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Ares Armor sells EP Armory 80% lower receivers. Well, they sold them. We reported that Ares Armor was raided by the ATF (even after a restraining order was issued against such action) for selling these lowers, and at the time there wasn’t much information available about the reason why the ATF believes that these lowers actually meet the legal definition of a firearm. Now, thanks to one of our buddies, we’ve gotten our hands on the actual letter from the ATF on the subject and it answers a lot of the questions that we’ve been having. . .

It turns out that the ATF believes the lowers are illegal because the fire control cavity is, indeed, formed during the manufacturing process. The order in which this happens doesn’t matter.

80% lower receivers aren’t considered firearms as long as insufficient manufacturing processes have been completed to turn it into a functioning firearm. The ATF has stated an opinion on exactly when that is in the process of making an AR-15. The general rule of thumb is that the point at which the fire control cavity is milled out is when the hunk of metal becomes a gun.

EP Armory believed that they could make a polymer lower that was easier for people to finish by making the fire control area a different color plastic. It would eliminate the need for precise machining, letting buyers just drill it out instead of painstakingly milling and using a jig. In order to stay in the clear in regards to the 80% requirement, they believed that by molding the fire control area first (something they referred to as a “biscuit”) and then molding the receiver around that biscuit, that they could produce an 80% receiver that included the helpful, differently colored guide.

Their logic was that since the plug was constructed first and the lower molded around it, then at no point was that fire control cavity “created” — it was always filled with material.

The ATF disagreed.

Unlike “castings” or “blanks” which are formed as a single piece so that a fire control cavity has not been made, EP Arms uses the biscuit specifically to create that fire-control cavity during the injection molding process. as described in your letter, it appears that the sole purpose of the “buscuit” is to differentiate the fire-control area from the rest of the receiver and thus facilitate the process of making the receiver into a functioning firearm. ATF has long held that “indexing” of the fire control area is sufficient to require classification as a firearm receiver. Based upon EP Arms manufacturing process, it is clear that the “biscuit” serves to index the entire fire-control cavity. In fact, the biscuit is meant to differentiate the fire control cavity from the rest of the firearm so that it may easily be identified and removed to create a functional firearm.


Therefore, the submitted sample is properly classified as a “firearm” as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3) because the fire-control area is created during the manufacturing process through the use of the biscuit.

There are two opinions that the ATF present as reasons why EP Armory’s lower is in fact a firearm.

  1. The fire control cavity is “indexed,” and the ATF believes that indexing the area is sufficient for the object to be a firearm.
  2. The biscuit is a separate object from the lower receiver, and therefore the fire control cavity is actually formed during the manufacturing process.

The letter goes on to detail how, for the same “indexing” reason stated above, the mere addition of the index marks for the trigger pins also puts the object past the 80% completion mark.

This is interesting because it’s the first indication we’ve had about the ATF’s opinion on the matter. So far we’ve been running on the assumption that, as the guys at EP Armory claim, the ATF’s objection centered around the biscuit being added after the rest of the lower was manufactured. But now it looks like the ATF’s opinion is that the timeline of manufacture doesn’t matter as long as the fire control area is made of a different material or indexed in any way it will be more complete than the 80% rules allow.

This marks a major shift in the case, from an offensive stance on the part of Ares Armor and EP Armory to a defensive one. Now they not only have to prove that their lower receiver is manufactured legally as per the relevant Federal laws, they need to win a legal argument that the ATF’s opinion on the matter is wrong.

To be honest, I’m not seeing a happy ending to this case. The ATF’s opinion seems fairly logical at first glance, and the only hope of a win is if they can prove that the ATF’s definition of a firearm is inconsistent with that prescribed in Federal law. The ATF have had a lot of latitude when it comes to adding new regulations above and beyond those in the black and white letter of the law, and these two shops now need to prove that the ATF overstepped their boundaries when they made this decision. And they need to do it in California.

ATF Letter to EP Armory

Thanks to Jesse Smith for the tip.

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  1. If that’s the regulation then that’s the regulation. It isn’t like jigs and drill presses are hard to come by people.

      • That is why we need a civil war to over throw you facist pricks who support the illegal existence of the NAZI ATF and DHS! The 2nd Amendment does not allow any government to make gun laws period and supercedes any federal, state and local laws and the crooks in the Supreme Court. The right to bear arms is a God given right of all human beings and the founders made it because they knew the government’s of humans like this one will become tyrranical. It was made to overthrow any government. Those who put federal and state law above the 2nd Amendment are all traitors and Tyrrants in both congress, senate, White House and judicial.

        • No clause in the constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.
          William Rawle – offered the position of the first Attorney General of the United States, by President Washington

      • I have to somewhat agree with the detractors of the BATF..

        I MEAN it’s one thing to do something to make the entire country safer, but let’s be honest, the random, mass indiscriminate shootings were unheard of, as in they didn’t happen, before the ATF & Govt started regulating the 2A..

        When anyone could order a semi auto rifle from a catalogue at home, having it shipped immediately to their front door step, without any Govt oversight, these shootings weren’t happening.

        When every other guy on the street, had a sidearm, and/or rifle in his pickup truck, these Mass shootings were unheard of.

        The mass indiscriminate shootings, events that stir the entire country’s emotions, easily leading them to allow knee-jerk laws to be passed immediately, as if they’re somehow guilty of the shootings themselves, and the only way to redeem themselves is to support some nonsense gun laws that history proves non effective.

        It never fails, after every major shooting, establishment politicians seem to already have a bill ready to go.
        And it also never fails, they intentionally use as vague wording as possible, that gives the ATF wide leeway with ‘rules’ written under that vague law, that effectively become THE LAW of the Land, arbitrarily decided on, not by we the ppl, but by Establishment puppets in the ATF, who’s obvious job is to methodically dismantle the second amendment, one mass casualty event/shooting,& subsequent vague law at a time..

        A perfect example. Even conservatives won’t mind banning the Bump-Fire stock, but instead of clearly saying “bump fire stock”, they just wrote the vaguest bill possible, “any fire-rate increasing device”.

        If that passes, the vague wording gives the ATF discrimination in how it defines that description. They could very well use it to ban all semi auto weapons, as it’s technically, when compared to a bolt action, a “rate of fire-increasing device”.

        They don’t even have a set “rate of fire” for semi autos, so it’s left entirely up to the arbitrary discretion of a bunch of crooked, gestapo Feds..

        For that matter, recent events prove even cops arent capable of protecting themselves from assault and shootings, and they’re incapable of stopping violent attacks on hard working citizens in public, and in their homes.

        They’re also incapable of keeping guns out of criminals’ hands, even in the cities with the most rigid gun control laws in the country.

        Since their protection is ineffective, it’s every persons’ God-given right to protect themselves and their families from monsters seeking to victimize them.

        Only semi automatics give the law abiding, working man, a standing chance of protecting his family from criminals with fully automatic weapons.

        The ATF should be disbanded, as well as the FBI, and every member have their 2A rights taken away, like any other felon.

        The ATF has no right to make rules that effectively become law, regarding guns, when they’re illegally transferring Weapons to narco-terrorists, getting Border Patrol agents killed by the degenerates that the ATF runs guns for.

        The FBI has no right to try enforcing laws on the public, when they’re giving rich, Establishment politicians ‘get out of jail-free’ cards, refusing to do their jobs to arrest Constitution-violating, corrupt foundation scamming, crooked, greedy politicians like the Clintons, and the Bush family. For that matter, the Bush family had their own pedophile scandal, that got swept under the rug, and even given an intentionally misleading case name: the Franklin Savings & Loan scandal.., where a crooked banker was bringing doped up group-home boys, little kids no one wanted, from the Midwest, to the White House in DC, for “the late night tour”, during Bush Sr’s reign..

