[UPDATE: 3/18 11:38 PM] I have just spoken with Dimitri at Ares Armor, and he has confirmed that the raid was over polymer lower receivers and their unique method of manufacturing and not related to build parties as speculated in this article. So while this article still describes an active ATF investigation related to 80% lowers, it appears to be unrelated to Ares Armor. The article has been updated to reflect this new information.

The Ares Armor case is interesting, but another investigation relating to 80% lower receivers involves some of the sketchiest gun stores I have ever heard of. Take a peek . . .

An 80% lower is, in a legal sense, just a hunk of metal. It’s not a complete firearm, so it isn’t treated like one. It’s no more a firearm than a block of marble is a work of art by Michelangelo. But it has enough of the rough dimensions of an AR-15 lower receiver that finishing the project and turning it into a functional gun is almost trivial — drill a couple of holes, mill a few locations, and presto, you have yourself a gun.

Manufacturing 80% lower receivers isn’t illegal. You can even ship them anywhere you want to whomever you want, since, again, it’s just a hunk of metal and not technically a gun. But manufacturing firearms for sale to the public without a license is a HUGE no-no. And if the affadavit for the search warrant is accurate, then that’s exactly what some people in California were doing.

To be clear, the following describes activities of people who are NOT Ares Armor. Specifically, the following details the business practices of LCG AR Part and Custom Accessories in California. But it gives some insight into what the ATF thinks was going down in Ares Armor’s back room.

On March 19, 2013, an undercover law enforcement officer (“UC#1”) visited LCG AR Parts and Custom Accessories (“LCG”) [ED: NOT Ares Armor], located at 8524 Florin Road, Sacramento (Attachment A-1). LCG is a small gun parts store located within a larger commercial plaster retail store. At LCG, UC#1 was met by MICHAEL TURNER. UC#1 asked TURNER about firearms. TURNER informed UC#1 that UC#1 could purchase an AR-15 blank at LCG and “mill it out” in the back of the shop the same day – essentially creating a firearm from scratch.


On April 3, 2013, UC#1 met TURNER at LCG. UC#1 removed an AR-15-style pistol off the display wall of LCG and explained that he wanted to model the pistol after the one on display. TURNER handed UC#1 an AR-15 blank that was made of aluminum. UC#1 asked how long it takes to make the AR-15 blank into a firearm. TURNER informed UC#1 that such a firearm could be made in about two hours. TURNER informed UC#1 that UC#1 would drill five holes and then “Jimmy” would “clean it up.” TURNER is pictured below in a screenshot from the video recorded by UC#1.

TURNER identified “Jimmy” (individual later identified as EMILIANO CORTEZ) and indicated UC#1 should follow EMILIANO CORTEZ. EMILIANO CORTEZ and TURNER guided UC#1 out of the firearm shop (located within the plastering business) towards the back of the business. Upon arriving at the rear of the business, TURNER told UC#1 that EMILIANO CORTEZ was going to set the AR-15 blank into a “jig.”

TURNER informed UC#1 that UC#1 would have to drill five holes in the AR-15 blank, and then EMILIANO CORTEZ would mill the remainder to complete the receiver. UC#1 was directed to use a drill press and instructed how to operate the drill press – in essence, UC#1 was operating the drill press as a surrogate for EMILIANO CORTEZ – EMILIANO CORTEZ directed each and every move made by UC#1. EMILIANO CORTEZ would motion to the UC#1 when to stop and reposition the AR-15 blank. Subsequently, TURNER took UC#1 back to the front of LCG and informed UC#1 that EMILIANO CORTEZ would finish the receiver within the next hour and a half.


According to the Department of Homeland Security, EMILIANO CORTEZ is a Mexican national who has previously been deported and is illegally present within the United States. Further, EMILIANO CORTEZ is a convicted felon. In 2010, in Nevada County, California, EMILIANO CORTEZ was convicted of possession of an assault weapon and sentenced to sixteen months in prison.


Several minutes later, CI#1 departed from LCG in possession of an AR-15 pistol, two boxes of ammunition, and a large-capacity magazine. At no point was CI#1 required to fill out a background check form or complete any paperwork that is required by ATF prior to the purchase of a firearm.

I’m gonna be honest — this doesn’t sound good for those involved.

So from the documents, it looks like these guys (LCG AR Parts and Custom Accessories, or “LCG”) employed an illegal Mexican immigrant who’s also a felon to assist customers in manufacturing firearms on the business’s premises. The employee in question allegedly would set the blank up in the drill press, instruct the customer in drilling out the holes, then then take it from there.

Around the time of the investigation, the ATF issued a response to Ares Armor’s request for clarification about the same practice — “assisting” others in milling out their 80% lower receivers. And according to the ATF, a federal firearms license is required for “a business premises at which, for a fee, it makes available a computer numeric control (CNC) machine, tools, equipment, and instructions to persons who bring in castings or raw materials for the purpose of creating firearms.” In short, what was happening in the back of LCG’s shop was, according to the ATF, illegal.

After the clarification was issued, LGS seems to have had an “OH SHIT” moment and tried to clean up its act. Tried.

On April 25, 2013, CI#1 visited LCG and purchased two AR-15 blanks from LUIS CORTEZ. CI#1 inquired about converting the AR-15 blanks into firearms. TURNER advised CI#1 that they [LCG] were no longer going to machine and drill AR-15 blanks into completed lower receivers and that CI#1 was going to have to do it. TURNER continued that this change was because of a “DOJ” announcement stating that it was illegal for them to show customers how to do the machining and drilling and be paid for it.


When CI#1 approached LUIS CORTEZ about the information provided by TURNER, LUIS CORTEZ advised that his brother (EMILIANO CORTEZ) was afraid to touch “the machine” (referring to the machine used to mill the AR-15 blanks). LUIS CORTEZ informed CI#1 that numerous customers had been calling and LUIS CORTEZ had informed them that he no longer did “it” anymore (referring to the machining and drilling of AR-15 blanks).

I’ll spare you the gory details, but after the letter came out it looks like LCG started putting people in touch with third parties who performed the same service that had previously been done on-site. People whom the adjective “sketchy” doesn’t begin to describe.

DOCUMENT: Indictment

DOCUMENT: Search Warrant Affadavit

In short, these guys are royally screwed. And they know it.

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236 Responses to Search Warrant: Gun Stores “Helping” Build 80236 Lowers Deemed Illegal

  1. So why was EP Armory, and Ares Armory, who manufacture two-tone plastic 80% lowers, raided and re-opened? Why were there records seized?

    I heard that it was the BTAF decided that the two plastic lowers didn’t qualify as 80%, anybody know?

    • AS I understand, that was one of the angles. The issue being that the white part to be milled out was suspected to be created in the fire control pocket *after* the entire “100%” lower had been molded.

    • ^^THIS
      I have to say Nick the guys over at LCG were not following the law. It is pretty clear at this point.

      After Dark Side Tactical in San Jose was shut down for having build parties, it seems that Ares asked for clarification, and rightfully so.

      Regardless of the accusations of the BATFE, the guys over at Areas have been on the up and up. EP was also raided as well, and this focuses on the Polymer 80% lower specifically.

      The owner of Ares has also been having issues regarding their sign as well, and have been threatened with jail time if they didn’t take it down. This has been one giant build up.

      • No! It is my understanding that the colored core was built first, and only THEN did the molding around the core create the lower. Therefore, at no point during the manufacturing process did they ever mill out the trigger cavity to fill it back up later. The ATF is still in the wrong.

        • You are correct. EP and Ares had responded by getting the ATF clarification on the matter.

        • The printer that “prints” the lower, can be set to use multiple colored plastic and even different compositions of plastic in the printing. In essence, depending on how complex the printer is, it is just like a color printer using different colored inks to print a picture, but in this case you are using plastic, and it is in 3 dimensions.

        • In response to Mark langlois:

          “The printer that “prints” the lower, can be set to use multiple colored plastic and even different compositions of plastic in the printing. In essence, depending on how complex the printer is, it is just like a color printer using different colored inks to print a picture, but in this case you are using plastic, and it is in 3 dimensions.”

          EP lowers aren’t printed, they are molded. Just wanted to clarify that to avoid further confusion on this matter.

      • The two tone plastic AND premarked locations to drill the trigger and hammer pins was just too close to the hand holding that LCG is alleged to have undertaken.

