Ares Armor Update: The Skinny on EP Armory Polymer 80% Lower Receivers

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Let’s look at the situation surrounding Ares Armor, EP Armory’s lowers, and why the ATF might be interested.

Ares Armor is a distributor of EP Armory’s polymer 80% lower receivers. The claim to fame for these models is that the lower receivers are two different colors — one color for the receiver itself, and a completely different color for the parts that need to be milled out to complete the gun. It’s the equivalent of a “paint by numbers” approach to firearms manufacturing, making the process nearly idiot-proof.

The problem is the definition of an “80% lower.” The appeal of the 80% lower receiver is that it is legally just a chunk of metal and not a firearm, so it skirts nearly all of the gun laws in the United States right up until the point where someone drills out all the required parts and assembles their own gun. In order to maintain that status, the lower needs to be like a block of marble in an artists’ studio: just raw material with the finished product still needing to be chiseled out. According to the ATF’s “once a gun always a gun” doctrine, the instant the lower is milled out and completed it’s officially a firearm and subject to all of the applicable laws. Even if you go back and fill in the relevant sections, it’s still a gun that you just manufactured and must be treated as such.

The question with this specific lower becomes one of the chicken and the egg. The lower, as sold, has all the right parts filled in. But when it was manufactured, was it actually first made as a “proper” complete firearm and then had the relevant parts filled in, or was it manufactured some other way that would keep the ATF agents happy that it really never was “complete” at any point in its construction?

When Ares Armor applied for and was granted their restraining order, they included a note from EP Armory’s head honcho stating that the fabrication process was in compliance with the ATF’s instructions on the matter and 100% legal. I have contacted EP Armory to get a more detailed overview of how their manufacturing process works, but they haven’t returned my call. I get the feeling that they’re a little busy at the moment, having just been raided themselves. The folks at Ares Armor helpfully took a few minutes to talk to me, but all they could do was point me at the EP Armory website for more information — and there doesn’t seem to be anything helpful over there.

The situation is still developing, and as we get more information we’ll let you know. But the facts at the moment are this:

  • Ares Armor sought and was issued a restraining order against the ATF to keep them out of their store in relation to this specific 80% polymer lower.
  • Ares Armor is a distributor of EP Armory’s product, not a manufacturer.
  • EP Armory was raided by the ATF over this issue, and no additional information is available about the findings in that case.
  • The ATF claims the raid on Ares Armor was about an unrelated investigation, hinting at the manufacturing kerfuffle that I discussed this morning.

So, in short, clear as mud as to what’s really going on. Stay tuned.

 

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

94 Responses to Ares Armor Update: The Skinny on EP Armory Polymer 8094 Lower Receivers

  1. avatarJohn L. says:

    “The claim to fame for these models is that the lower receivers are two different colors — one color for the receiver itself, and a completely different color for the parts that need to be milled out to complete the gun.”

    Now – just speculating here – what would be REALLY cool would be if those two different materials responded differently to a specific solvent. As in, the white stuff dissolves while the black stuff is left untouched.

    • avatarguy says:

      Or heat… easy-bake receiver?! Heck yeah!

      • avatarDoug Rowan says:

        Having seen one finished, there are “teeth or wings” embedded into the lower from the color polymer that you remove. My guess is it’s created as I said, the part you remove is done first, dipped into the mold of the later created lower, err, chunk of polymer, then cured, once done you now have 2 colors of polymer, one you drill out.

        • avatarSam says:

          Though they don’t go into such detail, that is actually how it is stated to have been created on the ARES Armor website.

          “7. The BATFE has Raided EP Armory based on incorrect information about EP Armory’s manufacturing process. The determination letter written by the BATFE incorrectly classified the EP Armory product as a firearm based on faulty information. The BATFE was under the impression that EP Armory was making a firearm and then reverting back to the 80% stage by filling in the fire-control cavity. At no point during the manufacturing process by EP Armory is a weapon made and then reverted. The solid fire-control cavity is built first and the rest of the 80% casting is made around this “core” specifically so that their product at no time could be considered to be a firearm.”

          Source: http://aresarmor.com/store/NewsArticle/Temporary_Restraining_Order_Against_BATFE

    • avatarCliff H says:

      So let me repeat this theory at the top of the page, because I think the logic is being missed:

      If you create a white plug as one step and then mold a black lower around it as a separate step you have just in essence created a 100% lower (minus the holes needing to be drilled) around that plug.