        So any American with a spine, should be ready to make a stand against allowing criminals with badges, enforce laws on us that they won’t enforce on the elite.

    • You do understand that, in theory, federal regulations in some manner are to be based on LAW (the things Congress creates and the President signs)? Of course this “may” not apply in the Obuma days.

    • That’s the current INTERPRETATION of the regulation (which is sometimes subject to reinterpretation).

      • So, let me see if I have this straight. What the ATF is basically saying is that the intention of creating a “fire control area”, no matter how it is formed, is what counts.

        So, I wish the ATF would please explain how the founding fathers could create the Second Amendment with the words “shall not be infringed”, and now, due to selective interpretation by the ATF, they arbitrarily decide that it’s OK to reinterpret language to suit their own purpose?

        • When our founding fathers wrote the second amendment, then ratified it in December 15, 1791. This being said, what with the modern population’s knowledge of the wording of the Constitution as well as the other documents that have made the country we have today. As for the people allowing certain agencies to have free rain to regulate our lives that comes from schooling, laziness and fear. In school from the mid ’70’s on US history as well as Government classes were on the wane.Laziness I feel that most people don’t want to talk the time to speak up so the politicians can do what they want. The fear comes from the people not wanting to rock the boat, be riddleculed or get into a argument or one that they aren’t prepared for. From what I have seen in the places I’ve been in, people have an opinion on the topic but they haven’t any facts or they mindlessly regurgitate what they have heard from the people that want to remove firearms from the citizens. How do we educate people? Get them to want to learn about our freedoms and how they work. How do we do that? I have no clue!

        • And reinterpret and reinterpret as many times as they want to get the results that the atf is really after. Just wait till they reinterpret the rest of the Constitution then the bill of rights and so on!

    • The ATF in reality have not shifted any burden legally speaking to Ares or EP and any competent lawyer should be able to make that case, done right the argument is unquestionable. Ares and EP both communicated with the ATF before any actions were taken by the Bureau and sought clarification on regulations and even the definition of terms in the regulation.
      Yet this new wording and redefining of existing regulation never was presented for either Ares or EP to dispute or comply with. Secondly there was no mystery as to the product either manufacturer was producing, it was made clear on their company websites and the government could easily have purchased and inspected the incomplete lowers. Clearly the regulation could have been redefined and the lowers examined to help with the redefinition of the current rules without either business being raided. In this light the governments actions are completely unnecessary.
      But re-crafting the wording on a regulation was not the purpose of the raids that was much more nefarious. We all know the government raided Ares and EP for their customer lists and records violating the privacy of thousands of Americans who were within the law, at the very least a loophole of it. All this considered the ATF had no real reason to raid either business since the regulation not yet redefined could not even been complied with and Ares and EP within in the laws and regulations as they were defined at the time. With thousands of gun owners privacy violated and the 2A community fuming the government looked more then the fool and lawyers for Ares and EP felt confident ensuing court battles would reveal government abuse and misconduct.
      But the government can’t lose and will manipulate to whatever end required to appear correct and that’s all this redefinition is, a attempt to reverse the momentum. I hope that Ares and EP have lawyers that fight this attempt by the government to shift the debate away from the abuse and overreach perpetrated by the ATF and return the focus of this whole debacle to those very things.
      If I am wrong please tell me how the raids on Ares and EP were needed to redefine this existing regulation?
      Those reasons will never come since none exist.

        • ATF is reactive – not proactive, which is a large part of the problem. They respond to requests or complaints, but do not look for situations where enforcement may be needed. Hence, EP had plenty of advertising and product reviews that ATF did not respond to.

          A firearm is defined in the law as the part of a gun that holds the trigger group, hammer and usually the barrel -or- could be readily converted to do so. This is the vague part where “interpretation” comes in. While ATF provides letters of determination to individuals or companies who ask for a product review, they don’t publish specifically what they believe constitutes a firearm. They claim it has been their long terrm position that “indexing” (marking) where the holes go or where material should be removed, moves the lower into the category of readily convertable, but try to find that policy on the ATF web site – you can’t. In a court of law they could prove this has been their position by showing actual letters of determination, but these are private letters to manufacturers and not published by ATF. So how would anyone know that was their policy? What makes ATF look foolish is first assuming the cavity came first and was filled in, making it a completed gun at one point in the manufacturing process. Then when they are informed the area to be removed (biscuit) was created first and placed in the mold where another color of polymer was added, ATF then states the biscuit qualifies as a cavity? Only a government agency (or president) could claim a cavity can be solid.

          EP made a mistake in not sending a sample to ATF to get a letter of determination before starting production and selling lowers that, in their opinion, were not firearms. Bad business decision and detrimental reliance by Ares who believed they were selling non-firearms. That said, there is no requirement to get a letter of determination.

          As far as customer lists, if they had been selling completed lowers, they would have been required to have the proper forms for each one and have an FFL, but I doubt there is any legal requirement to have a customer list for all of the non-firearm item that were sold. Working with one lawyer, Ares agreements to turn over the lowers to ATF along with records on the polymer ones that were sold, but the day before they were to be surrendered, a new lawyer was hired and a restraining order filed, which probably contributed to ATF thinking they needed to raid.

          Clearly, the purpose of the raid was to collect customer records ATF was not entitled to have for all the legal, non-firearm items and this is not the only raid where that appears to be the objective. USA Brass cleans and sells once fired shell casings from firing ranges and got in trouble with OSHA because of lead hazards to their employees. The problems were corrected and OSHA verified they were in compliance. Then later, OSHA, along with Feredal and Local police, raided USA Brass, detained employees in one area while they disabled the company’s surveillance system and then spent several hours taking all computers, hard drives and records. So apparently the government also needs to know who is doing a lot of reloading. I wonder if their search warrant authorized disabling the surveillance system?

    • I think I would carry one of those things into court drop it on the table in front of the jury say the government calls this a gun walk back to my seat address the bench stating the defence rests. You only need one that believes in gun rights…

    • What i would like to direct all of your attention to is the application of the 14th Amendment in this. The 14th through legalese created a “new form of government’, a “new citizenship”, and essentially a “new Constitution”, with all of the powers not inconsistent with the original, but with none of the Constitutional protections it was intended to exist for. President johnson said at the time that it would create a de-facto government “which it did”, and that it would make the “law itself unlawful”, again….which it did.