    • As the above article states, the ATF has classified 3rd party assistance in where to mill/drill on a lower as manufacturing a firearm. The ATF has decided to investigate whether the colored part of EP Armory’s lowers qualify as 3rd party assistance. If they do indeed decide that this is true, it will make anyone who has ever sold one guilty of illegal manufacture of a firearm. The next logical step in the process is to raid everyone who manufactures jigs. If your company makes or sells 80% lower jigs, get ready.

      It’s a shame that all the 80% lowers that I have purchased were lost in a boating accident…..

      • “If they do indeed decide that this is true, it will make anyone who has ever sold one guilty of illegal manufacture of a firearm. ”

        Doesn’t this run into some ex post facto problems? If it was ruled legal (or at least NOT illegal) at the time of the sale, how can they go back and make a charge after changing the law/interpretation of the law?

        I mean, how can they do that rightly and legally?

        • This is the BATFE we’re talking about. Do you honestly think that they give a rat’s ass about what’s “right and “legal”?

        • Having met a few ATF agents I can state that in my experience, I don’t know that they can determine what’s right and legal, much less care.

    • The story I’m hearing is that Ares was selling to LCG. In a best-case scenario for Ares, the feds were looking for details on exactly how many blanks were sold to LCG, I guess on the theory that LCG’s record-keeping in general would stink. Which, if the allegations against LCG are correct, is likely the case.

      Now, the Ares records won’t tell anybody who the final customers of LCG are. But they’ll tell the feds how many charges will be racked up against LCG.

      • If this was the case then why not talk with Ares about the case. It would make sense that if asked because of the wrong doing of LCG that they would be more than happy to hand over those specific records and be done with it.

        • I don’t think so.
          1. Ares, rightfully, would have been skeptical of any claims made by BATFE.
          2. Ares and BATFE already had a contentious relationship.
          3. BATFE wouldn’t have brought Ares ‘into the circle’ and revealed the targets of their investigation because:
          a. Because Ares might have alerted the target.
          b. Ares might have been more complicit than BATFE knew and only a full review of records could answer that.
          c. By asking for all records related to 80% lowers, BATFE might develop additional targets.
          d. Since when does the gov’t ask politely?

      • They made a high-profile raid based on a theory? Some might call it a “fishing expedition”. Par for the course.

    • ATF misconstrued the 2-phase molding process.

      First injection is the white plastic (i.e. Fire control pocket). Second injection is the receiver itself. The object never is considered a firearm by ATF standards on 80% receivers.

      The ATF thought the receiver was made first and the FCP was blown in last (i.e. you have a “completed” receiver for a few seconds)

      • Even if the molding process were done as BATFE deems illegal, it wouldn’t be 100% as there would be no trigger hole nor the other holes in the fire control pocket. So that might have made it, were it done that way, which it’s apparently not, 94% complete, or whatever number they have to make up to decide if it’s legal or not. I’d like to witness the conversation wherein they decided that drilling a hole this size is x percent, creating the trigger hole is y percent, and milling out the FCP fill material is z percent. I suppose it could have been somewhat logical had they actually done a few and measured the time it takes to do each procedure… but how would they compare those times to someone making a whole and complete receiver, especially from scratch… especially from polymer?

        • However they arrive at those percentages (or even at the idea that 80% is the cut off for “not a firearm”), if the receiver is anything above 80%, even 81%, it’s a firearm.

  2. You know, none of this would be an issue for gun owners if they’d just dismantle the part of the ATF database that contains 4473 records. Even though it wouldn’t specifically apply to this case, the de facto registry issue would be moot, and they wouldn’t have to deal with these grey areas as much or at all.

    Nevertheless, it seems LCG was playing it fast and loose. Whether a raid on Ares was warranted I guess we won’t know until and unless the ATF finds that they were doing the same thing. It’s not like the the ATF can sneak in a milling machine and go “Ta Dah! Look what we found”. They were either doing it or they weren’t.

    • “You know, none of this would be an issue for gun owners if they’d just dismantle the ATF, remove the infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, and get rid of these bad laws that shouldn’t be there to begin with.”

      FIFY. (IMHO.)

    • My dear friend in CT, you are not thinking like they do. The registry already exists, and getting rid of 4473 wouldn’t help one bit. Because the U.S. government is prevented by law to build said registry, all the information has been farmed out to MI6 (or pick another friendly intelligence service), and they have been keeping this list for us for a while.

    • Would not have this issue if people actually *READ* the FOPA instead of thinking that an 80% is a way to get an unserialized, unregistered firearm “the man” doesn’t know about.

        • READ the law. You MUST serialize. PERIOD.
          Or.. you can share a cell with all the other guys who think they don’t have to.
          Go ahead. Build an unserialized gun.
          Take it to the range.
          Hell, take it to an Open Carry demonstration and show it to some cops.

        • well, millions of gun owners have built unserialized AR and AK receivers without issue.

          since you’re the one making this claim, care to point out which parts of the law requires serializing a home-built receiver?

        • Federal Law is quite clear that a personally made firearm does not need a serial number. I don’t know what you are reading.

        • The only time they would need to serialize it is if they’re building the gun with the intent to sell it.

        • I spent the last 25 minutes researching and reading the FOPA. Didn’t find anything about serializing firearms. Please point out where in the law it is stated that home built firearms for personal use must be serialized.

        • If you intend to keep it and use it for yourself, there’s no serial # needed. Now, if you decide that you want to sell it, then you better serialize it and document EVERYTHING. Just search online and you’ll find a multitude of sites telling people that if they go the 80% route.

          If you want to get into the 80% game, you buy the blank, a drill press, and a jig system and do the work yourself. If you need help, just youtube the process and keep everyone out of trouble. The Feds are VERY clear on what you should and shouldn’t do with 80%s and if what the ATF said about this LGS is true, then they’re going to be in a world of hurt.

        • Kommiefornia says:
          March 17, 2014 at 09:47
          READ the law. You MUST serialize. PERIOD.

          Kommiefornia, it looks like you need to COMPREHEND what you read. If you aren’t selling it, you don’t need to serialize it. Period. It’s “suggested” that you do, not mandated.

          I wish people who spouts knowledge on something that they clearly, have not, would be quiet

      • If a citizen that can legally own this firearm wishes to build it, then no, it does not need a serial number, but that citizen can not sell or legally dispose of the firearm to another individual, without getting the correct permit from BATFE. It can be done, but by the time the permit is purchased, and one considers liability costs. It would be more cost effective to remove the receiver, take a torch and turn it into a blob of aluminum, or plastic, then sell off the remaining parts.

    • “Whether a raid on Ares was warranted I guess we won’t know until…”

      Not to be a pedant, but the search warrant literally means that a judge/magistrate found that there was enough probable cause for the search/raid, whether that raid was productive or not.

      • The only thing is I bet just about any Judge/Magistrate would take the ATFs word for whether EP Armory’s polymer lowers are considered firearms or not, since it is the ATF that makes the determination.

        So basically it comes down to the ATF WILL take the items in question, and then the victim… er person can appeal to try to get it back.

      • That’s debatable. We see that judges are little more than a rubber stamp today for these search warrants.

  3. So this is similar to operation fast and furious in a strange sort of way….only this time somebody is going to jail instead of a teaching job in Baltimore.

  4. Is this really anything more than a short course in machining practices as related to making your own gun? This doesn’t really have a lot to do with Ares, does it? When someone tints their Tahoe’s windows darker than is legal, is GM going to be searched? Is this just a matter of the ATF flexing their muscles in order to instill fear in people?

    • The problem is when an individual uses a business entity’s machinery and expertise for a fee. It’s perfectly legal for an individual to manufacture a firearm for themselves with their own machinery and not go through a background check, but when a fee is involved with a third-party it turns into manufacturing a firearm for profit. Having someone tell you exactly what to do on their machinery for a fee constitutes manufacturing a firearm for profit and must be licensed and conduct the background check.

      Ares should be safe in all this and was raided by association to try to track down people the ATF can pop in on now, although I doubt they’ll get restitution.

      • A fee does not imply profit. It may be simply compensation for time and wear on the machinery.

        And, yes… I’m looking for any justification to excuse these “manufacturers” for trying to get around the ATF’s illegal regulations.

        • A company can be declared for-profit or not-for-profit. Ares is a for-profit company, any fee is for-profit regardless of if it is profitable or not.

          It’s a stupid law enforced by an agency that shouldn’t even exist, but the law and agency do exist. They should have refrained from attaching that service to their business.

          I don’t know of the legality of a felon or illegal immigrant producing firearms, but I don’t see how they can limit felons and illegal immigrants from the manufacturing field.