      If you create a 100% lower (minus the holes needing to be drilled) as a first step and then mold a white plug in to the center portion you still have created a 100% lower.

      As ridiculous and unconstitutional as all of that seems, it is undoubtedly the legal point around which BATFE is basing their investigation.

      • avatarJim Jones says:

        Except that polymer manufacturing is additive. Isn’t the plug made of the exact same material as the outer receiver portion? All this stuff is created by injection molding, i.e. you stuff hot liquid plastic into a mold to create the shape. If the center plug and the surrounding receiver are all made of the same material, then according to the logic you are using here, then every single 80% polymer has the potential of being a 100% at some point in the injection molding process. I think the only legal “rational” argument the BATFE would have here is to argue that the different colors constitutes providing assistance in the building of the receiver, which is illegal. (It’s all bs to me, but that would be the argument I would make if I were the ATF)

        • avatarCliff H says:

          I believe they will argue (and please do not think I like these guys in any degree) is that since this is two entirely separate processes, that is that the center piece is made first and the black portion molded around it, that the black section is in fact a 100% lower, the white plug being a separate piece froma separate manufacturing step.

          An “additive” process would imply that the entire thing was created in one continuous process, which is obviously not the case.

        • avatarDefens says:

          Same material, but I think the issue is that there’s a parting line between the black and white components. Once you hog out most of the white, and chew through the little interfingering bits, the white plug just pulls away from the black part, leaving nice, straight lines. At least – that’s my understanding of how these work.

          So in reality (or at least the ATF’s view of reality) there’s an almost 100% receiver lurking in that pile of plastic, which can be released with very little effort.

        • I think it depends on whether actual milling is required or not. If you can use a sharp blade to ‘release’ the ‘plug’ then it is just a plug. If, on the other hand the ‘plug’ is inseparable from the rest of the material without milling it completely then it is effectively one chunk of polymer.

        • avatarTincan53 says:

          Having finished a polymer, I can attest that the materials used seem to be quite different. The white, or trigger well material is much softer and easier to remove than that of the receiver material. Also, inspecting the receiver you can see the injection fill points for both the lower and the trigger well material. The lower injection point would be found under the pistol grip just below the screw hole. The trigger well is filled through a 1/4″ fill hole found where the trigger hole will be.

          I worked with injection molding machines, 42 to be exact from 110 ton to 375 ton machines, for just over 5 years. My work jacket still stinks of that plastic 6 years after I quit. I never saw a two part operation where you inject one type/color material into one part of the mold, then inject another into a different part of the mold almost simultaneously, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. As a matter of fact, I’m betting it actually could be completed just as EP Armory says. Anyone could walk into their operation and within seconds tell if they were making a 100% then filling it or not. I’m thinking that eat press is making at most four 80% lowers if the presses are 300-400 ton units. The mold has to be HUGE and weigh a ton maybe.

          I hope Ares has pictures of all their inventory to guard against the ATF drilling holes in the confiscated lowers then providing the now drilled lowers as evidence that Ares was selling them in that “finished” condition.

        • avatarSam says:

          This is in regard to Defens comment.

          “there’s an almost 100% receiver lurking in that pile of plastic”

          There is an almost 100% receiver lurking in every unfinished block of wood, chunk of steel, aluminum or other metal as well so should the ATF just run around seizing every building material there is that is large enough to cut a receiver out of?

    • avatarAndrew says:

      John, sorry to threadjack but the issue of the polymer lower is secondary to what was stated in the ATF’s original affidavit, which was that Ares armor was “substantially in the business of producing firearms” due to the time and money they had put into selling 80% lowers.

      With regards to the dual-molded lower receivers, the ATF believed that the true receiver form was first molded and then the “white cavity” was filled in – this is not the case and the molding is reversed (white first, then black).

      The comments below treat the second molding injection (the black receiver) as a “finished” firearm. This would not be the case as it comes out of the mold requiring “substantial effort” – important phrase there. “Substantial effort” is the crux of the ATF search warrant – they stated that Ares Armor has removed this requirement via build parties where people literally press the run button on a CNC to create the finished receiver.

      Can somebody find the link to the original affidavit to search Ares Armor? I know it was on a TTAG post but I can’t find it anywhere.

      • avatarPat says:

        Andrew, Where did you see the affidavit?

      • avatarJahn says:

        Meh, substantial effort is as nebulous the greater good…it can be twisted to mean anything. For some, breathing and chewing gum at the same time takes substantial effort.

    • avatarFee1776 says:

      Before Ares Armor can sell the 80 percent receivers, don’t they have to submit a sample to ATF to get a letter of approval before AA can sell it to the public???