      Where am I going with this? To help all of you understand why and how this CORPORATE COMMERCIAL LAW applies here and by whom is applying it…..they are regulations in dealing with a hostile enemy that an entity is “occupying”. By trading with the enemy, or doing business with the enemy under martial Law, which we have been under since the Civil War as
      1- A Treaty of peace was NEVER declared or agreed to
      2- the legislation allegedly re-organizing the government violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution
      3- Under “Emergency War Powers”, which more modern term cleverly re-branded is the “National Emergency”….. under the “Trading With the Enemy Act”……they have been doing business with us ever since in this status……so to give us the illusion of freedom, but to retain the stranglehold of control that would be ever increasing until they could install the full plan (UN CONTROL) they needed time to build the credibility and propaganda for and of UN programs such as Common Core, Agenda 21 etc etc…. until they could as Rockefeller said….”accept the surrender of the national sovereignty, or be forced, it will be the choice of the American people…..(some folks have not been paying attention enough to what these whack jobs say) the way to implement GUN CONTROL is through 14th Amendment US CITIZENSHIP that had NOTHING to do with freeing slaves, my God if nothing proves this true more than the assassination of MLK by the FBI and the local police (PROVEN IN COURT THIS PAST YEAR)….even though he may have had Communist sympathies(which is not proven but which I stand against – Communist ideology)it is irrelevant as he never would have been needed had the 14th done what it said it did….in fact what it created was CORPORATE FASCISM in the FACT that it CREATED gun control that DID NOT EXIST PRIOR TO THE 14th RED AMENDMENT……. please read the following thesis on the subject
      with the true and real accounts of US Senators who protested FROM NORTHERN STATES, and from the President who at the time they could not kill as they killed Lincoln, once Lincoln came to his senses and drafted the creation of a debt free currency as he realized who and what was really behind the War between the nation States of this Country – – – it was the Bankers. And they were marching forward to the creation of a One World Communist Dictatorship with all of the Oligarchs at the wheel……as Rockefeller also said…… Communism ….how I admire it, as there is NO COMPETITION>>>>>>>>>get it……the Communists are on WALL STREET
      and WALL STREET is in control……so it is all illusions and smoke and mirrors. They need to trick and fool the masses into remaining calm, and not all rising up and hanging them all for the treason they long ago allowed, have continued, and will continue to unless of until enough people wake up at the same time and say THAT IS IT…….NO MORE /……..if you want to learn the truth –

      • You are nuts, your interpretation of the 14th Amendment is bullshit, and you should stick with advising the other residents of the trailer-park on who cooks the best crystal meth.

    • SERIOUSLY! Why couldn’t they just send a cease and desist order along with a copy of their ruling? Then just have a couple agents go pick up any existing lowers for confiscation and destruction, rather than all this crap of raiding the place, guns at the ready. Ares is a group of businessmen, not a drug dealing ring, there was no reason to treat them as such.

      If the ATF had done things that gave us a HINT that they rubbed their two collective brain-cells together I’m sure Ares would have complied politely, and then gone to their lawyers.

      Although, I have always felt that the EP lowers with the drill studs was taking it a little too far. But that is honestly besides the point, its the way the ATF is playing their game that is concerning, not their stance on 80’s.

        • Because first and foremost, ATF’s attitude is to treat everyone as a criminal, trust no one. They do not see themselves (at least leadership) as answering to and serving the public. So, they don’t trust the public to act in good faith- i.e. honest disagreement over interpretation of the law vice willful/knowing/intentional violation.

          Second, they wanted the customer list and didn’t trust the company to provide it by first going through the legal process to explain their decision, have the courts agree, and then issuing letters to the specific customers who’d bought the lowers. Bonus for them doing it this way, they got a list of a lot more than just the customers buying the uppers in question, they got everyone– and as above, they don’t trust anyone.

      • Do you remember the many innocent people murdered by them at Waco, Branch Davidians. They had an opportunity to arrest the individual in question without resistance or issue earlier in the same day, but opted to generate a big headline(PHOTO OP) and things went sour on them. Do you remember how many dead women and children behind their publicity stunt. Ever ask yourself what happened to those people’s personal recreational vehicles that were towed away. How many of their agents now have these deceased personal property at their homes for their families or as trophies. POWER CORRUPTS-ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.- This is a direct quote from senior 1969 mandatory reading U.S. English class along with George Orwells 1984. Everything stated as futuristic and communist concept in that has become common place fact and accepted. We were taught to think and not be mindless cattle. Now probably to late for redemption.

        • I don’t recall that being in 1984 (and I’ve read it a lot more recently than 1969), but it may be there. It was actually the 18th century historian Lord Acton who coined the phrase, however.

          My take on it is not so much that power corrupts, but that power is attractive to the corrupt and corruptible.

    • It’s because of the building practices at a neighboring gun store. Another seller of 80% lowers was having customers go to a shop in the back of the store… drill a few holes and then someone else would mill out the rest and complete your lower for you. That store implicated ARES as maybe following the same practices which lead to the raid. And in fact, ARES DID have plans for a customer build party and had inquired with ATF if those plans were legal or not which even further piqued ATF’s interest.

      • If I am correct, that was a shop up in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, not even near Ares.

      • Actually, ARES openly advertised their build parties on their facebook page. They made no bones about it, they didn’t try to hide it because nowhere in the letter from the ATF about 80% lowers did it say that the finishing of the lower couldn’t take place on a CNC machine that’s already programmed to finish it.

        • Anyone who completes an 80% must do it without someone else physically helping them. Build parties and use of CNC machines is not illegal. However, you can not have someone else touch the equipment while you are doing the actual work or they are in violation of the law. If you don’t know how to use the equipment, do some hands-on practice with someone BEFORE staring the build.

        • Much of the problem with BATF is, laws are created, thown over the fence, seldom revised and often have generic (vague) definitions that the unelected bureaucrats can interpret how ever they wish. In 1934 they created the $200 tax on autometics, Short barrel rifles & shotguns and silencers. SBRs/SBSs were defined because they originally plannd to ban handguns, but that was dropped before the legislation was final. Now that we can make an AR or AK pistol and not pay tax, this part of the legislation makes no sense, but 70 years later it has not been updated. The 68 Gun Control Act is vague defining what is not a gun, so the BATF has come up with their legalistic definitions which congress has never reviewed. New ARs are still identified as pre-ban or post-ban even though the Assault Weapon Ban is dead. If you want to complain about BATF, look at their ban on armor piercing bullets for 5.45×39 and 5.7×28 ammo. Neither is legal because these bullets do not meet the criteria in the 68 GCA which is based on construction of the bullet and the fact there must be handguns capable of firing it. As dumb as it may sound, legally there is no basis for classifying handgun bullets as armor piercing based on actual ballistics testing. While both rounds have steel cores, they also have large amounts of lead which means the don’t qualify as armor piercing. For the 5.45×39, the handgun they cite is not a handgun, but an 8.5″ barrel AK with folding shoulder stock (only 200 of these prototypes were made in Poland). There is no way anyone can legally call this SBR a pistol! The BATF approved import of this weapon, but to do so they would have to classify it as an SBR.

    • I do not like the BATFE. I think they should be disbanded and probably jailed. However –

      Given the current law, and the BATFE interpretation of that law, they not only wanted to stop sales of these lowers based on their reasoning, which I believe I predicted when this was last discussed, but they were aware that many of these NOT 80% lowers had already been sold and they wanted to find them and get them destroyed or serialized as firearms.

      Hopefully that will not happen, but from a purely law enforcement perspective I can understand their reasoning. And their unwillingness to expect that the raided businesses would voluntarily comply.

  2. Regardless of the process, it’s a stupid opinion, and a stupid rule to begin with.

    • Stupid or not, if it was “legal” then the ATF was within their rights…to violate ours.

      • Legal doesn’t make it right. General warrants anyone? Wear that yellow star or else, for instance.

      • There are things that are legal that are not right; there are things that are right that are not legal.

  3. Yeah, this makes sense.

    Unfortunately, Ares will need to prove to Sauron in the Court of Mordor that Saurons minions were wrong.

  4. By definition, A “cavity” is the ABSENCE of material… so they had to shift to a completely arbitrary and highly suspect “indexing” definition.

    Honest folks cannot win a rigged game! The solution? Stop playing.

    • Exactly. This is BATFE simply making up the rules as they go along. The whole “indexing” argument is part of that. The courts and congress have long deferred to the BATFE to change the rules as they like, and have refused to reign them in. I do not see great hope here.

      We need to push for serious reform of the entire stupid federal regulatory scheme. Simple repeal would be preferred. This should always have been left to the states.