      • For a long time in California people have been doing this. “Renting” out equipment and providing instruction so that people can manufacture their own firearms. Recently there was an announcement by the DOJ saying that this is now illegal.

        It seems like they may have stepped over the line by working on people’s guns for them though.

      • I think it’s absurd that a person needs to buy a mill or drill press to complete a firearm, instead of just renting the tool. Renting tools should not be considered manufacturing a firearm.

        • The ATF determination letter to Ares didn’t necessarily say you had to buy the tools yourself. It just stated that the specific set of criteria put forth by Ares’ hypothetical situation meant that Ares would be “in the business of manufacturing firearms for the purpose of sale”. Per the ATF’s determination:
          -Ares maintains a business premesis
          -Ares sells 80% lowers
          -for a fee makes available a cnc, tools, and instructions for the purpose of making firearms
          -under the instruction and supervision of Ares employees, the owner hits start on a preprogrammed cnc
          -under the instruction and supervision of Ares employees, the owner repositions the casting in the cnc
          -an Ares employee cleans the finished product.

          They go on to state that Ares truly has custody of the product throughout the process and that they are expressly charging for this service; therefore they’re a manufacturer. So the ATF has clearly drawn a line on a specific hypothetical, but AFAIK they didn’t say you couldn’t independently go to an unaffiliated machine shop and rent equipment/time.

        • I don’t think (or know) that actually “renting” the equipment is the Issue.
          I think it is more the Location /Place of “rented” equipment and/ or possible operational assistance that creates the issue.

          If you could go to Home D…. or Hey! Harbor freight tools and ( could) rent a mini mill (instead of a powered digger) and take it to your workshop, I would think “renting” shouldn’t cause an issue.

    • In your example, GM has nothing to do with it. The tint shop, however, depending on the state, can be fined or shop owner go to jail for applying illegal tint to the wrong windows. I say wrong windows because some states allow you to blackout your rear windows.

    • If you bought a ‘how-to’ manual from Bill, and then rented time on the machines at John’s shop, and your friend Sam helped you with how to run the machine or reading the instructions, then you’d be good to go. If you give Rick a fee to rent you shop space and machine time, and he also stands over your shoulder telling you what to do, you’re just paying him to do everything but turn the handle himself, which they’ve decided is basically the same as paying him to do it.

    • I hate to use the analogy, but it is unfortunately appropriate – In the former Soviet Bloc countries, where it was a gulag offense to engage in any sort of capitalist activity, people who needed special carpentry or plumbing or mechanical work “off the books” would introduce each other to people who knew how to do those things. Once they were “friends” they would invite the person over for dinner or a party or some other such window dressing, during which time the work would actually be performed. Sometimes the “friend” would receive gifts or further invitations to parties or dinners, but NEVER cash. (The possession of even $5.00 in U.S. currency could get you 3 years in prison, by the way.)

      We may or may not be smarter than the comrades of the Soviet era, but then we do not yet have the expertise for getting around government tyranny that they have been forced to develop over the centuries. Still, it would seem that providing the beer or pizzas, or maybe some yard work, etc., to a friend who had some other friends over and wanted to show off his drill press, should suffice. So long as no one is charging for the equipment or expertise I can’t see how it can be construed as a for-profit enterprise.

      I’m pretty sure if I used a friend’s garage and tools and he helped me change the oil in my car he would not have to claim the value of that on his income tax unless it could be proved that he was actually charging for this service, and/or doing the work himself. It would certainly seem that any build party, regardless of whose equipment or how much instruction was provided, so long as you do the actual machining yourself and no money changes hands, should fall within the (unconstitutional) BATFE guidelines.

      • If your friend helps you change your oil in exchange for beer and pizza, he doesn’t have claim anything. If your friend helps 3 people a week in exchange for beer, pizza, groceries, tools, car parts, etc. etc. then he does. The value of compensation and frequency of activity matter for the definition of professional vs. hobbyist.

    • Guys, we’re getting all tangled up in whether doing this or that is legal while missing the bigger picture. In order for our right to keep and bear arms to not be infringed, the manufacture of arms cannot be infringed. We’re arguing over whether the leaves on the dying tree are yellow or orange when we should be finding out who killed the tree.

    • If I’m not mistaken, the window-tinting regulations are the province of the states. Or, possibly in some cases, localities. For instance, Virginia is very strict about tinting, while other places, not so much.

  5. It sounds like there was probably a lot going on behind the scenes here, illegal immigrants who are felons, etc…

    but all that aside, they’re trying to make a charge stick based on the illegality of the sale of information, if that information is related to the manufacturer of a firearm. That is insane. Imagine, if they could make this stick, what implications it would have for limiting free speech in all kinds of other scenarios?

    Also that you could operate a machine “as a surrogate for so-and-so?” How do you even define that without every person who operates a machine being a surrogate of whoever taught them?

    • “illegality of the sale of information,”

      Perhaps not if CORTEZ was actually operating the machine for the finishing stages, and perhaps doing any assembly. Somewhere along the line, I guess the ATF is claiming the shop was “Doing” not just “showing.”

      “every person who operates a machine being a surrogate of whoever taught them?”

      I was thinking the same thing – what’s the difference? It may be argued (rightly or wrongly) about intent. If the intent was simply to have Cortez not pulling the handle on the drill press, that might be “you are a surrogate.”

      However, that does not really square with Cortez finishing the milling steps.

      Interesting nuances here in terms of what constitutes manufacturing and the like. It’s part of the reason vague, ambiguous laws and regulations are dangerous. They become too much of a manipulation tool on the whim of those in authority.

      • If I was writing a constitution now days I’d put in a protection of the people from government exploitation of vaguely described laws. It would be an individual right to not be subject to vagueness.


    • The difference is between general and specific. If I teach you how to use a mill/drill machine, and then hand you a set of instructions for making a completed lower, the specifics are up to you. If I stand over your shoulder and say “tighten this knob. Turn this lever. Press this button. Go slowly. Now do this…” and etc., then you’re not doing it on your own, I am. Imagine an expert machinist with no arms telling a highly trained gorilla how to make a gun. Who made the gun?

      • So if a skilled pilot in the tower talks a private pilot through the landing procedure of a 757 (like in the movies), it is actually the pilot in the tower flying the plane? Or a skilled surgeon overseeing and commenting during an intern doing a surgery for the first time?

        • If a skilled surgeon mis-directs an intern, and the patient dies, is it arguable that the surgeon is legally responsible. If a skilled pilot talks down a plane operated by a regular guy, and it crashes, same deal.

        • So it is “arguable”, not factual.  Thanks for clarifying that.  I highly doubt your assertions.

        • Well unless you have case law to reference, everything that isn’t spelled out explicitly “is arguable”. That’s half of a lawyer’s job.

      • “If I teach you how to use a mill/drill machine…”

        How is this different from, “If I teach you to place an 80% lower in a jig and explain how to proceed…”?

        Instructions are instructions. SO long as the teacher doesn’t do the actual labor how does it matter if he is looking over your shoulder or you are watching a video tape, so long as it is not a for-profit enterprise?

        I think the two key points here are 1) charging for the service, and 2) doing all or part of the actual work. If the process is simply instructional and no fee is charged it would seem that no violation has occurred, even if you are “borrowing” their equipment, including the jig. IMO. At that point some BATFE bureaucrat would have to prove that the cost of the machinery use and instruction was somehow included in the purchase price of the 80% lower, which could prove difficult.

        • Except that an instructional video doesn’t answer questions or stop you if you’re doing it wrong. There is instruction, and there is direction. The fee has nothing to do with it, because you can’t manufacture firearms without a license anyway.

        • So when the music teacher tells you one of your fingers is in the wrong place and tells you where it should be, it isn’t you who properly executes that chord…..nope, absolutely BS.

        • It isn’t that you’re not the one doing the action; the question is who is legally responsible for actions that fall into a gray or prohibited area. If that piano teacher directs also directs their young impressionable student into stealing things, they are legally liable.
          If I direct customers, individually, step by step, in person, in great detail, they are functionally acting as poorly trained employees, and I am manufacturing firearms. Do it once for my buddy, no problem. Do it all the time for money, now it’s a manufacturing business.

        • That is a non sequitur. The teacher is teaching about music, not crime, The person teaching, instructing, directing, overseeing the machining process is not DOING the work, nor are they asking anyone to commit a crime.