  2. Obviously, the ATF is totally wrong and the company they raided is totally right. I need no facts to reach this determination, because I just know the ATF must always be wrong.

    Eye roll.

    • avatarWes says:

      The ATF IS always wrong because they shouldn’t exist. Even when they are right, they are still wrong.

      • avatarTomy Ironmane says:

        In Texas, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is a convenience store, not a government agency.

    • avatarVictor says:

      Can we just get rid of all these stupid laws?

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      Here at TTAG… that is basically a trolling comment.

      We are talking about an agency that is:

      1) employed by the government (with excellent benefits) to tax and enforce rules on the populace for random arbitrary things they have found to be profitable – namely, firearms, tobacco, alcohol, and explosives.

      2) to remain employed it is in their best interest to incriminate people and continue to do so in the realm of their jurisdiction (alcohol, tobacco, firearms… etc).

      3) If you look at the history of the ATF, it is well known their total botched tactics and maneuvers (including killing people – a criminal offense) have completely earned them the titles we have given them. They continue to do so free of any threat of prosecution.

      4) The BATFE itself, should not even exist. They really serve no other purpose but to create jobs (ATF jobs) at the expense of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, etc, taxation.

      • avatarMark N. says:

        As an arm of the IRS, it had a purpose–tax revenue collections, and investigations of persons seeking to avoid paying taxes mandated by statutes. But that purpose was lost the moment it became a cabinet agency. Now it is a rogue agency without sufficient oversight, for no apparent reason than to justify its own existence. Much of its current action plan appears intended to criminalize firearms and firearms owners, rather than simply regulating process.

    • avatarSteve O says:

      Hey Paul, the government of this country – including the ATF – is out of control. Maybe you should wake up and then go work off that double chin before you make another YouTube video that nobody cares about.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Hey, Paul, the ATF is always wrong. It’s in the bible and everything

    • avatarFreeman says:

      Paul “eye roll” McCain: if the ATF was a private citizen they would be doing 10,000 years in federal prison for all the crimes they have committed and continue to commit. Not to mention the cover-ups when their crimes are exposed. So please, oh pretty please, excuse me and most other patriotic Americans for assuming the worst about them.

  3. avatarAnonymous says:

    “At the moment, we still have no idea what exactly the ATF is investigating Ares Armor for. “

    I thought we established this. They want the customer lists and now they have an excuse to obtain such.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      No, you miss the thrust of the statement–which is that we do not know if Ares is being investigated for illegal activity, and if it is, whether that activity is the sale of EP lowers or something else. That said, even if Ares was not being investigated for illegal activity, its records are subject to government search warrants. For example, the government can obtain records from credit card companies, phone companies and banks in connection with a criminal investigation, even though those businesses are not accused or suspected of any illegal activities, if the government has probable cause to believe that those records will reveal evidence of a criminal act or activity. [Private attorneys can do the same thing though subpoenas, under a slightly different standard--that the evidence sought is either relevant or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.]

      • avatarAnonymous says:

        You thoroughly lawyered that up ;)

        “No, you miss the thrust of the statement–which is that we do not know if Ares is being investigated for illegal activity, and if it is, whether that activity is the sale of EP lowers or something else.”

        I didn’t miss the thrust of the statement. I was making my own thrusting statement. The thrusting that the ATF repeatedly performs on America’s backside.

        Honestly who really cares? Seriously? Its like equate this to a cigarette (another item ATF likes to get involved in) What does it matter if the filter is added first or second, or if the tobacco is inserted in the front or the back – if the end result is the same? I’m so tired of the ATF inserting their junk in the american people. Now we are splitting hairs with letting another guy borrow your equipment to mill it out? Jesus H… Whats next, the owner of the equipment has to make a bill of sale to the buyer of the lower so he can use the equipment and then the buyer of the finished lower sells it back to him and fills out a receipt? Is that what it takes to get around this crap? It is such arbitrary nonsense. The back-filling of the lower is nonsense. The borrowing of the equipment to finish your receiver is nonsense. Typical ATF insertion, thrusting, back-filling nonsense.

        Also, I like to see it how it is. The ATF are not our friends. They clearly want the customer list. They come up with whatever reason necessary to obtain such. Back-filled EP lowers or borrowed milling equipment… what do they care as long as they get the list.