      • I’m afraid that, given the depth and breadth of the corruption in the US legal and legislative systems, there’s really only one way left to get any kind of reform. Best we can do, short of that, is to slow the growth.

    • Laws of Thermodynamics, that apply to this situation:
      Zeroth: You must play the game.
      First: You can’t win.
      Second: You can’t break even.
      Third: You can’t quit the game.

  5. As much as I hate the ATF… this does make sense. An 80% lower is literally just raw materials by definition, this seems to be crossing that line a little bit.

    • Yeah, makes sense to me as well. Essentially, the make a complete, ready to use lower, then fill in a hole. Assuming that’s what really happens, I get it.

      It doesn’t change the fact that the laws are ridiculous in general, but the interpretation makes sense to me. This is likely the first and last time I agree with this entity.

      • READ. The was no “hole” made. The blank receiver was molded around another piece of plastic.

        By my reading of the ATF bilge. A blank metal receiver where location to machine the trigger group was marked with any “permanent” method illegal. If marked with ink or pencil OK but scribe Dykem go to jail. Morons.

    • Go look at an aluminum 80% lower and tell me “it’s just raw materials.” Nonsense. Yes, the letter uses a picture of an aluminum blank, but the fact is that the ATF allows far more than a blank, to include machining out the buffer extension and milling the threads, milling out the magazine pocket, pre-drilling all of the holes for the takedown pins, the holes for the various detent pins for the selector and take down pins, plus the (unthreaded) hole for the grip screw, milling out the (very complicated) holes for the mag release and the bolt latch. Hardly just “raw materials.”

      This whole indexing thing is bizarre, if you think about it. if you buy a jig for the three holes (trigger and hammer retaining pins and the selector switch) in the side of the receiver, the jig will tell you exactly where to drill–but if you put a slight mark or a raised area to accomplish the same thing, it is “indexing” that makes an undrilled hole into a “firearm.” In theory, just inking the receiver to mark locations is “indexing”–but how this turns a lump of plastic or aluminum into an object that is “readily convertible” to a firearm I haven’t the slightest clue. By the same “logic”, if a manufacturer sells an 80% receiver with the jig attached to it, it is a firearm (because the drill locations are “indexed”), but if the jig is separate, it is not. Does this make any sense?

      As an aside, I’ve read that the most common complaint about the raised areas on the EP lower is that the hole locations are off–the trigger hole too low, the rear takedown pin too high. Further, and contrary to the ATF determination letter, removing the biscuit material does not result in a pocket that is “exactly” the right size. First there are the ribs that need to be removed, and second the FCP is actually too narrow and the sides must be milled/filed down to fit the hammer and trigger group.

      • Federal bureaucracies don’t have to make sense in the real world.

        The brutal truth is that no one with some experience running a Bridgeport-style mill needs even jigs and fixtures. You touch off on reference areas of the forging, you crank the handles the amount needed, taking notice of the calibration wheels on the cranks (or your DRO, if your mill is so equipped), you mount a spotting drill or center drill/countersink in your drill chuck, you drill a pilot dimple, you then switch to the drill bit you need and drill it through. Big whoop.

        Milling out the lockwork area? Pffft. An end mill and some easy milling. Here’s a tip, kids: WD-40 makes the finish you get off even the cheap Chinese end mills look dead sexy. Just squirt some on the mill or drill before you start the cut, and squirt a little more in there as you’re working along. Makes 6061 and 7075 aluminum look very swank when you’re done. No high-tech cutting lube needed. WD-40 is all you need. This tip, BTW, does not work on steel. If you’re looking for a good finish on steel, go back to better lubes.

        We’re talking of it taking someone with skill operating a Bridgeport only a couple of hours to mill a forging without a jig/fixture.

        At some point, the operation becomes “too easy” for the paper-pushers, most of whom would not recognize a Bridgeport mill if you dropped it on their feet (all 2300+ pounds of it). This is why there are so many lawyers and bureaucrats who hyperventilate at the prospect of 3D printed guns. It’s so easy, even complete incompetents on a machine tool could pull it off. As long as homemade guns required a level of skill that these people couldn’t envision others having (because they, themselves, lack the skills), then hey, it was OK to make your own guns.

  6. If you assume (and I do) that the ATF’s goal here is to make it more difficult for the Average Joe to manufacture his own firearm, then this makes sense.

    As a matter of making sense of the plain meaning of the English language, this doesn’t make any sense.

    “The biscuit is a separate object from the lower receiver, and therefore the fire control cavity is actually formed during the manufacturing process.”

    But the “cavity” is never a “cavity.” It’s always filled, there’s never a hole in which to place the fire control group.

    • Sounds like their ruling is based more on the fact that the two different colored parts serves as an index for the would be manufacturer to go by thus not needing jigs and at least moderate know-how to complete a working lower receiver.

      It would be sort of like etching a template onto an 80% lower outlining the necessary cuts to complete the lower. They go even one step further makin g the line a different color.

      Unfortunately it sounds like EP and their clones were trying to be smart and got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they now have a pretty lengthy uphill battle from here.

      Does this mean the law is reasonable? no, but as it stands the law is there, and now a little more cut and dry. Sort of like guys who build an AR “pistol” with a standard carbine buffer tube and wrap it in parachord. You are putting yourself in a place where you are one overzealous ATF agent or local cop away from a world of legal hurt. Again, stupid law? yes, does that make it any less illegal? no.

      • You don’t seem to have a grasp on what a “law” is. This isn’t even a regulation.

        • And this to me is the real issue. There is a procedure for making regulations. First, a draft regulation must be proposed and circulated for a statutory period of time for public comment. Public hearings on the regulation are held, and court action at certain points to challenge the rule or the rule making are allowed. But here, every receiver is a “case by case” determination–which means that for most intents and purposes there is no rule, and the ATF can change its mind at any given moment as to what is legal and what is illegal.

        • “There is a procedure for making regulations.”

          Interesting theory. Would be nice if the regulators followed such procedures.

          Here a month or two ago, there was some discussion of changing some State regs and there was a “public hearing.” The public attended in good faith seeking to gather information and voice concerns (or support).

          What they got was a “lecture” from the panel as to why it was being done. No input. In fact, it went further than that. There’s some murky legal stuff going on where one group that was there is raising a ruckus over the way the meeting was held and the State department involved is pulling some stuff to harm them (legally).

          This is a State level regulation that impacts 10’s of millions of people.

          That is one instance, but the details made me wonder how often that kind of (no input allowed) regulation hearing “process” has been repeated.

          There are a few other related cases over the last year or so that would make your eyes water as well.

          Not going into detail since these were not gun related, but they were (State) Dept. of Transportation related.

        • Indeed, there is a formal process for making federal regs. They have to put up a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register, a period for comments responding to the NPRM, then a response to the comments has to be issued, etc.

          This all takes months and months, even if the agency is trying to railroad the process. Been there, done that, dealt with the EPA on this sort of crap on pesticides.

          What people forget about the ATF, however, is that their roots are within the Dep’t of Treasury as “the revenooers” of the days of chasing illegal liquor through the hills and hollows of the south. The ATF was given the jurisdiction over firearms by the NFA ’34, wherein tax stamps were imposed on various types of guns the Congress deemed too naughty for general sales and use.

          As such, agencies within the Treasury (especially the IRS) are used to issuing rule-making as a letter or circular stating the outcome of some decision. If you’re a wealthy individual who wants to know whether a particular tax shelter idea is legal, you first look to see if the IRS has issued a letter on the matter to someone else. After that, you might look to a Big Accounting Firm to issue an opinion on the legality as a pre-emptive defense if you run afoul of the IRS. The IRS doesn’t use the NPRM too often for tax issues; they issue letters much like what the ATF has done here. It’s in the culture of the bureaucrats within Treasury to operate like this.