        • Once again, what is being alleged is not that they were overseeing or giving instruction, but directing otherwise incapable individuals on a regular basis in exchange for money. Parts came in to the shop, and firearms left. That’s a very close line to walk and ATF has apparently decided it counts as manufacturing.

        • You compared a music teacher directing chords to directing people to commit crimes…which was nonsense. Also, you keep saying “non-capable persons” being directed, when that is not clear either. You like to make a lot of blanket assumptions.

        • I use the analogy of a music teacher because you brought it up. I mentioned being directed to commit crimes because that is the most common reason why we attempt to find responsibility for actions. The same analogy could be made of an apprentice mason building a wall incorrectly due to poor direction and causing injury; in this case it’s likely that the journeyman mason would be held liable for the damages.
          I mention incapable persons, because that is specifically what this case revolves around…the assumption is made that the customers coming in require direction and assistance in completing the lower. If that were not the situation, it would only be about renting shop space, and the whole thing would be moot.

        • You like to twist analogies. I mentioned a music teacher teaching music, you needing to twist it into a music teacher asking the student to commit crimes destroys any credibility you might have had.
          You also need to make assumptions to support your conceptions.
          Have a nice day.

        • I didn’t twist anything, I adapted it for my own purpose. Neither of us have any credibility, anyway…this is the internet. And the fact that you have chosen to attack my method rather than my logic, or my most recent points of contention, leads me to believe that you have realized I was right all along.
          I hope that you also have a good day.

        • No, you are wrong. Adapted? Changed into something it was not, to your own ends. To something not even similar. Do not try to dismiss so lightly your poor tactics and reasoning.

        • If you can demonstrate the actual logical fallacies used, refute the points I’ve made, or come up with a decent example of your own, I’d be glad to hear it. I welcome the chance to be proven wrong, since it means I’d learn something new.
          If you can only spout generalities about how I’m wrong, then I’m afraid there’s nowhere to go from here.

        • Aaah, so now you turn to terminology. The problem isn’t terminology, the problem is outright changing the point discussed. When I mentioned a music teacher and student and music, nowhere was crime insinuated. You created a straw argument from whole cloth. Remember now? Nothing remotely analogous in your creation.
          If you have no argument , make one up, huh? You are a logical fallacy.

      • I don’t know the answer, but I’d like to watch the ATF try and take the gorilla in for questioning! 😀

    • The letter from the ATF to Ares explains the ATF’s justification for classifying the CNC assistance as “manufacturing” (pages 86-88). http://www.justice.gov/usao/cae/news/docs/2014/2014_02/02-27-2014Cortez%20SW%20Package.pdf

      “The ATF understands that AAMW [Ares] intends to maintain a business premises at which, for a fee, it makes available a computer numeric control (CNC) machine, tools, equipment, and instructions to persons who bring in castings or raw materials for the purpose of creating firearms…

      While AAMW may not own the castings or finished articles, we disagree with your assertion that AAMW does not therefore make, or have custody or control over the finished firearms. Custody and control over a firearm is relevant only in that it may assist in determining whether there has been a “sale or distribution” of a firearm. From inception, AAMW has custody and control over all firearms produced inside its machines at its business premises. In fact, AAMW controls the entire manufacturing process. Following manufacture, AAMW distributes a firearm when it returns a completed firearm to the person who provided only a casting or raw material. The production of finished frames or receivers from castings constitutes the manufacture of firearms, AAMW is, therefore, engaged in the business of manufacturing firearms for sale or distribution.”

      They go on to state that Ares would need an FFL (type 07), serialize each firearm, and follow all other laws/regulations to transfer said firearms to their owners. Not saying I agree with it, just putting that info out there for clarification.

    • Since when does the ATF take issue with illegal immigrants handling firearms? I could have sworn it’s been a standard practice for this agency to hand over firearms to illegal immigrants.

  6. It seems to me that the ATF is trying to claim that the polymer 80% lowers that show exactly where to machine and drill constitute a form of “assistance” in manufacturing a firearm which is illegal. Sounds like a stretch to me. They just want the customer info.

      • What did I not read? I’ve been keeping up with this from the beginning. The ATF’s main issue with Ares was the polymer lowers with the color coding on where to remove material.

        They used that BS to try to bully Ares into releasing their customer info.

        • It is my understanding that the ‘issue’ with the polymer lowers is that the ATF is of the belief that those lowers are manufactured by creating a 100% receiver and then filling in the cavities with a different colored polymer. It is the manufacturing of the 100% receiver that requires a license, regardless of whether it is filled with polymer afterward.

          EP Armory, on the other hand, maintains that is NOT their process, but rather they make the colored ‘cores’ first and then manufacture the rest of the receiver around those cores, and as such the receivers are never 100%.

          I am unfamiliar with the process of making solids in polymers so I am unsure of whether or not making the receivers ‘around’ the cores is possible and that the receivers would at no time be 100% receivers.

          If the receivers were ‘3D printed’ all at once using a two-color process I could see EP Armories point, as the blank would be formed in one process as an unfinished lower and would have to be milled to be finished. I know that isn’t how the polymer process works, however, I just don’t know what the process is.

    • Applying that to government instead, I would agree. Shall not be infringed. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. 😉

  7. This is why I didn’t immediately jump to Ares’ defense, because I know there is always more to the story. That belief is also what is precluding me from assuming that this search warrant justifies the ATF’s raid of Ares. I think there is still a lot more to be told before the dust settles.

    • Ares is not mentioned in either the LGS affidavit or the Cortez indictment.

      So, what’s the connection to Ares? Is is JUST that they called to clarify ATF’s position on what seems, at best, to be very muddy waters?

      If so, asking a question is not PC for a search warrant. One would hope the ATF has more than that to justify their search of Ares.

      To know, we’d need to see the text of THAT affidavit.

    • You don’t want to automatically defend _______?

      Then make it a practice to ALWAYS automatically assume that ATF is WRONG. Then you will be right.

  8. I guess after 25 years of doing the wrong thing, you just assume the ATF up to no good.

  9. Ordinarily I’m not a tinfoil hat kinda guy, but this smells suspiciously like they’re trumping up some stuff to justify harassing Ares–in essence adding him to an already-existing investigation. If the owner isn’t lieing about his previous meeting with the ATF, then they are essentially creating an opening to harass/jail him for not complying with their request.

  10. I’m sure next time everyone will withhold judgment about a story until the facts are presented, right? Just kidding, torches and pitchforks bring in more ad revenue.



      • They DID–but the one guy they charged was smart enough to have evidence that the ATF TOLD him to allow the straw purchases to go through, and that kind of mucked up their case.

  11. Some of this is justified, some of it is to create fear around “ghost guns” to keep people from getting around the ATF. The records the ATF wanted from Ares was for the latter goal, to harass those that wanted to produce their own firearms legally. I wonder if there have been any new stories about this yet. I can imagine the headlines: “ATF raids metal detector defeating ghost gun factory, tracks down felons with illegal guns, ends illegal immigrant issue, saves world, gets free donuts.”

  12. You are conflating the issues.

    You state it’s obvious this what they suspect Ares of. I don’t think that’s obvious at all. Your example has a store employee who is a felon building 80% lowers to 100% for an Under Cover agent.

    For what cause do we have to believe that is what occurred at Ares? Wild speculation?

  13. none of this is relevant to the fact that the ATF violated a restraining order to conduct the raid over the weekend. Our government is setup in 3 branches to prevent this exact thing from happening, the fact that the executive branch just told the judicial branch to go fuck itself, and nobody cared, ought to scare the shit out of everyone.

    • The Executive ignore the Judicial and Legislative all the time. Police execute bad searches, make bad arrests, and sometimes even kill people. What’s supposed to happen is that after the fact, the injured party is made whole or at least compensated, and any evidence found through bad methods is tossed. The problem here is that suing the ATF is a lot less likely to end in success than suing your local PD.

      • I think the problem here is that ATF has what they wanted even if Ares sues them AND gets a payout.

        The whole thing smacks of a fishing expedition, only not against Ares itself but for information stored at the business. If you eat the fish before being charged for fishing out of season, you still got what you were after. Same thing for ATF here if they get sued and lose.

    • No they didn’t. A restraining order cannot impede a legal investigation backed up by a warrant. And the restraining order spelled out as much.

  14. This article does not shed any light on why the ATF raided Ares arms. Here is the link to the ex parte application that the ATF filed with the U.S. district court.


    -In it the ATF falsely alleges that Ares is manufacturing full firearms instead of 80% recievers.