  4. avatarMark N. says:

    A point (or two) of clarification:
    1..A stripped lower, which has no additional parts added (mag release, fire control group, takedown pins, selector switch) is a firearm.
    2. An 80% lower, from what I’ve seen from the ATF, cannot have the fire control pocket milled, nor the holes for the hammer and trigger pins, the selector switch, or the trigger drilled. I have read, but cannot confirm, that the ATF does not want the locations of the pins dimpled or marked, nor the fire control pocket outlined. (This latter is kind of silly, as any jig you buy will have stuff to do this in seconds.)
    3. It appears the ATF is now contending that once the fire control pocket of an 80% lower is milled out, it is “completed” as far as the ATF is concerned, even though the pin holes, selector switch hole and the trigger aperture are not milled or drilled. Extending this “logic,” just drilling the trigger and hammer pin holes would render a lower a “completed” firearm even if the fire control pocket was solid metal. Talk about fine lines! And it would also mean that if you start a project on an 80% lower, but tire of it, it is subject to the transfer rules–stamped serial number and all. (And in California, transfer through an FFL.)

    • avatarnathanredbeard says:

      My understanding of the ATF rules is that once you have it and start that process, it’s yours and yours alone ie you can’t transfer it to someone else without breaking the law because you just became an unlicensed manufacturer of a firearm. If for personal use, you are not technically a manufacturer, but the instant you sell it, you are. (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc.)

      • avatarMark N. says:

        OCCASSIONAL sales of home made firearms are permitted. But the lower has to be engraved or have a serial number permanently affixed before the sale can be consummated. I don’t recall where the line is crossed between “occasional” and “manufacturer.”

        • avatarCliff H says:

          If a private sale does not go through an FFL, how and when is the serial number affixed, and recorded where, and who knows or tracks these things?

          If you have a “ghost gun” how does anyone know whether you bought it whole or built it yourself? Perhaps someone else bought the 80% lower, decided not to build the gun, and gave or sold you the lower. Even if they started to build it and chickened out before giving it to you, where are the records on this or how far along they got before they gave up?

          There is no registry of 80% lowers, who bought them, or what happened to them after they were delivered wherever they were delivered, I think that’s the point.

        • avatarDoug Rowan says:

          Cliff where do you live that there is a registry for regular lowers of ARs? We certainly don’t have one here in Iowa.

          To answer someone else’s question there is NO way to remove that center area without drilling/milling it out.

        • avatarCliff H says:

          Not saying there is such a registry, we certainly hope there is not because, you know, that would be illegal.

          But there is a record of the manufacture and sale of each firearm serial number and the weapon it is attached to, maintained in the bound book at the FFL. Except for some proposed legislation I don’t think any state has a requirement to serialize your 80% lower, but it appears the BATFE guys are trying to rectify that by being as thuggish and intimidating as they can be.

          I was proposing that once a ghost receiver is created there really is no way for law enforcement to determine who built it or when or under what conditions. The two-piece polymer lower would appear to me to be different from a solid polymer or aluminum lower with the center section still un-machined which would be a true 80% lower per the letter of the (unconstitutional) law.

  5. avatarDaniel Silverman says:

    I would be the first to admit, if Ares was doing things like LCG then they are in trouble. Gotcha check that..
    Unfortunately I find that a stretch and the original confrontation seemed to stem from EP, and the BATFE threatened Ares to try and get customer lists. Ares refused, and got the restraining order.
    All of a sudden there is a different reason for them to be there?
    Something smells really fishy here.
    Also just to interject, this also could be spawned by De Leon’s SB 808. It is sitting in committee right now. nothing like a little justification to try and get more civilian disarmament passed.
    With LCG they have a pretty air tight case. I mean they have pictures and video. Unless similar evidence surfaces from Ares, I think it is something else.
    Bottom line, they wanted to computers and they got them. Doesn’t matter the means.

    • avatarThomasR says:

      Exactly right; the BATFE goons think to themselves; “What! A peon tells us we can’t get what ever we want when we want it, like RIGHT NOW! And the pathetic little worm even gets a court order(snicker) we’ll show him who’s boss!

      So guess what; they have another “Legal reason”: to take what they already were told they couldn’t have.

      Rogues, thugs, murderers; they need to be disbanded and the management imprisoned for crimes against the American people and the constitution.

  6. avatarPeterK says:

    I thought the part you had to mill was also specifically NOT finished anyway. Ridges in the way and such.

  7. avatarWerewolf1021 says:

    One would think the ATF would better things to do than this…. like going after actual criminals.

    ….. on second thought, no, they probably don’t. That would require real work.