  7. Makes sense, manufacturers can create lowers that are more than 80% complete by using a different material to fill the fire control cavity, which would be assisting in the manufacturing. I don’t know if ARES uses a different material, but in theory they could use a much softer or easier to remove polymer to fill the cavity, making it easier to finish. What doesn’t make sense is why multiple manufacturing companies were not notified of this consideration. But we all know it’s because the ATF finally figured out another way to clamp down on these companies without giving reasonable counsel on approved manufacturing methods. ARES was always guilty, the ATF just had to figure out what they were guilty of.

    It’s a stupid regulation to begin with, but their vague language paid off for the ATF, or at least it looks like it will pay off for the BATFE. They are obviously in the “collections” business and don’t really care about clarifying approved business activities to businesses.

    • The ATF has no reason to give clarification — it is in their interest for you to make a mistake so they can then close you down. Justice, fairness, the law — all of those things are meaningless to the ATF. Hopefully these guys have a good lawyer and can fight the interpretation in court.

    • The way I read the letter, the biscuit is the same material, just a different color. The more I think about this, the more convince I am that the goal of the ATF is to increase the cost of making an 80% firearm to the point that it is simply cheaper to buy a stripped lower through an FFL. They have shut down “build parties” where people were using preprogrammed cnc machines, thus requiring someone to have the time, knowledge and skill to program a machine before using it for oneself, or in the alternative requiring the purchase of a complete jig set–which set costs as much as a stripped receiver. The only way to make the complete jig set cost effective is to build a bunch of guns–and risk being labeled a manufacturer. There is no other sensible explanation for banning “indexing,” since indexing does not reduce the amount of work that goes into the completion of the lower, just reduces the cost.

      • It *is* cheaper to buy a stripped lower from an FFL. A good forged lower is the same price as an anodized 80% from Ares. Its the same with the polymer lowers, prices for finished vs. 80% are pretty much identical.

        • But OMG, there’s a DROS form and a record of you buying it! Well, assuming its legal for you to buy one.

          Some folks with 80%ers want to feel like they’ve really made their rifle, some just want added fun with getting a new rifle, some just want it to be an unknown purchase, and some because they cannot pass a background check on one at the store. Ala the Santa Monica shooter.

    • This is a lot of quibbling over something that is not really that hard to understand.

      If you were to consider making an AR lower by casting the aluminum rather than machining, which is essentially what they do with the polymer receivers, you would first create a core for the mag well and trigger housing and suspend them within the casting mold. You then pour the aluminum around these cores. When the mold is broken apart in the normal machining process these cores would be chipped out and then the final machining completed.

      What they are attempting to do with the 80% polymer lowers is to cast the lower around a core and then claim that they are all one piece, which they most definitely are NOT. If you were to try to sell a cast aluminum lower but you had not bothered to chip out the material you used to create the core it would amount to the same thing. The lower receiver itself is a whole and complete receiver, minus some hole drilling and finishing processes. Doesn’t matter if the material you used to create the cavity was a baked sand core for aluminum casting or a different color polymer for molding, they are still two entirely separate pieces and the lower itself is a complete (more than 80%) object cast around the core.

      Their reasoning is sound, their reason for existence, not so much.

      • But that isn’t true. During the molding of the lower, The cavity plug fuses to the outer lower portion.

  8. First: the central fallacy here is that the fire-control area is created. They completely fail to establish this.

    Second, their use of the word “indexing” is incorrect, as indexing refers to positioning a workpiece, not marking it for positioning.

    Third, F$&# it, they have apparently given themselves jurisdiction over the english language, what do they care?

    • Well, in this case, they are indexing the drill positions on the lower. The bosses where the pins go are cavitied so that the end user can center a drill with them.

      But the biggest issue that I am worried about is how the AFT is playing a shoot first, ask questions later game. Rather than going through proper legal channels, they jumped straight to “Raid Ares” mode. They could have just sent a determination letter to them with a cease and desist order to start the legalities.

      • Not really, it seems like they went in on the… “we want to see if you are running a ‘build party’ type opperation in the back office”

        I wouldnt be so quick to immediately defend Ares on this. They were dealing it what was at best a grey area and got caught on the wrong side of the line. We cand ebate all day if the line is reasonable but for now the line is where it is.

        As gun owners and defenders of 2A, we have to stand together, but if stories like that other shop that was hiring illegal (with criminal connections) immigrants to “guide” others in finishing their lowers are true, we need to be cautious who we support. A reputation takes years to build and seconds to destroy. There was an article a few months ago in regard to Michael Dunn, and how we need to be careful who we back, because irresponsible hotheads like Michael Dunn do not represent the responsible concealed carry movement, any more than a dubiously legal or downright illegal seller/manufacturer of 80% lowers.

        • That is simply bullsh*t.
          There is no law against what EP was making and Ares was selling.
          There is no regulation against what what EP was making and Ares was selling.
          What they were doing was clearly and obviously in clear compliance with the law.

          The BATF made up a reason to raid Ares.
          That is not the sort of thing that governments constrained by the law do.

  9. So basically, the ATF is saying that building the plug for the cavity before you build the cavity constitutes building a cavity. That is like calling a pile of dirt a hole because you are going to use it to fill in an actual hole that you haven’t created yet.

    • Did you just think about digging up some ore, that could be smelted into an ingot, that could be forged into a tool that could be used on some other ore, that could be smelted into steel, that could be shaped into a flat, that could be cut out, that could be linked with another flat cutout piece of steel to make a lightning link….YOU JUST MANUFACTURED A MACHINE-GUN WITH YOUR MIND!!!!

    • Actually, its even more absurd than that. It’s like calling a pile of dirt a hole because you are going to fill the area around it with more dirt…but a hole never existed!

  10. Does indexing have to be indicated on the physical lower? Why wouldn’t a document detailing the exact procedure and steps required for completing the lower be considered Indexing also? In that case it seems that possession of an 80% lower and finishing instructions would constitute a firearm.

    • Oddly enough, possession of a steel tube and a cutting template constitutes ownership of a machine gun, simply by intent… so why not what you ask?

      • Fine line in the definition of readily convertible. The term 80% is not used by the ATF, it is a sales and marketing term. ATF has been refining this every time someone asks for a determination. They allow jigs and even stick-on labels toguide where to remove material, but don’t want the markins indicated on the lower. That is their opinion.

  11. Does the presence or absence of pigment constitute “different material” or is that irrelevant because any scheme of “indexing” makes it a firearm?
    Any materials engineer would tell you that injecting a molten polymer around a core of the same polymer material will create a micro melting creating a black into white and white into the black exchange, making it ONE material. Apparently the ATF does not like this gray area.
    So if they used the same biscuit but in black, would it be illegal?
    If not, then they are relying completely on the indexing ruling.
    Was there an indexing rule before this?
    Are using both the indexing and manufacturing process to regulate this?

    • I saw that before- excellent smack down of the jack-booted thugs….too bad it was on such a narrow, specific issue. Anyway we can get this same judge to review the EP lower case, 7n6 ‘armor piercing ammo’, in fact ALL ATF cases?