    -They allege Ares is dealing in firearms without a license.

    -They complain that Ares dare to seek legal means to defend themselves from the ATFs efforts to seize their stock. They call it a “trick” and a “ruse” on Ares part not to provide the “firearms” as per their agreement. Even though Ares had a TRO saying that they were not required to turn over their stock.

    • “-In it the ATF falsely alleges that Ares is manufacturing full firearms instead of 80% recievers. ‘

      Do we know at this point that this is a false allegation?

      What does the actual search warrant affidavit say they have to justify their search of Ares property? If that has been reported somewhere, I’ve missed it.

    • The story above is exactly how Ares could be suspected of selling actual firearms (i.e. they mill them out on site)

      • While the story is a good example of a ‘could be why’ scenario, the actual scenario seems to be a matter of EP Armory’s polymer lowers that have the sections needing to be milled/drilled out molded in a different color. Apparently the ATF believes they are made by manufacturing a complete receiver and then filling in those cavities with the colored polymer. EP Armory insists that is not the case and that the receivers are actually formed around the colored cores, never existing as finished receivers.

        I believe it is the ATF that makes the final determination on such things, I suspect it is not even subject to judicial review, although it might be. I just haven’t really seen much in the way of ATF determinations taken to court.

        Although there is the one item that we are still waiting for SCOTUS to rule on (whether or not it is a ‘straw purchase’ if it is made for a person who is not legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm).

  15. Does any of this stop bad guys from doing had things? Do I have to say it?

    What a total and utter waste of government resources and another infringement of our right to keep and bear arms.

    Mean while; the worshipers at the feet of government, that need to be given a permit to sneeze or wipe their nose; will be saying how “they get what they deserve for breaking THE LAW”.

  16. Some of this is justified, some of it is to create fear around “ghost guns” to keep people from getting around the ATF.
    NONE of this is justified. It is ALL an infringement on “Shall not be infringed.”
    Ares’ only crime is doing what they do in Commiefornia. Period.

  17. Typical of the ATF, denying hard-working immigrants a job. I bet if the guys name was John Smith nobidy would have been raided.

    • if name was something like Barak, Dartanial, etc making parts for some Marist group.

      Based on the history of ATF, what are details of “EMILIANO CORTEZ is a convicted felon”.

      If the honorable Attorney General knew his head from his rear, would, Mr Cortez be in the US? Mr Cortez obviously should have shown his ACORN ID and Dem voter registration.

  18. Hmmm, 2A absolutists here are saying that it’s ok for the ATF to raid a gun shop. Curious. Those who have been against BG checks and other gun control causes from the beginning are willing to defend the ATF.

    I’m not on board with a convicted felon / illegal immigrant having access to the firearms. Other than that, I could care less if a responsible citizen seeks assistance in creating a firearm. I also don’t see why everyone *must* be an FFL.

    And I still can’t reply to the responses of other folks. Hope someone is working on that. I’m running an iPhone 5 with OS 7.1.1.

  19. If the customer drills some holes and a staff member “finishes” it by milling out the trigger pocket, it is a clear case of illegal firearm manufacturing. The customer must drill his own holes and mill his own trigger pocket.

    If a lower is fully milled and then has the trigger pocket filled with polymer, they illegally manufactured a firearm (because all manufacturing operations were completed), Filling an illegal firearm with polymer does not make it a non-firearm

    • That seems to be the major question regarding the EP Armor polymer receivers. The ATF appears to be of the opinion that EP manufactures the receivers to 100% and then fills the cavities with a different colored polymer. EP Armory apparently maintains they create the ‘cores’ first and then build the receivers around those cores, so the receivers are never 100% receivers until/unless the end customer mills them into receivers.

      If somebody is more familiar with polymer manufacturing processes maybe they could answer the question on whether that is possible or not.

      • Not only is itpossible, it would have been impossible for EP to make then any other way. go over to CalGuns.com and find the thread in the 2A section–there are pictures of an experimental clear lower that EP was trying to make (withdrawn before sale). What you will see is that there are ribs on the inside of the fire control pocket that lock the white polymer “insert” into place. It is physically impossible to remove the insert without milling it out. What that tells you is that the ribs could not have been molded in and the insert added later–because the same ribs would prevent the lower from being removed from the mold. Instead, the “mild” for the ribs are a part of the insert, and those spaces are filled up during the injection process. Others pictures show that in some places, the small areas of leakage of the receiver material overlaps the insert, and again, the insert had to be there first. finally, this is a common method of creating injected molded parts that have some sort of insert. The insert is placed into the mold, the mold is closed, and the plastic is injected around it.

      • I hate to play Devil’s advocate here, since the whole issue is a prima facie violation of the Second Amendment, but from a purely technical standpoint the BATFE has a valid point.

        See the comment above about 3D printing an 80% receiver in a single operation. That would be entirely legal regardless of color-coding – it is one process start to finish. In the ER process they claim that they are creating the mill/drill colored areas first, then molding the rest of the receiver around this core as a separate final step. From a purely logical viewpoint they have in this step created a 100% receiver around their core, a clear violation of the (unconstitutional) law. Whether they create the receiver and fill in the mill/drill pockets or create the mill/drill core and mold a receiver around it, that receiver is 100%.

        Sorry, while the BATFE is ALWAYS wrong, on this point they are at least TECHNICALLY correct, according to the letter of the law. Some layers are going to make a lot of money arguing otherwise and both ER and Ares will most likely lose on this particular point.

        • This program still won’t let me edit my comments.

          Where I wrote ER it should have been EP Armory.

        • I disagree, if the cores are simply a different color polymer molded first and then the rest of the receiver is molded around it such that the cores cannot be ‘demolded’ from the receiver without milling then it is never actually a 100% receiver, as the process would be in many ways the same as the 3D printing process (with a delay between color changes). I do have experience with molding objects as a hobby (I just wasn’t sure if that was how polymer lowers were made) and if it requires milling to ‘demold’ part of it then it is not a separate part.

          That being said, when EP Armory came up with the idea they should have asked the ATF for a determination in order to avoid the entire mess.

    • I said it above and I’ll say it again here….
      In arguing about whether this is legal or that is illegal we’re missing the bigger point. In order for us to have the uninfringed right to keep and bear arms, the manufacture of arms cannot be infringed (or else we could potentially have nothing to bear). We’re arguing whether the leaves on the dying tree are yellow or orange instead of finding out who poisoned the tree.

  20. Near as I can tell Ares Armor was contemplating setting up a company (Ares Metalworks) that would make available a pre-programmed CNC machine to customers to finish 80% lowers. They judiciously asked the ATF for clarification on the legality of such a business, and after receiving the response that a license would be necessary scratched the idea.

    The odd thing is other then the mentions of the letter I didn’t see ANY references to Ares in the warrant affidavit, so i am puzzled how that warrant can be for the Ares locations. Also, the warrant filing dates were October of 2013, I got the impression the Ares warrants are more recent.

    • You are correct and that is not the warrant served on Ares. I believe it was only issued this past week and is currently sealed.

    • This is not the ARES warrant affidavit. This is an issue with owners renting out their CNC machines so that buyers of lower blanks can mill them out. the machines were usually preprogrammed, allowing the buyer to place his blank into a jig, insert the jig into the mill, and push a button. A short time later, the lower would be a firearm. Using a drill press and a jig, as far as I know, has never been a problem. Instead, the ATF, with this raid and warnings to others, shut down the CNC build business overnight.

      I will be very interested to see the Ares affidavit. It must have something to do with EP Armory, because all of EP’s polymer lowers were seized, and all of Ares EP lowers were seized. Go back to the declaration in support of the TRO filed by Ares–the issue apparently has do with the process EP uses to create 80% lowers. As far as I can ascertain, there is no issue as to the ultimate shape of the 80% lower itself, only the process by which it got there.

  21. I dont understand why so many are uptight about CORTEZ being a convicted felon. He was charged with posession of an assault weapon. In Kommiefornia. I count at least 6 guns in my safe that would net me the same charge in that state. As far as I’m concerned, all of these ”crimes” only exist on paper. Aside from the state’s ever expanding control, who did these guys hurt?

    • Thank you! These people are unbelievable.

      That poor guy spent almost a year and a half in a prison, in California of all places, full of thug gang members; for owning a gun probably most of you own. Wonder how many years they’ll throw him back in for. Poor guy.

  22. I love it that everyone is taking the claims by ATF at face value. Glad to know ATF has restored their trust with the gun owning public.

    • No Sh*t.