  8. avatarDoug Rowan says:

    My understanding was the “fill” was created and then dipped into the mold for the Lower, thus the lower was never a lower. I had that link at some point but haven’t been able to locate it as of yet (still looking). Still seems like a huge over step on the Feds part, if what they are saying is true, and originally Ares said, come on in, but you aren’t taking our customer list, and the ATF refused and wanted the list… that’s a cart before the horse thing to me. Go in, prove they are illegal first, THEN make a case for the customer list. Interesting thing is with EP Lowers statement that they are legal per the ATF, is it the customer’s fault for purchasing? Couldn’t a said customer add a serial number to theirs and still be legal? With as crazy as our gun laws are, adding the wrong stock, foregrip, etc making a gun a felony, it’s hard to say.

    • The ATF doesn’t have to ‘prove’ anything, in regards to what is or is not a firearm. They make the determination. If somebody doesn’t like it, they can take the ATF to court. As far as I can tell that doesn’t happen very often.

  9. avatarDavid says:

    I agree that is so hilarious and Easy Bake receiver.

  10. avatarCheesy says:

    Too bad Ares had nothing to do with Fast and Furious; this would never have happened.

  11. avatarTom W. says:

    The rules are written by the ATF by design to be “clear as mud”. The raid was conducted on a matter “unrelated” to the restraining order…

    Yeahhhhhhh riiiiiiiiight…

  12. avatarMark N. says:

    This is fun. This is what an EP lower would look like if it was clear (this was actually a project they tried to produce, but it was withdrawn before it made it to market):

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2013/07/16/clear-80-ar-15-lowers/

  13. avatarNotorious_bob says:

    We should all go there and buy insignificant novelty items or unregulated items with a credit card or debit card so when the ATF finally does get their hitler-on in there and has access to the customer lists, there are millions and millions of pieces of irrelevant data. They’ll have to hire ten Hadoop experts just to begin the task of finding what they were looking for!

  14. avatarSean says:

    “The appeal of the 80% lower receiver is that it is legally just a chunk of metal and not a firearm”

    or a chunk of polymer in this case.

  15. Nick-

    Why don’t you just call the ATF? At this point, all the speculation is merely creating ill will between TTAG readers and the ATF, which at the end of the day may be unfounded.

    Let me give you an outline of the relevant issues:

    1. As you note above, does the ATF consider the EP a firearm, or not?
    2. If the answer to #1 is yes, does the ATF has reason to believe that Ares knew this?
    3. Regardless of the answer to #2, does ATF consider such knowledge relevant to possible illegal transfers?
    4. If the answer to #1 is no, then is the issue entirely related to one of Ares’ customers, that allegedly may have been using the EP 80%’ers in it’s own manufacturing process, which may have been unlicensed or illegal due to improper serialization and reporting?
    5. If #4 is yes, then does the ATF has reason to believe Ares was somehow knowingly complicit in its customer’s allegedly illegal activities?
    6. If #5 is no, then what does the ATF seek pursuant to its warrant?

    Depending on the status of the case, they may or may not be forthcoming with answers. And while I would tend to raise an eyebrow at a broad warrant, depending on some of the answers above, a narrower search of Ares might be justified.

    (I am not saying I personally agree that *any* firearm manufactured, whether by an individual or a licensed manufacturer should be reported, but for licensees that is the law, and any such manufacture for profit requires a license).

    • The last time I called the ATF they tried to charge me with a felony. I’m reluctant to try my luck again.

      The guys at Ares Armor are being very vocal about what’s going on and will update us when there is more information available. At this point I’m taking the “wait and see” approach.

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      Why don’t you just call the ATF? At this point, all the speculation is merely creating ill will between TTAG readers and the ATF, which at the end of the day may be unfounded.

      I was about to verbally slap you regarding this statement – bit Nick’s response pretty much summed it up.

      • avatarTom from Georgia says:

        Frankly, there needs to be more ill will directed towards ATF – much, much more. Because they have got it coming, every damn bit.

        Tom

  16. avatarMike mershon says:

    The lowers are not idiot proof. I am living proof of that. First I used a end mill bit that was apparently to course as it chewed into the plastic and cracked one side….one upper down. Then I was almost done milling the fire control cavity out and it started jumping Sooo blew through the bottom of number two. Finally got a jig and paid absolutely no attention to the white crap in the middle and it worked out fine. So this idiot is telling you, it’s not ME proof. All that and I’m still on the list. Should have just bought a completed one.