  12. Much as other comments have indicated, the letter seems to be consistent with previous definitions and determinations. If that’s their case, then I don’t really have a problem with that. It does not, however, absolve them of wrongdoing with regards to their handling of the case. Everything hinges on when this letter was delivered relative to when the raid occurred. Based on the provided letter there is no way to tell, as it is not dated. If Ares received this response well in advance of the raid (given that their request for clarification was sent on March 4, I highly doubt it) then perhaps the raid was warranted. If, however, this response was only given to them after the fact, then that is where the ATF would be, and should be, in hot water. In that situation, it would have been reasonable to think that the EP products were legal based on prior determinations, and that the ATF was in fact acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner. It would be interesting to see this case play out in court and get the full sequence of events.

  13. Looks to me like their “biscuit” idea, while innovative and understandable was trying to skirt the law. I am sure they would have shot down this proposal had it been submitted before production but it would have prevented this mess

    • The ATF is holding to the manufacturing process of metal lowers, namely milled from a single block. The polymer lowers end up the same but use two blocks. It’s pretty dumb considering a lower can’t be created without the “biscuit” because the polymer is formed around it.

  14. Looks like this ruling makes since, given the indexing/pre marking precedents.

    That does not make it a good ruling, but it makes it one that is understandable, and predictable, given the history of the ATF in always taking a very strict view on any interpretation of the rules, in that such interpretations favor the ATF over the citizen or business involved.

    I have looked at the Polymer 80 lowers, aka and they would seem to be legal based on the mindset behind this letter. They ship with a jig included, but that is it.

  15. Ah, what about the poor souls that purchased these lowers and had their info confiscated by the federalizes? Are these folks now felons? What can they do to protect themselves? Do they need protection?

  16. I’m a little disgusted we’re sitting here having a “reasonable,” “common-sense” discussion of something that shouldn’t even BE!

    What the F ever happened to “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed?”

    We shouldn’t be accepting that kind of tyrannical crap!

    • That cat got let out of the bag a very long time ago… it isnt right, it isnt reasonable, but it is what it is.

      People are in here discussing the fact that Ares and EP were playing in a very murky grey area of the current regulations, that like it are not, are the rules we have to play. They and by extension all the people who jumped on the 80% lower bandwagon thought they were being smart and they got caught on the wrong side of the line, which however unreasonable it is, is still the line.

      The whole 80% thing exists so that aluminum foundries dont have to operate as FFL’s if they ship lower blanks to AR15 manufacturers. This creates a loophole in the current regulations whereby anyone with the smarts and desire can make their own gun. So you can stand there and argue if there should be regulations or not all day long, that’s a completely different story and doesnt preclude you from being in trouble. The whole its better to ask for forgiveness than permission only works with your parents, not some soulless government organization.

      I dont get it anyways, every 80% gun I have ever seen looks like some Frankenstein high school shop class project by some 16yr old jacked up on aderol using a dremel grinder wheel, a Dewalt cordless drill and finish sanded by 80grit sandpaper and glopped up with duracoat or krylon. Then again I live in a free state so my guns arent registered and can be sold in private sales so maybe I missed that whole “off the grid” argument.

  17. I like the argument of using the literal definition of cavity. It could never get to 80 percent because no cavity was ever formed.

  18. First, Ares has been making these for years and has other letters saying that these are not firearms.

    Second, consistency means squat w/ the ATF as in times passed they have issued “rulings” that have run counter to previous “rulings” and letters.

    Third, the whole indexing argument is arbitrary in itself as well as the fire control argument. In fact the whole 80% thing is arbitrary. Why 80% why not 70% or 90%? Suppose some of the nasty features were finished but other frame/receiver necessities were not thereby arriving at 80% but just a different way?

    A color change on a firearm is now “indexing” therefore they get to take your crap.

    The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government. – Tacitus

    • First, Ares is not a manufacturer. It is a retailer of items manufactured by others. EP Armory is the manufacturer of these particular lowers.

  19. So, would it count as indexing if a manufacturer, say, placed a sticker over the areas to be drilled out? After all, the markings aren’t permanent…

  20. I have to unfortunately agree with ATF on this one. In full disclosure as a local cop, I am not a fan of the 80%er’s being purchased by area gang members, felons and drug traffickers without any background check; but I have no problem with my neighbor and his son doing a project gun build together in their garage.
    I don’t think anyone would disagree that felons convicted of violent crimes should be precluded from having firearms. But there is no mechanism for that with the 80%ers.

    • Sure there is. Any felon who mills out an 80% lower is a felon in possession of a firearm, and it is back to prison he goes if he is caught. In other words, there is already a law against that. To ban all 80% lowers is like saying that I can’t brew beer in my garage because someone might make moonshine and sell it illegally. Further, at least according to the FBI, rifles are not commonly used to commit crimes.

      • Agreed, back to prison he goes after he has been caught, but how many rounds go down range prior to his apprehension?

        • If he wants a firearm badly enough to break the law to acquire one, there is absolutely nothing you, I or anyone else can do that is going to keep him from acquiring one. He can’t buy one legally, so he will buy one illegally or steal one.

        • Since the odds of me being hit downrange is less than being hit by lightning I accept that marginal risk as a cost of liberty and freedom (because neither of them come for free).

        • How many rounds? Probably none, because gang bangers and drug traffickers aren’t completing 80% lowers and making firearms. Do you have even a single example of where this has happened?

        • Well, that’s a function of how effectively the police do their job, isn’t it?

    • How many firearms that have been completed from 80% lowers have been seized from felons? I guarantee it’s a much lower percentage than the number of guns felons have acquired illegally through other means.

      This interpretation does nothing to actually advance public safety in any meaningful way. It’s just bureaucrats doing what bureaucrats do.

      • My pet unicorn was going to machine an AR from a nylon 80 percent lower, then sell it to a gang banger as a full auto lower.

  21. Ignoring the “indexing” argument for a moment…

    The ATF could argue that forming material A around material B, where A and B are “different”, constitutes forming an object made of material A. With that argument, forming a lower around various to-be-removed inserts counts as making a complete lower.

    The question might then become “how different do A and B have to be, before we consider them different materials”?

    If A and B are different colors, they’re clearly different materials (even if only in pigment). Could that be construed as meeting some arbitrary “different enough” threshold? Can adding pigments sufficiently affect a polymer that two different colors are now “different” in some measurable way (other than “color”)?

    Without a specific “different enough” threshold, we end up with something like this: What if some solvent (methanol, acetone, water, etc.) affects material B but not material A? You could end up with a 100% lower by soaking in a bucket of water overnight.

    • The polymer in its natural state is white. Color is added–in EP’s case black, tan, green and pink– to the polymer formed around the uncolored biscuit. And in EP’s case, there is one way, and only one way, to remove the biscuit–and that is by milling it out. But reading the ATF letter, it would not make any difference to them if the biscuit was the same color, since the biscuit acts as a guide or “index” to tell you when to stop milling.

  22. The correct legal term for the ATF’s position is “a total load of bullshit.” That’s a direct translation from the original Latin.

  23. What I’d like to see is a polymer 80% lower that can be soaked in a solvent to manufacture it into a 100% lower. Maybe a plastic that can be optically developed into disolvable and non-disolvable parts using paper shadow masks.


    • Or a stack of paper or cloth blueprints that can be printed out and then coated in epoxy and layered, compressed, and cured to create a lower. (essentially a G10 lower). You’d probably want layer across the width of the receiver from left to right.


    • Or just buy a freaking lower and quit trying to be all smart and off the grid… sheesh. Only in a choice few states is semi auto sporting rifle registration required and most states except those few also allow private sales with no background check (aka plausible deniability). If you are so obsessed with being off the grid then I hope you only use cash when you go to the range or buy ammo or accessories, because if not a quick call to your bank and a little leg work sifting through data they already have and they will know what you have, what calibers, how many, and how frequently you use it. You’d better not post your range pics to facebook or like any gun manufacturers pages on facebool. Even your posts on this blog. Honestly the last place they will go is to gun shops or querying the NICS database. Believing that owning some chunk of aluminum or plastic with no serial insulates you from the gubmint is just willful naivete.