      They are one of the most corrupt and incompetent “law enforcement” agencies in our country, and unlike other federal agencies, they have PROVEN it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again…

  23. Sounds like a lot of shady stuff going down at LCG AR Part and Custom Accessories… so I guess the ATF thinks Ares Armor is guilty by association because they also sell 80% lowers?

    Hrmmm, the plot thickens.

    • Once again, not to support the BATFE, which needs to be disbanded and imprisoned, and I am certain they would dearly love to shut down all 80% lower production, but…

      It seems fairly obvious that their problem with Ares and ER Armory is with the two-stage polymer production 80% lowers, not 80% lowers themselves. Regardless of the Constitutionality of the laws they are enforcing, a wet behind the ears law school grad could prosecute their case and win it on the production technicalities. This is a losing issue for the manufacturers and retailers and they really should back away from this at their earliest opportunity.

      Any qualified legal eagles out there who care to dispute this point?

  24. Did the author confuse his own abbreviations or am I not following the participants correctly? It seems as if UC#1 suddenly became CI#1 and LCG turned into LGS… wtf?

    • Yeah, I just translated CI Confidential Informant back to UC Under Cover, but a CI is not a LEO,
      nor an EIEIO

  25. Let’s see where this could go. The third party outfits that make the tools (end mills, machinists vices, drill presses, etc) are just as guilty as the people making the jigs of helping manufacture the guns.

  26. So helping someone drills holes is a crime? This is tyranny! How about we all help each other and revolt against government agencies like this. Thousands of people killed by government but you’ve been so brainwashed to obey “The Law”. An unjust law is no law. This is all about controlling the masses.

    • If the hole doesn’t fit, you must acquit!

      I find it silly as well that people expend mental energy on here arguing over what classifies as 80% to 81% and the legalities of such things when clearly the whole premise in the first place is an exercise in insanity by any stretch of the imagination. The participation in such an exercise reveals even more insanity on our part as legal gun owners to participate in such things.

      100% of the discussion in here should be in repealing these silly laws, not excusing them.

  27. Nick – it would be helpful if you clarified what happened. The Ares raid was over EPS polymer lowers and was a follow-on to a raid of EPS. LCG was not involved.

  28. This may be related to an idea that was floating around. Can a licensed gunsmith “fix” a non-functioning 80% firearm. At some point in the machining process the paperweight stops being a paperweight and becomes a firearm. At that point a gunsmith can work on that firearm to improve functioning. If the work is done while the customer waits there is no paper work required. If drilling the holes turns the paperweight into a firearm, this may be what they were attempting to accomplish.

  29. ATF: Ares Armor MAY have done something bad, so we are going break opent their doors and raid them.

    ATF: There’s proof that we DID run guns to cartels in an effort to drum up anti-gun propaganda and got an officer murdered in the process. So we will promote our director to Attorney General and then ignore everything else.

    • ATF tried the stand up thing and arranged a quiet surrender of the lowers and lists. Ares agreed and then tried an end run with the TRO. ATF got the TRO modified and executed a search warrant.

  30. For all of those who believe in acting within the bounds of the law (and only the bounds of the law) in order to change it, consider:


    “They” do not play by even their own rules – even bogus rules. Whatever they “uncover” against Ares is ill-gotten fruit & any lawyer would challenge it outright. Furthermore, a judge somewhere (supposedly) issued a warrant in violation of an already existing restraining order.

    The whole point of selling 80% receivers is so Ares could sell “firearms” over the internet legally. Selling firearms (as a business) without a FFL is illegal but should not be; selling firearms thru mail order or the internet to non-FFL holders is illegal but should not be. The line was at 80% and they crossed it. Do you really think they will stop there? How about raiding the companies that provided the metal & polymer to Ares? How about me for commenting on the situation?

    Forget Molon Labe

    Think στρατευοντα

    • So you think a civil restraining order signed by some podunk judge somewhere should be able to stop any federal investigation?

      The only thing it did was put the onus on the ATF to get a judicial warrant instead of continuing to contact the company. Well, that being their only choice, they did!

  31. For those those in the firearm community, this should be a cautionary tale about whom you support and at what point. Not everyone out there is truly an innocent victim of an overreaching bureaucracy. Some are criminals. How either of these cases will end I couldn’t tell you; but it should speak for itself that there’s almost always more to a given story than the initial reports suggest.

    For those in the firearms industry, this should be a similar lesson. If you’re regulated and policed by an agency known for abuse and crossing the line, then you might not want to operate too closely to the line to begin with. The ATF, fine lines, and nuanced legal interpretations don’t mix well.

    • Also… it might not always be a good idea to ask for clarification on a legal issue from ATF if you’ve been engaged in that questionable practice…

  32. Your pointing out of facts and use of logic and critical thinking are preventing me from being sufficiently outraged at the actions of the ATF.

    • We should ever and always be outraged by EVERYTHING the BATFE does, however, we should temper that outrage in this instance in that I believe from a purely technical standpoint they have not acted outrageously, only unconstitutionally. Their concerns over the company actually completing the 80% lowers in their own shop seems technically valid, as does their argument over the two-stage 80% polymer production process. We should be disparaging the BATFE for even existing, not for operating within their legal ROEs while they still exist.

  33. Here’s an interesting question.

    Say you took a legally bought 80% receiver to a “rent a machine shop” type of place, sometimes known as a “hackerspace” or “makerspace”. Typically you go through a class on a particular machine (say, mill/drill which is all that is needed for this) and then you do whatever you want with it, unsupervised.

    http://www.xerocraft.org/ – this is a typical example.

    Assuming you aren’t being assisted by another machinist at a place like this, and assuming they don’t have an FFL (I very much doubt any of them do!) and they don’t have any pre-made “jigs” for an AR15 blank then…is there a legal liability problem for the makerspace?

    What if somebody makes a jig for their own project and then leaves it there for others?

    I guarantee you shops like this will run into this issue eventually.

    I built Maurice the FrankenRuger at Xerocraft and theoretically I made enough changes (caliber swap at cylinder and barrel, plus the mag feed and gas-eject systems) to qualify Maurice as a “home built firearm”, I think? But Maurice was already a serialized store-bought handgun (Ruger New Vaquero).

    • Xerox stores didn’t get in trouble when people copied $100 bills but they also cooperated and turned in evidence related to such people…

      • Hmmmm…not sure this is the same situation.

        In the case we’re talking about, the law says *I* can do something (build my own gun) but somebody else can’t help me (unless they have a gun manufacturer’s license and paper the gun to me).

        At what point does the “level of required help” stop?

        I think what I did at Xerocraft was OK, because I paid rental fees and nobody helped me “build” my gun (which is legally likely a homebrew by now). Renting tools to do my own build shouldn’t be a problem if there’s no assist, and in my case the limits of the assistance was some training in how to run the mill and lathe. All of the design and build work was by me.

        I think there is a potential problem though, if I build an AR15 jig and leave it at a makerspace for others to use. That might put the makerspace in the position that these idiots at LCG were at.

  34. How about just finding a real lower through a private sale and be done with it? lol In most states a private seller needs not ask anything of a buyer, at most a ID to verify they are from the same state. I see private sales lowers daily for fair prices. Cali of course is a different story, almost a different country there. This ghost stuff just scares the gov much like the 3D printing thing. As for this specific case it’s obvious the gov wanted records from Ares to see how many lowers the other shop got. Maybe they should play “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” and ask the ATF how many guns they sent down to Mexico illegally.

  35. Working in the plastic injection molding industry I can tell you that what EP is stating is not only highly probable, but entirely accurate.

    If you look at a poly lower without the white plastic you can see channels molded into the black lower from the shoot around the core. There is also a nub in the area of the trigger hole that has the black poly formed around it. This happens when the second poly is molded around the first. If the white was the second shot, the nub would not exist the way it does, or at all because there woukd be no way to install a gate shut off inside the trigger guard without blocking one of the poly gates.

    Also, if you read any of the related calguns threads, you can clearly see that any and all of the poly lowers need extra special attention and care because none of them are in spec. Meaning, the injection gates that some people think are drill markers are not and without a schematic they screw it up.

    Professional opinion, defnitely not 100% ers filled in.

    • I agree with you except about the drill markers. EP’s own video instructions tell you to drill at those points, which is why they can call it a “jigless” design. Yes, there have been lots of complaints on the EP forums that the holes are not/may not be quite to spec .