  17. avatarDanny Meadows says:

    Hi Everyone

    What is to keep The ATF from rading me in my Home?

    Dan

    • avatarHobbez says:

      Nothing

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      Keeping your head low and a cash payment?

      Do what you are told at all times without question? (like the Jews being herded into gas chambers).

      I would go with those… but it is up to you to decide if it is worth it. A better question would be… what can I do to minimize damage “when” the ATF come to raid me. Questions like:

      Where can I relocate my stash of tobacco smokes I have been making and selling to my buddies.
      Where can I stash those machine gun parts (minus receiver) that I got from that parts kit
      Where can I hide those completed lowers I machined
      Where can I put my gold, silver, and cash?
      How should I hide my ethanol “fuel” still from which I have been secretly drinking

      etc.

  18. I recently completed one of these myself. It’s pretty obvious (to me), that the white inner part is molded first, then inserted (via the tab at the top) into the mold for the lower, and the black material pumped in around it. The white section is molded with deep, square grooves that make it impossible to simply pull it out- it *has* to be milled out by some method. It was a fun project (I’m still looking for a cheap upper).

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Let us know how that works out for you. I have had no luck. Pricing out what I want in an upper always ends up north of $500.Receiver $90 to $200. BCG $90- $250. Barrel $190-$300. Handguards–I haven’t figured those out at all; free floating seem to be $100 to X. Simple iron sights start at $100–or a red dot for the same or more.

    • avatarAnonymous says:

      I like the aluminum 80%:

      https://www.ar-parts.net/ar-15/80-lower-receiver-raw-blast/

      but I luckily am in possession of a vertical mill. OMG! A vertical mill! – up next to be banned.

  19. avatarDon says:

    Ares Armor used to hold workshops and show people how to build Firearms.

  20. avatarNighthawk says:

    The ATF doesn’t even employ firearms specialists, a majority of their agents are power hungry thugs that are afraid of guns rather than gun experts. They enforce bogus, ridiculous laws and are one of the few branches that actually punishes thought crimes. On top of that they are proven arms dealers, among the poorest trained government agents with respect to firearms safety and usage, and just plain daft. No IQ test required to be an ATF and no firearms knowledge either. Rather than recruiting USMC armorers they recruit liberal arts majors.

  21. avatarThat Guy says:

    The thing I don’t understand is I read somewhere that the ATF was stating they raided Ares for selling firearms without an FFL since the ATF just determined EP’s polymer lowers firearms. If that is really the case how is no one arrested right now for illegal manufacturing of firearms? Seems like if that was really the case the ATF would already have all the Ares guys in jail. Which just makes this whole thing look like the ATF doesn’t want to give Ares any more cause for a lawsuit but until a judge tells them to give the stuff back they are having their way with the customer list.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Ares is not a manufacturer, just a retailer for EP Armory. It could be charged with being an unlicensed firearms dealer, EP with being an unlicensed manufacturer. And each buyer–they have the customer lists–may have potential liability for engaging in an illegal firearms transaction, at least those in California or any other state that require sales of firearms to be processed through an FFL (although it seems to me that that would be a state law violation, not a federal law violation, but I am no expert). I can’t think of any other reason that ATF would want the customer lists. All of this depends, of course, on the ultimate determination of whether the EP lower is a “firearm” when it leaves EP’s facility. If it is not, all of this goes away. [At least that is, until (for us in California) De Leon's "ghost gun" bill passes and the ATF provides the California AG with the customer lists.]

      • avatarRick says:

        I thought ‘ex post facto” laws were illegal in this country. But when it comes to firearms, we can all be punished by laws passed decades later. Deliberately making us into criminals. Not okay.

      • avatargmcarr says:

        Lesson1 DON”t have / keep a list!

  22. avatarRick P says:

    “The appeal of the 80% lower receiver is that it is legally just a chunk of metal and not a firearm, so it skirts nearly all of the gun laws in the United States right up until the point where someone drills out all the required parts and assembles their own gun.”

    “Skirts” isn’t very pejoratively used here, is it? an 80% complete metal lower doesn’t skirt anything, it conforms to the law.

  23. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    “■The ATF claims the raid on Ares Armor was about an unrelated investigation, hinting at the manufacturing kerfuffle that I discussed this morning.”

    Or the ATF was POed that they had the audacity to get a restraining order and convinced another judge that a search warrant was ‘needed’ for a ‘different issue’.