      If you don’t care about being off the grid then I repeat my first sentence… just go out and buy a f’ing rifle that some professional machinist finished and anodized. You want to build one? buy a lower receiver and install all the parts. More than one manufacturer make great in spec lowers that regularly sell for $50, so dont even try to bring the price issue in to this. Quality? yeah I guess if you have lathe in your garage you might be better off.

        • Oh, I absolutely am, I just dont feel like I missed out on anything by buying a stripped lower that was already finished. Several companies make lowers without some gawd awful roll mark on the magwell so I’m not rep’ing their brand either.

          If you build a racecar no one is going to fault you or say you had less fun doing it if you didnt build your engine by milling out a raw block of castiron or aluminum to make the block and heads. Did you machine all the accessory drive pullies? No?. Again, some people are set up do do an OK job on finishing an 80% lower but the ones I have come across look exactly like something someone finished with rough hand tools, especially these plastic ones… so again, I’ll pass YMMV

      • How dare someone attempt something YOU don’t approve/understand/appreciate/enjoy.

        I was thinking of painting my bedroom… it ok to do it myself or do I need a PROFESSIONAL to do it? Will you pick the color for me? I’m not capable all by myself.

  24. What really needs to happen is a repeal of the unconstitutional NFA, and a removal of the “FE” from BATFE. This sh!t has gone on long enough.

  25. So these companies should get in the business of selling 3d printers and CAD drawings of lowers…

  26. The real reason is they they are not something that has been costly established as legal and the ATF is throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I sincerely hope this issue is heard in court.

    What’s the history of 80% lowers? Did the ATF try to claim they were illegal at first?

  27. At best, the ATF argument is EX POST FACTO. There is no reasonable way that anyone could have determined that these chunks of plastic would have been illegal until they came out with a carefully crafted document AFTER they raided the manufacturers and retailers businesses. Saying that something is illegal yesterday and then defining the regulation to make it illegal and then punishing people for it is one of the core reasons why we had the American Revolution. This is strictly unconstitutional.

  28. ATF rulings can be challenged in court, witness the recent decision striking down ATF classifying a certain muzzle brake as a silencer. I believe that if this decision were to go to court a reasonable court would also strike it down. Putting marks on a block of aluminum does not make it a firearm.

  29. I’m going to agree with the ATF. Don’t agree with when they came to the conclusion or how they enforce it. Post raid explanation and confiscation shows weak leadership.

    The biscuit, ID’s what material to remove without jigs. The 2 step molding process establishes that the second injection in fact molds around the biscuit and creates a clearly defined cavity.

    The standard 80% unit has no cavity or clearly marked area to cut.

  30. Sounds like another case of ATF making up the rules as it goes. That letter is pretty clear. If that was the actual law before this happened then there would be no confusion as to what Ares armor was doing wrong and they probably wouldn’t be doing it. An ATF CYA maneuver!!!

  31. What I don’t understand is this:

    a) why wasn’t this letter issued prior to the raid,
    b) along with a cease-and-desist order?
    c) thereby removing any need for the raid where there was a question as what it was about?

    Because the amount of time that the parties involved spent consulting with the ATF, sending them examples, etc, shows that they weren’t simply giving the finger to the BATFE. They were seeking to comply with the law as they understood it. If the ATF had issued the above letter, penned up a cease-n-desist (or change the design), I’d wager that the parties would have done do.

    The answer, of course, is that the ATF wanted an excuse to dress up in their cute little outfits and stomp around like mall cops. Your tax dollars, oh so very hard at work. Again.

  32. cav·i·ty
    noun: cavity; plural noun: cavities

    an “EMPTY” space within a solid object.
    When was the space empty?

  33. @DG,

    I totally agree (as I do with you on most things except the .40 S&W).

    What I find the most disparaging are the vapid “well that’s the law” type of comments. We are allegedly the tip of the pro-2A spear, and many here are accepting unsubstantiated and arbitrary “arguments” by the ATF. Not only are folks completely missing “shall not be infringed,” but they are also missing “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    The ATF has been given the power to both define law, create definitions, and enforce law. They continue to have very little accountability, and have believe ability amongst even some of the those who post here. Meanwhile, the ATF can send weapons to Mexico or completely miss Yee trafficking guns. Disgusting.

    While we argue the semantics, government thugs raided a business that may have been completely legitimate. The construction of AR-15s from manufactured lowers without a government background check is as close to the purest definition of the 2A that many of us will ever see, and the government desperately wants to shut it down.

    Further, all the ATF or government has to do is to make an additional change and we will all be criminals. Why not redefine AP ammo, the Sig brace as an SBR, or ban military calibers? Might as well said us, too, right?

    • Well, there’s a couple of clarifications and quibbles I have:

      1. The ATF gets to make regulations, not statute law. They can’t outlaw a complete type of gun, for example, unless they have a legislative statute on which they can hang their regulation. They can push items under their purview into regulatory status by playing the “definition game,” as it appears they are here.

      The best thing that the NRA can do at this point, I think, is to force the ATF to go through the NPRM process in the FedReg for every one of their regulations. I’m going to pen a few letters to the NRA on this subject and I’ll reference this case among some others. BTW, this sort of stuff has bitten gunsmiths too in the past – the ATF has come out with some outlandish attempts to define “manufacturing” of a gun in some absurdly broad terms, such that repairing a broken firing pin on an otherwise complete pump shotgun would be “manufacturing.” They eventually “clarified” their stand, but not without lots of gunsmiths saying, in effect “WTF’ing F?!!?”

      2. While lots of people probably agree with you that making an AR from a bag o’ parts is the closest to a pure 2A exercise that they can achieve, I’m increasingly of the opinion that many people can do better if someone were to put all the information in one book and then put the book into their hands. These sorts of books used to exist prior to WWII, but are now out of print (unless the NRA or someone else is bringing them back).

      Why should people limit themselves to an AR, if someone can teach them how to make a 1911 (eg) or a Rem700-ish rifle? I get that the AR platform is popular. It’s easy enough to make most of the parts. But, why should people limit themselves? Glock guys, I have nothing against you, but injection molding simply adds a whole level of complexity and expense where almost no one will follow. You’re going to have to “settle” for time-proven designs made out of metal and wood.

      Increasingly, I think I’m the guy for this job. Not out of some braggadocio or ego, but a sort of “well, lots of other guys have the chops, but no one else is doing it, time is getting shorter, I can type faster than most of the other guys who could do this, so we’d better get going on this idea.”

      That goal is to write a book where we lay down in one place all the skills and tools necessary to make guns – and assume the readership is the completely unskilled neophyte. The proposed environment is one where one has to start from a bare, solid piece of bar stock and work their way up. Too many gun-making books start like this: “We assume you have a lathe, a mill and lots of precision tooling and instruments, oh, and you know how to use them…”

      It will not be a short book, and it won’t be a quick thing for me to just jot down.

        • FWIW, I had to go look up what a “kickstarter” is.

          The resource I need to pull this off is time, not money. It isn’t possible to exchange money for time on this job.

      • A million times yes and I’m sure lots of people here would be all over a kickstarter like Matt mentioned. Getting the knowledge in one place would be invaluable.

  34. So wouldn’t it be more civil to send an agent or two to educate them as to their reasoning, so that they might avoid legal troubles? You know, the way adults are supposed to behave?