    • You are correct in every point except this: whether you create a 100% lower and fill in the mill/drill portions as a second step, or you create a mill/drill core and mold a 100% lower around it as the second step, you have still created a 100% lower. It is the two-step process that is the problem.

  36. No, no, no, no. Ares Armor formerly hosted build parties for people with 80% lowers, however, not only did they NEVER walk anybody through each step or “clean up” any of the builds, they CEASED to host such parties as soon as they were made aware that the BATFE didn’t want anyone doing build parties anymore. Ares only ever provided customers access to tools, they might not have had at home. They’ve pointed out since the beginning that this was a process that customers had to do themselves, and only themselves. Dimitrios is a stand up guy and would never do anything that might lose us our rights. The only reason the ATF is harassing Ares is because the CA DOJ doesn’t like that 80%ers are something they can’t regulate. They have an issue with the jigless polymer ones being too easy to mill out, I can see that, but next they’re gonna come up with some bs about how the aluminum ones are illegal too.

  37. I don’t see anything wrong with having build parties, or an instructor there to guide you, after all, there are several pc companies that have computer build seminars. I don’t even see anythingwrong with providing the equipment for you. Having you drill the minimum yourself and then paying them to clean it up, however, seems to me to be walking a very thin line. It doesn’t help their case to have a mexican national with a history doing it either. That should seem more than a little sketchy to anyone looking to make the purchase.

    As far as I can see unless Ares was doing more than we know about, it doesn’t seem like they were doing anything wrong.

  38. Didn’t Ares host some build parties, perhaps before its attorney was told they couldn’t without an FFL.

  39. I bet more jobs will be heading to Mexico over all the government red tape just to sell/make 80% lowers to the public. That’s what happens when the government gets involved!

  40. The letter asking about the legalities of the proposed business plan, does not create probable cause. If this is the “probable cause” shown to the Judge to obtain the search warrant for Ares Armor, and EP Lowers, then i hope they have great lawyers, because they will own the ATF in court. For a warrant, you have to show that you have probable cause that those you want to search have committed, are about to commit, or are in the process of committing a crime.

    Showing that X, Y, and Z have committed a crime, does not create probable cause that A, and B have committed, are about to commit, or are in the process of committing a crime.

    It really sounds like the BATFE is trying to use the actions of a few to justify a blanket warrant to search all businesses that sell 80% lowers. From reading the entire warrant application.

  41. How shocking….
    After making a giant shit stain out of the situation the ATF finds a document that justifies their actions.
    And it’s super believable because they’ve never gone off the deep only to produce a reason after the fact befo

    • Especially in the day and age of building cases via parallel construction after the fact, which has been proven as standard practice courtesy of the NSA.

  42. Know what? Its still bullshit because last time I checked, the 2A said pretty clearly that the federal gov’t isn’t to be making and enforcing “laws” concerning the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The ATF s a constitutionally illegitimate organization whose sole purpose is the enforcement of constitutionally illegitimate “gun control” “laws”. Fuck them.

  43. Or…. could the BATFE be inventing stuff in order to circumvent the terms of the restraining order previously discussed?

    If this was already brought up above, mea culpa. Didn’t have time to read everything…..

  44. Even if EP made the lower and then back-filled it, what I have seen in videos is that the lower itself has lugs that protrude into the cavity. These lugs keep you from just prying out the filler piece and force you to machine the filler down. This method was obviously intentional to require a degree of effort in finishing it. IMHO this is more about who bought from Ares and scaring the public away from ghost guns is just a bonus.

  45. All of you need to go watch the interviews with Ares armor on NutnFancy`s YouTube channel. Rather then playing armchair theorist/commando. All the issues are outlined there,and you will get the measure of the man that owns Ares armor. Take the time to get the story from the people involved..or just be quiet.
    First hand info,or all this 3rd and 4th hand info that TTAG and the commenter s are putting out. Take your pick. I`ll admit I`m disappointed in the way that T-TAg is *reporting* on this.

  46. My concern with this whole episode is the fact that they confiscated the database for AA. So now they have all this data and then they begin mining it and comparing it to other databases they have. It is an easy thing to look up YOUR other purchases and of others who purchased one of those lowers. Personal a feelings aside but Edward snowden showed us more of the capabilities of the government and their willingness to disregard our privacy. Do you really think that BATF is going to return the database without making a copy of it? Of course now that they have the data they will mine it just to see what pops up. Why not right? They could discover the next big security threat against the US right? All they had to do was just ask for a report on purchases and sales and inventory of the 80% lowers which is easy to do and then they do not need to take the whole database. It frightens me because if you connect certain dots you can make it look like anything you want it to. Next they find some willing judge to sign off on a warrant and the next thing you know you have visitors at 3am. This is not just a detective in a tie but a tactical team because hey you bought that lower you must be one of those crazy gun people and the officers need to be prepared. Plus we have all this cool tactical shit that homeland security gave us and Bobby over there has never done an actual breach. So they do this and scare the hell outta you and wife and daughter as they zip tie them while they “look around”. Well they did not find anything and are sorry for trashing your place but you should feel secure in the knowledge that they are actively pursuing all suspicious activity. It is for your own safety and well being after all. Oh by the way “have a good night”.

    Now you think surely this would not happen but really? Is it that inconceivable? They do not feel you should have that lower to begin with so how much of a stretch is it.

    Just thinking out loud and no in general I am not a conspiracy person but perhaps just a guy with an over active imagination.

  47. Those who forged this nation were very wise; shall not be infringed. What a shame that the People didn’t posses the wisdom and courage to hold government to the contract. How complicated and tragic the relationship between people and government in this nation has become.

    The crimes here are being perpetrated by government and its agents.

    • The ATF has recently been lambasted by a federal judge in California for the manner by which they manufacture crime out of thin air in order to fish unsuspecting people into stealing things that didn’t actually exist in the first place.

      The whole agency is an exercise in insanity, and the people it hires are the mentally insane. As a nation we need to look at the ATF and finally come to the conclusion that they add no value to our society.

      • Not only does it add nothing of value, it’s dangerous to a free people. A well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state and any government agency that infringes on the right of the People to keep and bear arms is obstructive or even destructive to that militia. The BATFE erodes the abilities of the militia and therefore weakens the freedom of our nation.

  48. Sucks that we’re all getting so concerned over the minutia of legalities, arguing about what the ATF MAY have been thinking via conjecture and comparison with seemly similar cases. HELLO. This is what our big government domestic enemies want us to do. They want us to keep each other busy debating and trying to understand what’s legal and what’s not, all the while they are systematically eliminating our God-given rights as identified in the Constitution. We are focusing on symptoms while the cause get’s ever worse. This article is a perfect example of what not to do. It’s just noise in an already noisy world. Instead, we need to recognize that A.) we’re all on the same team here, and B.) it would be wiser to stop grabbing at the remaining scraps of our rights and instead take a step back and aim to take them back wholesale. Don’t settle for any political candidate who only partially defends the 2nd amendment. The same goes for law enforcement, etc. And always remember the American Revolutionary War. We come from men who fought and bled to give us this nation from tyrants. Let’s not sit idly by while this new bread of tyrants undoes the accomplishments of our founders.

    • ^^^ This ^^^ is the only way back. Momentum is taking us further into tyranny. Small, piece-meal efforts won’t stop it.

  49. Well the polymer ones are not very good to start out with, anyone who has not done this before and think its “real easy” to cut out the pocket is sadly mistaken, one bad move and its junk.

  50. So is it me, or am I the only one that has a problem with the fact that any felon, drug dealer, gang banger, low life scum bag could buy one of these and build a gun? Let’s remove the ATF, 2nd Amendment and your god damn given right to do whatever you want because this is MERICA! But I’m not ok with the fact that the people who cause us the most grief which causes this Anti-Gun nut jobs the motivation to enact laws that try to take away our rights to bear arms can just walk up, but these 80% lowers and build a gun. I mean WTF is wrong with this picture??

    • taprac, your comment seems to indicate you aren’t in full support of our second amendment rights. If you’re concerned about REGULATING who and how people can purchase, build, own firearms, then you are in contradiction with the 2A. They’ve already taken full auto away, then magazine limits, and on and on it goes ’till there’s nothing left of our 2nd amendment

      Do you honestly believe that criminals (felons, drug dealers, etc. as you noted them) are going to take the time to legally purchase then BUILD a firearm? Criminals don’t build or even buy guns generally. Then steal them. If you were a convinced felon low life would you purchase parts and assemble and AR? Or would you simply steal a firearm that’s already build and paid for by the victims you prey on?