  24. avatarRick says:

    BS arse covering by the ATF, doubling down on stupid. If it were all about “unrelated investigations” then why the explicit demand for the sales records of ARES as well as the explicit threat of shutdown if the customer list was not provided?

    this is nothing less than looking to go after lawful owners who are rightfully afraid of overzealous enforcement and the use of a firearm registration to harass. There are still thousands of illeglly imported foreign firearms on the streets, and prosecutors are letting street thugs plea bargain out of the weapons charges for tiny drug offenses. But take someone who has no record and is not arrested in relation to a violent crime, and work to pin a weapons charge, and then refuse to allow a lesser plea-THAT is the goal and a scenario occuring dozens of times daily all over the country.

    • avatarDon says:

      They would like to label us all criminals so when DHS and FEMA come around they can just round up everyone with a record, I guess it makes it easier. Ares Armor was breaking the law and the ATF contacted them about it, I believe it was in 2012 for having workshops at there stores showing customers how to mill out 80% lowers.

  25. avatarShakey says:

    I don’t really understand all the “confusion” – if you read the various statements, the court filings and the timeline it’s not all that confusing. Yes, Ares was doing a bunch of “paid build party” stuff that put them on the ATF’s radar but that’s not the issue here.

    - EP made a polymer paperweight that was very easy to convert into an AR lower. They advertised it as an ATF-approved “not a firearm” but they didn’t get a determination letter, which is The Thing That Matters. EP gets raided by the ATF

    - Ares is an EP distributor, they talk to ATF and agree to hand over EP’s paperweights. Ares seeks a TRO and the TRO is granted. FWIW – It looks like Ares may not have served the ATF with notice of the TRO, which, if true, is a significant mistake by Ares.

    - ATF gets the TRO modified to (1) order Ares to preserve all evidence and (2) allow ATF to execute a search warrant.

    - ATF does get a search warrant and raids Ares.

    The hearing is on Thursday at 1:30, should be interesting.

    • avatarChicago Steve says:

      It’s all speculation at this point, but I don’t think it’s just the “paid build party” stuff, otherwise why raid EP which was not accused of such activities at all?

      I’m not entirely certain a determination letter was needed. For starters, the ATF had previously made it very clear what was a 80% lower and what was not. FWIW, it’s clear that the ATF was in full knowledge that polymer lowers were being resold by Ares in 2012. If it was an issue, they would (should?) have stepped in then.

      Finally, ATF had full notice of the TRO, they clearly responded to it to have it modified!

      Unfortunately, warrants more often than not do not list the underlying alleged crime.

  26. avatarChicago Steve says:

    Legalese Update: It can’t be the paid build party issue. The only 80% lowers that were seized were the EP polymers (fact). If it was a build party concern, they would have seized the metal lowers as well.

  27. avatarCarolina Marshal says:

    This still doesn’t shed light on where the “customer” stands.
    All those folks who desired to take their hobby to the next
    level, and build their own AR……Are they now going to have
    to be looking over their shoulders ?
    The customers took it on good faith that these companies
    knew what they were doing by offering these items for sale.
    If the criminals at large determine that these customers are
    in the wrong ….I believe we’ll be seeing another Conn.

    • avatarShakey says:

      Exactly, I think this is the main issue. EP told customers they met with the ATF and the EP80 “met with their approval as a non-firearm.” They never actually said that they had a determination letter, but they told everyone their product was legal and now the customers are left paying the price.

      Responsible companies get determination letters. Tactical Machining got a letter. Quentin Defense got a letter clarifying that the selector hole can not be drilled. 80% Arms submitted three different samples and the ATF said one was okay and two were not. That’s what real companies do before they go to market.

      FWIW – I have no stake in this, I have done zero business with these companies.

  28. avatarcubby123 says:

    A restraining order is a restraining order! you don’t get a “do over” cause you THINK you are exempt.Just another example of the law breaking the law and getting away with it!

  29. avatarbradt says:

    If these lowers are 3D printed, then you can print 2 materials at the same time, meaning the manufacturing would be in compliance with the regs. A good industrial 3D printer is more than capable of this, while maintaining high part quality.

    I saw a comment about making the fill material react different. If the fill material is 3D printed with a certain type of filament (such as high impact polystyrene), then it can be dissolved in limonene. It would leave the lower receiver intact while completely eliminating the fill, leaving you with a 100% lower.

  30. avatarteaman says:

    Of course, we do have the same strict laws on knifes, automobiles, hammers, and baseball bats right? Knifes and automobiles kill more people than guns(excluding war).