    Oh. Forgot! This was all about a bullying show of force, not about behaving reasonably.

    My bad!

  35. Well, if that was WHY the ATF raided Ares, then why didn’t they take these lowers? Instead, they took the customer list.

  36. “EP Arms uses the biscuit specifically to create that fire-control cavity”

    Uh… a cavity is a HOLE> there is NOTHING in a cavity! By definition!

    F-troop swine

  37. “even after a restraining order was issued against such action…”

    The restraining order basically meant the ATF had to stop bothering them unless they got a warrant. They got a warrant. The restraining order then meant dick, legally.

  38. Arbitrary nonsense with no checks and balances. The ATF “disagreed” and so it was so. – Until the people got pissed off enough to dissent. Escalation insued and bodybags started to be filled with ATF and FTB agents.

  39. Simply put, the law (68 Gun Control Act) defines a gun as the part that holds the trigger and hammer or anything that could be READILY CONVERTED to do so. The ATF has INTERPRETED that to mean what we call an 80% lower. While there is no legal requirement to do so, EP Armor made the mistake of selling these units without first getting a letter of determination from ATF. A court and jury will ultimately have to define what an 80% lower is, but before that happens, ATF is in the process of confiscating all the EP Lowers manufactured and destroyig them. A more practical reasonable response would be to allow the buyer to fill out the background check form and add a serial number, but that would be less of a financial burden to EP Armory and the buyers who did nothing illegal, but may not be reimbursed for their loss. The ATF has issued letters of determination to manufacturers who provided samples, requested evaluation and then waited six months or more for a response. However, ATF has NEVER created a clear definition of what they believe is legal or illegal. Just try to find references to “indexing” provided by ATF prior to Mar. 2014 – If that has been their position for a long time, why are they the only ones who know about it? EP Armoy has a legal defense fund and will hopefully get a court to rule that what they manufactured was there best attempt to comply with the law where there is a definition for virtually everthing except what “readily convertable” means. If you are wondering why anyone would go through the trouble buying and finishing an 80% lower, read the article in Wikipedia about the ATF’s National Tracing Center and eTRACE.
    If you think ATF is right, look up their ban letter for Russian made 7N6 (5.45×39) ammunition. The ATF not only ignored that the core is not made ENTIRELY from the metals lised and is not more than .22 caliber, they also claim there is a “pistol” that can shot it. However, the so called pistol is a shortened version of a Tantan rifle with an 8.5″ barrel and FOLDING STOCK. As such it is a Short Barrel Rifle and is regulated by ATF.×39-ammunition.html

  40. One thing I didn’t see mentioned?
    Their original sample sent to the BATFE in the first place.
    Were these “receivers” still being made this way or was it changed after they got their first letter; then BATFE changed their minds?

    • The 68 Gun Control Act does not require BATF approval (letter of determination). It defines a gun as the part that holds the trigger group or something that could “readily be converted” to do so. Over the years they have come up with their concept of “readily convertible”. So EP Armory started manufacturing polymer lowers in early 2013 and had gun reviews 4-6 months before sending their sample to ATF in Nov. 2013. The sample did not have an explanation of the sequence of manufacturing. ATF took until Feb. 2014 to evaluate and then made the assumption they created the frame and then filled (instead of the other way around). EP sent an appeal explaining the manfacturing process, but it didn’t stop the raid. Apparently, Ares assumed there was an ATF letter of determination. ATF’s response to the appeal was to claim the “biscuit” constituted a “CAVITY” so it didn’t matter which came first. Although no one has ever heard of a “Solid Cavity”, that’s their claim. A court will have to determine who is correct, but ATF could claim by “indexing” exactly where the holes go and having ridges to make it simple to tell when you have reached the limit of what to remove, it is readily convertible. The biscuit is cured for 2 days before fitting into a mold to make the final receiver and if you watch a how-to video, it appears the biscuit is not bonded solid to the receiver because they are able to use a knife to peel out the last few pieces.

  41. Duh. I’ve been saying this since day 1. In fact, that’s why I didn’t buy one. People have known for a long time that the ATF considers indexing to be the same as completing the hole.

  42. If you are desire to craft a rough block into your own rifle with drill presses, cnc stuff, lathes, etc: you are probably a passionate gun owner and should be allowed to persue your focusful and rewarding hobbies. Govt should relax and work on other agendas that benefit the direct safety of their citizens… this smells like party poopage.

    • The only thing “government” is supposed to keep us safe from is invaders from outside the country, which they’re not doing ,being so busy being planetary buttinsky and all.

  43. In accordance with the founding documents and stated as such:
    If any form of government refuses to comply with the Founding Documents, that government is committing an “ACT OF WAR” on the citizens of the United States by “aiding and abetting the enemy in the destruction of the founding documents” of the Unites States. This is clearly stated in the Founding Documents.
    The 2nd Amendment is very clear and simple to understand. Word trickery is also being deceptive toward the Founding Documents, Clearly a refusal to comply with the Founding Documents.

    It is the citizens fault for allowing things like false gun control to be adhered to our liberty just under the false sense of security and safety! I for one WILL NOT comply with such tyranny or terrorism toward our great nation or its Founding Documents! There is a saying “Out with the new guard and in with the new” this is because the old guard knows the Founding Documents and will protect it while the new guard know only legislation and will blindly follow it at the cost of our freedom and true safety from tyranny (The ability to protect ones self from a government of tyranny). People don’t care for what it “true and just”. They care for what they are told do care for, like sheeple! They find reason to argue over confusion when its simple form of unjust and untrue deception. If you are one of the people who do care you are of few and little and are true Americans! Remember the “Act of war” that is clearly stated in our Founding Documents.

  44. introduce legislation to make registration or reregistration of arms like registration of drivers lisence.gun owners have to take a reregistration test two or three times a year,,that is,,take a test for gun saftey?test for shooting competence,and a psych test?and this would be done by lisenceing the gun ranges,connected to the DMV,the dmv would be connected to the gun registration but the testing would be let to the gun ranges,they could apoply to test owners,this testing would make owners get competent with there gun,not just putting it away and not know how to shoot or safety or competent as years go by.they also wll have to get out and practice at ranges to get there reregistration 2 times a year.also,gun ranges make money by taking percent of fees.ranges could apply to test owners.that wold bring more customers into ranges that sell arms also.more people would get serious about there gun ownersip,new people would be introduced to shooting safely and stop the anti gun lobby.also,if a owners gun is (lost),stolen?they would be fined,people report there guns stolen when they werent.guns would stop changing hands illegally.they would be fines heavily,they would have to report the gun stolen and fill out a afidavit to the loss,theft.the system could be tweeked,fines,fees,lisences,etc,,,dmv would be the agency that holds the data,the ranges could be centers accross the states to administer the reregistrations,a profit could be made for the ranges.simple,treat registration like driver lisence,this way this would keep track of lisenced owners and make owners proficiant with there guns in safety and use and shooting and if there sane enough for handling a weapon.

  45. Anyone that wants to debate what is 79.9% vs 80% has already lost the right to bear arms.

  46. Yet what is so screwed up about the abusive way government and police ALWAYS act is to go busting in like a bunch of testosterone soaked ego manacle Rambo’s and treat everyone like criminals.. What ever happened to Addressing the problem diplomatically and civilized instead of resorting to Violence to solve any and all issues as first resort.
    They treat people that are conscientious and concerned about following the rules even when (no matter how stupid bizarre and ignorant they become by unscrupulous ignorant politicians) they end up treating law abiding citizens that pay their tax’s thus these government employs salary’s to treat the public like criminals all the time..

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