all die fighting to be free, but it beat the alternative.

        • The founding fathers also knew they had a chance to win. Discretion is the better part of valor. All your heroic last stand would get you is branded a gun loon and given the Brady bunch and other gun control groups more ammunition.

        • Which is going to happen anyways. With as much power as the government has unconstitutionally seized, guns are GOING to be banned, it’s just a matter of when.

          Will you just peacefully hand them over when that day comes?

  8. I smell a pretty good lawsuit here. One of the hallmarks of due process is adequate notice. Assuming the facts are in fact as they appear, a significant change in policy such as that would require notice.

    • I tried doing some internet research on this case, including spending some time on the ATF website. At this point, I’m not convinced that we have all of the facts. If I have time, I may call BATF on Monday and see what I can find out.

      • Of course there is more to the story. So far we’ve heard only one side. That’s the difference between single-interest blogs and real news outlets. News outlets try to get all sides of a story. Bloggers only care about one side of the story — their side.

        This is why these stories tend to present a weird kind of religious clarity that you can’t find in the real world. Here we have only pure good vs. pure evil, no shades of gray and no room for doubt. Watch as the ATF agents tie young maidens to the railroad tracks.

        • My call to the ATF has gone unanswered.

          And sometimes it’s better to liberate the maiden rather than watch a train bisect her body. Just sayin’.

        • You have a point to view to represent. Nothing wrong with that. However, there might be other points of view.

        • Hey Magoo… I hate to give you a big news flash, but there is no such thing as a “real news outlet” anymore. Whether its CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, etc, they are all whoring for either the left or the right. Obviously, some are doing so in a slightly less blatent manner than others, but lets not kid ourselves and think that there are still news organizations interested in “both sides of the story.” That journalistist anacranism died long ago.

        • Many if not most news outlets have editorial positions. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t real news outlets. That depends on their commitment to getting multiple sides of the story. There’s nothing new about this, either. Many cities used to have two (at least) daily newspapers. One was Republican and the other Democratic.

          For the same effect today, watch Fox News for 30 minutes and then switch to MSNBC for the next 30 minutes. It’s a good time.

          It’s kind of amusing today to hear people screeching that they only want to hear the truth. Sure, like it was that easy.

        • I do exactly what you suggest – watch FOX part of the time and then MSNBC or CNN. I think its the only way to really get a sense of the issues these days. Watching MSNBC can be painful for me, especially the editorial shows. Olberman was the worst, although Maddow smugness and elite “holier-than-though” attitiude is also borderline unbearable. But I suffer through it, so that I feel like I can understand the arguments.

        • “Real News Outlets” try to get all sides? Are you serious, or just trying to make something up as your fingers type?

        • Hey, michael, did you catch that smell? Yup, it’s TTAG’s very own tr0ll, trying to stink up our beloved site.

  9. This is a problem when we have republican friends who think patting us on the head and telling us nothing bad will pass, and then passing nothing good is being pro-gun.

    This is what happens when technology and the market out pace the statutes. 20 years ago, AOL was getting noticed and no one had an AR pistol. Today there ae not only AR pistols, but AKs, FNs and more. Mostly cut down rifles without but stocks, but they qualify as pistols. Remember the Mare’s Leg?

    And now they are getting creative in their interpratation of the statute to deal with something they don’t like.

  10. My self-assessment is that I am not an overly paranoid person. That said; were I to have purchased TAC-XP anywhere online in .45 or .40 flavors I think that little voice inside my head would be screaming its metaphoric lungs out right about now.

  11. So, the end-around is to reclassify ALL rifle ammo as “handgun ammo” effectively making a lot of ammo illegal “armor-piercing.”

    What about bonded jacketed hollow-point handgun ammo? It’s marketed as being able to penetrate “barriers” better than non-bonded jacketed hollow-points. Will that be next? Winning the war by attrition. Boiling the frog slowly.

    • I don’t think the ATF can (legally) reclassify rifle ammo as “handgun ammo” at all, because the law doesn’t actually create different classes of ammunition. From a legal perspective, the GCA only defines “ammunition” and “Armor Piercing ammuntion;” it does not create separate definitions for “handgun ammuntion” and “rifle ammunition.”

      Subsection (i) of the above definition of “Armor Piercing ammunition” specifies that AP bullets (not cartridges) need only “may be used” in a handgun for the ammunition to be considered AP based on its core’s composition. Subsection (ii) states that designating a round AP based on the percentage weight of its jacket is dependent on whether or not the projectile (bullet, not cartridge) was designed to be used in a handgun.

      I think this is a case of manufacturing cartridges that the ATF have designated AP based on subsection (i) and not that .223, 6.5 Grendel, and 6.8 SPC cartridges are now classified as handgun ammunition (which is patently absurd, IMO) as the article suggests. This is probably a case of (yet another) ATF agent that didn’t know what he was talking about when explaining the situation to the business owner. But we’ll see …

  12. This is a new regulation, targeting Elite and put into effect with no announcement and no comment period. It’s called a “midnight regulation,” put into effect on the last day of a lame duck administration. Or in this case, a lame duck agency with a primitive mind and a lust for human flesh. Die, zombie agency, die.

    No wonder ATF has been called a bunch of jackbooted fascists for twenty years.