      • We see how well the background checks stop felons from getting guns, right? Full auto laws keep gang-bangers from owning machine guns too….or not. Crooks will always be better at skirting the laws than law abiding people, and less hesitant to break inconvenient ones. In the end, those laws only hurt the law abiding. Not to mention that “shall not be infringed” thing.

      • Well I happen to own full auto’s and high cap magazines so I don’t get your point. I also work directly in the firearms industry as a consultant, instructor and as a rep for manufactures so I do support our 2nd. What I and others feel in the industry is that we lack strength in our commitment and our numbers and this is why we live in fear of losing more ground in regards to our 2nd Amendment rights.

        I and many in my field Do honestly believe that criminals (felons, drug dealers, etc. as you noted them) are going to take the time to purchase then BUILD a firearm? You say that criminals don’t build or even buy guns generally. Buy a fully assembled ready to fire gun no, but build one yes. You ask “If you were a convinced felon low life would you purchase parts and assemble and AR?” Yes, because it’s easier than trying to steal one. What, are you trying to say that law abiding gun owners leave their homes with their firearms all over the house waiting to be stolen?? No one locks their guns in safes? It is easier to build then to steal.

        • Well I happen to own full auto’s and high cap magazines so I don’t get your point. I also work directly in the firearms industry as a consultant, instructor and as a rep for manufactures so I do support our 2nd.

          Ah, so you have a financial stake in the status quo! I smell a carpetbagger. If government were to be held to constitutional standards, you’d lose much.

        • More than you my friend, more than you..

          You don’t even understand it so it’s impossible that you could support the real right to keep and bear arms. You appear to be a statist and a carpetbagger. Your biases and admitted fears prevent you from truly supporting the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. What you think you are supporting is far, far away from the actual right. You’re supporting government privilege.

    • Support a constitutional amendment to make the changes that you seek. Until then, please stop supporting traitorous thievery by a tyrannical government.

      • What a pathetic response John. So you like the fact that these lowlifes can build guns and ruin our freedom?

        • You have it backwards. Lowlifes don’t follow the laws anyways…they will get arms. This is a way for the law abiding to access similar weaponry in a legal manner, without the government having control over the situation. This is empowerment. If it scares you, you may need to re-evaluate your own lifestyle. At the least, stop trying to enable the real lowlifes.

        • No kidding they don’t follow the law! And this way helps them get weapons easier if they can just build the damn thing instead of trying to steal one. The criminal element have been building guns for many years because trying to find one to steal is not as easy as people thing. The only way they can get one is if one of us law abiding Americans fails to lock up their guns when their away from home. And unfortunately this happens way to often..

        • You are the “consultant” from the Brady Bunch, aren’t you? Only one of them would support diminishing the rights of the people for some “supposed” safety issue relating to keeping guns out of the hands of felons. Why not just have everyone turn in all of their guns, that would stop felons from accessing them, right?

        • First off, they can’t “ruin” our freedom… grow up. Second, with Liberty comes risk. If you wish to be free, you must accept risks. I accept the possibility as a potential risk of freedom. However, define “low-life”. Drug dealers? Well, government has no business in the so-called “war on drugs”. Felons? If they are not in legitimate custody then they ought not be deprived the use of arms.

          Liberty isn’t for cowards. 😉

        • I smell a troll.

          Low lifes already purchase guns illegally, and last I checked, going to Tuco’s trunk and buying a stolen gun for straight cash is far easier than purchasing a $2000 mill to finish off the rest of the gun, AND THEN assemble it.

        • Oh come on…remember he ” works directly in the firearms industry as a consultant, instructor and as a rep for manufacture(r)s” as well as “specialize in criminal justice statistical reports and run reports (every quarter) regarding how Fk’d up society is and how violent we’ve become”.
          How could he be a troll? Besides, he has a buddy in ICE, how many more credentials does he need to drop to prove he is a POTG? Maybe he stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night?

    • You Know, you are right. This is unacceptable. To be fair, anyone should actually be able to walk up, plink down the cash, and walk out with a complete, ready to fire, silenced, short-barrel, full automatic AR15 if they so choose. Maybe anyone of the age of majority, no minors. But seriously, lets be serious.
      Crooks will get them anytime they want, they aren’t going to gun shops to get their guns. Prohibitions only hurt those who will stay within the law.

      • Anyone should be able to do those things you mentioned. But unfortunately not with today’s society. You’re right, criminals will break the law and get guns no matter what. But for Christ sakes let’s not make it easy for them…

        • Society hasn’t changed as much as people like to claim. That is a defeatist statement used to justify keeping the thumb of power down on the populace.
          Kids today wouldn’t know how to dial a phone, because they don’t see dial phones.
          “Society can’t handle it” really means “society would have to get used to having that option”, nothing more or less.
          I am sure most of us couldn’t handle walking the first time we tried it, there was a learning curve. Same thing with regaining long lost rights. But if you never start working on it, you will never get better.

        • Society hasn’t changed as much as people like to claim. That is a defeatist statement used to justify keeping the thumb of power down on the populace?????????????? That is the craziest thing I have ever read? I actually can’t believe that someone would right this. I can’t believe that someone is so blind to believe that we as a nation and as a society hasn’t become more disrespectful and more violent!

        • You keep trying to make the end justify the means. It doesn’t. Either you are naïve or purposely inane. You need to exercise critical thinking. Analyze crime rates from past eras to present. Rates, not sheer numbers. You are the blind one, or more honestly, you are afraid to open your eyes.

          Remember also, that when you stop teaching people how to read, you can’t claim illiteracy as a reason for outlawing books.

        • Well here’s where you just dug a hole and jumped in. I specialize in criminal justice statistical reports and run reports (every quarter) regarding how Fk’d up society is and how violent we’ve become. and I’m not just talking firearm related statistic but overall. Done with this conversation…..

        • You’ve just touched on one area of violence and not looking at the big picture of our societies breakdown. Plus this report looks like if came from a college student. Go look at the statistic offered by the CDC and the FBI. Their yearly reports offer a better and more accurate look at the death and violence in America. And I’m not talking just handgun violence.

        • And I also mentioned analysis of factors, something you seem fairly clueless regarding. Go back to you Brady Bunch.

        • You keep going back to that I see. Run out of intelligent things to say? Oh wait, you haven’t said one intelligent thing during this whole conversation. Sheep….

        • Stop ignoring facts. No data was even available on most crimes until 1870, and statistical data collection was sketchy at best. No real attempts at collecting the data and analyzing it were quantified until 1930. Even until the late 1960’s there was not really any standardized reporting of crime data for analysis.
          More people, and better reporting, makes things look worse, it doesn’t mean it is true. But it makes for good propaganda.

        • That is the craziest thing I have ever read? I actually can’t believe that someone would right this. I can’t believe that someone is so blind to believe that we as a nation and as a society hasn’t become more disrespectful and more violent!

          Yes, he did right (sic) it and saved me the trouble of doing so. People are the same now as they were at the time of the founding of this nation. Some things, technology and scientific knowledge for example, have increased but basic human nature remains the same. If, as you contend, our nation and society have become more disrespectful and more violent; is it any coincidence that there has been a marked decrease in individual liberty at the hands of government today? Remove the concept of Liberty from a people and they begin to lose sight of the responsibilities and risks of that freedom. *If* we are more disrespectful and violent now-a-days then I blame government encroachment and the nanny state.

    • For the same reason we don’t prevent you (a law abiding citizen) from entering a private agreement between you and your ISP, we don’t prohibit every other citizen from entering similar agreements with ISPs fearful that they may traffic drugs, traffic sex, order hits, etc… we don’t do pre-crime (at least in theory).

      Similarly we shouldn’t prohibit every other citizen from ordering hunks of plastic/metal or allow federal agencies to violate our privacy based on the (thus far) flimsiest of justification.

  51. I am curious why they think confiscating computers will give them what they want? If I was running a gun store (I wish I had that kind of cash), ALL of my computers would be using self encrypting drives along with an operating system that also encrypted the files.

    There would be no way to access any of the data on the computers without the user credentials. The BATFE would get a few pieces of hardware and no way to access any of the data without coercion of those who hold the passwords. This would then require them to go back to the judge who issued a restraining order against them.

    People who play fast and loose with the records of their customers deserve to lose their business. I think what the BATFE did was illegal, but to not protect your customers records is just wrong. Encryption technology today is cheap and unbreakable by the government. Not using it is like putting your customer records out there for all to see.

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