  31. avatarTXN RDNK says:

    The ATF makes up laws on the fly as to whats legal and aint. Ares and and EPArmor will prevail because the ATF lied to the judge in order to have that damn restraining order rescinded. The govnt.needs to understand that lawabidding gun owners know what time it is and this tyrannical bullshit won’t work.

  32. avatarTXN RDNK says:

    I sure as hell hope Ares didn’t give up their customer files to the Gestapo.Thats what they wanted,them records so they can harass and intimidate those people.

  33. avatarMan-Bear-Pig says:

    That is what is pissing me off!

    I am a customer of Ares Armor, and I haven’t heard one freaking word from Dimitri or his employees on whether or not they have turned over my personal information to the ATF.

    I am still getting emails offering to sell me shit in order to “support the fight” — yet they haven’t sent one simple email telling us if our privacy has been compromised.

    Earlier today (3/18), another customer posed that question on Ares Armor’s Facebook page: “Has our information been given to the ATF?”

    Only to have the post on Facebook deleted by Ares Armor’s staff.

    I am pissed off, not just at the ATF — but also at Ares Armor for not communicating with us.

  34. avatarManBearPig says:

    That is what is pissing me off!

    I am a customer of Ares Armor, and I haven’t heard one freaking word from Dimitri or his employees on whether or not they have turned over my personal information to the ATF.

    I am still getting emails offering to sell me shit in order to “support the fight” — yet they haven’t sent one simple email telling us if our privacy has been compromised.

    Earlier today (3/18), another customer posed that question on Ares Armor’s Facebook page: “Has our information been given to the ATF?”

    Only to have the post on Facebook deleted by Ares Armor’s staff.

    I am pissed off, not just at the ATF — but also at Ares Armor for not communicating with us.

  35. avatarRuss says:

    My guess is that the uppers were being sold so blatently with big billboard signs and fancy custom decorated cars in of all places Communist Califoria with every single part for an ar15 sold by a one stop shop, Ares armor, a non ffl, smacks int the face of the ATF, not to mention the parity of Obama making a lower on YouTube for polymer 80, and EP selling these lowers on Facebook no less. No doubt Facebook and amazon are in the mix too along with EP and Ares.

  36. avatarWayners says:

    There is another issue that isn’t mentioned and this is, if the lowers were indeed manufactured in accordance with law and regulation, the next question is are they beyond 80% complete? Are these lowers readily convertible into a firearm? I see that they sell jigs and tools to finish the lowers. How long does the process take? It’s my understanding that if they can be finished to fire a single shot in less than 8 hours, they would be considered to be readily convertible and thus firearms.

    • avatarDoug Rowan says:

      8 hours? where in the hell did you hear that? ALL 80% lowers could be finished in less than 8 hours. Hell my guess is someone with the right milling machine could take a block of Alum and make a lower in less than 8 hours. Most of the jigs you are seeing are for the Alum ones anyhow. There really isn’t much need for the jig with the polymer ones.

      • avatarWayners says:

        The 8 hours comes from the courts but the 8 hours only comes from one Circuit Court of Appeals.

  37. avatarSuicide_Commando says:

    Not to go off on a tangent, but if anyone decides to make 80% lowers they MUST get the ATF letter approving the 80% lower correct???

    • avatarWayners says:

      That would be the smart thing to do but it isn’t mandatory. It’s the smart thing to do because what is readily convertible has been determined all over the map by case law, the highest of which comes from the 8th circuit court of appeals in a 1973 ruling in U.S. v. Smith where 8 hours was applied based on the testimony of a single witness. Terrible ruling in Smith and the chief judge died 7 years later. I say F#$# him, good riddance.

  38. avatarJay says:

    Too many are missing the whole point here! Ares offered to give the ATF all of the polymer lowers in question and they received a restraining order to protect their customers database! The ATF did not want the lowers in question they wanted Ares customer data base otherwise they would have just taken the lowers and been done with Ares. So behind Ares backs like the Gestapo they are, they went to the same judge to reverse the ruling and then raided the place taking their customer data base and what ever else they wanted! So what does that tell you all? They once again are acting like obamas Gestapo to back door regulate firearms or in this case regulate citizens from making one out of 80% lowers which are legal! Intimidation at it’s best for all of the citizens in the USA!

    • avatarMike says:

      Agree totally. Either way the determination hearing is today sometime. There was a restraining order in place. Ares armor should have been given the right to air their case in court before the raid. Whether they found for or against them, they should have been given a few more days to plead their case. The ATF just knew they might not get the list of customers that way.

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