  13. It’s awfully naive in this day and age to be in the firearms business and not have a good attorney on retainer.

  14. Has the ATF not embarrassed themselves enough through “Fast & Furious” or is this just a detraction from it?

  15. the onlything needed for evil to persist is for goodmen to do nothing.not emplying anything but most riflemen cycle sub moa match ammo accuratly.makeing body armor pointless due to side,lung,heart kiddney head shots a walk in the park.body armor being a joke, this is an excus for them to take a nother piece of the pie of our freedom away.harmless hunters will bag their dinner with what ever works and terrorists dont descriminate between lead,copper,tungston or ap. patriotically , dw 300rum.

  16. The indoor range that I shoot at will not allow these surplus bullets to be fired on their range because they penetrate the backstop armor plating which is sharply angled homogenous rolled armor plate. They allow Barnes type all brass bullets because they break up on impact with the backstop. I suppose this means that the Corbon all brass rounds are considered armor piercing too. Interesting since Corbon tests their ammo to make sure they will not penetrate vests. I suppose the FBI spec ammo could be a problem as well. BATFE needs to be put back into their place as origionally intended.

  17. The BATFE is a criminal rogue agency that makes it’s own rules as it goes. It, along with a bunch of other ‘alphabet agencies’, needs to be disbanded. This constant and rabid trashing of the US Constitution needs to be STOPPED.

  18. Until we stand up for our rights and fight the transgressions against us, they will continue on their merry way. Thanks to Obama and Holder, they think they can do as they please. Maybe the number one criminal will be voted out this year, and charges can be filed against him for the crimes committed against the citizens of the USA.

  19. I think that many of you lack any perspective on this topic, because you don’t know the “owners” of this business.

    The owners of this business, Joseph Jay Laurence Wolf and Lisa Marie Wolf, are, in my opinion, exceptionally dishonest people and they conduct exceptionally dishonest business transactions. They are also cyberstalkers, thieves, identity thieves, impostors, and again, in my opinion, mentally ill. As evidence I place these websites URL’s, where you can read their own words and judge for yourself. http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=835652

    http://jaywolfcyberstalker.blogspot.com/

    http://lisawolfcyberstalker.blogspot.com/

    On top of these issues of turpitude, they have also been complicit in acts of stock fraud, notary fraud, financial crimes, mail fraud, violations of the Federal Gun Control Acts, unlawfully manufactured and sold armor piercing ammunition, and have stolen customers money to pay for two homes, vehicles and their childrens private school education.

    http://www.eliteammunition.net/f/Warrant_July_2011.pdf,

    Include on top of this that they have, since early 2009, been receiving firearms – handguns exclusively – from customers so that they can conduct gunsmithing work (they call it accurizing). What’s interesting about this is that they lack ANY FFL other than a TYPE 6 (ammunition manufacturer).

    Why is that significant?

    Because an AMMUNITION MANUFACTURER cannot “Deal” in weapons; receiving the weapon to do work on it REQUIRES a TYPE 1 or 7 FFL – they have neither.

    They have also “acquired” a number of firearms from distributors by “inking an FFL” and handing it to them; the law may allow that to be sufficient for “business purchases,” but they have acquired a number of personal firearms – purchased with their customers money – and kept in their personal collections and never registered in their bound book – as they have no bound book.

    This is clearly “straw man” purchasing and absolutely illegal. In Illinois they’ve also violated a series of laws on the acquisition and disposal of firearms by doing this, as well as having acquired firearms for others (including a real estate broker friend) through this channel, and disposing of those firearms without the 4473 or the NICS background check – as they are incapable of these actions – they do NOT have a dealers license and cannot deal in firearms.

    Period.

    They’ve known since early 2009 that their “special ammunition” (they use the code-word LEROY) is AP by definition – they have simply chosen to gamble that they wouldn’t get caught.

    But they did. And now they cry “foul!”

    However, just 14 months before, they were at the BATFE offices IN PERSON after having received several rounds of ammunition from Wil Baca, formerly of Baca Ballistics, that included a steel tip – the result of that meeting was BATFE raiding Wil Baca’s home in El Paso Texas and his surrendering of his license in lieu of prosecution – at which time Jay Wolf and Lisa Wolf jubilated publicly.

    And now they’re crying and begging for money… “God bless you,” they say, when begging for ca$h to pay for a lawyer.

    But its “F-you” when YOU want YOUR products shipped, or YOUR money returned.

    Don’t feel sorry for these clowns, and don’t, not for a second, believe a bit of what they tell you; they are liars and thieves; their own words speak for them.

    Last thing, they’re also in violation of the ITAR Department of State registration requirements for their licensure; common bullies and crooks trying to scam more money from the public. Of course, in my opinion.

  20. Whatever happened to those chinese flame throwers anyway? btw, what’s the tensile strength of piano wire? How can we find bare unprocessed copper alloy jackets? lol

    It’s beyond education. We have to come right out and teach the true meaning of the Constitution, that the 2nd amendment protects civilian owned military hardware, not hunting equipment. Gotta get that idea into peoples’ heads, teaching them about checks and balances. Seeds. Everyone teaches truth. No one gives up.

  21. elite ammunition is a joke and they should be put out of buisness. They are rude and there buisness practice has a great deal to be desired.

  22. Has a bit of a NAZI feel to it…. I guess Obama has got a buddy running the ATF and feels they can do anything they wish with total disregard for the laws of the land. Just like their boss.

  23. Hey, the ATF has gone completely criminally insane, like the rest of our new communist government. They actually seized a shipment of AIRSOFT guns from some poor toy store on the grounds that they could be converted into real, fully automatic assault rifles! I’d like to see them do that to prove it’s possible. While they are at it, why not turn lead into gold, too? And let’s not forget the “fast and furious” thing where the ATF sold a bunch of guns to the Mexican drug cartels…….

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